Wednesday, 23 May 2012

It's easier than you think to go cruelty-free...

I know lots of people genuinely aren't aware how many companies still do test on animals but let's be blunt: it's most of them.  If you use any of the mainstream cosmetics brands, you are almost certainly using make-up which has been tested on animals.

When I was at school in the 90s, there seemed to be lots more talk in the media about cruelty-free cosmetics than there is now.  I always tried to buy cruelty-free, as did most people I knew.  I suppose animal rights have gone out of fashion a bit since then so the topic of cruelty-free is much less on the agenda than it was then.  I still buy cruelty-free though and make sure not just cosmetics, but all my toiletries and household cleaning products are 100% cruelty-free, preferably BUAV approved.  It's easy enough to find out about the horrific procedures used in cosmetic testing on animals and I'm not going to go into any of that here.  If you aren't familiar with the topic, I suggest you do a quick Google search on animal testing which may change the way you shop for beauty products in future.  BUAV has great resources on all aspects of cruelty-free shopping, as well as a list of approved companies which you can find here.

It's easy enough to buy BUAV approved products now and I can't think of anything that I regularly struggle to find a cruelty-free version of.  It also doesn't have to cost more to buy 'kind' products as there are budget brands available.  Also, don't be misled by any products which say 'We are against animal testing'.  This doesn't mean the product wasn't tested on animals.  If in doubt, check out a company's corporate website.  If they are 100% cruelty-free, they will say so.  In my experience, if you can't get a definitive answer from the Internet, they're not cruelty-free.

To prove there is a cruelty-free alternative to just about everything, here are some of my favourite companies:

Cosmetics and toiletries

Urban Decay

100% cruelty-free and available in selected branches of Boots, Debenhams and House of Fraser.  I'm a big Urban Decay fan.  I especially love their Surreal Skin mineral make-up and have been using it for the past couple of years.  They're also great for bronzer, blusher and eye make-up.

Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette

Barry M

I just LOVE Barry M!  They're affordable and cruelty-free and are readily available in most branches of Superdrug and Boots.  Their nail polishes are excellent and come in every colour imaginable.  I'm also a big fan of their Wink eyeliner pen which is easy to use and long lasting.

Barry M Wink  

Marks and Spencer
All own brand products are BUAV approved.  M & S have a few different make-up and beauty ranges.  I like the Autograph range of make-up best, but they also have a really reasonably priced basics range, too.  Also good for sun-care and skin-care, especially their delicious smelling body butters!

M & S Coconut Body Butter


All their own-brand toiletries, cosmetics and household goods are guaranteed 100% cruelty-free and are BUAV approved.  I buy most of my hair-care and skin-care here.  They're also great for own-brand hair dyes, sun-care and household products.

Superdrug Hair Colour

Montagne Jeunesse

100% cruelty-free and made using vegetarian ingredients, I'm sure everyone is familiar with their brilliant little facemask sachets.  I've been using these for years and they really do work!

Montagne Jeunesse Face Mask


Did you know two major UK supermarkets are now 100% cruelty-free and BUAV approved?  Both Co-op  and Sainsburys carry the 'leaping bunny' symbol on all own-brand products.

I hope you will think about buying from some of the companies on here, if you don't already.  This is by no means and exhaustive list of all the places I buy from, just the ones I've come to depend on most over the past few years.  The Go Cruelty Free website has an extensive list of all BUAV approved companies and is a good place to start if you're not sure what is classed as 100% cruelty-free.


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Lace Jewellery

I've been thinking about making lace jewellery for a while now and finally had some time to try it out last week.  I started with some really basic designs and wore them out and about a few times to see how they looked on and to check they would hold up OK with normal wear.  As well as receiving LOTS of compliments and being asked many times where they were from, I'm pleased to say all pieces proved to be plenty strong enough for regular wear. The earrings also survived being caught up in the most horrible, freezing cold, horizontal rain ever on the seafront last night.  I was drenched and without hood or umbrella but, as you can see below, the earrings are still immaculate.

I hope to have a few pieces added to Bluefinch Boutique in the next week or so and also have plans for more detailed and complex necklaces which I'm excited about starting!  Here are some of the pieces I've been wearing this week:

What do you think?  I might try some in gold too, but I really like the contrast between the white lace and the raw brass.  I treat all the lace before using it which helps stiffen it a bit and to help protect from dirt and fraying so the jewellery feels pretty sturdy considering how delicate it looks.

I'm a fan of big chandelier style earrings, especially with summer outfits, and the beauty of lace is that it's so light you hardly know you're wearing anything.  I hate having heavy earrings pulling on my ears so I think I will try and come up with some extravagant lace designs for this summer!


Friday, 4 May 2012

Vintage finds: Sewing box

So, apparently sewing boxes are like buses: You wait all year for one and then two come along at once...or something. I've been looking for an old wooden sewing box for ages, preferably one that could also double up as an end table/cat lookout post/footstool/mug rest but was having no luck.  Then, a couple of weeks ago, I came across one on ebay.  It was a little small, but it was only £8, local and great quality solid wood so I bought it.  It's a fixer-upper and is soon to be sanded down, painted and spruced up.

It wasn't perfect, but I'd found my sewing box so I stopped looking.  As is so often the case, once you stop looking, you find what it was you wanted.  I was visiting my parents a couple of days ago when I passed a new 2nd hand furniture shop in their village.  Lo and behold, there, sitting outside on the pavement was this:

vintage wooden sewing box table

I have heard lots of tales from more dedicated shoppers than I about the time they bought some old piece of tat and it turned out to be full of vintage treasures and oh, what a reward for trawling 2nd hand shops, you never know what you will find, blah blah blah.  That never happens to me and I suspected certain people were exaggerating the regularity of this happening.  Well, some of them might be but when I finally got round to lifting the lid of my sewing box (after impulsively telling the shop owner I'd take it), I discovered....loads of vintage treasures and oh, what a reward for trawling 2nd hand shops, you never know what you will find, blah blah blah.

This is my very favourite item of all those in the box:

I love it.  For a start, I own Bluefinch Boutique and this is a Blue-tit which is close enough for me, but also because it's just so darn pretty. As if that wasn't enough, it's is chock-full of lovely vintage buttons, like this beauty:

From scraps of paper and old envelopes in the box, I have gathered that the lady who owned my sewing box was called Eileen, and that she lived with her husband in Bootle, Liverpool for at least part of her life.  I haven't even begun to sort through the piles of accessories and supplies in her sewing box but it's obviously a collection that spans many, many years, perhaps a lifetime.  There are items going back to the  at least the 1950s but there are also much newer items. It always makes me a bit sad when I see this kind of thing to think that the owner had no-one left who shared her obvious love of sewing or who wanted to keep this little part of her life for themselves but don't worry, Eileen, it's found a good home.


Thursday, 3 May 2012

New arrivals at the boutique

April was an incredibly busy month for me and Bluefinch Boutique so I didn't get as much time to make new jewellery as I would have liked.  Not that I'm complaining of course - if you're self-employed, there's nothing better than being busy - but I love the creative side of the business so was happy when I got a little window of time this week to start making up some new designs. It may only be the 3rd of May, but Bluefinch Boutique has already seen three new arrivals this month. 

I've somewhat neglected the world of bracelets since I set up shop, but I've now added not just one, but two pretty new pieces to decorate your wrists:

'Stealing my heart' gold bracelet 

'Rosalie' vintage jewel brass bracelet
The 'Stealing my heart' bracelet is in the same design as a previously added necklace, and the 'Rosalie' bracelet has matching earrings.

The third new item so far for May is this pretty necklace:

'Heart to Heart' silver necklace

I love layering two or three delicate charm necklaces so this double-chain necklace achieves that look perfectly!

I hope you're having a good May so far and that, like me, you're finding some time to do the things you like!