Tuesday, 28 June 2011

FOTD: Benefit Benetint

I don't normally do the whole 'Face of the Day' thing on my blog, partly because I don't feel I'm 'interesting' enough with my make up these days to warrant dedicating a post to it, and partly because I spend ages trying to get a decent photo of my mug only to be disappointed with how 99.9% of them turn out. I'm not sure if the fault there lies with my face or the camera...anyway, I digress. I recently picked up two of the Benefit miniatures that were free with UK Glamour magazine, and I'm really loving using them. I'll do a more in depth product review for them both very soon, but what better way to demonstrate my love for them than with an actual photo of them on my actual face?!

As I have mentioned before, I'm a little bit in love with the Instagram app for Apple gadgets (iPhones, iPads and the like), and after taking some not so brilliant shots of my face one morning I decided to give them an Instagram makeover. The colours aren't totally true to life, but the emphasis has been put on the lips, which is exactly where I wanted it to be, and the colour is pretty spot on to how it actually looked.  

I'm wearing:
Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation
Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay In Place Concealer
MAC MSF Natural
Max Factor False Lash Effect Mascara
Benefit Benetint as a cheek and lip stain

I've discovered a new liking for multi-purpose make up products, are there any others you think I should try?

NOTD: Nails Inc 'London'

 Nails Inc & 17
Diet Coke 'London'  & Glitter Top Coat

Apologies for the not-so-great iPhone quality photograph, but although I'm a pathological photo taker, I'm also someone who always forgets to charge my camera battery!

I was inspired by Fee's recent post on sparkly top coats to hunt down one of mine (sadly I don't have as many as Fee, and my nails aren't as nice either). I've had this 17 polish for years, probably from my geeky, awkward teenager days, but this polish is still going strong without a gloop in sight!

I used to diss Nails Inc polishes for quite some time, and I think I was won back around by them after their first collaboration with Diet Coke, and the four 'free with purchase' shades. Nails Inc polishes never used to last more than 24 hours on me, and I'm not sure if they changed the formula, or if my nails changed, but now I really dig the formulation and finish. I've got quite a collection now actually, mostly because they are super generous with their 'freebies'. The Diet Coke collaboration (from the first and second collections) are actually some of my very favourite nail polishes, and I love this particular shade. It's not a beige, it's not a grey, it's not a brown, it's not a mauve, it's not a taupe...it's a little bit of everything and it's incredibly wearable. 

The glitter wasn't exactly the 'bling bling' sparkly effect I was hoping for, but it was something different, and made felt girly and feminine. 

*I actually have 5 coats of nail polish on here, 2 of Nails Inc, 2 of the glitter and one coat of OPI top coat! Wowzers!

A Review: Garnier Intensive 7 Days

 Garnier Intensive 7 Days Ultra-Softening Lotion
Dry to extra-dry skin

What Do I Think?
Garnier are making some bold claims with this moisturiser. On the front of the bottle it clearly states "skin feels intensely hydrated for up to 7 days", so your average consumer might think "wow, I want me a piece of this, a lotion I can feel the effects of for 7 days, gimme gimme". The eagle eyed amongst us might notice those two little stars after that bold claim, and upon turning the bottle over to find the small print, you'll read that in fact, to achieve this intensely hydrated skin, you should apply this lotion twice daily for 7 days. Now, I can't decide if this is really good marketing, or atrocious marketing based on false claims. If you were to use ANY moisturiser twice daily for 7 days, even those with the scaliest of skins are BOUND to notice a marked improvement in the condition of their skin. However, criticisms of the marketing and bold claims aside, this is actually a fairly good product. It does moisturise well, it does indeed make my skin feel more hydrated, but I'm certainly not blown away by it. I used it, as directed, twice daily for (over) 7 days, but my toughest dry skin patches (knees and ankles for me, some of the hardest hit areas of any Mummy) aren't significantly improved. My skin is soft and feels hydrated, but it doesn't last any longer than 24 hours, and although it doesn't stand out as a superior product to me, I do like it.

Where Is It Available?
Garnier products are, I believe, sold nationwide, in most drugstores and supermarkets.

How Much Does It Cost?
I think this is around the £2 mark, prices will vary depending on where you shop.

Would I Recommend It?
If you want a decent but affordable moisturiser then this does the job nicely, it smells really nice and sinks in quickly. However, it doesn't do what it says on the tin, so to speak, so I recommend you don't believe the hype and don't get your expectations set too high. The claims feel somewhat dishonest to me, I think it was a bit unnecessary of Garnier, it spoils the product for me.

Star Rating:

*Disclaimer: I actually got sent this by Cosmopolitan magazine, I am on their panel of testers (although they've never featured one of my reviews, I'm obviously too honest!). All words and opinions are my own. 

Monday, 27 June 2011

A Review: John Frieda Go Blonder Lightening Conditioner

 John Frieda Sheer Blonde
Go Blonder Lightening Conditioner

What Do I Think?
I was initially pretty sceptical about this product, indeed about anything that is claiming to lighten/brighten your existing hair colour, without the use of hairdye - this is ammonia and peroxide free. This boasts ingredients (according to the bottle) such as chamomile and citrus (although they are a pretty long way down the list!), which help to give this product a really lovely fresh, summery scent that lingers in your hair. If used regularly, this product with gradually lighten your blonde hair - natural or chemically highlighted - whilst also leaving it healthier and softer. For my fellow sceptics, I can tell you that this stuff works! I opted to use this 3/4 times per week (although it's gentle enough for everyday use), all over my hair from roots to tips, in conjunction with my normal shampoo, and I've just finished up my first bottle. My hair is noticeably lighter, to the point where people kept asking if I've done something to my hair, and the condition has significantly improved. The irritating tufts of new hair regrowth around my hairline are coming back blonde, and I'm pretty sure that is because this conditioner is lightening them. Used in conjunction with the matching shampoo I'd imagine the results could be even better, although I'm happy with my haircare routine for the time being. 

Where Is It Available?
John Frieda haircare products can be found in the professional haircare sections of most UK supermarkets, along with Boots, Superdrug and some pharmacies. You can also buy John Frieda online, just Google it! I believe John Frieda is sold nationwide.

How Much Does It Cost?
This is currently retailing for £5.89 in Boots in the UK, they are currently giving away a £2 off professional haircare brands voucher if you spend more than £5.

Would I Recommend It?
Most definitely. I do find that John Freida products are a little pricey (I have a very limited budget), however, they DO work, and on my hair in particular the effects are noticeable, therefore I'm prepared to spend that little bit more. 

Star Rating:

*Disclaimer: I purchased this product with my Dad's money, because he clearly took pity on my poor self and understood the value of decent conditioner! 

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Normal things that happen post pregnancy...

...that 'they' don't tell you about.

There should be a pamphlet produced by the NHS and distributed with your notes when you're discharged from the maternity ward, that tells you, along with the standard 'what to expect in the first few weeks', what will actually happen over the next few months and years. I've peppered this post with photos of Jamie enjoying playing in his box, just because I can! Here are some things I've learnt along the way thus far, telling fact from fiction...I'm almost 10 months in:
FACT: You will spend many, many minutes, days, possibly even weeks or months, simply staring at your little one, thinking that, quite possibly, you have the most gorgeous baby in the whole entire world. And you do.
FACT: Your hair will fall out. Quite a flippin' lot. It will scare the pants off of you, and whilst on the surface you may appear to remain calm and look like a rational human being (albeit a slightly frazzled one!), inside you're screaming "OMG I'M GOING BALD" at the top of your lungs. Well...I can confirm it's (sadly) completely normal to experience a great deal of hairloss post pregnancy. Almost 10 months in and mine is still shedding at the rate of knots, and I've currently got that ever-so stylish fluffy regrowth around my hairline. The good news is, I've not gone bald. Or mad. Yet...
FACT: Your baby will not, under any circumstances, adhere to what the experts or books say they will. Babies, rightly so, do things when they are good and ready. However, as a Mummy, surrounded by other (perhaps slightly more competitive) Mums and their babies, you have this innate "why isn't my baby doing that" reflex. For me at least, it's a gut instinct, and I try and bat away the thoughts by focusing on what my clever little man does do.
FACT: You will cry, be exceptionally moody, be over enthusiastically happy, feel depressed and probably a little bit broody (no, just me?!), all at once. It's normal. You see, it's not just 9 months of pregnancy, a few hours (quite a substantial few in my case) of pain/pushing/operating and then, wow, a baby. Oh no...you'll be a hormonal nightmare for at least the first year - I'm pretty sure women have been excused of murder after having a baby, or is that just a wicked rumour?! Don't be scared by this, and don't be ashamed if you're wondering "who the hell am I and what the hell am I doing?!" long after you expected to be. After all, it's a big deal becoming a Mummy, and all that this fabulous job entails. 
FACT: Being a stay at home Mum (SAHM) is tough. It's rewarding, and wonderful, and an extremely fortunate thing to be able to do...but, it's blimmin' hard work. It can be a thankless task, it's lonely (at the start, no matter how adorable you're baby is, it simply is not capable of adult conversation) and it can also be pretty mundane - babies need routines, and endless cycles of feeding and nappy changing can get the best of us down at times. You will also get those irritating sods (not always men either) who claim that you must have all the time in the world/a sparkly, shiny clean home/endless pampering etc etc, because you, you know, 'don't work'. Insert suitable expletive here. You know what though, I wouldn't change it for the world...but I need still need to moan about it sometimes!

FACT: Your skin and body will experience what is commonly known as a roller-coaster ride. Oily, normal, combination, dry - you name it, your skin will probably be it, at some point. During pregnancy my skin was, for the most part, clear and healthy looking, and whilst I don't think I ever really felt that effervescent glow, I was pretty happy with my lot. Fast forward to after the birth and it's a different skin type for every week of the month! I *think* my skin has made it's way to the end of the ride...although I've probably gone and jinxed it now!

FACT: Baby brain is a myth. Oh, no, it isn't. In my experience, baby brain continues waaaaay after people allow it as an acceptable excuse. My mind is a sieve, and it's probably a good thing that I haven't yet returned to the more traditional forms of (paid) work yet. Thankfully, I've not left Jamie anywhere yet...

FACT: You may take a while to adjust to becoming a Mummy. It doesn't mean you love your precious baby (or babies!) any less, and it certainly doesn't mean you're not a good Mum. It's normal. There is a hell of a lot to learn when you become a Mummy, and babies (sadly) don't come out waving a manual in their chubby little hands. So, if you feel like you're in way over your head, and are pretty much winging it most days, that's pretty normal. I'll bet most other Mums are too. Even Supermums!

FACT: It takes 9 months to put the weight on and 9 months to lose it. Forget it. As if there wasn't already enough pressure on women (in the media, from peers etc) to be 'perfect' and lose the baby weight within seconds of leaving the hospital. Unless you are very rich, and have access to a personal trainer, personal gym, nanny and wet nurse, then it's going to take a lot longer than that. Be realistic, you'll no doubt spend the first few months in a complete bubble, totally consumed by your adorable new baby, then you'll suddenly become aware that your trousers are digging in uncomfortably at the waistband and you have a substantial Mummy tummy. I'm battling my own body demons, but I've learnt one thing...it really doesn't matter!

How To: eliminate 'arm bumps'

You might have perfectly soft, smooth skin on the majority of your body, but I can almost guarantee that at some point everyone will have suffered with those dreaded 'arm bumps'. The kind you ignore all through autumn and winter whilst you're wrapped up in thick woolly jumpers, then suddenly rush to get rid of come the warmer climates of spring and summer (which I'm promised are on their way!). Having our arms, bumps and all, exposed to the air and light will actually help have a positive effect on eliminating them - the bumps that is, not the arms!

The most common cause of these bumps, which feel very similar to goosebumps, are simply blocked hair follicles, and in most cases are very simple and painless to eliminate. I have managed to almost completely eliminate my 'arm bumps', so thought I would share with you my weapons of mass destruction:

Dry Body Brush - The Body Shop
 I would wholeheartedly recommend this product (or similar) and the process of dry body brushing in general, and I have found especially in relation to those not so friendly little 'arm bumps', this tool is an effective weapon indeed. The method of dry body brushing (i.e. circular motions/up and down strokes) is not of great importance in my opinion, it is more the mere act of stimulating and exfoliating the skin. If you can remember, daily brushing is the most effective measure to take, but if you're pressed for time try and aim for 3-4 times per week at least, before a bath or shower (I do mine whilst waiting for the water to heat up or the bath to fill). Regular dry body brushing can help to reduce the appearance of cellulite too, just another reason to give it a go!

A good exfoliator - Lush Porridge Soap
This Lush soap is my chosen weapon currently, but obviously you do not have to use this one. In fact, a simple shower gel and exfoliating mitts or a shower puff will work just as well. The emphasis I'm going for here is on the exfoliating action. You don't want anything too harsh or abrasive - remember you're dry body brushing in conjunction with this, you don't want to overdo it. I like to exfoliate my whole body really well at least a couple of times a week, time permitting, and I always make sure I concentrate on my upper arms and give those 'bumps' a good seeing to! The act of exfoliating the skin sloughs off the layer of dead skin cells, and helps to prevent the build up of excess (natural) oils. As an aside, I always give my driest patches a little extra scrub - think knees, elbows and ankles. 

A good moisturiser - Palmers Cocoa Butter
As above, of course you do not have to use this particular lotion, and I do tend to flit between the various bottles I have on the go, but I always gravitate back to my trusty Palmers. Keeping your skin well hydrated - from the inside as well as the outside - is another powerful weapon in the war against 'arm bumps'. I personally like to use lotions that sink into the skin quickly, anything that leaves a greasy or tacky feel on my skin feels as though it's adding an excess layer and is clogging up my pores - whether it is or not I don't know!

I don't know about anyone else, but my other half's thighs are very bumpy, because he never exfoliates, meaning those dead skin cells are lingering on the skin, hanging on to the excess keratin and blocking those poor little hair follicles. I would love to get my exfoliating mitts on his neglected legs, but somehow I don't think he'll be too keen on letting me!

I must point out, however, if your bumps are itchy, very red and significantly raised you may be suffering from a condition called Keratosis Pilaris. This occurs when excess keratin (one of our skins natural proteins) production blocks hair follicles, and acts like a plug preventing the hair from growing out, thereby causing the irritating red bumps. Treatment of this condition should be very gentle and depending on the severity you may wish to speak to your GP or pharmacist. I'm not an expert, so if in doubt please do research this further.