ESPA Beauty Room at Harvey Nichols

All Edinburgh folks know that Harvey Nichols on Multrees walk is the city’s ultimate style destination and go-to department store for the latest and greatest in fashion, beauty and food. An original pioneer of experiential retail (the consumer trend taking over the high street) with their in-store dining and drinking experiences, customisation, personal shopping, parties, trunk shows and even botox. But did you know about the ESPA Beauty Room? 

Yesterday I received a Personalised Facial from the UK spa beauty brand (thats also totally natural, plant-based and cruelty-free!) and a bag full of spa-at-home goodies, so I thought I’d do a lil post to review. TLDR: I am a temple of zen.

The lovely Joanna expertly took me through all the steps of the ESPA 45-minute facial, so-called Personalised because it truly is; a ‘Skinvision’ analysis is performed (whereby a special UV light reveals sun-damaged, sensitive or dehydrated skin and the skin all over your face is tested for its elasticity and firmness) as well as ‘sensory tests’ to see which products are the best fit for you.

In a warm, relaxing treatment room, I was cleansed, exfoliated and massaged, given a face mask and a clay treatments, and moisturised with beautiful essential oils. Basically, it was absolute heaven and I was left not only feeling revived and radiant, but also with more knowledge about my skin and how to take care of it. Remember, the skin is your body’s largest organ, so look after it!

These are the products that were used in the personalised spa facial:

To remove make up and prep:

Bio-Active Eye Cleanser
Delicately removes waterproof eye make up: Buy here
Soothing Eye Lotion
Soothes and refreshes sensitive eye area: Buy here
To cleanse, tone and scrub:

Hydrating Cleansing Milk
A cooling, creamy cleanser: Buy here
Hydrating Floral Spafresh
A refreshing, moisturising toner: Buy here
Refining Skin Polish
A gentle exfoliating scrub with no microbeads: Buy here
To soak and relax:

Essential Cleansing Mask
A calming and deep cleansing face mask: Buy here
Pink Hair and Scalp Mud
A deep conditioning treatment: Buy here

To moisturise and finish:

24-Hour Replenishing Eye Moisturiser
Delicately removes eyeshadow, mascara and eyeliner: Buy here
Optimal Skin ProSerum
Smooth and silky serum for radiant skin: Buy here
Optimal Skin ProMoisturiser
Nutrient-rich hydrating day cream: Buy here
Hydrating Floral Spafresh Spritzer
Aromatic and hydrating spray-on toner: Buy here

Here are the products in my goodie bag, I can’t wait to try them all out. Click to buy:

Ruth @ Urbanity xxx

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The Inconvenient Truth Behind Fashion and Beauty Products

As you may know I am trying to direct my blog in a much more ethical direction, featuring sustainable, locally made fashion and beauty products and brands with strong values that they stick by. 
As you also may know, I am currently studying at Heriot Watt School of Textiles and Design, and this semester I have been delighted to see that as a university they are integrating ethics into the fashion courses, because they realise that fashion is one of the most environmentally and socially damaging industries in the world, and that we as the new generation of workers need to have sustainability in mind with every decision we make in this industry.
With this in mind, after a series of lectures on textiles, I have been thinking about doing more regular posts on the impacts of the apparel production cycle, and also some more on cruelty-free beauty, as when talking with my classmates I am totally shocked as to how few people know about the impact of their everyday purchases. I hope you find this post useful, and let me know in the comments your views on ethical fashion and beauty!



Many toothpastes, body scrubs and cleansers contain tiny pieces of plastic called microbeads, which are often used for their exfoliation purposes. Lately they’ve had a lot of press because the US, Canada and hopefully the UK are banning the use of microbeads in manufactured products because of their catastrophic environmental impact. These tiny particles don’t get properly filtered through our sewerage systems, so they enter the oceans in mass, polluting the seawater and causing damage to the lives of sea creatures. They are not biodegradable so exist in our waters infinitely, getting passed up and down the food chain and threatening the health of all animals, humans included, as they are unintentionally consumed.

Animal Testing

It goes without saying, for the majority of people, that testing human cosmetics on living animals is unnecessary and cruel. Most countries, the UK included, outlaw the sale of any hair and beauty products tested on animals, so you’d think there’d be no worries there, however, the laws in China, one of the largest global beauty markets, are radically different in that any cosmetics sold there have to be tested on animals to ‘ensure human safety’ or some BS. That means any brand selling in China, which is, in our global economy, most conglomerate brands like L’oreal, Procter and Gamble etc, test their products on innocent, sentient creatures, which more often than not leads to death.

Toxic Chemicals

Potentially harmful (to health and the environment) chemicals are often hidden behind deceitful names like ‘fragrance’, ‘colour’ or ‘thickening agent’ on the labels of our beauty products, or given highly scientific aliases that the average consumer has no clue about and will be unlikely to look into. Many of these chemicals are carcinogens (cancer-causing), toxic to sensitive skin, cause hormonal imbalance, contain heavy metals or can contaminate water supplies which impact the whole ecosystem. I recommend watching ‘The Human Experiment’ on Netflix to get more insight into the inconvenient truth behind many of our chemical-ridden consumer products. Try and shop from natural and organic brands where possible.


Sweatshop Labour

Since the Rana Plaza disaster of 2013, many people have woken up to the horrors of fast fashion production in developing countries, but there is still a long way to go. Many factory workers that make the cheap, disposable clothes we buy from the high street are paid below a realistic living wage and work in shocking conditions with long hours and no breaks. Find out more about who made your clothes at Fashion Revolution, and watch the documentary True Cost.

Unethical Textiles

Those Gucci loafers everyone is wearing this season? Kangaroo fur. They even operate their own python farms for snakeskin handbags. Yup. Gucci is just one of many examples of brands that extensively exploit animals so that they can position their products at a high-end, exclusive, luxury price point. 

Eco-unfriendly Dyeing and Finishing

Dyeing and finishing, at any stage from fibre to end garment, is an extremely thirsty process, with one pair of denim jeans taking around 7,000 litres of water to produce.The way mass-produced textiles are dyed regularly pollutes large bodies of water, threatening the safety of the drinking water, and even endangering marine species. The finishing used to create an anti-crease shirt, formaldehyde, is a toxic carcinogen that if exposed to human skin can cause severe blistering and burns.

The Alternatives

Fake Leather, Faux Fur and new Eco-Textiles
Traditionally, synthetic ‘leather’ or fake ‘fur’ were of really poor quality, but advances in technology mean that you can get pretty close to the real thing, for a much more affordable price and a much greater ethical conscience. I love my faux leather jacket by Mandi Candi Boutique in Dundee, and I’m also fascinated by the new mushroom and pineapple leathers!
Cruelty-Free Cosmetics

Boycotting the Chinese market is a brave step for brands to make in today’s global economy, but to stay true to animal-friendly values, there are plentiful ways to ensure beauty products are safe for human use without compromising the lives of innocent, sentient beings. There are also loads of vegan alternatives for the animal products utilised in make up and toiletries, like milk, honey and gelatine products. I love White Rabbit Skincare for their totally cruelty-free and vegan moisturisers.

Sustainably Sourced Natural Fibres

I think an absolutist, ‘veganzi’ attitude toward natural animal and vegetable fibres such as cotton, silk and cashmere is unrealistic, because these textiles come from a huge variety of sources, some more ethical and organic than others, and not in every case are animals treated inhumanely or killed, so its worth doing your research, and consuming only in moderation. I love Cross Cashmere for their total supply chain control and thorough knowledge of the cashmere fibre and how to create lasting, sustainable products.

Ruth @ Urbanity xxx

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Honey Pop Club

I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a beauty subscription box for a while (mainly because its nice getting little treats and mini presents to myself through the post!) and running up to my 20th birthday last month I saw that one of favourite fashion bloggers, Amanda from Honey Pop Kisses, had released The Honey Pop Club, a monthly subscription box promoting indie brands. This month’s theme was self-care and self-love during the holiday season, so I thought I’d treat myself. The best part is that any beauty product included each month is totally cruelty-free!  Read on to see what was inside the December box…

White Rabbit is a vegan, cruelty-free skincare brand based in Scotland, one I’d never heard of before which was really lovely to discover. This daily moisturiser is a thick formula that feels super creamy yet light enough to use as a base or primer under make up. Totally love this product so far!

Next up we have a cute little hardback notebook from Sun Jellies by Scottish designer Karen Mabon, which I’ve already filled with notes for my university project over the Christmas break, and an adorable chubby unicorn pin from Glasgow streetwear brand Abandon Ship Apparel.

Finally, the Honey Pop Club subscription box this month included a couple of postcards, one with fabulous Ru Paul quote, a Honey Pop Club sticker and a Veronica Dearly greetings card (There will be a framable quote from an inspirational woman in each month’s box). Its totally fitting because I bought back some artsy notecards from Moderna Museet in Stockholm earlier this month so I’ve started a little collection on my bedroom wall! 

I aim to do lots more blog posts in 2017 on veganism (which I’ve totally let slip this month and I 100% blame mince pies), cruelty-free beauty and ethical fashion, so stay tuned, and have a happy new year!

Ruth @ Urbanity xxx
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An Ode to Hope Street Magazine

The fourth an final instalment in my ‘Odes’ Series, this post is dedicated to Hope St Magazine, a contemporary Glagoow-based independent fashion magazine creatively directed by renowned make-up artists and entrepreneur Sara Hill.


My favourite online feature of Hope Street is I-AM, a section dedicated to exploring the lives of creative visionaries, from Amelia Vivash to Anderson Paak (Malibu is my current most-listened to album on Spotify). I love that Hope St authentically includes not those public figures that are simply in the zeitgeist for the purpose of celebrity, but real emerging talents with a true voice. 
As much as it is wonderful to be able to download a digital magazine and read it on mobile (with the latest issue Hope St only £3.50), I believe that there is nothing nicer than a solid print issue to physically flick through. When it comes to the print version of this biannual fashion journal, the editorials are simply stunning on silk paper; the colours really pop. Hope St has an incredible reach, with stockists all over the world and an impress circulation despite its humble roots in Glasgow. It just goes to show that the Scottish fashion industry is growing beyond its roots and spreading its influence globally as well as locally.


“Hope St is an inde­pend­ent fash­ion and cul­ture magazine that wishes to tran­scend the con­fines of a tra­di­tion­al fash­ion pub­lic­a­tion. We will heighten the mind while pleas­ing the eye with our rich visu­al aes­thet­ic and our strong edit­or­i­al voice. Cel­eb­rat­ing the estab­lished and high­light­ing the new, we will com­bine lux­ury with an anarch­ic spir­it cre­at­ing the most innov­at­ive fash­ion and cul­ture pub­lic­a­tion world­wide. Nev­er one to take itself too ser­i­ously, hope st will edu­cate with our tongues firmly planted in our cheek. 
Cel­eb­rat­ing the unique — and even uncon­ven­tion­al — we merge the worlds of youth and street cul­ture with high-end lux­ury brands. Seek­ing cre­at­ive innov­a­tion and authen­ti­city, hope st will strive to inspire, pro­voke, excite and refresh. With a pas­sion for show­cas­ing the unseen and the undone we hope to encour­age a cross-cul­tur­al dis­course. Through our power­ful and invent­ive edit­or­i­al con­tent we aim to stim­u­late our read­ers, and with an obses­sion to nur­ture our dynam­ic ideas we wish to cre­ate an indis­pens­able style guide as well and an excit­ing cul­tur­al ref­er­ence. Our mob of excep­tion­al hopest con­trib­ut­ors are some of the most innov­at­ive in the industry, aim­ing to provide our loy­al read­ers with our hon­est and inspir­a­tion­al visu­al storytelling and illu­min­at­ing writ­ten con­tent.”
Ruth @ Urbanity xxx
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Damn Rebel Bitches

Its not often that a perfume campaign makes any sense at all, let alone resonates with actual, real women. Forget retouched snaps of glamazonian goddesses with action men on a billion dollar yacht, I’ve found a perfume that not only smells good but does good too. Damn Rebel Bitches by Reek perfumes is a bold, unmistakable scent that encourages Bitches to Unite. It looks to the past for inspiration, playing homage to the historic heroines of Scotland, yet is forward thinking in its marketing, with all-natural, rebellious badass women who aren’t afraid to make a statement. 

Damn Rebel Bitches is a handmade, cruelty-free artisan eau de parfum, memorialising the formidable women of the Jacobite uprisings, inspired by scents from these women’s lives. A truly feminist fragrance, and based right here in Edinburgh.

I had the chance to sample Damn Rebel Bitches for myself thanks to Bethany Grace and thoroughly enjoyed the unique packaging for the product. The scent itself is wild and totally different to my usual picks of Flowerbomb by Viktor and Rolf or Daisy by Marc Jacobs. The Reek perfume (launched with Urban Reivers) smells of blood orange and hazelnut with notes of spice and malt; truly intriguing. Whats more it lasts pretty much all day, even with me running around various locations on a photoshoot. So don’t let the £75 price tag put you off- Damn Rebel Bitches is a real investment, for Christmas and beyond, plus its totally vegan and never tested on animals- a win-win for me.

While writing this post I was really intrigued by the ideas behind the perfume but also the logistics- how, where and by whom is it made? It is really admirable how Reek is leading the way in terms of transparency unlike many other cosmetics brands and perfumers.  Their eau de parfums are hand made and hand poured by Sarah McCartney, leading self-taught scent scientist who was inspired by her extensive experience writing for Lush, and has now built a fragrance empire, 4160 Tuesdays. I love learning about the creative artisans behind products, it really adds another dimension to the brand story.

Get involved-sticker the world with the Damn Rebel Bitches message here or wear Bitches unite on your t-shirt here.

Ruth @ Urbanity xxx

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