Hello Gemma Beauty, health, fashion and lifestyle blog from Gemsmaquillage 2016-11-09T19:15:17Z http://www.hellogemma.com/feed/atom/ WordPress Gemma Tomlinson http://www.hellogemma.com <![CDATA[On Feeling Disillusioned]]> http://www.hellogemma.com/?p=6739 2016-11-09T19:15:17Z 2016-11-09T19:07:49Z Last night I stayed awake to chat to my friends across the pond and watch the first female be elected president of the United States, or so I thought. To say it didn’t quite go to plan would be an understatement, and ...

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Last night I stayed awake to chat to my friends across the pond and watch the first female be elected president of the United States, or so I thought. To say it didn’t quite go to plan would be an understatement, and I don’t think I am alone in feeling lost, sad, shocked and angry today.

I don’t live in the US, I am British, but the politics of our nations are so interlinked and the power wielded by American Presidents so mighty that their choices affect us all. I feel like I’ve entered slightly different world today, one that looks almost the same but feels dark and cold. It could be the impending Lancashire winter and the fact that I haven’t slept, but something tells me it’s far bigger than that.

There’s so much I could say about the double standards Hillary Clinton faced throughout this campaign and throughout her entire career. There is a bigger conversation to be had about why we would rather listen to a KKK-endorsed reality TV star peddle empty promises than trust an experienced woman who has dedicated her life to public service. I have so much to say, and I will, but that is another conversation for another day.

My Twitter feed is awash with people panicking, myself included. I’m worried about so much, about equality, women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ rights, minorities and their safety, their happiness. It’s truly terrifying to see racism, xenophobia, bigotry and misogyny legitimised, sad to imagine how quickly and swiftly the hard-earned rights of so many could be dismantled and worrying to consider the lengthy effects of a bad supreme court pick.

There is a very real wave of far right sentiment making it’s way across Europe and now the US, it is impossible to ignore and truly scary for anyone who values equality and human rights. It’s so easy to get caught in a wave of panic or to feel totally disillusioned by everything but I’m trying to remind myself of a few things…

This is a dark time and your fear is legitimate.

Watching people get worked up and upset seems to be something of a spectator sport for a few people on social media. They roll their eyes, laugh and mock people for caring. Screw those people. Life is about to get quite difficult for many people as they potentially grapple with acceptance, tolerance, access to healthcare and their individual rights. That isn’t something to laugh at, and it isn’t something to brush aside as you mutter under your breath that it doesn’t matter who wins anyway. It matters to them, it should matter to all of us. There is nothing shameful, dramatic or weak about caring for your fellow humans.

Self care is important.

“Don’t worry so much” “We can’t let this get us down” “Look on the bright side” – I’ve seen this said so much today and whilst it’s all good advice, sometimes it’s also important to allow yourself the luxury to just feel. If you need to cry, cry, if you feel sad let it out, be kind to yourself and practice a little self care. Sitting around talking to your friends about how sad you are isn’t going to do much in the long term but in the short term sometimes connecting with like-minded people is just what you need.

I couldn’t bring myself to watch Trump’s acceptance speech, I doubt I will ever watch it as long as I live, so I turned off the coverage. I am not going to learn anything from watching it and I know it’s not good for my mental health, so I opted out. I closed the computer, took a long walk, got some fresh air, cuddled my dog, drank tea and listened to the Hamilton soundtrack which is pretty much the only thing getting me through today.

Don’t become disillusioned.

It is incredibly important not to let upset turn to apathy. I felt crushed this morning, especially as a woman. It’s exhausting to care so much and feel like there are so many who are willing to trade away the rights of others. What’s the point right? It feels like one step forward and two steps back, it’s draining and will drive you insane if you think about it too long. Don’t let it.

Watching Hillary Clinton’s speech this afternoon reminded me what drive, determination and perseverance can do. 100 years ago women could not vote in the UK, they could not be elected into parliament and 60 years ago America was still segregated. This week the first female nominee for the President of the USA won the popular vote and the world has just seen the first black President. When Hillary talked about setbacks and overcoming crushing disappointment I was blown away by her poise and grace, when Obama spoke with dignity about the man who questioned his citizenship I was humbled. I was reminded how far humanity has come and I was inspired. None of us can afford to drop the ball.

We are sad, we are scared and we are angry, but people have died to allow us to vote and we owe it to them to keep going. If people made it through suffrage and the civil rights movement, if they risked their lives to make change, we can get through this. Once the dust has settled and we have all processed this, we can’t sit back. We all have to do something, whether it’s just keeping up to date on political decisions, getting involved at the local level, volunteering for important causes, reading more, talking to our children about equality, joining protests, or being an ally for the marginalised – a friend to those who have more to lose than ourselves. Whatever you do, do something.

I know this little internet circle of mine is made up of a wonderfully diverse group of people, many of whom are probably reeling and feeling scared. My door is open, I’ve got your back and I will lend an ear if you need a chat.

“Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.” – Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, November 9th 2016.

Stay nasty.

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Gemma Tomlinson http://www.hellogemma.com <![CDATA[Five Good Things]]> http://www.hellogemma.com/?p=6707 2016-10-10T20:14:59Z 2016-10-10T20:12:49Z I wanted to start up a little series that I’ve seen floating around some blogs I love – Five Good Things. It can sometimes feel like the world is a merciless, bleak place, particularly if like me you stayed up ...

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Five Good Things

I wanted to start up a little series that I’ve seen floating around some blogs I love – Five Good Things. It can sometimes feel like the world is a merciless, bleak place, particularly if like me you stayed up way too late last night watching the US presidential debate (I’m with her, bloody hell) or you get sucked into the endless news cycles we seem to favour these days. Truth be told, I’m someone who finds joy in the little things. It doesn’t take much to make me happy, and the simple things in life can really make my day, so I thought it would be nice to share five of them with you in the name of positivity.

1. Autumn Days

Autumn Days

Nature is killing it right now, you have to admit. Whilst the shorter days put the kibosh on the balmy late evening strolls in the park Matt and I enjoyed in summer, we get to enjoy these beautiful colours in the limited daylight hours. The rust coloured leaves that fly away in the breeze give everything a golden hue, it’s chilly enough to feel cosy but not bitter, and evening dog walking duties somehow look like they’ve been given their very own Instagram filter.

2. Seasonal Decor

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Any excuse to make the house feel cosy is fine by me. I’m really trying to buy and own less stuff right now, and whilst I’ll never be a minimalist I don’t feel the need to buy 1001 autumn inspired homeware pieces that will only see the light of day a few weeks per year. Instead of buying decor pieces I dug out the cinnamon stick tea light holder I made last Christmas in this video, and used fairy lights and mini pumpkins/squash to add a festive feel to the living room. When you really think about it, putting vegetables in your living room is a bit odd, but hey, it works, and when you’re done with them you can make a tasty soup so you’re not left with clutter.

3. A Good Book

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I’ve been in a bit of a creative rut recently, as you may have noticed. I make a lot of things that never see the light of day because I overthink them, and deem them not good enough. It’s one of my worst traits and I really want to overcome the fear I’ve developed around releasing projects out into the world. I was recommended this book by Elizabeth Gilbert and I don’t want to be that person who says “it spoke to me!” but really, it kind of spoke to me. For me the last couple of years on this blog and on my YouTube channel have been full of confusion with regards to the direction I want to take them in, I pick things apart to the point that it’s safer not to show anyone because that way you never have to face any criticism. It’s no way to live though, especially if you enjoy creating, and this book has really reminded me how fearless I was when I first started making online content.

4. New Candles

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I’m a bit of a candle junkie, particularly at this time of year when I find myself on a mission to find peak cosy. Right now I’m really into these new ones by The Body Shop. They are part of the Spa of the World collection and smell amazing. I love the simple, minimal design and they burn really cleanly. Mediterranean Sea Salt is hanging out in the bathroom right now and Hawaiian Kukui is loving life in the bedroom. If you pass by a store you need to give these a whiff, or you can find them online here.

5. New Bedding

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It really is the little things. New bedding makes me feel like I’m staying in a hotel, which, as I type this out I realise is a bit sad. Hey, you have to get your kicks somehow. I got rid of some worn out bedding sets the other week, and headed to Mecca (Homesense) to find some new sheets. I love crisp, white sheets and if that’s your thing Homesense always delivers. These were a bargain and are silky soft. I love the tiny pattern detail, interesting without being too busy. Wow, I’m really writing a whole paragraph about sheets huh? Really though, tell me you don’t love a bath and new sheets. Yeah, thought so.

Writing this really made me focus on the positives in life. Cheesy I know, but it’s true. Leave me your own Five Good Things in the comments below, I’d love to hear them.

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Gemma Tomlinson http://www.hellogemma.com <![CDATA[Vegan Food Prep]]> http://www.hellogemma.com/?p=6691 2016-10-09T10:32:00Z 2016-10-08T09:50:47Z One of the questions I get most often on my YouTube channel is “How do you find the time to cook?” – We all have things we enjoy doing and for me cooking is a less a chore and more ...

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Vegan Food Prep

One of the questions I get most often on my YouTube channel is “How do you find the time to cook?” – We all have things we enjoy doing and for me cooking is a less a chore and more a relaxing hobby. I love it, so I will always prioritise a bit of time to experiment and try new methods. I am however well aware that not everyone feels the way I do, and that even if they do their schedule often doesn’t allow for much time in the kitchen. Plant based food has a reputation for being particularly difficult but vegan food prep can be easy, quick and delicious, and I want to show you how.

Even though I work from home and don’t have to pack a lunch, it still doesn’t mean I can or want to cook intricate meals all day. I still have work to complete, so for busier weeks meal prepping is really a godsend. A bit of time spent in the kitchen on Sundays can set you up for the coming days, and it doesn’t have to be boring. There are some staple things I always make, like hummus that can quickly go inside a wrap with salad or falafel, rice or quinoa that can be heated up alongside chili or curry from the freezer, and roasted vegetables that can be eaten as a snack, side dish or stuffed into a quick plant based lasagne.

In this video I wanted to show how versatile food prep can be. You don’t need to plan every single meal, instead I like to create building blocks that will enable me to put dishes together quickly. The BBQ pulled chicken goes perfectly with the black bean quinoa to stuff a burrito, the pesto pasta salad is the perfect “I’m STARVING, what’s in the fridge” food to grab, the satay noodles can be quickly heated and served with the duck salad and the chicken soup is always there when you need a hearty, warming bowl of comfort food.

One of my favourite things about food prepping this way is that your fridge always feels like you just had people over for a buffet and you got to keep all the delicious leftovers. Surely I’m not the only one who loves the meals that result from that? These are just some of the exciting, easy and tasty plant based meals you can prep for the week ahead, I hope you like the ideas, and I will definitely share more like this if you find this helpful. Happy food prepping!

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Gemma Tomlinson http://www.hellogemma.com <![CDATA[COLAB Active Dry Shampoo]]> http://www.hellogemma.com/?p=6494 2016-08-01T19:04:56Z 2016-08-01T19:03:39Z As many of you already know from this rave, COLAB sheer and invisible is pretty much the only dry shampoo I use. Made by the lovely Ruth Crilly, it’s cruelty free, works well and doesn’t leave you feeling like your ...

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colab

As many of you already know from this rave, COLAB sheer and invisible is pretty much the only dry shampoo I use. Made by the lovely Ruth Crilly, it’s cruelty free, works well and doesn’t leave you feeling like your hair is laden with product. I use the London scent religiously, but there’s a new kid on the block, COLAB Active, and it might just be the perfect summer fling.

With a super fresh scent, this new Active version offers UV protection, pollution protection and is conditioning, giving hair a bit of a helping hand through the hotter months. If you wash your hair a lot, either because you’re at the gym, you get sweatier in this weather (happens to the best of us) or you’re lucky enough to be going on holiday and hopping in and out of the water, this one might just be for you.

I tend to use the London scent daily (even if my hair is clean) since I love the fragrance and I have an annoying habit of touching the front section of my ‘do a lot so using a bit of COLAB keeps it looking freshly washed at all times. COLAB active now lives in my gym bag for times when I need a little more from a dry shampoo.

COLAB Active is £3.99 for 200ml.

Items featured on Hello Gemma may have been sent as press samples for review consideration or purchased. All opinions are honest and my own, any sponsored content will be clearly marked and some affiliate links may be used.Read my full ethics statement here.

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Gemma Tomlinson http://www.hellogemma.com <![CDATA[Garlic & Herb Vegan Cream Cheese]]> http://www.hellogemma.com/?p=6137 2016-07-26T00:00:47Z 2016-06-03T08:29:51Z “But what about cheese?” – pretty much the first thing any vegan hears when they reveal their diet to a stranger. I get it, I really do. Cheese was one of my favourite foods prior to going plant based, and along with eggs, ...

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Garlic & Herb Vegan Cream Cheese
“But what about cheese?” – pretty much the first thing any vegan hears when they reveal their diet to a stranger. I get it, I really do. Cheese was one of my favourite foods prior to going plant based, and along with eggs, it was the one thing I thought I would really pine for, however strong my ethical reasons for abstaining were. Incredibly I did not miss cheese at all which truly shocked me. If I, someone who could happily munch on a whole mozzarella ball can do it, there’s hope for us all.

Science indicates that our bodies break down casein (the primary protein in cheese) into peptides called casomorphin, which have an opioid-like effect on humans, so yes, your cheese “addiction” is likely a real one. After a couple of weeks of no dairy I found it didn’t even cross my mind which is somewhat crazy, but no doubt nut cheeses and other alternatives played a big part. I was still getting my fix of everything I loved about cheese – the mix of fat and salt, that texture and taste, just from plant sources and minus the cruelty.

I’ll do a roundup of my favourite vegan cheeses soon (there are some very good and very bad offerings out there) but today I have a recipe for an easy vegan cream cheese spread that’s perfect on a toasted bagel in the morning. When the dairy free garlic and herb Tesco cheese I was loving disappeared from the shelves I started to experiment and the results weren’t too far from the shop-bought stuff. My version is a little softer but still holds it’s own and is also delicious in a baked potato or added to a tomato pasta sauce to make it creamy. The possibilities are endless!

Ingredients:

1/2 block of firm tofu (or about 200g)

1/2 a cup of cashew nuts, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained

2tbsp plant milk or plant cream (almond, soya, oat, rice etc)

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

3/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes (for the cheesy flavour)

A splash of lemon juice

An optional drop of maple syrup or agave to taste if needed (some cream cheeses have a hint of sweetness, this is totally optional)

Herbs of your choice – I like to add 1/2 tsp of chives and parsley but you can add your favourites

 

Method:

Once you’ve drained your cashews they should be soft enough for a blender. If you have a high powered blender like a Vitamix, you can get away with soaking them for an hour in hot water.

Add all of your ingredients to a blender and blitz on high for a few minutes or until totally smooth. Be sure to check the cashews are totally blended.

Transfer your cheese to a jar, the blender will have warmed this up during the process and it will appear runny at this point.

Leave the cream cheese in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours, this is even better the next day when it’s firmed up, but should be spreadable in 4 hours, if you’re desperate you can chill it faster in the freezer for the first 15 mins but keep an eye on it.

Voila! You have vegan cream cheese.

 

I’ve already gone through 2 jars of this and I can’t wait to experiment with flavours, let me know if you make this easy vegan cream cheese, I would love to see your photos!

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Gemma Tomlinson http://www.hellogemma.com <![CDATA[The Body Shop Piñita Colada Collection]]> http://www.hellogemma.com/?p=6140 2016-07-31T03:19:29Z 2016-06-01T12:31:48Z It’s that time of year…I’m drying my laundry outside on the regular and I’ve had a barbecue and at least two frozen cocktails which means summer is well and truly on it’s way. Up until this point I thought there was no ...

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The Body Shop Piñita Colada CollectionIt’s that time of year…I’m drying my laundry outside on the regular and I’ve had a barbecue and at least two frozen cocktails which means summer is well and truly on it’s way. Up until this point I thought there was no scent that encapsulated sunny days better than coconut (I have been known to slather on The Body Shop’s body butter in the warmer months like it’s going out of fashion) but surprisingly, something has eclipsed it. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce Piñita Colada.

If anyone was going to better my favourite summer scent, it would be The Body Shop themselves, and they’ve gone and done it alright, with this delicious new body care range. I’ve had a serious love of pineapple and coconut together for years (may have overdone it on the Malibu con piña’s on my Spanish exchange) and this really does smell like the tropical cocktail dreams are made of. Do you have the Piña Colada song stuck in your head already? I bet you do. The whole Piñita Colada range contains soya bean oil which comes from community fair trade organisation Gebana in Brazil, rich in essential fatty acids and leaving you silky smooth.

The Body Shop Piñita Colada Collection

If you fancy a bit of Piñita Colada in your life this summer you have a fair few products to choose from, with a body wash (£5) an exfoliating scrub with real shredded coconut (£15) their famous body butter (£6 and £14) and a body sorbet for those who like their moisturisers on the lighter side (£8) It’s the perfect range to take on a hot, sunny holiday with you, or if you’re staying at home this summer you can at least bring warmer shores to you and smell tropical in your local beer garden. It’s the little things!

The Body Shop Piñita Colada CollectionPiñita Colada is available in Body Shop stores now, have you given it a whiff yet? I’m craving a cocktail already…

Items featured on Hello Gemma may have been sent as press samples for review consideration or purchased. All opinions are honest and my own, any sponsored content will be clearly marked and some affiliate links may be used.Read my full ethics statement here.

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Gemma Tomlinson http://www.hellogemma.com <![CDATA[Vegan Bacon Wrapped Onion Rings]]> http://www.hellogemma.com/?p=6133 2016-07-31T02:33:28Z 2016-04-23T12:11:19Z I’ve been experimenting a lot with homemade vegan bacon after discovering a new way to make it myself. I first came across laekon (aka, lovely bacon/vegan rice paper bacon) in a Facebook group I’m part of. The video showing how ...

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Vegan Bacon Wrapped Onion Rings
I’ve been experimenting a lot with homemade vegan bacon after discovering a new way to make it myself. I first came across laekon (aka, lovely bacon/vegan rice paper bacon) in a Facebook group I’m part of. The video showing how to make this vegan bacon is here and I have to take my hat off to to Kasper and Karina from veganer.nu for creating such an amazing thing! The idea behind this vegan bacon is to use rice paper, as in, the things you use to wrap spring rolls. You simply soak the rice paper in water to soften, then place it into a marinade which you can customise as you wish, and cook.

I’ve tried making the vegan bacon marinade a number of different ways, this time I ran out of liquid smoke but I still managed to get a nice tasty flavour. I recommend following Kasper and Karina’s recipe for the marinade (2 tbsp oil, 3 tbsp soy sauce, 6 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1/2 tsp – liquid smoke and water to thin down) but I have also added mustard, hot sauce and a little bit of ketchup and maple syrup to give a sweeter bacon taste. It is so customisable!

I’ve been throwing this stuff into a carbonara (which will be coming soon!) and on vegan BLTs, it’s honestly so good and way better than the store-bought vegan and veggie bacon. I was browsing Pinterest and saw someone had used bacon to make onion rings, a light bulb went off in my head and I knew I could make my own version, minus the animal cruelty, cholesterol and terrible impact on the environment and I got to work!

I usually cook my laekon in the oven on a silicone baking sheet , but for this recipe I simply chopped one large onion, and wrapped the rice paper around the onion ring until it was completely covered. This is messy work, and you often need to use two or three strips of “bacon” to cover the large ones, but it’s so worth it! I then dunked the onion ring in the marinade once again to replace any flavour I squeezed off the rice paper strips trying to cover the onion.

I mixed some vegan mayo with chipotle paste and hot sauce for a spicy, creamy dip and once the onion rings had baked (at around 200 degrees C for 10 mins) they were ready to eat. They take a little bit longer than the laekon strips because they are wrapped around the onion but keep an eye on them as they do cook quickly!

Have you guys tried experimenting with rice paper vegan bacon? I would highly recommend it! Matt (who ate meat up until last year) gives it his seal of approval! If you need me, I’ll be wrapping anything that stands still long enough in this rice paper…

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Gemma Tomlinson http://www.hellogemma.com <![CDATA[DIY Vegan Easter Egg]]> http://www.hellogemma.com/?p=6118 2016-07-31T02:44:24Z 2016-03-18T21:30:42Z Easter is upon is and the supermarket aisles are filled with chocolate eggs! Whilst there are vegan offerings to be had there’s no denying that the cruelty free options are often lumped together with the food intolerance/free from offerings. It’s ...

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DIY Vegan Easter EggDIY Vegan Easter EggDIY Vegan Easter EggEaster is upon is and the supermarket aisles are filled with chocolate eggs! Whilst there are vegan offerings to be had there’s no denying that the cruelty free options are often lumped together with the food intolerance/free from offerings. It’s wonderful that these exist but I can’t help feel like the packaging and effort doesn’t compare to the mainstream Easter Eggs with their free toys, branded merchandise and bright colours. There seems to be a gap in the market between supermarket own brand ‘free from’ and luxury adult dark chocolate eggs, so what the shops lack, I like to make myself! If you have dairy-free children, vegan children or are an adult who just loves chocolate like me, this is a fun DIY that can be endlessly customised and is pretty easy all in all.

This is the first of 3 DIY vegan Easter treats I’ll be bringing your way this weekend, so keep your eyes out for a caramel egg and a creme egg! To make this egg I purchased a mould on eBay which arrived very quickly, so I would highly recommend this seller. Have fun and happy egg making!

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Gemma Tomlinson http://www.hellogemma.com <![CDATA[Peppermint Mocha Body Scrub – DIY]]> http://www.hellogemma.com/?p=6112 2016-03-09T11:10:37Z 2016-03-09T11:10:37Z I’ve been making a body scrub recently that is so inexpensive and quick, I had to share it. You see coffee scrubs all over Instagram, but it’s insanely simple to DIY one yourself, and the best part is how you’re ...

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DIY Peppermint Mocha Body ScrubI’ve been making a body scrub recently that is so inexpensive and quick, I had to share it. You see coffee scrubs all over Instagram, but it’s insanely simple to DIY one yourself, and the best part is how you’re able to customise it. Personally I love the combination of peppermint, coffee and chocolate so that’s my recipe of choice. The peppermint perks you up in the shower, the coffee exfoliates like a dream and the chocolate adds a hint of sweetness – I seriously love using this! Find out how to make it below:

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Gemma Tomlinson http://www.hellogemma.com <![CDATA[The Best Vegan Handbags]]> http://www.hellogemma.com/?p=6092 2016-03-02T17:23:39Z 2016-03-02T17:23:39Z We are all aware of the cruelty that occurs within the fur industry – I feel like a week doesn’t go by without me watching something shared on Facebook, seeing another celebrity go naked for PETA or reading posts by people denouncing ...

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AW16Lookbook.pdf-4We are all aware of the cruelty that occurs within the fur industry – I feel like a week doesn’t go by without me watching something shared on Facebook, seeing another celebrity go naked for PETA or reading posts by people denouncing Canada Goose for continuing to use coyote fur. Their official line? “We do not use fake or faux fur because it simply does not protect as well as real fur. Faux fur is only a fashion statement.” You can’t see me right now but let’s just say my eyes are rolling. Hard.

Leather has become such a normal part of our marketplace that people will happily denounce fur as unnecessarily cruel, yet sling a handbag over their shoulder which is essentially fur without the hair. It’s become so synonymous with ‘luxury’ that we don’t stop to think about how it was made, what it once was, and what or who was sacrificed to produce it. Turning a blind eye to something because it’s just ‘the done thing’ is nothing new, I have been gifted leather bags myself even when I was a vegetarian, but over the past few years and especially since I went vegan, I have searched hard to find beautiful, high quality bags that mean I don’t have to put my essentials inside dead flesh. That might sound dramatic, but hey, its true, leather is pretty nasty.

AW16Lookbook.pdf-11So why is leather such a problem? Many people believe leather is a by-product of the meat industry but this is often false, animals are killed for meat and leather, so millions of animals are being slaughtered specifically for all the ‘luxury’ goods we are buying. It was discovered recently in China that many dogs were slaughtered and passed off as sheepskin in products shipped around the world, so you could well be wearing dog skin whilst walking your very own canine friend. Animal cruelty aside, the leather industry is also incredibly damaging to the environment and dumps tonnes of toxic chemicals which often end up in water supplies. It also harms workers – 90% of Bangladeshi leather tanners (many of whom are children trying to earn enough money to support their families) die before the age of 50 and work miserable and dangerous jobs to process the leather that ends up in our hands. Is the allure of a leather bag really worth it?

It’s true that nowadays it’s hard to know what you can really do to have much of an impact on the world, it sometimes feels like everything comes at a cost, but at a time when there are so many amazing high end vegan fashion lines thriving and producing excellent quality items, it’s no longer necessary to support such a cruel and damaging trade. Non-leather items have never been more accessible, you can walk into any high street store and find low cost synthetic products (Zara, Forever 21, H&M are just a few) but I also wanted to highlight some designer vegan brands producing sustainable, responsible designs with a slightly higher price tag. Vegan fashion doesn’t have to mean cheap, ugly, poor quality or old fashioned, so I’ve rounded up some amazing brands making beautiful, luxurious pieces…
vegan handbagsMatt & Nat were the first vegan handbag brand (Stella McCartney aside, my budget doesn’t quite stretch that far!) on my radar, and I now own two bags from their line, both of which I’ve used on a near-daily basis for over a year. They are incredibly well made, with classic, clean lines and I always adore their colour scheme. The Montreal-based label are dedicated to finding sustainable and eco-friendly ways to make their products, and use different recycled materials such as recycled nylons, cardboard, rubber and cork. The lining of their bags is made from recycled plastic bottles and they sell their beautiful bags on their own site and also on ASOS.

vegan handbagsRotterdam based Denise Roobol studied for four years at the Willem de Koonig Design Academy, and left wanting to produce high fashion, functional pieces that were minimalist and vegan friendly. Using durable high tech vegan leather from Hong Kong, Denise makes beautiful pieces, my favourite of which is the Cruise bag, featured in baby blue above. She also sells key holders and wallets in her online store, and I am definitely adding some of her pieces to my wishlist!

vegan handbags

LaBante London (whose motto is Fashion with Respect) are new on my vegan radar, and I actually found them accidentally whilst searching for non leather bags on the Debenhams website, where they retail. Their bags are so pretty, and I think they would especially suit fans of brands like Kate Spade, with their chic, clean lines that have a touch of grown up girly interest to them. Their price point is the most accessible of all these brands and I love that they are stocked in such a mainstream British retail store. I find it hard to pick my favourite design – I could find place for all of these in my wardrobe.

vegan handbagsWilby Clutch have a real heritage brand feel. Founded in Chelsea, London, their designs are luxurious, chic and all made in the UK. They use eco friendly materials such as recyclable cloth, organic cotton and cork leather, showing that you can have beautiful designs without sacrificing the planet or the animals. I’m a huge fan of their chain tote and clutch bags, and I can’t wait to see more from them in the future.

It’s time we stopped looking at leather as a sign of luxury and prestige, and ask ourselves why we are so horrified by fur yet covet designer goods that openly label their items ‘calfskin’ or ‘lambskin’ – are we so entranced by the branding that we forget what we are paying through the nose for? So many of us (my past self included) lust over designer goods with thousand pound price tags, we buy into the prestige and feelings of elitism but there is nothing sexy or luxurious about dead skin, environmental damage and exploitation. I truly hope this post shows that you can love fashion and also put your money behind ethical brands, and that vegan leather can be durable, covetable, high quality and on trend. All I ask is that upon reading this you consider your stance and know where the bags and shoes you buy really come from, knowledge is power after all.

AW16Lookbook.pdf-5If you know any other awesome vegan bag brands do let me know, hell knows I’m always adding more to my mental wishlist! If you’d like to see a similar post on where to find beautiful vegan shoes, let me know.

The images in this post are from the LaBante London AW15/16 Lookbook.

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Gemma Tomlinson http://www.hellogemma.com <![CDATA[Bedroom Decor – Before & After]]> http://www.hellogemma.com/?p=6073 2016-07-31T02:44:14Z 2016-02-15T15:54:48Z Today I want to share some photos of our bedroom decor, which is something I have been putting off for ages, thinking it wasn’t done to my satisfaction and that I would only film and photograph it when it was ...

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home decor bedroom modern bright minimal scandinavian colour white home decor furnishing
Today I want to share some photos of our bedroom decor, which is something I have been putting off for ages, thinking it wasn’t done to my satisfaction and that I would only film and photograph it when it was ready. I have since learned that ‘ready’ is something I never am, there’s always a new item of furniture to buy, something I want to move and things that can be better. Like all the rooms in our house it’s only when you look back at how truly awful they were that you realise actually, you’ve not done too shabby a job of it.

home decor bedroom modern bright minimal scandinavian colour white home decor furnishing
When we first renovated the house we already had a lot of furniture from our London flat, so we made use of things like my trusty Ikea dressing table and the BFF of many a beauty blogger, the Alex 9 drawer storage unit (seriously, that thing stores a lot of makeup!) The room has a huge window, like most of the windows in this house it’s not a standard drop or width but it does let in a lot of light in the daytime which is lovely. We have a blackout blind from Ikea and then I softened it with these bargain sheer curtains which I love.

home decor bedroom modern bright minimal scandinavian colour white home decor furnishing
Maddie has her own bed in here, but she thinks she’s too good for that and spends most of her time at the foot of the bed watching the world go by out of the window. She spends many a day stretching out and occasionally coming over to my laptop to check on my work – seriously, she’s a little bossy boots. The room had a pendant light and I picked up a new shade from Made.com which I absolutely love, it’s simple yet a bit different to the usual lampshade and fits in well with the grey tones in the room, I’m a total grey addict and we used ‘Silver Mist’ paint by Homebase on the walls, I love how it contrasts with the white in the room.

home decor bedroom modern bright minimal scandinavian colour white home decor furnishing
I used a couple of Ikea picture rails around the room, one above our bed for some decor, and one above the dressing table where I store some nail polishes. The print above the bed is by Ella Masters (she’s closing her online store this week and has 50% off with the code FLASH50 so if you like her stuff I suggest you pounce now!) and it sits next to my favourite album by my favourite lady, Jenny Lewis.

home decor bedroom modern bright minimal scandinavian colour white home decor furnishing
We knew we needed extra storage in the room, so we opted for a bed with four built in drawers and it saves so much space when it comes to bedding, pyjamas and towels, they all tuck away out of sight. I got our headboard on eBay from a shop that specialised in them, it was a total bargain and I love the freedom of having two separate pieces, so you can change the look of your bed in time without having to get a whole new item of furniture. We usually have some variation of white bedding, so the alphabet cushions add some interest, although the dog thinks the M stands for Maddie, not Matt!

home decor bedroom modern bright minimal scandinavian colour white home decor furnishing
Another eBay bargain was our rug, we opted for laminate flooring and we needed something to add some warmth and bring a cosy feeling back to the room, a quick search for fluffy rugs brought up a shop near us and we actually went to collect it. I chose a cool toned grey that is pretty much the same shade as the wall paint, and it ties everything together nicely.

home decor bedroom modern bright minimal scandinavian colour white home decor furnishing
We opted for bedside tables on wheels, since our bed has storage we needed to be able to access the back drawers. Originally I bought floating shelves but it didn’t look quite right, and I hated how all the wires were on show when we charged our phone or had the lamps plugged in. I spotted these bargain tables in Ikea and I loved how the colour added some fun to the room and complemented the cool tones in the grey paint. They have holes in the bottom to feed your phone charger through, so we actually have so much plugged in inside that table! iPhone chargers, camera units, Kindles, you name it they are charging away in there and nobody would be any the wiser.

home decor bedroom modern bright minimal scandinavian colour white home decor furnishing
We repurposed an old mirror my parents had in our family home and painted it white to match the rest of 0ur furniture. I originally planned to hang it, but it’s been leaning on the top of the bookshelves for a while and I actually quite like the way it looks. The bookshelves themselves are the insanely inexpensive Billy bookcases from Ikea – when I spotted how Kate styled them in her living room I thought they would make a great addition to our bedroom. We originally had a large Hemnes dresser there but we decided to move that to the guest room which is where all our clothes are, this was possibly the best thing we did for the room. Switching it up for these bookcases added some extra decor and moving the clothes out of our room entirely has made it way more relaxing, almost hotel-like.

home decor bedroom modern bright minimal scandinavian colour white home decor furnishinghome decor bedroom modern bright minimal scandinavian colour white home decor furnishing
I’m really happy with how everything turned out in the end, my goal was to have something bright, airy and peaceful but not sterile. I love cosy spaces and I like the fact that the furniture is a blank canvas, so if we get bored with the bits and bobs we have on display we can swap them out or add things seasonally without much effort.

home decor bedroom modern bright minimal scandinavian colour white home decor furnishing home decor bedroom modern bright minimal scandinavian colour white home decor furnishing
For some reason I’m struggling to find photos of how the room was before (maybe it was so horrendous that I have hidden them away somewhere!) but I do have video footage, so if you’d like to have a video tour around this room and see the before in all it’s dirty, bare brick, toilet-in-the-middle-of-the-room glory, take a peek at my video and don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already so you’re updated when I upload new ones!

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Gemma Tomlinson http://www.hellogemma.com <![CDATA[The Vegan Kind February 2016]]> http://www.hellogemma.com/?p=6066 2016-02-12T08:03:22Z 2016-02-12T08:03:22Z Getting The Vegan Kind boxes each month is honestly a bit of a highlight for me. I have two other subscription services (razors and coffee) but they are essentials and this is my little treat to myself every 4 weeks. I ...

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the vegan kind february 2016 28 box review
Getting The Vegan Kind boxes each month is honestly a bit of a highlight for me. I have two other subscription services (razors and coffee) but they are essentials and this is my little treat to myself every 4 weeks. I love discovering new brands, trying products from ones I already love and unwrapping a little mystery parcel. I say this every time I unbox them (I usually show these over on my food YouTube channel) but I have never been disappointed by a single box, and I would recommend them to anyone, regardless of their dietary preferences. If you like food, and you like to try new things, you should give it a whirl!

the vegan kind february 2016 28 box review
This month’s box is made up of my favourite things: nuts, popcorn, chocolate, peanut butter, tea and beauty products. That seriously couldn’t be a better mix of items for me, here’s the lowdown on what was in there…

  • Eat Chic box of two dark chocolate peanut butter cups (£3) I’ve had this brand in the past and I really enjoyed the tasty treats from the East London based artisan chocolatier. One of these is topped with malden sea salt and the other is garnished with dried coconut and even contains coconut peanut butter inside. You can’t see me right now but I look like the heart eyes emoji.
  • Chikas Sea Salt & Black Pepper Cashews (£1.89) I’m nuts about nuts, and cashews are my absolute favourite, closely followed by pistachios. I love to have either nuts or a snack bar in my bag for when hunger strikes (nobody likes hangry Gemma) so these will go straight in my handbag. These are lightly toasted and salt and pepper never goes out of style.
  • Ombar Centres Coconut & Vanilla (£1.99) I’ve been a big Ombar fan since we moved to London in 2012. The health food shop on the same road as our flat stocked the whole range and I developed a bit of a habit to say the least (Goji Berry was my favourite) Ever since we moved back up North I’ve tracked them down again and I’ve developed a love of their chocolate buttons. I’ve never had these ‘centres’ bars though, so I’m super excited to try this and I’m saving this for Sunday afternoon with a cup of coffee, post walking the dog! This has a coconut and vanilla centre and is covered in chocolate – TVK team say it’s like a smoother Bounty bar and I’m looking like that heart eyes emoji again…
  • Ten Acre Sour Cream & Chive Popcorn (80p) I have a confession to make, I have already demolished this bag of popcorn and it’s the best savoury kind I’ve ever had! Ten Acre have some seriously creative flavours and I’m quite partial to their crisps, but this is really next level popcorn, I need to get my hands on more of this! Matt loved it too.
  • Human+Kind Grapefruit Shampoo & Body Wash (£6) We had another Human+Kind item in a previous box and I absolutely loved it, right down to the beautiful packaging. They are great at multi-tasking products and this is good for hair and body, smelling delicious to boot. I think I will keep this in my gym bag to save carrying two items, and whilst I can’t usually get away with using body wash on my hair, this is sulphate free so I’m definitely going to give it a whirl!
  • TG Green tea Teabags (£4.29) Although I drink my body weight in Yorkshire tea every day, I also love green tea, I even have special mugs to drink it from, too far? These pyramid bags are filled with ethically sourced green tea and infused with ginger and lemon zest which sounds absolutely delicious. Put the kettle on!

Box cost – £10

Box value – £17.97

Have you tried any of these items or brands before? What is your favourite treat to you, from you?

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Gemma Tomlinson http://www.hellogemma.com <![CDATA[Barry M Chisel Cheeks Contour Kit]]> http://www.hellogemma.com/?p=6059 2016-02-10T18:52:25Z 2016-02-10T13:50:03Z I love the British high street and the affordable makeup options we have, even more so when they are committed to being cruelty free, but there’s one thing our budget makeup can improve on and that’s diversity. I’ve spoken about this ...

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barry m chisel cheeks contour palette highlight bronzer light dark skin tone new barry m chisel cheeks contour palette highlight bronzer light dark skin tone new
I love the British high street and the affordable makeup options we have, even more so when they are committed to being cruelty free, but there’s one thing our budget makeup can improve on and that’s diversity. I’ve spoken about this a few times in the past, but the aisles of our shops don’t always reflect the beautiful people shopping in them – often people with darker (and lighter!) skin tones have to shop at higher end counters to find the shade that fits them, paying more in the process.

Whilst in the past this has been a simple case of supply and demand (there’s only so much display space after all) this is 2016, we are a diverse nation and there is a huge market to be tapped into, people want to walk into a shop and have more choice than just the Sleek stand. With that in mind, I was so happy this morning to see that my favourite affordable contour kit from Barry M now comes in a deeper shade. The original release has been much loved in my collection and I’ve used it several times on my channel. Whilst it was perfect for my colouring it’s great to see the new offering for medium to dark skin tones, and from a cruelty free, affordable company no less.

The texture is the same as the original release, with a lighter shade, a bronzing powder and a deeper contour, so it’s a great option for people dipping their toe into the contouring world or those of us who don’t want to spend a fortune chiselling our cheekbones. Obviously I can’t put the shades to the test on myself but what do you guys think? If you have a deeper skin tone do these look like shades that would be useful to you? At £6.49 this won’t break the bank so I’d love to hear your thoughts, let me know in the comments!

Items featured on Hello Gemma may have been sent as press samples for review consideration or purchased. All opinions are honest and my own, any sponsored content will be clearly marked and some affiliate links may be used.Read my full ethics statement here.

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Gemma Tomlinson http://www.hellogemma.com <![CDATA[Easy Vegan Pancakes]]> http://www.hellogemma.com/?p=6052 2016-07-31T02:44:29Z 2016-02-09T16:44:15Z It’s Pancake Day! I just made the fluffiest pancakes ever and the recipe took me totally by surprise so I had to cobble together a quick post for those of you who might be interested (sorry for the low-res image, ...

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pancakes vegan easy simple 2 ingredient fluffy light
It’s Pancake Day! I just made the fluffiest pancakes ever and the recipe took me totally by surprise so I had to cobble together a quick post for those of you who might be interested (sorry for the low-res image, I’ll replace it soon!)

These pancakes are made of only three ingredients, and could be made using two if you were really in a bind. Magic. They are totally vegan, incredibly fluffy and airy and taste delicious with your favourite toppings on. All you need for these is self raising flour, soy milk and sparkling water. I haven’t made these without the sparkling water, and whilst that does go some way to make these so fluffy, I’m sure you could make a basic pancake without it.

Simply mix 1 cup of sifted self raising flour with 3/4 cup soy milk and 1/4 cup sparkling water to form a smooth batter. You can double, triple or quadruple this ratio to feed as many people as you need to, but the basic idea is 1 cup of flour to 1 cup of liquid, and 1/4 of that liquid is sparkling water. Super easy, and these bubble up to a deliciously light texture and flip easily.

Let me know if you make these, and let me know what your favourite pancake toppings are below! I’m partial to some maple syrup but I love good old fashioned sugar and lemon juice too!

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Gemma Tomlinson http://www.hellogemma.com <![CDATA[Cruelty Free Beauty & Parent Companies – My Stance]]> http://www.hellogemma.com/?p=6040 2016-02-05T14:18:10Z 2016-02-05T13:58:16Z In August last year I made the decision to switch my blog and YouTube channel over to cruelty free beauty. In all honesty this was long overdue – I have been vegetarian for most of my life and I switched ...

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barry m barrym cruelty free beauty makeup cosmetics uk blogger gemma hellogemma get up and glow palette blush dupe inexpensive cheap drugstoreIn August last year I made the decision to switch my blog and YouTube channel over to cruelty free beauty. In all honesty this was long overdue – I have been vegetarian for most of my life and I switched to vegan almost a year ago, so why wasn’t my choice to live a more compassionate lifestyle reflecting in my makeup bag too? I rifled through my heaving Ikea Alex unit and pulled out everything that had been tested on animals. As the products littered my rug (about a third of my collection) I glanced over at my dog Maddie who was watching me intently and felt sick with guilt that it had taken me this long. Any lingering doubts quickly left my mind, and whilst the dog was probably just hoping for a treat or wondering why I was looking wistfully at a Bobbi Brown palette, to me it felt like a sign I was doing the right thing.

Had I been a regular makeup consumer I wouldn’t have been so hasty in ruthlessly getting rid of my cosmetics, I would have used them up and just not repurchased them, after all the money was already spent and the damage already done. I’m not however a ‘normal’ makeup lover, I blog about it and I have so much that even after filling four big boxes of animal tested items my drawers were still bucking under the weight of lipsticks. I’m still using up foundations and items that couldn’t be sanitised, but they won’t be going on my blog or my channel unless it’s in the form of an “Empties” video where I will make their cruelty free status (or lack thereof) clear. I didn’t see any point in having all this stuff going bad in my drawers and having to remind myself not to wear it in a video – someone else could make use of them, so off they went to family, friends and a local women’s refuge.

Although I announced that my channel would be cruelty free at the end of a video and on Instagram, I didn’t make a huge fanfare about it nor did I make a big announcement post on this website, mostly because I was still knee-deep in research and wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing. If a brand changed their stance and I had unknowingly used something that wasn’t cruelty free I was worried that others would read the post and make the same mistake. I was diligently reading lots of cruelty free blogs and quickly realising that everyone had their own criteria when it came to determining the status of brands. Where did I stand?

US American Beauty Haul Cruelty Free Beauty Blogger Hello Gemma Milani LA Girl ELFI am not an expert, and there are people who have been doing this far longer than I have, and who know far more than I do. I cannot emphasise enough how much I recommend people do some of their own research and decide where they stand on the issue. For me this applies across many things in life, we are all better off when we check things out for ourselves and form our own conclusions based on what we know. Having said that, I do think it’s time I have some sort of statement on my website so that readers know the status of products I feature and my opinion on certain divisive issues in the cruelty free community, so here it is…

I do not feature brands or products that have been tested on animals and I have three main points when it comes to determining what I consider cruelty free. Firstly have the finished products or any of their ingredients been tested on animals by the brand? Secondly have the finished products or any of their ingredients been tested on behalf of the brand by a third party? (This one is important as a lot of brands claim they don’t test but get around it by paying other people to do so) Thirdly does the brand sell their products in a foreign market such as China that requires animal testing by law? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, I don’t want to feature the item and I don’t want to take money from the company for a sponsored feature or collaboration. I use trusted resources and email brands myself to get answers for these questions so to the best of my knowledge anything I present as cruelty free meets this criteria.

It’s important to note that many companies claiming to be cruelty free fall at the China hurdle. China requires that any brand with a physical retail presence (so that’s their own store, or being physically sold in stores like Sephora) must allow their products to be tested on animals. The government carries out the testing, but the brands fund it. There are exceptions, for example Hong Kong, which is technically part of China but has many of it’s own laws and a difference in animal testing stance is one of them. A brand can retail in Hong Kong and still be cruelty free.

vegan organic cruelty free beauty hellogemma gemma skincare blogger natural aloe vera santaverdeMany brands that were once cruelty free have started to sell in the Chinese market which means they now pay for animal testing. It’s a real shame, but they won’t be getting my money or support. A lot of companies manage to skirt this issue by setting up production in China – I am not an expert on this but I believe that currently the animal testing law only applies to imported brands, so if you have a plant in China which manufactures the products, these can be sold there without having to be tested. I often see that people are suspicious of cosmetics ‘made in China’ as they assume they will have been tested as default. Whilst they may or may not be tested on animals depending on the company’s stance, seeing ‘made in China’ doesn’t automatically mean it isn’t cruelty free, although I have yet to see a big western brand manufacture their products in China to circumvent the animal testing laws. Pretty much all the western brands I know of retailing in China are paying for testing.

China is a huge market, I can understand the potential profit is so enticing to a brand, but I personally cannot support established companies who were doing just fine financially going into a market and turning their back on their previous values. Urban Decay famously announced they would sell in China and received huge backlash from consumers. As a result, they listened and decided not to go ahead with plans to retail there, but for some people the fact that they even considered it was enough to stop shopping with them, and many still boycott the brand as a result. This is where we all have to decide where to draw the line.

Whilst some abandoned Urban Decay for considering China, I applaud the fact that they listened to their customers, after all, why do we sign petitions and make noise on social media if, when a brand changes their mind and does what we ask we still aren’t happy? I understand that for some people their trust in the brand was shaken, but I think it takes a lot to admit you were wrong and apologise to your customers. If Urban Decay decided to do right by their customers, whatever the reason, I will continue to purchase from them. That’s where I personally draw the line in that case.

too faced toofaced chocolate bar palette semi sweet semisweet cruelty free makeup review hello gemma hellogemmaThere are other blurred lines, which I am often asked about in the comments of my videos. Many brands with strong ethical values have been purchased by larger corporations – “parent companies” who also own other businesses. If the other brands under the parent company have questionable moral codes, the ethical company is accused of selling out, making a deal with the devil and going back on everything they once held dear. For me this isn’t as black and white as it may seem, it isn’t always that simple.

The Body Shop is probably the most famous example of an ethical brand “selling out” – in 2006 they were purchased by L’Oréal who were perhaps the antithesis of everything Anita Roddick built her business on, yet the deal wasn’t as clear cut a decision as people might think. This article gives a great insight when it comes to their reasons for agreeing the sale and this one  shares some of the ways The Body Shop was able to share fair trade suppliers with L’Oréal to improve their ingredient selection for their other brands such as Garnier and Kiehls. The buyers from The Body Shop were able to act as a go between for the small fair trade co-ops and L’Oréal, who now source many things more ethically than they once did. They learned from The Body Shop for the better and both parties benefited.

Whilst two brands might make for strange bedfellows, there are often benefits to a brand having a parent company – funding to keep a flailing business afloat, money for counters in major beauty halls, access to create and expand the product line, or in The Body Shop’s case being able to share ethical knowledge with a juggernaut and influence their future business operations. I’m not saying having a parent company with differing ethical values is necessarily a good thing, or the ideal option, but I do think it’s important to see that there is often a more nuanced relationship where both parties can benefit. It doesn’t mean we should automatically abandon a brand, but rather ask questions, find out more information and then make a decision as to whether or not we want to support them.

The Body Shop TBH Italian Summer Fig Perfume EFT Eau de Toilette Cruelty Free Gemma Hello HelloGemma Blog Beauty Lifestyle ReviewI use Urban Decay, The Body Shop and NYX (owned by L’Oréal), Tarte (owned by Kose), Nars and Bare Minerals (owned by Shiseido) and Liz Earle (owned by Avon) – it is important to note that all of these companies still retain their cruelty free status, they still don’t test on animals and their stance on the issue has not changed since they were bought out. If Urban Decay sold to L’Oréal and decided to then go into the Chinese market they would be testing and I would therefore not support them, but they don’t test and I still use their products. They retain their Leaping Bunny accreditation as a cruelty free brand.

Many people have issues with parent companies since a portion of the profit will be going to said corporation, and we might not like everything they do. I totally understand this viewpoint and really respect the people who decide to buy not only cruelty free, but also go further and only purchase from independent brands. I do however often see people comment that a brand cannot be cruelty free if it’s owned by a parent company, which simply isn’t true. Many of the brands I listed have the Leaping Bunny certification which means they are in fact certified cruelty free by the most respected body the community uses. Whether or not you want to support a brand or you consider it cruelty free based on your own set of criteria is another thing, so it’s important to know the difference.

This is a hot topic in the cruelty free community and there are arguments for and against buying from brands with parent companies, but for me the positives outweighed the negatives. There are two main reasons I am happy to continue using these brands and the first one is that it shows how easy going cruelty free can be. I get messages and emails all the time from people wanting to go cruelty free, and on my food channel wanting to go vegan, but worrying that it will be overwhelming, costly, too difficult, or that their life will have to change drastically. Whether we like it or not people don’t want to be seen as different or difficult, and we don’t like change, but I want to show people that small changes and minor choices can still have a positive impact, that it doesn’t need to be so hard.

contouring made easy becca one perfecting face brush ecotools gemma hello gemma cosmetics hellogemma makeup how to contour tutorialThe debate within the cruelty free community is mirrored within veganism, so I think it’s apt to make a comparison with my thoughts on this too. A food item is considered vegan if it doesn’t contain animal products, but many people also choose not to eat at restaurants that serve meat, spending their money only at vegan or vegetarian establishments which share their ethical concerns. Whilst I love to do this too, I also gladly purchase vegan options at mainstream supermarkets and restaurants. I am of the opinion that more vegetarian and vegan options is a good thing, so I will gladly eat Nandos vegan options despite it being predominantly a chicken restaurant, or celebrate a new vegan product at Tesco despite them selling meat.

Business is about supply and demand, so when we lobby for vegan options it’s also important that people buy them, otherwise why would the brand go to the trouble? For some vegans eating at Nandos is out of the question, but I want to show that there’s a demand for plant based options, and since I started eating there with my family their menu has gone from 1 veggie option to several veggie and vegan mains and lots of sides. Did you know Nandos garlic bread is even vegan? If more people buy these things, it sends a message to the brand to supply more, and evolve, so whilst I admire and respect others for only supporting small businesses, it isn’t the only way to do things. There is room for both schools of thought.

A huge goal for me is normalising a vegan and cruelty free lifestyle. Whilst you might not want to support McDonalds on the regular, if you can get a vegan burger when you’re stuck in traffic on the motorway that’s great. If a 15 year old goes shopping then to Nandos every Saturday with their friends and they don’t have to stick out like a sore thumb and bring a packed lunch, that’s a good thing. If a luxury beauty-loving woman wants to go cruelty free but feels like she’s going to have to only buy makeup at Whole Foods, I am all for her buying from Leaping Bunny certified brands at the beauty hall, even if they have a parent company. Lets face it, without said parent company they likely couldn’t afford to retail in luxury spaces in the first place.

illamasqua equinox collection celestial palette eyeshadow makeup cruelty freeThe way I feel about food is the way I feel about cosmetics. If a food is vegan I will buy it, even if it’s from a supermarket that also sells meat. If a makeup item is not tested on animals I will use it, even if it has a parent company who own brands that test. I want to show a demand for these products alongside smaller brands, in hopes of encouraging more ethical production in the future. I do however encourage people to do their own research, draw their own lines and come to their own conclusions. Whilst there are many resources online and copied and pasted email chains to be offered as proof of a brand’s status, you might want to email a company yourself to get the word right from the horses mouth.

So there we have it, a longer than anticipated essay of sorts on animal testing, parent companies and where I stand. I hope this encourages you to ask questions, decide where your lines are, and make informed and ethical purchases.

Points to consider:

  • Despite EU legislation banning animal testing, if a company physically retails in China they are required by law to test their products on animals and cannot be cruelty free. This means that some of your favourite companies are still conducting animal testing.
  • As a broad rule of thumb, if a brand is on the Sephora China website, animals are likely suffering. There may potentially be exceptions (for items manufactured in China) but this raises red flags and means you need to look into the brand if you don’t want to support testing.
  • A company can physically retail in Hong Kong and keep their cruelty free status intact.
  • There are several certifications that brands can have to prove their cruelty free status. Leaping Bunny and BUAV/Cruelty Free International are two of them, so you may see their bunny logo on products. PETA also have their own list, although I haven’t found this to be totally accurate so proceed with caution there. If you see the BUAV or Leaping Bunny logo a product is definitely cruelty free, and they have very stringent guidelines for brands to adhere to.
  • Not every cruelty free company is registered with Leaping Bunny or BUAV, either because they haven’t found the time or they think it will cost too much money (it’s actually free, but they do have to open their records and processing plants.) Other brands may not realise the importance of these schemes. Some of these brands are KIKO Milano and Becca. Both are cruelty free but are not registered with Leaping Bunny. Some people choose not to purchase from them for this reason, others are satisfied if the brand will answer their questions in an email, again it’s down to where you personally draw the line.
  • A company can be owned by a parent company who is not fully cruelty free yet still keep their own cruelty free status intact and remain Leaping Bunny certified.
  • Some brands are deceptive and use a bunny that isn’t the leaping bunny to make you think their products are cruelty free. Don’t be fooled, sometimes these logos mean nothing. Check out the real bunny here and if you aren’t sure, do your own research.
  •  Some brands state that they do not test finished products, ingredients or use third party testers but they may agree carry out animal testing if required by law. This can be a grey area, for example the brand might not actually retail anywhere that requires animal testing, but if they did they would theoretically comply. A lot of people find this unacceptable since the brand would consider it, however I usually go off whether or not they are actually retailing anywhere that requires testing. Stila is an example of this. Before they retailed in China in my eyes they were cruelty free even though they stated that they were open to retailing there. When they began selling (a quick search on Sephora China brings up some products) I no longer considered them cruelty free. I’m beginning to sound like a parrot now but again it’s important to decide what you are comfortable with.
  • If you live in the UK, all of Superdrug’s own brand products are Leaping Bunny certified, and many are vegan, this will be listed on the back of the item. If the idea of trying to find cruelty free toothpaste, shower gel, skincare, deodorant, shaving foam and hairspray on top of your makeup choices seems overwhelming, head to Superdrug and fill your basket! Easy.

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Gemma Tomlinson http://www.hellogemma.com <![CDATA[Snow Day]]> http://www.hellogemma.com/?p=6022 2016-02-01T18:08:38Z 2016-02-01T18:08:38Z As a child I truly loved the snow. I loved moulding it into chubby snowmen, the way it softly covered everything in a brilliant blanket and quite frankly the way it disrupted regular life. When you’re young you don’t have to worry ...

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hello gemma tomlinson lifestyle blog uk england british snow puppy dog vegan hello gemma tomlinson lifestyle blog uk england british snow puppy dog vegan hello gemma tomlinson lifestyle blog uk england british snow puppy dog vegan hello gemma tomlinson lifestyle blog uk england british snow puppy dog vegan hello gemma tomlinson lifestyle blog uk england british snow puppy dog vegan hello gemma tomlinson lifestyle blog uk england british snow puppy dog vegan hello gemma tomlinson lifestyle blog uk england british snow puppy dog vegan hello gemma tomlinson lifestyle blog uk england british snow puppy dog vegan hello gemma tomlinson lifestyle blog uk england british snow puppy dog vegan

As a child I truly loved the snow. I loved moulding it into chubby snowmen, the way it softly covered everything in a brilliant blanket and quite frankly the way it disrupted regular life. When you’re young you don’t have to worry about whether or not the tyres have enough tread on them, you don’t have to get to work to earn money and if school is cancelled and everything’s closed it feels like a thrilling adventure, not an inconvenience.

The older you get the more that icy wonder becomes a hassle, albeit a beautiful one. Roads are treacherous, you’re late for meetings and you need so many layers you may as well be headed to a fancy dress party as the Michelin man. It’s easy to just see the negatives (especially when you drive an automatic car – helloooo skidding) but I’m a firm believer that we all need to recapture the childlike wonder we once had. It does a body good.

I recently got to witness the snow through fresh eyes, those of my dog Maddie. It’s her first real snowfall since we adopted her and I loved watching her hop around in her new coat and then proceed to use her nose as a shovel, throwing snow everywhere. She wasn’t worrying about any of the downsides, and neither were the kids we saw sledding with glee, begging their tired looking parents for ‘one more go’ with excitement in their eyes and colour in their cheeks.

So here’s to ignoring the negatives for a bit and seeing the world through new eyes, even if only for a little while (or until the wet, muddy dog jumps on the sofa…) I hope you like this snowy photos I snapped, they sure are a contrast to my warmer Valencia post!

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Gemma Tomlinson http://www.hellogemma.com <![CDATA[Prime Time]]> http://www.hellogemma.com/?p=6018 2016-01-28T18:37:59Z 2016-01-28T18:37:59Z I should begin by saying that I have a hot and cold relationship with primers. Whilst I’ve definitely seen the benefit of some smoothing and radiance boosting offerings, I can just as easily do without them. I have pretty dehydrated skin ...

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this works in transit camera closeup review uk gemma hellogemma hello primer mask moisturiser

I should begin by saying that I have a hot and cold relationship with primers. Whilst I’ve definitely seen the benefit of some smoothing and radiance boosting offerings, I can just as easily do without them. I have pretty dehydrated skin so makeup doesn’t slide off me and most of the time some good skincare and a little facial massage does more for me than most primers can. Unless I’m trying to fill in some overly enthusiastic pores (we all have ’em) or it’s summer/that time of the month and I’m trying to keep the oil at bay, I’m firmly of the belief that a good moisturiser can suffice.

The fact that I’m not totally addicted to primers makes this post all the more interesting. I didn’t think I would end up writing a public love letter to one primer in particular but ladies and gents that day has arrived and the object of my affection is a multi tasker. To be honest, This Works had me at “camera close up” – I’ve had many a shocking experience looking at myself in the car mirror! We’ve all been there, you leave the house feeling pretty good and then your dull skin and unplucked brows hit you before you’ve even left your parking space. If you’re lucky your foundation might look the right colour and you didn’t go in too enthusiastically with the bronzer…

This product claims to be a primer, moisturiser and mask all rolled into one. Now, I have to admit I haven’t used this as a mask – for two reasons: Firstly, it’s worked so nicely on my skin that I didn’t feel like I needed to, and secondly I like it so much that I don’t want to use a lot of product and then wipe it off. I like this on my skin all day where it can work it’s magic, and by magic i mean make my skin look rested, luminous and hydrated. If my morning cup of coffee perks me up and leaves me ready to take on the day this does the same for my face. Foundation applies like a dream and my skin doesn’t feel irritated or tight, even with no other moisturiser underneath.

At £30 this is pricier than a lot of primers, but the fact that I can skip moisturiser means I’m using one less product and a little goes a long way. You can use this around the eye area and it even has SPF 30 so it’s got you covered, literally.

Have you tried this product before? What’s your favourite primer?

This Works In-transit Camera Close Up is £30 here.

Items featured on Hello Gemma may have been sent as press samples for review consideration or purchased. All opinions are honest and my own, any sponsored content will be clearly marked and some affiliate links may be used.Read my full ethics statement here.

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Gemma Tomlinson http://www.hellogemma.com <![CDATA[Christmas in Valencia]]> http://www.hellogemma.com/?p=6003 2016-01-26T12:13:30Z 2016-01-21T12:13:57Z Living away from loved ones can be tough, especially at Christmas. FaceTime and Skype are great, iMessage allows me to send photos of my day to my parents and the internet means it’s not hard to keep in touch, but ...

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valencia travel spain hello gemma tomlinson city europe family bloggerLiving away from loved ones can be tough, especially at Christmas. FaceTime and Skype are great, iMessage allows me to send photos of my day to my parents and the internet means it’s not hard to keep in touch, but there’s really no match for a huge hug and after-dinner chats with the people you love most.

As Christmas approached, it marked almost six months of not seeing my parents and I was really feeling it. I’m very close to my parents and my Nana, so people naturally ask questions when they find out they live in another country. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve answered the usual “don’t you miss them?” or “how often do you get to see each other?” but what people don’t often talk about is how to adapt your thinking and shift your perspective so that long distance family relationships become a blessing, not a curse.

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I feel lucky that I not only have a lovely family, but that I have two others – Matt’s family and also the one we have created for ourselves. Matt’s family have always welcomed me and made me feel at home and I am fortunate to have two sets of people that mean a lot to me, as well as the little family unit Matt and I now have with our dog Maddie. I have two sets of lovely people to share life and experiences with, and over the years we have taken it in turns at Christmas, spending it with Matt’s family then mine.

This year we spent Christmas in Cheshire with Matt’s mum and sister and had a lovely time. It was Maddie’s first Christmas with us and she even had a cute little dress to wear for the occasion, as you may have seen if you follow me on Instagram! The plan was to visit my parents just before Christmas but flights, work holidays and sorting out Maddie didn’t all align, so we decided to meet up in January instead and meet elsewhere.

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As a lot of you long-time readers will know, I used to call Valencia home. It stole my heart then and still has it now, so we thought it would be nice to go back and rent a place there for the holidays. Although Spanish people do mark December 25th, their festive season is longer than ours (my kind of people!) and children open presents on January 6th, brought by the Three Kings. It worked out perfectly as not only did we have a wonderful Christmas with Matt’s family, we also got to still feel Christmassy whilst we were in Valencia too, there were Christmas lights everywhere, plus ice skating and processions taking place around the city.

Valencia is such an underrated place, it’s got everything in my book and is well worth a visit. Walking through the park and down to the beautiful City of Arts & Sciences brought back so many good memories and the sun definitely helped shake off the winter blues that had been accumulating! We went to the beach one afternoon, mainly so I could show Matt, and although we were in jackets we could sit there quite happily for hours on the sand at the beginning of January – perfect!

valencia travel spain hello gemma tomlinson city europe family blogger valencia travel spain hello gemma tomlinson city europe family blogger valencia travel spain hello gemma tomlinson city europe family bloggerWe rented a lovely AirBnb (this one – highly recommend!) in the old town, really close actually to my old apartment which we walked past one day, that was surreal. It was my second time using AirBnb and both experiences have been really really good, you get so much for your money. All in all it was lovely to show Matt a city that means a lot to me, to catch up with my family and continue the festivities. Coming back to England was strange because I felt like I celebrated New Year here then went back to Christmas, it’s been odd getting back into the swing of things to say the least!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday whatever you celebrate and I’m looking forward to what 2016 brings for us all!

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Gemma Tomlinson http://www.hellogemma.com <![CDATA[The Best Bargain Mascara? Essence Lash Princess]]> http://www.hellogemma.com/?p=5979 2015-11-25T14:19:23Z 2015-11-25T14:19:23Z Mascara has always been something I’m willing to spend quite a lot of money on, even when I didn’t really have any. I developed an addiction to YSL Faux Cils mascara at a pretty young age after wandering around duty ...

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essence lash princess mascara false lash effect review uk beauty makeup cosmetics cruelty free inexpensive affordable cheap best Mascara has always been something I’m willing to spend quite a lot of money on, even when I didn’t really have any. I developed an addiction to YSL Faux Cils mascara at a pretty young age after wandering around duty free on a family holiday with my pocket money burning a hole in my wallet. From that moment on I was hooked, and when my student loan couldn’t quite fund the luxury lashes I loved I would get one of those little gold boxes for birthdays or Christmas, and make them last as long as humanly possible.

I am quite particular when it comes to what I like in a mascara – I know what I want and for that reason it’s hard to use sub-par formulas, I’ve seen what my lashes can look like and it’s only natural to want that every day. Until quite recently I was using Benefit’s latest mascara Rollerlash, which was fantastic and gave me not only the volume of my previous YSL love, but some separation, it also didn’t dry out as quickly.

essence lash princess mascara false lash effect review uk beauty makeup cosmetics cruelty free inexpensive affordable cheap best

Since going cruelty free in August I knew I needed to find an alternative for when my Benefit love ran out, I wanted something equally amazing to use both in my daily life and in videos so I scoured my favourite high end cruelty free brands only to discover it was hiding in plain sight all along…

I was already a fan of Essence, the budget cruelty free brand you can find around Europe and in Wilko’s here in the UK. I’ve already raved about their £1 red lipliner and after being impressed by a few other items I went for a browse to see if anything else took my fancy. I picked up a couple of lip products (which are equally awesome – more on those soon) and decided to try a mascara as a bit of an afterthought to be honest. There’s a lot of choice, but I settled on the Lash Princess False Lash Effect Mascara, mainly because the ‘false lash’ promise reminded me of my YSL days but also because I’m more drawn to anything with the word Princess in the title than any 30 year old should admit to. Sue me.

Above you can see what my lashes look like with no mascara and then with one coat of the Essence mascara on. One coat! I didn’t wear any liner so you can get a true reflection of what it does – I have decent lashes to start with but you can see that my left eye (your right in the photo) looks much better at the moment, I think I instinctively rub my right eye more and I’m waiting for a few lashes to grow back. The struggle is real.

essence lash princess mascara false lash effect review uk beauty makeup cosmetics cruelty free inexpensive affordable cheap best

Unlike the Benefit offering the brush is a traditional bristle one, not plastic, but it is very narrow, tapering towards the end – this gives a lot of control and allows you to really get to the root of the lashes without smudging, it’s also great for adding a light coat of mascara to the lower lashes. The formula is a great halfway point – not too dry that it clumps but not too wet to smudge easily or be watery and thin. At just £3.30 this is an absolute steal, but it isn’t just ‘good for the price’ it’s good full stop, great in fact.

essence lash princess mascara false lash effect review uk beauty makeup cosmetics cruelty free inexpensive affordable cheap best
This is my new go-to mascara – I’m pretty excited that I found such a great cruelty free alternative on the first attempt, and one that doesn’t break the bank to boot! Have you tried any Essence mascaras?

Items featured on Hello Gemma may have been sent as press samples for review consideration or purchased. All opinions are honest and my own, any sponsored content will be clearly marked and some affiliate links may be used.Read my full ethics statement here.

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Gemma Tomlinson http://www.hellogemma.com <![CDATA[Illamasqua Equinox Collection]]> http://www.hellogemma.com/?p=5975 2015-11-06T15:45:38Z 2015-11-06T15:45:38Z There’s something about an Illamasqua collection that will always excite me, their packaging and branding is so unique yet they aren’t all show – their quality products speak for themselves. Their eyeshadow quads in particular have always been a favourite ...

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illamasqua equinox collection celestial palette eyeshadow makeup cruelty free

There’s something about an Illamasqua collection that will always excite me, their packaging and branding is so unique yet they aren’t all show – their quality products speak for themselves. Their eyeshadow quads in particular have always been a favourite of mine, and the Equinox collection has one hell of a palette that is getting me very giddy for festive makeup looks.

It comes in the form of the Celestial Palette, which houses Quell, Solace, Jubilance & Orb, all cream to powder shadows with the great pigmentation we all expect from Illamasqua. I love how easily you can create a smokey eye for Christmas with these shades but the copper tones of Jubilance stop the look from being too ashy or cool toned. If you’re looking for some shadows to see you through the festive season, you need to check this out as it’s surprisingly versatile.

Another gem from the collection is the nail varnish in Beam, with pearlised gold shimmer you can apply 2-3 coats for an all over colour or use a wash of this over a deep berry or blue colour to give it dimension. There’s lots more in the Equinox collection (including a beautiful mini brush set) that you can check out here, they really do knock it out of the ball park each time and I’m excited to put these to good use throughout the party season.

Are you an Illamasqua fan?

Items featured on Hello Gemma may have been sent as press samples for review consideration or purchased. All opinions are honest and my own, any sponsored content will be clearly marked and some affiliate links may be used.Read my full ethics statement here.

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