Pilgrim 55: Natural & CF Skincare

As I get older, I am becoming more and more conscious of what products I'm using on my skin and increasingly concerned with said products ingredients. As a teen, I can honestly say I never once looked at the ingredients section of any shower gel, moisturiser, foundation etc. etc., but now it is something I like to pay close attention to as it's becoming more prevalent that some products and certain brands will often use harmful chemicals that are either not actually great for our skin or that are detrimental to the environment. So with that said, and especially since switching to cruelty free beauty, I love to see brands who proudly use lots of natural, environmentally friendly ingredients and who make a real effort to keep their brand and products that way. I particularly like to find smaller brands that are doing the right thing and not selling out to get their name out there so that's why today I need to talk to you all about Pilgrim 55.

Pilgrim 55 are a new, independent brand from my most beloved hometown of Newcastle and are part of Tyne Cosmetics LTD company. They believe in natural and organic skincare and are dedicated to delivering such products to consumers in a sustainable, ethically, and environmentally friendly way. As soon as the brand first contacted me and sent me a little bit of information about themselves, I new I had to give their products a try. All of their skincare is between 70-90% organic as they never include any sulphates, parabens, or isopropyl alcohol just to name but a few less than desirable ingredients that are unsettlingly common in many skincare and haircare items. Not only are their products ingredients focused on, the brand and wider company in general encourage customers to return their packaging from their purchases in order to recycle it and they aim to be carbon negative in the future - meaning they will commit to producing zero carbon dioxide (ultimately becoming active participants in trying to reverse global warming). They sound like a pretty fab brand right? So when Pilgrim 55 asked if I wanted to try out some products and review them for you guys, I knew I needed to see what their stuff was like because they sounded like a fantastic brand to support. I chose three products that were relevant to my skin type and current skincare needs so I could give a completely honest review and although I was sent these products to review, all opinions expressed in this post are my own and have not been influenced - so let's get into it shall we?

Organic Black Charcoal and Liquorice Scrub Mask* | £9.99-£12.99, 6Oml-12Oml
This detox mask was the first thing I knew I needed to try. As an oily skinned girl, any sort of charcoal mask or face wash is always something I want to try out as charcoal is a great ingredient for fighting excess oil production but can also work wonders on clearing up the skin if you are someone who suffers from acne like I do. This mask retails for £9.99-£12.99 depending on which size product you purchase and I think that is very reasonably priced for a face mask with good active ingredients in it. The mask is quite a thick but easy to spread formula which is great as it doesn't tug or pull on the skin. It has a very faint "typically skincare" smell so it is not overpowering and it is one of the most gentle masks I've ever used. Whilst it is described as a scrub and it does leave the skin feeling soft, it is not abrasive in any way and doesn't leave the skin feeling striped or tight after use.

My one tiny gripe with this product is that I find it really difficult to get a good even layer on my skin. For some reason, I always get a patch or two that doesn't seem to cover quite as well, but this is only minor as the mask never completely dries down so this small issue doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. It is recommended to leave this on for around 1O-15 minutes, but I like to leave it on for a tiny bit longer (particularly if I've used a very thick layer), and it removes so incredibly easy - no scrubbing required!

Organic Cucumber Cleanser* | £11.99, 12Oml
Possibly my most favourite product I've used in a long time, Pilgrim 55's Cucumber Cleanser is the best thing I've ever used for cleansing sensitive skin. My skin usually fluctuates in its sensitivity, but if I've recently had a bad breakout, my face can become inflamed, irritated, and sore to the touch. This cleanser is obviously designed for sensitive skin and has a slight cucumber scent but again, nothing overpowering. Cucumber is a great ingredient for calming and soothing sensitive skin, but extracts of it are also packed with various essential vitamins which can help tackle puffiness, wrinkles, and give the skin a boost of hydration. I love using this cleanser in the evening as my "proper" full cleanse after removing my makeup. It is very thick and has the consistency of a creamy, heavy duty moisturiser. Therefore I like to scoop up a cherry-sized amount of cleanser and apply it directly to a dry face. I spend time massaging it into the skin before pulling some of it down onto my neck area and before adding water. As this is another easy and fuss free product to remove, you can either wash it off wish just water or use a muslin cloth to remove it (I tend to only do the latter if I feel like I really need to give the skin a bit of extra exfoliation TLC at the time). This cleanser doesn't irritate my extremely sensitive eyes at all which is wonderful and the best thing? I honestly can see a difference after extended use of this. When I use this every evening for a few consecutive days, my skin looks really healthy every morning and oddly enough, my spots appear reduced or not as noticeable which is a great benefit from a product that doesn't necessarily target that particular skin issue. I will be repurchasing this product myself as soon as I run out for sure.

Organic Hand & Nail Cream* | £9.99-£14.99, 6Oml-12Oml
Despite wanting to try more of the face masks and some of the eye creams, I opted to try out the hand and nail cream from Pilgrim 55 as my last product to review as my hands have been incredibly dry lately. My hands are a feature I actually quite like and I try my best to look after them and keep them looking presentable because as a teacher, they are always in everyone's face when I'm pointing at things, handing out work etc. So when I saw this cream and saw that it promised to be a non-greasy formula, I just had to give it a go because although I like to care for my hands, I cannot stand the way hand cream lingers and feels on the hands. This stuff is for all skin types and is jam-packed with natural plant extracts and oils (such as blackcurrant extract, almond oil, and coconut oil just to name a few) and therefore should leave the hands feeling soft and silky. The antioxidants present in the cream should also support healthy and strong nails and as a nailbiter all through my childhood and teen years, my nails still seem to be paying the price as they're often fragile and flaky underneath my nail polish.

This cream again has a very subtle "skincare" scent that I'm now starting to think is pretty signature of all of Pilgrim 55's products which is a nice change from my very fragrant The Body Shop hand creams I usually use. Because this stuff comes in such a hefty tub, I only use it when I'm at home but it's the best last step to have in my evening routine. It does have a thick consistency, so for me personally a little goes a long way, and I do find that it can take a while to sink into the skin but it doesn't leave a greasy residue behind and you get instant results. I've also been using this as a daily moisturiser on my feet too and it's keeping them soft and conditioned as well. If you're a hand cream aficionado, I think this one is definitely worth checking out as it performs and feels more like a high-end brand despite it's more than affordable price mark.

So it's probably pretty easy to see that I'm a huge fan of Pilgrim 55 and will definitely be purchasing from these guys again in the future once I've used up my current skincare products. I think their packaging is simple but slick and I like that the tubs are uniform across the range and that they're glass rather than plastic. They have a great weight to them and they look and feel more luxury than their prices dictate. One thing I forgot to mention about the brand that I also love is the fact that they explicitly display that they never test on animals on all their packaging and clearly list their ingredients so that there is no nasty surprises. If you want to support a very honest, considerate, and environmentally/animal friendly brand, I don't think I could think of a better small business to buy from.

As the products and service from Pilgrim 55 have been so fantastic, they've kindly given me a discount code for anyone who wants to purchase from them in the future. By using the code: NB0247 you will receive 15% off your order (valid for three uses per person!) and will be supporting a brand who are trying to keep skincare ethically sound and sustainable. Please note that I am making no profit from this post or discount code, but I want you guys to have the opportunity to buy into a brand who are just doing good things. I myself will certainly be buying from the brand again in future (I'm looking at you Aloe Retinol Facial Serum and Green Tea Anti-ageing Clay Mask) and will be recommending Pilgrim 55 to friends and family - especially though with dry skin or those who want to delve into anti-ageing products as these two areas seem to be a great focus for this brand. You can find out more information about what Pilgrim 55 are up to on the daily, over on their blog and Twitter.

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Red Temple Prayer

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you all have a great week ahead of you planned and if not, I hope it still works out as a mighty fine good one. This week for me is a bit of an "all systems go" one at work as it's a week without my students which is a nice breather, but it's also a super busy "we need to get shit organised for the next academic year" week too. I have a big meeting tomorrow to throw around ideas and discuss what is and isn't working within our department and also some exams to complete with some current students. It's insane to think I've been in this job now for almost 5 months but I feel like it's been so much longer and not in a bad way!

Other than this busy working week, I don't really have much planned other than getting back on board with doing yoga every evening as I've been a little lazy these last few days, and crossing my fingers that the weather stops being so rainy and cold so I can get back to doing my evening walks too. When it was stiflingly hot, I decided to start making sure I had walked around 1O,Ooo steps a day just to keep active. I walk quite a lot as part of my daily commute anyway, but if I was shy of a couple of thousand steps, I was using a walk in the evening after dinner as a way to clock those missing steps. As it was so hot on the evenings, taking a walk around the countryside at the end of my street was a great way to get a bit of breeze too. I haven't really mentioned it properly on NB yet, but I'm hoping to move house soon and whilst that's equal parts exciting and terrifying, it's also made me realise that this beautiful area that I've pretty much taken for granted at the end of my street needs a bit of my attention before it's not just *there* for me anymore once I move to a different town. Getting out in nature - even if it's just for 1O or 15 minutes - is so good for the soul and just works wonders on my general mood.

Before I sign off from this post, I guess I should probably talk about this outfit quickly! This is a very typical *me* outfit when I'm feeling a little stumped with what to wear and my wardrobe is feeling lacklustre. This skirt has featured on many posts here on NB and is still the best £3 I ever spent because I wear it to death. As for that gorgeous bucket bag, it is a statement piece that I love to wear that is bang on trend but still suits my style whether I'm going for a boho look or a more alternative one and it's statement in a subtle way so I don't feel uncomfortable wearing it. My favourite thing about this outfit has to be my raglan from Red Temple Prayer who are a great independent brand selling everything from clothes to pins to homeware. I own a couple of shirts from them and a few pins and the quality of their products is pretty damn great. They have some great jumpers and tees in their current collection that I just need to get my hands on for autumn time.

Red Temple Prayer Raglan | Primark Button Down Skirt (similar) | Asos Western Belt) |
Vintage Bandana (similar) | Matalan Bucket Bag (similar) |
Romwe Miu Miu style Pumps (similar & similar)

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Book Club No. 10

Happy Friday you lovely lot! This week, I thought I ought to update you guys on some of my most recent reads because it's been a little while since I last posted a book review post. I'm super pleased to see how many things I've read this year already but unfortunately, over this last month or so, I've fallen out of love again with reading and need to reignite the spark a little. I think it's a mix of reading just *okay* books and also feeling more tired on my commutes to work that have been catalysts for the slow in my book-reading-motivation, but I'm hoping it picks up again soon! But for now, here's a few things that have graced my peepers recently and here's what I think of them:

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Anyone who knows me knows I'm a big fan of the Jurassic Park movies - as a kid I wanted to be a palaeontologist and I've got a T.Rex tattooed on my sternum - but weirdly I have never read any of the books until now. First thing I have to say is if you're a fan of the original Jurassic Park trilogy, this book is like some sort of weird amalgamation of the first and second films and I guess when it came to directing them, they've clearly looked at the book and thought it was best to partition it. Therefore if you're going to read this after already seeing the movies, you need to enter the story with an open mind because it's very different yet similar. If you're unfamiliar with Jurassic Park, it is a story about a very very rich (albeit pretty crazy) old man who endeavours to build an island resort for people to vacation to. This resort is different to any others in the world though as it will be full of genetically engineered dinosaurs which are patented to the island and therefore the resort will be the only prehistoric safari park/zoo in the world. The story opens when various individuals from lawyers, mathematicians, to (obviously) palaeontologists are invited to review the park and get a sneak preview before it opens for the public.

I really did enjoy reading this despite it being different to what I expected because of the films. I found it difficult to imagine the characters in my own minds eye because I imagined each character as looking like the actor who plays them in the movies, but generally that fit just fine as the characters were portrayed true to the book for the most part. One thing I did struggle with is the fact that John Hammond isn't the cute loveable Attenborough from the big screen oh no - he's a whiny, spoilt, child-like old man who literally stomps his feet if he doesn't get his own way. He is incredibly heartless at times in the story and I found that such a surprise as he comes across as such a loving and caring man in the film franchise. However, I'm a big believer in separating the book version to film/TV versions as often what works on paper doesn't work on the screen and vice versa so as a standalone story, I did really enjoy this. If you're a fan of Jurassic Park then obviously you need to read this, but if you're a fan of fast paced action that has a scientific or educational element to it, you'll definitely love this too. You can pick up a copy of Jurassic Park in various formats from audio to hardcover, here.

Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire
The next book I read recently was Mirror Mirror - an alternative telling of Snow White by popular author, Greory Maguire (yep, that guy who wrote Wicked - the alternative telling of the Wizard of Oz). Snow White is one of my favourite Disney films, folklore/fairytales, and I like any sort of retelling of the original so I wanted to give this a read to see what sort of spin it was going to have. The general story of Snow White for those who don't know is that she is the daughter of a king, the king remarries and usually there is an evil step mother queen character who orders the death of Snow because she's the fairest in the land and she's jealous of her. There's often dwarves who Snow White lives with and sometimes she gets a happy ending. There's lots of retellings of this story and they all widely vary but this one was a little different to anything I had encountered before.

Maguire's retelling has a lot to do with Snow White's dad which usually, he's killed off quite early in the story but he's actually quite a central character in Mirror Mirror. I won't mention too much in case you want to read it for yourselves, but this story goes into great depth looking more at the relationships Snow White forges as she grows up and how they form her personality. I did like this retelling as it was unique in a lot of ways, but I struggled a little bit with Maguire's writing style. There wasn't anything particularly bad about it, I just got lost a few times and had to re-read pages/paragraphs because the writing felt a little flowery and so heavily descriptive, I missed the point of the sentence etc. however, if you like fairytales and/or you're a huge fan of Wicked, you will 1Oo% like this book, too. Grab a copy of Mirror Mirror here.

The Wicked & The Divine Volume 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen
Lastly, I thought I should mention a graphic novel series I've recently started that I had been lusting over for months. The first thing that caught my eye when it comes to this novel is the slick, clean cut design of the covers that is quite unique in the comic book world. Graphic novel covers are often quite busy and give a good insight into the contents of the book, but this one wasn't really giving away any information and that actually peaked my interest. To give you a little insight into the general story of The Wicked & The Divine, here's some info from the blurb:

"Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. Welcome to THE WICKED + THE DIVINE, where gods are the ultimate pop stars. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever."

So the story basically centres around twelve gods who become mortal every ninety years and this time around, they've decided to become pop stars, rap stars, and rock gods. This time around however, someone wants them dead and although they disappear after two years, this isn't good enough and they need to be dead. When first starting the story, Gillen throws readers straight into it and doesn't leave much space for explanations so you do just feel like you're getting swept along with the tide until you start to understand things a little more. This isn't a criticism of the writing/story style though as I feel it really helps get across this idea of only having two years before they die - they need to do as much as they can in that short time and the countdown is forever looming over the gods' heads and the story gets that across to the reader almost instantly. As you can imagine, there's a morbid tone to the story from the get-go and even though the creative team behind this series are the guys who brought the world Young Avengers, The Wicked & The Divine definitely has a more grown-up and gloomy feeling to it. This first volume, although fast paced, introduces the reader to the characters in a great way and you guys, Jamie McKelvie's artwork throughout the comic is just gorgeous. I really love the art style in this series and it fits the genre really well. The story obviously has a superhero fantasy element to it, but it's kind of mixed with a murder mystery style and I think it makes for a great pairing. I saw someone describe it as the TV show Skins with a sprinkling of mythology and whilst they were saying it in a negative way, I actually think that is a near perfect description of it. It is very much a teenage angst sort of comic, but I like it and the fantasy elements of it make it all the better. I'm really looking forward to reading the rest! If you're intrigued and want to grab a copy, you can get the paperback here for £8.99.

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