Places Id' Rather Be this weekend.

Labor Day weekend always stinks here in AZ.
It's always the time of year that I yearn to be somewhere else.
{Just for the weekend}.
All around the country, temperatures are starting to cool...
leaves are starting to slightly change..
And fall is in the air.

'Fall' is technically still like a month and half away for us Arizonans.
{And even though that's the case...I'm STILL starting to post fall and Halloween ideas on Monday. Because in my matter where you are...Fall starts on Sept. 1st}.

Here are some places I'd rather be on this long weekend:

Cedar City, UT
My parents are here this weekend.
They called this morning to tell me that it was 62 degrees and lightly raining.
My heart ached a little.  If it weren't so darn far away {8 hours to be exact} our family would be there in a heartbeat....watching the Shakespeare festival, playing football on the college campus, eating corn dogs at the Top Spot and having ice-cream at Bulloch Drug. 

We are going in exactly one month...
And I wish it were sooner.
Hands down probably my very most favorite place of all.
You just can't beat Disneyland in the fall.
I say I'm starting a countdown on our chalkboard for my kids...
but's for me.
Cannot. Wait.

Fairfax, VA
My good 'ole hometown.
I was born and raised there, ya know.
Fall in Fairfax is the absolute BEST.
And I miss it.
Joe and I were there 6 years ago for my highschool reunion and I think it's time we return for a visit.
Nothing beats Virginia's leaves...the smell in the air...and the crisp autumn breeze.

Nevertheless.....we will sweat it out this weekend and we will survive BECAUSE....
I  DO have this to look forward to:

Greer, AZ
In just 3 short weeks we'll take a long weekend trip with Joe's family up to the Eastern AZ mountains.
It is BEAUTIFUL there and I am giddy with excitement.
Maybe I'll start a countdown for THAT too.
For the kids of course.

Sleep Deprived.

 This image kept coming to my  mind last night in the middle of the night.
It was TOTALLY my family. 
Not the grandparents of course....but me...Joe...and all three kids.

Let me explain....

Do you ever feel like your bedroom becomes Grand Central Station in the middle of the night?
Like no one gives a flying fart if MOM gets woken up at least 20 times??

Here's a run down of how it all went down last night:

7:30pm - go to bed with kids.
I was EXTRA tired all day yesterday so I thought...hey..I'm gonna throw in the towel for the night and get rested up. 
{I'd have been better staying up til midnight like I usually do!} 
I should also mention, that since I was going to bed so early, I let London 'snuggle' next to me while we both fell asleep. This usually ALSO never happens.

10:00pm - Joe comes in to go to sleep and London has peed in the middle of the bed.
Joe's so tired that he places a towel on the pee spot and sleeps upside down so he doesn't have to face or smell the pee all night.  London goes back into her bed.

11:00pm - wake up because Joe has stolen my favorite pillow and the fan is on too high. 

2:05am - London comes into our room and insists that the hall light be turned on. And stay on.

2:20am - Grant comes in for a drink of water.

3:00am - I turn off the hall light because I can't sleep with it on. 
3:01am - London throws a raging fit for the light to be turned BACK on. How is she still up??

3:30am - Grant comes BACK in to tell me that at night, he has Spiderman vision and can see big black spiders crawling up his bed. 

3:31am - Grant crawls in bed with me.

4:00am - check on Carson..the only one still in his make sure he's not freezing and to turn off his fan.

4:15am - Grant needs me to turn on my cell phone light because he's bleeding. Bleeding?? Yup. He scratched his excema so hard that he's bleeding a tiny bit.  Being the good mom that I am I tell him to wipe it off with his hand and go to sleep. 

4:20am - I realize that Joe has managed to snore logs through all of this and I get kinda ticked.

5:00am - still ticked that I've been up all night and Joe has not...everyone finally falls back asleep. With the light on. 

7:00am - alarm goes off. Carson has now managed to creep into our bed as well.  Everyone is so tired that no one wants to get up for school. 

7:05am - I wake up Joe and inform him that he better get up after the night I've had!

Is there any wonder why I crave my first Diet Coke of the day by 8am???

Seriously....what the??? 

Alas... at 4:59am last night, right before falling asleep, I remember thinking.....

I am grateful for my bed.
I am grateful for my warm home.
And I am grateful...that... even though we looked like Charlie Buckets' grandparents last night....I always have THESE 4 constantly by my side...

The Wonder Woman Tin of Beauty Samples

I have been a subscriber to various beauty boxes for about a year now, and whilst I love to try out new products all the time, sometimes there simply aren't enough hours in the day to do so!  So what happens to all of those samples that are eagerly awaiting their turn to be tested out?  They live in The Wonder Woman Tin of Beauty Samples of course!

Only problem is that there are far too many tenants in the tin now and I can't actually close it at the moment....  I may have to work out a different storage solution until I get my addiction to beauty samples under control.

Anyway in my tin, I have samples from beauty boxes, GWP samples, magazine freebie samples, and random samples that just happen to drop through my letterbox.  I don't have a great deal of sample sachets at the moment, because those are usually the first that I tend to use up, so most of these are mini tubes and travel sizes.

I think I'm going to take a leaf out of Sandra's book and pick out a handful a month to try out, and then I'll write mini reviews of them in an Empties post.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of your beauty samples, and how to use them up if you have too many:-

1.  If you're using a tube, make sure to cut it in half when you think it's nearly empty.  You'd be surprised how much product is still left clinging to the sides!

2.  If you're using a sachet, cut it across the top and squeeze the product into a clean, empty little tub (eye cream pots are ideal for this).  Sometimes you can get at least 2-3 uses out of a sachet when you thought you'd only get one.

3.  Create your own beauty box and send to a friend or swap with a fellow blogger.

4.  Fill a box full and donate it to Give And Makeup.  They distribute unwanted beauty products (and many more items, see a full list here) to women and their children in collaboration with Refuge and Womens Aid.  Both charities work to give support and shelter to those who are experiencing domestic violence.

How do you store your beauty samples?  Do you have lots hanging around or do you use them straight away?

P.S The winner of the Betrousse Summer Break Box is Kel, congrats!

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August Books List

This month, I took part in a Goodreads challenge to just read non-fiction for the whole of August.  The idea was to explore outside of your usual reading comfort zone and perhaps learn something new in the process too.  I really enjoyed it, though I had to sneak in one fiction book!  I think I'll definitely make more of an effort to try and read at least one non-fiction book a month now.

1. Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman by Alice Steinbach
A light and easy summer read following Alice Steinbach on her year of travelling alone.   In this book, she mainly talks about her visits to London, Paris, Oxford and Italy, commenting on the people she meets along the way and why she decided to take a year out from her busy life.  Well worth a read for her thoughts on Paris alone if you've ever fancied going.  [4/5]

2. Voices From Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Aleksievich
This has been one of the most emotional and harrowing books that I've ever read about the Chernobyl disaster.  It's a compilation of memoirs from survivors, their friends, and family etc, and some of the stories are just horrific.  But interwoven with the horror is a lot of hope, love and an unimaginable faith in humanity to pull through the very worst of times.  It's also very interesting from an environmental perspective too.  [4/5]

3. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcom Gladwell
Outliers is one of those non-fiction books that you can just pick up whenever and enjoy reading. Gladwell's writing style is laidback and accessible, and this whole book is full of interesting facts and stories about how people have become successful.

The first part of the book looks into the backgrounds of people such as Bill Gates and explains the circumstances and opportunities that they had, that got them to where they are today.  In this section Gladwell uses the simplest analogy to describe success:- The tallest tree in a forest comes from a hardy seed, but other factors like access to sunlight, not being eaten by animals or chopped down when young, help it to grow into the mighty tree that it is today.  So whilst successful people work really hard, there are certain doors that are opened to them which help them along their way, or they may simply have had the luck of being born in the right place at the right time.

The second part looks at cultural legacies and the importance of understanding them in relation to success.  For example, Gladwell explains that Asians are often better at maths than Westerners because they have a more logical counting system and so forth.  Certainly worth reading if you're interested in the sociology and history of success over the last century.  [5/5]

4. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
I snuck in a fiction book this month and decided to re-read The Bell Jar.  If you're already familiar with the works of Sylvia Plath then you'll know that her writing was very self-reflective on her ongoing struggles with depression and this novel was self-autobiographical.
The first time I read The Bell Jar I was about 16/17 and I remember it having such a profound effect on what I thought depression was and how I saw others perceiving it in different ways.  Re-reading it at 25 allows me to see it from a much different perspective and appreciate Plath's writing a lot more, and it always makes me sad that this was her only novel.  [4/5]

What have you been reading this month?  Do you read much non-fiction?
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Appetizers you should know about.

The other night we had fun friends over for a GAME NIGHT.
I asked everyone to bring an APPETIZER....and boy was I glad.
There were so many yummy one's it was like a FEAST!

Here are three APPETIZER RECIPES you are gonna want to try:

This one is so super simple.  My mom shared it with me and it honestly took me less than 10 minutes to prepare. {My kids LOVE meatballs right now so I was super excited to try it!}

1 bag of frozen meatballs {I like the Italian kind of pretty much any brand.}
2 packages of Pillsbury crescent rolls
Mozzarella cheese

Thaw out your meatballs. {I just put mine in the refrigerator that morning to thaw}.

Separate your crescent rolls into triangles.

Sprinkle mozzarella cheese onto the rolls.

Add a meatball {or two!}

Wrap the crescent roll around the meatball and pinch to seal shut.

Bake according to directions on the crescent roll package.
{May need to add a couple of minutes onto the cooking time}.

Serve with either Heinz Chili Dipping sauce OR spaghetti sauce.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

1 pound chicken breast

¾ cup buffalo chicken wing sause

2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup ranch dressing

 1 ½ cups shredded Colby/Jack cheese

1 bag corn chips

 Boil chicken breasts in water until done; shred chicken and mix with buffalo sauce.  In a mixing bowl, mix together softened cream cheese and ranch dressing and spread evenly on the bottom of an 8x11 baking dish.  Top evenly with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until dip is heated through and cheese is melted.  Serve with corn chips. 

Jalapeno Cream Cheese Crescent Poppers

Tasty Kitchen

August Empties / Products I've Used Up

I usually do my Empties post right at the end of the month but there's no way I'm going to finish anything else up in the next couple of days.  Besides, I already have a box full to show you all, so without further ado here are the products that I have used up recently.

Pure Fiji Nourishing Exotic Coconut Oil (travel size from Joliebox)
I love anything coconut based/scented, so using this was such a pleasure.  It's a multi-purpose oil that you can use in the bath, on your body and on your hair.  I mostly used it up as a pre-shampoo hair treatment and it gave me super soft and shiny hair.  Repurchase?  Very tempted!

Lush Jasmine And Henna Fluff-Eaze Hair Moisturiser (full size)
This is one of my HG hair treatments and it's just the perfect product for me to use when I want my hair to be sleek and not frizzy.  I've probably mentioned this before, but it has a very strong jasmine scent to it which does linger in your hair for a few days after using it, so if you're not sure if you like jasmine, ask for a sample of it first.  Repurchase?  Definitely.

Lush Catastrophe Cosmetic Fresh Face Mask (full size)
Absolutely love this face mask! Reviewed hereRepurchase? Yes.

REN Active 7 Radiant Eye Gel (sample)
This was lovely to use when stored in the fridge as a cooling eye treatment and it helped to reduce some of the puffiness that I get with hayfever.  Repurchase?  Not sure, it's something I might pick up next summer.

REN Photoactive Sun Veil SPF 15 (sample from Amarya)
Don't have much to say about this one,  it was light and non greasy, but I prefer my Jason one more which also has a higher SPF.  Repurchase?  No.

Purity Conditioning Cleansing Lotion* (full size)
A very simple and effective everyday cleanser that's kind to sensitive skin and does a fantastic job of removing make-up too.  Definitely one of the best budget cleansers I've ever tried and it's 98% natural/83% organic.  Repurchase?  Yes.

John Masters Organics Jojoba & Ginseng Exfoliating Face Cleanser (sample from Amarya)
This was OK and it didn't irritate my skin, but I wasn't particularly wowed by it or anything.  Repurchase? Probably not.

Barefoot Botanicals SOS Soothing Face & Body Wash (full size)
I've had this for ages and only ever used it during eczema flare ups.  It's very calming on the skin so ideal if you have any dry skin issues.  Reviewed hereRepurchase?  Maybe, but I do like the Weleda Creamy Body Washes more though.

balance Me Rose Otto Body Wash (travel size)
Really love this, the scent is gorgeous!  Repurchase?  Already have a big one of these.

Steamcream (full size)
One of my HG body moisturisers, so light, yet really hydrating at the same time and smells lovely.  Reviewed hereRepurchase?  Definitely.

St Tropez Gradual Tan Everyday Body Moisturiser in Medium/Dark (travel size)
I liked this, it gave a nice natural looking tan and was easy to use.  Only downside, is that I found the formula a little sticky, as in it didn't absorb as well into the skin as I thought it would.  Repurchase?  Maybe next year.

Green People Sheer Pamper Pomegranate Body Oil (travel size)
This oil was way too greasy for my liking, but I found it worked really well as a bath oil so that's how I used it up.  Repurchase?  Has been discontinued, so I hope it's being reformulated.

The Sanctuary Spa Exfoliating Pumice Foot Scrub (full size)
I always use foot scrubs during the summer months and this one was OK, it did the job.  Repurchase?  If I saw it on offer, yes.

terre d'Oc Nourishing Shea & Baobab Hand Cream (sample)
This is a lovely rich hand cream which reminds me of L'Occitane's Shea Butter hand creams, but is a lot less thick formula wise.  Repurchase?  Something I'd consider buying in winter.

Burt's Bees Hand Salve (travel size)
I didn't get on with this at all, found it way too greasy to use and ending up using what was left on my feet instead!  Repurchase?  No.

Lush Honey Trap Lip Balm (full size)
I like this a lot, the flavour is like a mix of vanilla, honey and peppermint, yum!  It's moisturising and ideal to use in summer because it's got a high melting point.  Repurchase?  Yes.

Essential Care Organic First Aid Lotion* (travel size)
This came in very handy for things like insect bites and using as an aftersun, but I found the formula to be on the thin and runny side which sometimes made it quite messy to apply.  Repurchase?  No.

RMK Make Up Base (sample from Joliebox)
I had high hopes for this because I'd seen some great reviews by other bloggers, but it just didn't suit my oily/combination skintype sadly.  Might be one to try if you have dry skin instead.  Repurchase? No.

Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection Concealer in Medium (full size)
My favourite budget concealer, works really well at covering up blemishes.  Reviewed here.
Repurchase?  Yep, already bought another one!

What beauty products have you used up recently?  Link below if you've done an empties post :)

P.S It's the last day to enter my giveaway to win a Betrousse Summer Break Box, winner announced tomorrow!

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*PR samples

This weekend:

*I started the weekend off right by getting a pedicure with my mom.


* Joe and I hosted a GAME NIGHT at our house on Fri. night with fun friends.
We laughed and laughed.
And ate and ate.
Everyone brought an appetizer and I must share some of the yummy recipes soon.
We had SO. MuCh. FuN!!

*Mall time on Saturday.
Browsed through Bath and Body Works...their new fall scents are out!!
Not to mention their cute Halloween soaps.
I'm a sucker for those ya know.

* Speaking of fall...even though it's nowhere near here in AZ...I lit my first Gold Canyon candle of the season this weekend.  It made me giddy with anticipation for the weather change. My FAVORITE scent is Mulled Harvest.  This one was a Pumpkin Pie.  My kids came downstairs and told me that the house smelled like Halloween.  I was pleased!
*All of the adults in my family went out to dinner HERE on Saturday night to celebrate my mom's birthday. It's always so nice when we all get babysitters and go out together. So fun to relax and visit without chasing kids and cleaning up spilled soda.

*Afterwards we headed back to mom and dad's for birthday cake!

Totally typical.  My mom serving HER birthday cake.
Where were the rest of us??
She is the supreme definition of SERVICE I tell you.
{I'll also be sharing the recipe of this cake that I made soon.  It was YuMmY and super easy!}

* Great time at church.
Talks given on family and the importance thereof.


*Orange Julius' at our neighbor's house.

*Made THIS for dinner.
Yes...another crockpot recipe.
My kids had seconds and thirds....they LOVED it!
We all loved it although I think I would double the amount of seasonings.
It seemed to be lacking for me {just a tad} in the flavor dept.

*Fun friends over for Sunday night dessert and chatting.
We are SO blessed with such good people around us.


Looking forward this week to: MORE birthday celebrations.  
Joe's sister, my sister and my dad's.
Bring on the festivities!

Top 5: Most Reached for Summer Products

I've been enjoying watching the 'Most Worn Summer Items' videos on Youtube recently and decided to compile my own top 5 'Best of Summer' post for today.  Sadly we haven't had much of a summer in England this year (again!), but on the occasional hot sunny days, I have been reaching for these products.

1.  The Body Shop Vitamin E Lip Care with SPF 15 (£4, link)
I'm addicted to lip balm and use it all year round.   So when summer rolls up, I like to switch to one that has an SPF.  This one from The Body Shop is very moisturising and great to wear underneath lipsticks because it provides a nice smooth base.  It also doesn't have a specific 'flavour' or anything to it, so it may be ideal for those who aren't into fruity scents etc.

2.  Essential Care Organic Rose Petal Tonic (30ml, £7, link)* 
I've spoken about this spray toner before and really, really love it.  It's just a simple, light and refreshing spritzer that feels great to use when it's hot out.  Rose water is known for it's softening properties so it helps to rehydrate skin that has been in the sun all day.

3.  Blink & Go Long Lasting Mascara in Black
I generally don't wear a lot of make-up during the summer months, but I do always find myself reaching for a waterproof mascara that I know won't budge in the heat.  This one never lets me down and is one of my favourite mascaras in general.

4.  The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil Facial Blotting Tissues (65 sheets, £4.50, link)
My usually oily/combination skin gets SUPER oily in summer and I prefer to use blotting tissues over powder when it's sunny, because powder can look a bit cakey in the sunlight.  These ones have tea tree oil them to help prevent breakouts and blemishes and do the job perfectly.

5.  JĀSÖN Revitalizing Citrus Body Wash (900ml, £9.49, link)*
I love citrusy body washes all year round, but especially more so in summer because they're so refreshing.  This one from JĀSÖN comes in an enormous bottle with a pump and has a subtle orange and lemon scent to it that means I can use it often without it started to smell too cloying on me.  It lathers well and the huge bottle is great value for money.

What have been your most reached for summer items this year?  If you've done a post similar to this, then feel free to link to it in the comments below!

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*PR samples

Things I'm diggin....

Yes, I admit....I'm addicted to Pinterest.
I'll never deny that fact.
Instead...I choose to CELEBRATE the idea that I can't go a day without browsing it's pages.
Lucky for you...I'm sharing some of my latest and greatest finds.

{You're welcome!}

Super cute year round wreath
I'm such a sucker for cute wreaths.  I wish I'd have been able to find the actual link to this one...maybe there would've been a step by step tutorial on how to make it? looks somewhat simple. Wreath is covered in burlap.  Moss covered Monogram.  Numbers and some floral detail. Wa-lah! Totally need to make one of these stat!!!

burlap clip frames for a YW activity?
Lolly Jane

Another 'find' involving BURLAP. {Love!} How cute to hang pictures or notes!

Right along with burlap....I can't seem to get enough of CHEVRON printed ANYTHING lately.
LOVING the idea of incorporating it into my Halloween decor.

GREAT FOR HALLOWEEN toddler-girls long sleeve black chevron dress with orange jack-o-lantern applique sizes 6-12mo,12mo,18mo,2,3,4,5,6,7/8. $40.00, via Etsy.
Yes....this dress is a MUST for London's new pre-school fall wardrobe, no?

chevron pumpkin
Feeling Love Some

I will most definitely be doing these to my pumpkins.

Yummy Fun
LOVE this idea of using candle holders as dip containers for parties! 

I know...Thanksgiving is like forever away cute is this place setting???

And...just because I LOVE a good's some of my favorite FUNNY pins as of late.
Just so we're clear.

Totally me.
Happy Mothers Day!! I can totally relate!

I hope my kids realize this!

NOTD: OPI - What's With The Cattitude?

Anyone else remember the Shrek Forever After collection that OPI released about two years ago?  I was having a rummage through my nail polishes this afternoon and stumbled across What's With The Cattitude?  I haven't worn this in ages but I absolutely love it.  I don't have many pale sky blues like this in my collection so I really should get some more use out of it!

What are you wearing on your nails this weekend? 

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Joliebox - August

 Joliebox (£10 + P&P per month, link)

I was about to pop into the shower this morning when a Yodel courier knocked on the door, looked briefly amused that I was in my dressing gown and then handed over my Joliebox.  I couldn't wait to open it.  It's a good one this month!

This month's box comes in various special edition coloured designs by Timai Hua and is themed around summer holidays.  The first item I pulled out was Phil Smith Be Gorgeous Dry Clean Revitalising Dry Shampoo in a handbag friendly 75ml can.  I'm excited to give this a go because I've been trying to find a dry shampoo that works for me for such a long time, so fingers crossed for this one.

Next up we have three sample 'pillows' of Dr Bronner's Pure Castile Soap in Citrus Orange, Unscented Baby Mild and 18-in-1 Peppermint.  I've used this before in the Rose and Tea Tree scents, and it's seriously amazing stuff.  It's an all natural multi-purpose liquid soap which can be used as a shower wash, in your bath, a hand soap, a face wash and a shampoo, as well as being used to wash your make-up brushes, dishes, clothes, and even floors!   

Packaged in a Agent Provocateur style pale pink box with a cute butterfly on top, is a So Susan Cosmetics Lip Cushion.  It's a sheer glittery lip gloss/balm that smells of fruity fake strawberries.  I got the shade Crush and a quick swipe of it feels quite moisturizing on, but it is super sheer as you'd expect.

Another So Susan Cosmetics item included is this Wide Awake Face Palette which is pretty nifty to find in a beauty box!  The palette contains an illuminating cream, highlighting cream, eyebrow sculptor powders, tweezers and a brow brush.  I've briefly swatched the creams and they seem pretty good, though the eyebrow powders are shimmery which is kinda odd?!

Lastly there's a Cut By Fred Leather Hair Styling Tie in a gorgeous blue and a free song download by the band The Nodz.  A great box this month Joliebox!

Did you get a Joliebox today?

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Beauty Debate: Natural vs Synthetic Make-up Brushes - Which do you use and why?

If you're a make-up junkie, chances are you'll also have some kind of make-up brush collection, whether it's small, large, or somewhere in between.  I never used to have many make-up brushes, but as my cosmetics collection grew, I found myself becoming a lot more interested in brushes and discovering which ones I liked using and which ones I didn't for a variety of reasons. 

Natural hair brushes
Make-up brushes that are made from natural hair come from some sort of animal.  Common animals used are goat, pony, squirrel and sable and brushes can be made from a singular animal or a mixture.  Each animal has a different kind of hair, so each is used for a different purpose, but mainly natural hairs are used because they are soft, durable and can be naturally thicker or finer.   For hair brushes, boar is popular because of its flexibility and strength, and badger has been used for making men's shaving brushes for centuries.

Synthetic brushes
Synthetic brushes are usually made from either taklon (a polyester derivative) or nylon, although they can be made from any man-made substance that can mimic animal hair, and many cosmetics companies are now developing and blending new materials for brush use.     

The Main differences: Natural vs Synthetic

Applying make-up: Natural brushes have long been preferred by many MUAs to apply powders because they hold / pick up more product and can give a smoother, more flawless finish.  Synthetic brushes are best used for cream and liquid based products because the synthetic fibres don't absorb the liquid like water (think about it, when your hair gets wet, what does it do?), so they transfer the product better onto the skin.

Texture, longevity and price: Traditionally natural brushes have always been deemed a lot softer and less scratchy.  However, the new generation of synthetic brushes on the market are now made of high quality materials like taklon which are as soft, if not softer, than natural brushes.  Do remember though that the overall quality of natural and synthetic brushes, does varies from brand to brand.  When discussing the longevity factor, natural brushes have always been seen as much more of a long standing investment, but new synthetic brushes are just as durable nowadays and may last longer due to the fact they don't have to be washed as regularly (see below).  Price wise, natural brushes will almost always cost you a lot more than synthetic ones.

Hygiene & sensitivity: In this case, natural brushes don't fare very well at all.  The natural fibres are composed of irregular surfaces which act like a trap for bacteria, dead skin cells, chemicals and whatever else it comes into contact with.  You'll need to use a good antibacterial cleanser and deep clean your natural hair brushes much more regularly to combat possible infections.  Synthetic brushes on the other hand are much more hygienic because they're man-made and have a flat uniform surface which means that they absorb less bacteria in general, and are much easier to clean (as well as drying a lot quicker too).  Some people also can be more sensitive to animal hair and experience irritation which can worsen conditions like acne and eczema etc, so synthetic brushes are a much better option if you have those or sensitive skin overall.  

 A selection of my make-up brushes from a variety of brands including Ecotools, Real Techniques, Everyday Minerals, Elf, Japonesque*, The Body Shop etc.  Synthetic brushes first photo, natural brushes second.

The Cruelty Debate
For many, the choice to purchase either natural or synthetic brushes comes down to personal ethics.  There are cruelty concerns as to how natural hair is obtained to make brushes, and each brand that makes them will either have a strict policy, a vague policy, or simply no policy at all.

Strict policies usually say that the hair used in their brushes is technically 'cruelty-free', in that it is sourced from animals that are not killed, so instead they are shaven/shorn like sheep are to make wool.  They usually also say that they have good relations with their source/have traceability in place, and some may even monitor animal welfare practices etc.  They're also often very insistent that their hair is not a by-product of the fur industry. 

Vague policies are just that; vague.  They may consider and label themselves as being cruelty-free like the above, but won't properly answer any questions regarding how or where they source the hair from.

No policies generally indicate that the hair is sourced directly from the fur industry, all animals of which are always killed, and mainly just for their fur.

Whether a brand has a policy or not, if you are interested in finding out where the hair in a make-up brush comes from, contact the brand direct and ask as many questions as you want.  If you're not satisfied with the answers that you receive, then consider contacting another brand or purchasing synthetics instead.  Also it's worth bearing in mind that a lot of natural hair used in brushes is sourced from China and Russia, both of which have rather sketchy animal welfare practices  So make sure the brand you're wanting to buy from is upfront and honest about what countries they use/work with.  If you're not happy, don't buy.

My Opinion
Practically all of the brushes that I currently use are synthetic, and the main reason is because I've never felt the need to buy natural ones.  The synthetic brushes on the market today are simply fantastic (I don't think there are many bloggers out there who don't agree that Samantha Chapman's Real Techniques Brushes are anything short of amazing!), affordable, don't shed, last a long time (I've had some of my Ecotools and Everyday Minerals ones for years), dry quickly and are super-soft. 

I only own three natural hair brushes and I didn't buy them myself (two were mistakes in PR samples that were sent to me, and the other came with a make-up palette that was gifted to me).   From a cruelty point of view, I'd NEVER purchase or wear real fur, so why would I want to use natural make-up brushes?  I'll just continue to buy synthetics instead. 

As a blogger, I am sometimes approached by brands and PR companies who offer to send me samples of products to try out.  In the past month alone, I was contacted by four different companies who offered to send me natural hair make-up brushes which is why I thought I'd write this post.  I politely declined for the reasons mentioned above and unsurprisingly didn't receive any answers when I asked how they sourced the hair for their brushes.  There was also no information regarding this on any of their websites.

What's your opinion?  Do you use natural, synthetic or both?  
Do you think natural brushes are cruel?  Have your say in the comments below!

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*PR samples