Top Shelf Gone Natural

Over the past year or so, I’ve transitioned to an (almost) completely natural skincare routine. My carefully chosen skincare products are kinder to my skin, and the earth. As anyone might be, I was slightly terrified to switch out my old skincare routine (that was working well) for fear of terrible breakouts and uneasy skin. I even had a nightmare once – safe to say I thought a lot about making these changes.

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I did abundant research, read reviews on the websites of many South African skincare brands and formed a list of products I would start out with. Then, as a certain product finished, I would replace it with my chosen natural one, until my entire routine had been replaced. The benefit of doing this is that if you break out, you know exactly which product may have caused it. It’s also gentler on the pocket.

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Some think that natural skincare is overly expensive and therefore it is cheaper to stick to other brands. I have found that that isn’t the case – there are a wide variety of products for every budget and I have found products that are affordable and work for me.

I love skincare (as I’m sure you’ve gathered by now), and adore reading Into The Gloss. The photography in their series, The Top Shelf, inspired me for this shoot.

Now, onto what I’m using at the moment.

Mornings

Most mornings, I wash my face with the Oil-Milk Cleanser from Skin Creamery. It smells lovely, and doesn’t dry my skin out at all. I find it a bit too oily for me to use at night, but itsย  perfect for my morning wash. I then moisturize with the Facial Moisturizer from Naturals Beauty. It’s light and doesn’t leave my skin feeling oily, but still does the job.

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Evenings

Once or twice a week, I exfoliate with Ocean Salt from Lush. I prefer the self-preserving one as it all natural to my knowledge. I then wash my face with the face wash from Naturals Beauty. I use my moisturizer and the Naturals Beauty Spot Treatment on any spots I may have. If I have any bad spots, I use a bit of tea-tree oil – the stuff works like a charm.

As and when

Once a week or so, I use to Skin Creamery Facial Cleansing Powder mixed with some raw honey as a gently exfoliating face-mask. It smells lovely and helps with gentle exfoliation. I’ve also just started using the Facial Hydrating Oil from Skin Creamery and I’m enjoying it thoroughly. It’s light-weight but still hydrating. My skin drinks the stuff up. I also occasionally use the Eau Roma Water from Lush (it is the only product in my routine to my knowledge that isn’t 100% natural) to get make-up off or if I feel in need of a double-cleanse. I also use to Cleansing Balancing Balm from Lulu and Marula to remove make-up – it works ridiculously well. If my skin is looking uneven, I sometimes use to Purifying Treatment Oil from L&M too. Not sure if I see that much of a change, but it helps slightly. I’ve also just started using the Purifying Masque from Naturals Beauty that seems to be working well. Lastly, my go-to lip balm is the one from Simply Bee. Its really affordable (as in cheaper than Labello even) and is super effective.

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And that’s it! I’m happy with where I am with my skincare at the moment and am working consciously to bring more natural alternatives into all aspects of my life. Its better for me and the environment. Here’s to slowly making better decisions about our bodies and lives. Its an investment you’ll never regret.

Nabeela x

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On Exercising + Sticking With It

persistence /pษ™หˆsษชst(ษ™)ns/ – “The fact of continuing in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.”

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Anyone who knows me well (or even just knows me – ha!) will know that I love exercise. For me personally, over the last few years, the most difficult thing has been sticking with it and being consistent. Its only too easy to workout when we have time and the moment exams start, drop it all and spend our days rolling around in study notes and eating potatoes. (Don’t worry, you’re not alone).

But these past two months have been the best months of exercise I’ve had in a long time, or dare I say ever. I’ve managed to stick with it, even during exams and hectic times. I’ve made mental notes on what I’ve been doing differently that has kept me on track and I thought I’d share – sharing is caring after all.

01. / Be flexible

No pun intended. The quickest way to fall out of routine is by trying to stick to one. Instead of saying to yourself that you don’t have time for a 20 minute workout, and skipping it all together, do a 5 or 10 minute one. Don’t try to stick to a plan that’s too rigid and leaves no room for adjusting. Work around your other commitments. Think of your workout as an appointment with yourself – don’t let your health take the back seat.

02. / Enjoy it

I know I’ve said this before, but I can’t emphasise it enough. If you dread your workouts, because they’re too difficult or consist of many exercises you don’t enjoy, chances are, you’re more likely to skip them. Instead, do exercise that you enjoy and is doable for your personal fitness level.

03. / Be realistic

I personally find that if I do workouts that are too intensive, my body takes days to recover and it sometimes means that I only workout once in that week. Slowly building yourself up is key. I prefer to do more manageable workouts 2-3 times a week. Don’t overdo it and give your body enough time to rest and recover.

04. / Have a goal

Having a goal makes exercise feel more purposeful. Its easier knowing that you’re working towards something. Make your goals realistic, specific and time-bound.

I hope you can take even just one thing away from this!

Nabeela x

And just a quick disclaimer, I’m no expert. This is simply based off personal experience.

Have a Happier Exam Session

Exams are undoubtedly the most stressful time of the year in any student’s life. The pressure is on and the nerves are set. Believe it or not, exams have been pretty bearable for me this time around (1 week in and all is well). They don’t have the be awful.

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01. /ย  Organize

Although it may seem obvious, having a structured study plan helps to ease the nerves immensely because you know you’re on track and its easy to see what you need to do each day. Writing a to-do list every day when I get home has been helping me so much to clearly see what I need to achieve before the end of the day.

02. / Moveย 

I haven’t stopped any of my usual exercises and it’s been such a great way to relieve stress and relax. If you’re usually very active and you stop completely, chances are that you’re not going to feel very good, or at ease. So be sure to make time to move those muscles.

03. / Eat well

Eating healthily and drinking lots of water helps you to have a clearer mind and a happier body. Try some healthy snack options instead of chips and sweets (which’ll make you feel sluggish and unenergetic). Here are some snacks to try:

  • Carrot sticks and hummus
  • Cucumber cubes and feta
  • Banana and peanut butter smoothie
  • Popcorn
  • Fruit

04. / Sleepย 

I know all too well how easy it is to come home early and think there’s so much time to do the things that need to be done, and put it off until later, but the afternoon turns into night real quick. Rather space your work out over the day rather than staying up too late and missing out on sleep.

05. / Unwind

Make sure that you still take time to relax, do things you enjoy and follow your self-care rituals. Its so important in order to stay happy and healthy during this time.

All the best to everyone writing!

Nabeela x

Exercise for Happiness

Exercise. It means something different to everyone. It evokes a different emotion within everyone. For some, it’s lovely. Others, dreadful. Believe it or not, exercise doesn’t have to be something painful and exhausting. I’ve finally got to a point where exercising feels good. It helps me to calm down and de-stress, and it makes my body feel awake. I’ve found that taking on exercise in a positive way has helped tremendously in improving my attitude towards it. Here are some things that have helped me and may help you too…

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01 / Its not punishment

Don’t use exercise as a way to punish yourself. By doing that, you’ll create negative attachments to the process. Instead, see it as an opportunity to improve yourself and your health.

02 / Don’t go too fast

Take it easy. You need to be realistic in order to avoid injury and burnout. Slowly ease yourself into it so that your mind and body can adapt. Its about creating a sustainable, healthy routine.

03 / Do What You Enjoy

I personally have a few exercises that I can’t stand. I don’t enjoy them at all, and I dread seeing them pop up in a circuit. Sure, sometimes they just need to be done, but other times I replace them with a similar one I do enjoy. If you’re not enjoying the exercise you’re engaging in, try something new. It’s easier to stay motivated if you’re having fun.

04 / Restย 

You need to rest your body and give your muscles time to recover. Don’t do too much, too quickly – don’t overdo it.

05 / Be realistic

You need to be realistic with your fitness goals. If you have a busy schedule, and you come home late at night a few days a week, don’t plan workouts on those days. It shouldn’t feel like a chore. Again, its about sustainability. Trying to do too much too fast will just leave you feeling unmotivated.

These are a few things that I try to keep in the back of my mind all the time. Exercise has become something I love, and I find it therapeutic. I hope that you find a form of exercise that makes you feel good!

Nabeela x

{Disclaimer: These are all tips that I have picked up, based on my own personal experience and journey into wellness.}ย 

Wellness Musings

I’ve been contemplating whether I should start writing about my ongoing wellness journey for a little while now, and I’ve decided for it – hence this post.

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I took a conscious decision to take charge of my fitness about a year ago. At the beginning of 2016, I was really ill, and it left me at the most unfit I’d been in years. I was frustrated with my body. It felt as if it didn’t belong to me. I felt weak, and very incapable.

After that, I wanted to regain my fitness, and most importantly, sustain it. I didn’t really know what I was capable of, and the thought of committing to an intensive workout plan intimidated me. However, I wanted to strengthen my body and push myself to see what I was able to do. My closest friend was doing BBG at the time and swears by it (I do too now). I started off with BBG, because its only three times and week, and I liked the fact that its structured so I didn’t have to decided what exercises to do. It told me what to do and how to do it. It was incredible. It made me so strong and I felt good. I got through most of the 12-week circuit, and then life happened, school took over and I slipped out of my rhythm again.

Over the past few months, I’ve been itching to get active and regain my wellness. I’ve been doing BBG and similar workouts – I don’t force myself. I do whatever I feel like doing. I once saw a quote – “If you fall in love with the process, the results will come.” I cannot reiterate how true that has been for me. I love exercising. It makes me feel strong, happy and energized. Its the perfect me-time carved out of my day dedicated to bettering myself. Its powerful! ย Without trying to sound grandiose, this journey has changed my life. I feel stronger than ever before and its a liberating feeling knowing that your body is capable of more than it was a year ago.

I’m far from where I want to be. But as they say, wellness is a journey, not a destination. And there’s a lot more than just exercising – its about eating well too (the part I struggle with – I have quite the sweet tooth), and taking good care of your mental health – I value self-care immensely – it is so important! For me , its all about balance and overall wellness. I’m not looking for a hectic crash diet or an impossibly difficult daily circuit. I’m aiming to have a healthier lifestyle that is sustainable and that I can grow up with.

I hope that you’ll join me on a journey of improved wellness. It will make you feel good about yourself, and investing time in your health is one of the greatest ones you can make. Start small, and don’t forget – “be gentle with yourself – you’re doing the best you can.”

Nabeela x

Slow Living / Bedtime Rituals

Being as busy as we are, it can be easy to forget the importance of taking some time in the day to relax and unwind. It’s safe to say that senior high doesn’t leave me much time to myself, so I’ve made a conscious choice to take some time each day for relaxing and down-timing.ย 

My preferred time to unwind is just before bed. It’s the time I feel most calm (probably because I’m so tired) and I know that everything important is done, so I don’t feel as if I’m wasting time either. It also helps me to settle down a bit quicker once I get into bed.ย 

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These intentional rituals have become my favourite part of the day. I savour this time to myself and look forward to it each day.ย 

Soothing facial ritualย 

I use a minimal amount of all-natural products on my face. I love putting lovely-smelling goodies on my face. I find the natural scents and fragrances of my products relaxing and calming. I love going to bed with my skin feeling soft and squeaky-clean.ย 

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Balancing Cleansing Balm / Purifying Treatment Oil / The Everyday Cream

Reflective/ relaxing time

I like to keep my room airy on hot summer nights by leaving the windows wide open until just before I hit the pillow. I have an overactive mind, so I keep a journal where I can write my thoughts and whatever is taking up space in my brain. I also take some time for stretching (I spend quite a bit of time playing school sports so my muscles are often tired) and prayers.ย 

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Readingย 

I adore reading. I find it relaxing andย  entertaining, so it’s the perfect end to any day for me. Once in bed I like to read for a while until I’m sleepy.ย 

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I keep my room completely dark at night as I find I sleep best like this. Try out a couple of rituals until you find what works best for you. It can be so satisfying to know that you have a few peaceful rituals to engage in every evening before bed.ย 

I find that I feel calmer and more at peace before bed rather than frazzled and frantic.ย 

Self-care is absolutely essential to our well-being. Let’s make it our priority.ย 

“Self-care is not selfish. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”

Nabeela x

Skin Loving / Lulu & Marula

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Iโ€™m one of those people who believe that loving oneself is as important as loving others. Self-care is an important aspect of self-love and itโ€™s a topic I thoroughly enjoy discussing and spreading awareness about.

Iโ€™m a lover of natural and minimal skincare and over the past year or so, Iโ€™ve been on my own personal journey towards an all-natural skincare regime. For this post, Iโ€™ve teamed up with Lulu and Marula, a brand that epitomizes self-care and its importance through skincare.

Caring for oneโ€™s body is vital in order to live a happy and fulfilling life and feeling comfortable in your own skin is key.

Lulu and Marula is an all-natural skincare brand that is based right here in South Africa. It was founded in 2013 by Jesslynn, who has always been obsessed with skincare and so, when she couldnโ€™t find any suitable, natural skincare products to meet her liking and needs, she made her own. And she did a pretty good job!

Over the past few years, simple and healthy living has become increasingly popular and prevalent. Natural living forms a part of this and it certainly translates in natural beauty and skincare.

Why natural, you ask? โ€œYour skin is your largest organ; it absorbs a lot of what you put on it. The way skin care products are produced plays a role that is just as important as the way your food is grown and produced. So if you choose to eat clean and shop for locally grown food, why wouldnโ€™t you do the same for your skin care products?โ€ โ€“ Jesslynn

Iโ€™ve been using some Lulu and Marula products for a little while now. Iโ€™ve loved the transition to all-natural skincare products. Iโ€™ve always been blessed with healthy and clear skin, and for this I am very grateful, however I can still feel the difference after using these products.

Cleansing Balancing Balm

Prior to using this product, I was using a liquid facial cleanser that is considered one of the top skincare brands, expect it has lots of yucky chemicals and left my skin feeling tight an weird after a wash. Naturally (no pun intended), the Balancing Balm is a welcome replacement. Its soothing, gentle and it smells pretty darn good. Iโ€™ve always loved skincare rituals, but I love mine even more now.

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Purifying Treatment Oil ย 

Iโ€™ve always been a bit skeptical of putting oil on my face, however, over the past few months, Iโ€™ve been struggling a tad with dry skin, so Iโ€™ve embraced facial oils. I was pleasantly surprised by how lightweight this oil is, yet it still feels so nourishing. Iโ€™ve used a drop or two on my face a couple of nights a week and it makes for a wonderful addition to my skincare regime. My skin feels more hydrated, which is lovely.ย  It also smells deliciously dreamy.

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Iโ€™m simply loving my new skincare routine and Iโ€™d really encourage you to take a few steps to make your skincare routine a little more natural. Iโ€™m not saying you have to change all at once. Try bringing in a few natural products and see how it makes your skin feel.

Keep smiling and taking care of your skin!

PS: Here’s a fun art print with a favourite self-love quote. My gift to you x

Nabeela x

{Thanks for sending me some of your lovely goodies, Jesslynn!}

Disclaimer: As usual, all opinions are my own. I would never write about a product that I don’t truly love and believe in.