Sunday, 13 August 2017

KiteNest Organic Dry Shampoo Review*


Dry shampoo has become a staple in my haircare arsenal over the past few years. Whether its to freshen up second-day hair or to add some much-needed texture and volume to my locks, I always have a supply of the stuff on hand. 

Last year, I reached out to dry shampoo titans Batiste on Facebook after spotting their new styling range in Superdrug. Unlike the brand's dry shampoo, the stylist range was not labelled as vegan or cruelty free, so I asked them whether it was safe to use. Unfortunately, the response I received was not what I expected...


I contacted their Care Team and received no response. Since then, many other bloggers have reached out to Batiste and received a similar response. Worryingly, Batiste still displays both a 'vegan' and 'cruelty free' icon on its cans of dry shampoo, despite the fact that their animal testing policy is essentially null and void as the company sells in China, where animal testing is mandatory.

Since then, I've tried out a few other brands of cruelty free dry shampoo, the latest of which being KiteNest. The guys behind KiteNest wanted to create a line of products that are naturally good, affordable and effective. The range is extensive, and also includes natural body butters and Himalayan salt scrubs alongside some non-vegan items such as beeswax-based hair waxes and lipbalms. All of the ingredients are listed on the KN website so you know exactly what goes in to each product.


I love the ethos of the brand. Everything is designed to have a minimal impact on the planet, but without compromising on the effectiveness of the product. KiteNest's dry shampoo is 100% organic and comes in a fully recyclable cardboard tube from responsibly maintained forests. Even the packing pebbles used to ship the item are fully biodegradable and made a nice addition to my compost bin!

The dry shampoo comes in two varieties; one for light hair and one for dark. I was sent the light one to try, but KN advised that the dark formula is essentially the same except a darker clay is used to help avoid that powdery look.


Unlike many of the dry shampoos sold in stores, the KiteNest dry shampoo comes in a tub with a shaker, rather than an aerosol can. This can make things a bit tricky if you're trying to apply the powder to a particular part of your head, especially if you're horribly uncoordinated like me and you end up throwing it all over your face... not that I've ever done that...

I found the best way to apply the dry shampoo is to sprinkle a small amount in to your hand and apply to the hair that way. This also means you can massage the powder in to your hair exactly where you want it to go, and you're not missing any of the shampoo.


Once you've massaged it in, leave it for around 30 seconds before brushing your hair. This 30 seconds is crucial - it's the difference between the dry shampoo working and not working! It really needs this time to absorb the oils, otherwise you'll end up adding more unnecessarily. I find you can really feel the powder in your hair at first, but once it's brushed through any stickiness disappears and you're left with fresh hair which is ready to style!

The other thing worth noting is that the KN dry shampoo is also lightly scented with a citrus smell which is really refreshing without being overpowering.

If you're looking for a 100% vegan, cruelty free and organic dry shampoo, you really can't go wrong with this. It's £10 for a 150g tub which will last ages, and supports an independent UK retailer, win-win!

Buy KiteNest Organic Dry Shampoo online here.

Thanks for reading!

Emily xo
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Thursday, 29 June 2017

Grumpy Panda - the North East's first all vegan American diner


Regulars on the North East's vegan festival circuit will no doubt be familiar with Grumpy Panda and its signature large furry mascot. A firm favourite in our household, the Panda's signature mushroom burger was always my number 1 choice at Nevfest, despite the plethora of delights on offer - it's just that good.

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Monday, 29 May 2017

Vegan beauty from B.*


Whenever I'm asked about the best vegan or cruelty free drugstore brands, I find myself consistently recommending Superdrug's B. range. Not only is the entire range suitable for vegans, it's also affordable, extensive and effective. The range covers skincare, cosmetics, brushes and even has a men's line, and is tailored to different skin 'phases', so there's something for every age range and skin type.

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Saturday, 12 November 2016

Coming soon - Wildflower Newcastle

Newcastle's vegan scene lost a little something special a few weeks ago when The Painted Elephant announced it would be closing. I was a big fan of their inventive, fresh, locally sourced plant-based fayre, so when I heard chef Asher Turnbull was teaming up with his equally creative friend and colleage Jessie to launch a new venture, I was fairly excited!

It's always nice to see a new vegan cafe opening in the North East, and Wildflower - which opens at 283a Westgate Road on Tuesday 15th November - sounds like a welcome addition to the ever-growing crop of quality establishments making Newcastle their home.

Dubbed a 'creative kitchen and event space', Wildflower will marry art, music and events with the exciting, vibrant plant-based foods that made Painted Elephant so special. In future, the space will play host to a plethora of different events, including themed dinner parties, still life drawing sessions, upcycling workshops, vintage and art markets and cooking demonstrations, bringing something a little different to the area.

The people behind Wildflower are hoping to raise £1,000 to help buy vital equipment and furnish the space. It would be so great if the vegan community could get behind them and make a small (or large!) donation to help them realise their dream. If you could spare a pound or two, you can donate at their Just Giving page here. You can also like Wildflower on Facebook here.

Please feel free to share this post amongst your friends and fellow vegans - let's help Wildflower to hit their target and give a local business a strong start to establish themselves and grow their offering.

Emily xo
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Sunday, 6 November 2016

Where have you been?! My blood clot story

DVT, Pulmonary Embolism and Blood Clot Symptoms

Well hello there. It's been a while, hasn't it? The past few weeks have been so crazy, I'm not really sure where to begin. In a nutshell, Andrew and I went on the holiday of a lifetime to Toronto and New York at the end of August, On the flight back, I got Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) in my left leg, which was misdiagnosed by nine different doctors over a period of five weeks. Because it went undiagnosed for such a long time, the blood clot in my leg 'broke away' and lots of small and medium sized blood clots travelled to my lungs. As a result, I now have multiple bilateral Pulmonary Embolism, which is a fairly horrible and just a little bit terrifying, life threatening condition.

I should start by saying that this is what happened to me. DVT and PE is such a personal thing, and having now met lots of other people with the same condition as me on forums and Facebook groups, we've all had very different symptoms and treatment programmes. I don't want anyone to think that they are going to get DVT or PEs if they are in the same situation as me. Multiple doctors have told me that it is very rare to get these conditions at my age, however it does happen, I'm living proof of that. If this blog post helps to save the life of one person, then that'll do me nicely.

Two days after our flight back to the UK, I began to develop a pain on the inside of my lower left leg. It felt as though I had a bruise which hadn't quite made its way to the surface yet. I'm a generally fairly clumsy person, so I reckoned I'd whacked myself with my suitcase and forgotten about it.

Two weeks later, the pain in my leg was still there, and it was fairly bad at this point. A bruise hadn't emerged from the depths of my shin, but it still felt as though there was one lurking, ready to pop up with a 'here I am, nothing to worry about!' That didn't happen. I Googled my symptoms - yeah, I know, but we all do it - and there it was, 'deep vein thrombosis'. It was always in the back of my mind having recently been on a long-haul flight, so when I attended the NHS walk in centre after work, I told the nurse I thought that's what it was. I was told by the nurse and the following doctor that there was no way it could be DVT as 'DVT always leaves a mark on the skin, it happens in the big veins in the back of your knees and you're too young.' I was diagnosed with shin splints (anyone who follows me on Instagram will know I was doing Insanity before my holiday and had recently started running, so this did make sense, even though it was only in one leg), and told to ice my leg and take paracetamol.

For the next two weeks I pretty much lived on painkillers, and when I wasn't at work I had a bag of frozen peas glued to my permanently elevated leg. The pain would come and go, and I carried on going to the gym, running 5ks most nights after work and even doing Parkrun on a Saturday. The strange thing was that my leg wouldn't hurt at all whilst I was exercising, and would only start if I had a day or two off. I thought the exercise was helping, so I carried on.

One Wednesday night in mid-September, I was woken up throughout the night in agony with my leg. It was so sore it hurt when anything touched it - even the bedsheets or the water from the shower. That same week, I arrived at work in tears after my usual 10 minute walk to the office took 30 minutes, and I was in so much pain I couldn't put any weight at all in my leg. Luckily, I was whisked off to A&E in a taxi by my lovely manager, so I could get checked out. The consultant sent me for X-rays which came back clear, but despite there being no evidence, he said it was most likely a stress fracture, but further investigation was needed. He gave me crutches, and advised me to go to a private physiotherapist for ultrasound treatment as the NHS waiting list is so long, and told me to go see my GP for a referral for an MRI scan.

The following week I saw my GP who prescribed me strong painkillers and referred me for an MRI scan. I went to a private physio who did ultrasound on my leg, and gave me a 'Cryocuff' which is a cold compression boot. I used the Cryocuff for five days and my leg still remained hugely swollen and sore. After I used the Cryocuff, my foot would be ice cold for hours on end. I would wrap it in socks and blankets, but it would not warm up at all, which made me worried there was something wrong with the circulation in my leg.


The photo above show my legs in comparison to each other - the leg with the tattooed foot is the one which had the blood clot. You can see that the legs are two different shapes, and that the leg with the clot was actually a different colour to the 'normal' leg. Soz if you don't like feet.


This photo shows the inside of my left ankle (i.e. that is my pinky toe closest to the camera). As you can see it swelled up so much it was definite cankle material. Sorry the photos aren't great quality - at the time I literally took them to send to my mum! I never thought it would be something I'd feel compelled to write a blog post about.

The following week I went back to my physiotherapist and he was really worried about the amount of pain and swelling still present in my leg. He called his friend who is a consultant at the hospital, and told me to go back and see him that evening. Back at the hospital, the consultant took more x-rays of my leg, and said it was likely to be a stress fracture. The x-ray showed no evidence of a fracture or anything wrong with my bones, but you could see how much more my leg had swollen in comparison to the x-rays which had been taken a fortnight earlier. The consultant gave me a support boot to wear and made me an appointment for the fracture clinic the next morning.

The following day I attended the fracture clinic, and after waiting for two hours, was told there was nothing the consultants could do for me as my leg wasn't fractured. At this point I broke down. I had been in so much pain for weeks on end, my leg was swollen and I couldn't walk without the crutches. I just wanted an answer as to why my leg hurt so much and why nothing would reduce the pain and swelling. The doctor asked me if anyone had done a blood test to rule out other medical causes, and I told him nobody had. He didn't test my blood. He gave me a sick note for 'tendinitis' and told me to make another appointment for four weeks time.

Two days after my fracture clinic appointment, I started to feel really unwell. I was sniffly, had a headache and felt like I was coming down with the flu. That evening, I walked into my kitchen, and had to lean on the worktop for support as I couldn't breathe. I felt completely winded - as though some invisible force had knocked all of the air out of my lungs. I thought it was because I was getting the flu, and went to bed early.

The next morning, I couldn't bring myself to get out of bed. I felt so lethargic and unwell, my head was pounding and I felt sick. I am NOT a snoozer. I have been known to get up at 5am to do an Insanity workout because I knew I wouldn't get the chance to workout later in the day, I am the girl who is early for everything, the one who feels the day is wasted if you get up after 7.30. I knew something wasn't right. By the time I got to the top of the stairs, I was struggling to breathe and had pains in my chest. I did it again - I Googled, 'lower leg pain and shortness of breath' and there it was - DVT and PEs. It was like a checklist of my symptoms. I called NHS 111 and explained my symptoms. She sent an ambulance, and within five minutes there was a paramedic at my door. He took me to A&E and they offered me a blood test called a 'D-Dimer'. The results of the test come back in SIX MINUTES. I couldn't believe nobody had offered me this sooner.

The D-Dimer results showed that I had a blood clot. I was whisked off to resus where I was hooked up to a drip and given an injection into my stomach to stop the blood clots from moving and to stop further clots from developing. I couldn't believe that I finally had an answer as to why my leg was so painful, but I was terrified about what would happen next.

After a few hours on a short stay ward, I was taken for a CT scan. The doctors put a contrast dye in my cannula so they could see the veins in my lungs. Unfortunately, I had a massive allergic reaction to the dye and went into anaphylactic shock. My head, tongue, mouth and throat swelled up and my whole body went bright red with hives. I had to be given an injection of antihistamines and adrenaline as well as oxygen and it was all fairly terrifying.

Once the doctors had managed to stabilise me, I was moved on to an observation ward where the doctors monitored my blood oxygen levels and my heart rate, as well as taking my blood pressure and temperature every 15 minutes. The consultant who was looking after me came to discuss the results of my CT scan and told me I have multiple bilateral pulmonary embolism which means that there are multiple blood clots on both of my lungs. I asked her how many, but she said there were too many to put a number on. I couldn't believe that I had gone from thinking I had shin splints to being in hospital with a life-threatening condition. The doctors started me on an anticoagulant drug called Xarelto which I will have to take every day for at the least six months. It makes me randomly bleed and stops my blood from clotting so I have to be careful not to cut myself. But I am alive and on the road to recovery. 1 in 4 people who have untreated PEs like mine will die from the condition.

I was in the hospital for two days before they let me go home. The doctors were mostly lovely but vegan hospital food SUCKS and I was very glad to be away from all of the machines beeping. Strangely, I managed to walk out of the hospital without my boot or the crutches. My leg was sore and stiff, but I was finally able to put weight on it, so I shuffled out, pleased to be on the way to recovery.

My clots were 'provoked' which means that there is a known cause and a reason that we can pinpoint. Some people get blood clots for absolutely no reason whatsoever, or they have a genetic condition which means they are susceptible to developing blood clots. As far as I know at this moment in time, my blood clots were a result of the long haul flight and 12-13 years of taking the combined contraceptive pill (I was taking Yasmin / Yaz AKA Lucette in the UK if anyone is interested). There are many different factors which affect someone's propensity to have blood clots - one is taking the combined pill, others are lifestyle factors such as smoking or being overweight - neither of which applied to me. Both DVT and PE have many different symptoms, and some people will only have one or two - if any. I had a fair few of the symptoms, but the information I had been given at the walk in centre (about DVT only occurring in the backs of the knees and always coming with a mark on the skin) simply was not true.

The recovery is slow and long. Some days I feel fine, on others I will randomly bleed from my gums or bring up blood from nowhere (I have had this checked out and it's supposedly a side effect from being on such a high dose of anticoagulants). I get tired very easily, I'm sensitive to light, I get the worst headaches I've ever had and get back pain. I also suffer from post-thrombotic syndrome meaning I get pain in my leg where I had the clot which is terrifying. It will be a while before I'm running or doing Insanity again, but I will get there. Many others are not so lucky.

If anyone has any questions about DVT / PE / Thrombosis I will be happy to answer them. Feel free to post them in the comments or email me - emily@teaonthetyne.com if you don't want to ask them publically.

I know this is a little different from my usual posts and it was really long, but I felt it was really important to document my story in case anyone else is having similar symptoms. There seems to be a general lack of awareness in the medical community about DVT / PE in young women, but we can and do get these conditions and I would not wish for anyone else to go through what I've been through. If my DVT had been diagnosed at an earlier stage, there is no doubt that my recovery would have been easier and quicker than it will be, and my condition may not have become life-threatening. Please listen to your own body and do not give up until you have an answer.

I'll be back with something a bit more cheery soon!

Emily xo
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Sunday, 18 September 2016

REVIEW: Vitashine Vegan Vitamin D3 by Vegetology

Vitashine Vitamin D3 by Vegetology

One of the most common questions I'm asked as a vegan is, "where do you get your XYZ..?" Whether it's protein, calcium or a variety of vitamins and minerals, we're able to get everything our bodies need to thrive on a well-planned vegan diet. However, like many people (vegan and otherwise), I like to supplement my diet with a multivitamin to ensure I'm getting everything I need to stay healthy and happy, especially as we edge towards cold and flu season.

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Sunday, 31 July 2016

It's official: I'm Insane! My thoughts on Insanity & starting the 21 Day Fix



Wow, it's been a while! Sorry for the silence of late, if you follow me on Instagram you might already know what's been keeping me so busy (aside from Pokemon Go).

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