Thursday, 31 May 2012

May Favourites {2012}


The latter part of May has proved to be a much nicer month weather wise than April {how typically British of me to always mention the weather}, and as such my 'beauty mood' has significantly improved, and although make up has been minimal, I've changed up my skincare routine and been all about the lipsticks. 


Manuka Doctor Api Nourish Rejuvenating Face Mask with UMF 18+ Manuka*
I'm going to jump right in and say that I think this is one of the best face masks I have ever used...but then, at £49.99 it wants to be a bit bloody good, right?! I had this in my beauty cupboard for quite a while before I even used it, I was a bit apprehensive about using products that contained actual bee venom {apparently harvested in a cruelty free way}. I was enamoured with this face mask from the minute I read on the box that it should be left on for 15 to 30 minutes, which is exactly what I like to do. Before I proceed, I must caution you: DO NOT USE THIS PRODUCT IF YOU HAVE EVER HAD AN ALLERGIC REACTION TO A BEE STING. Marketed as a 'rejuvenating face mask', as well as purified bee venom, this also contains Manuka honey, an ingredient that I have found my skin responds rather well too. This mask is incredibly nourishing, and provides my skin with deep re-hydration and moisture, improving the overall texture and appearance significantly - I do think it has helped to reduce the pigmentation on my cheeks and chin, and faded scarring from previous acne on my jawline. It's undoubtedly very, very pricey, and I do honestly think this is a superb product, but I'm not sure I could justify repurchasing it on a regular basis.


Manuka Doctor Api Clear Skin Treatment Serum*
Another product from the Manuka Doctor skincare line, this time a skin treatment serum, that is designed to help refine and improve the skins surface {this could also have contributed to the reduction in pigmentation and scarring mentioned above}. For a serum I actually find this to be surprisingly nourishing, and it sinks into the skin instantly. I get a slight tingling sensation when I apply this, which I like to think means something good is happening...I've never had a negative reaction from it, and have really enjoyed the way my skin looks after application - it has quite a mattifying effect on my oily, dehydrated skin. This retails for £18.99, and I am really interested in trying out more of the Manuka Doctor skincare line - although not cheap, it is visibly effective.


L'Occitane Piovine Delicate Eau de Toilette*
I won't say too much about this fragrance, having recently blogged about it, but suffice to say it's delicate floral fragrance has been perfect for embracing the sunny, warm days the UK has been enjoying this past week or so. 




Revlon Colourburst Lip Butters
I hope you forgive me for including these gorgeous lipsticks two months in a row, but they are just so darn perfect for me right now, that I simply can't get enough. I adore the formulation, creamy and moisturising, but still pigmented and relatively long wearing {I've found the darker/brighter the shade, the longer it lasts}, they really are everything that I look for in a lipstick. I keep meaning to post FOTD's featuring these, but there doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day. These are products that I definitely think ARE worth the hype and acclaim they have received from the beauty industry.


L'Oreal Caresse Lipstick
Another lipstick entry for my favourites this month, but I did forewarn you that I'd be loving the lips this month. This is a gorgeous shade of coral, and the formulation is not too dissimilar to the aforementioned Revlon Lip Butters. It's nourishing and pigmented, with a lovely glossy sheen and pretty impressive longevity. If I had endless supplies of money I definitely think I'd invest in the entire line...alas, I don't, so shall live vicariously through those that do!


Moroccan Oil*
Living with dry, brittle and chemically treated hair means that I'm eager to try any product that claims to help counteract the scraggy ends and straw like texture. Moroccan Oil has been hyped to the extreme in the beauty industry, and I have to admit that I can see why. It smells insanely good for a start, and leaves my hair feeling and looking glossy and smooth. I don't think much of it's nourishing or conditioning properties, given that it contains hair coating silicons {meaning the product sits on the hair, rather than permeating it}, but honestly, if it helps my hair to look better, then I'm fair game. I use a clarifying shampoo a few times a month which deals with any product build up from silicons etc.


Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate*
I have come to realise that whilst my skin is oily, it is also seriously dehydrated, which conjures up a rather vicious circle conundrum. Using an oil treatment on oily skin can actually help to restore more manageable and balanced sebum production, and can help to revive the skin, delivering it vital nutrients without stripping it of essential oils. This potent formula is packed full with skin loving ingredients, and has a significantly brightening effect on my skin. It helps to re-hydrate my skin, improving the texture and appearance and it also has a really soothing, calming herbal scent that helps to relax me of an evening - anything that helps my skin AND sends me off to sleep easily is a bonus. Again, this is pretty pricey {at £40.25 for 28ml, or £19.75 for a 10ml roller ball}, but you only need to use a tiny amount, and this is only something I would use a couple of times a week maximum, meaning it will potentially last a long time.


Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any brands/companies mentioned. All words, opinions and photographs are 100% my own. Some links may be affiliated. Products denoted with a * were provided for review consideration purposes.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Photos of the Week {27.5.12}



Photos of the Week {Colin's Birthday Special}: pressies - it's not the amount but the thought that counts; a toast to you Colin; a very appropriate VW gift for the VW mad Birthday boy; a mini Birthday Cake for one; the Birthday 'boy'; Jamie enjoying a cupcake; Jamie modelling Mummies sunnies; riding home on Daddy's shoulders - the best way to travel; enjoying a nice, cold beer; Jamie loving the Harvester Salad Bar - genius idea; mega ice cream.


Photos of the Week: enjoying a beautiful summers evening in the garden after work - blogging, nails and Pimms, perfect; new packaging for Pimms o-clock; Jamie's new summer sandals; enjoying an ice cream - until he dropped it and just wanted the Smarties from the tube; Colin's new VW picture from my sister; Jamie playing with water and a tea-set in my Mum's garden; muddy warpaint; Jamie enjoying the swings; To the Train - a Sunday full of Choo Choos at Amberly Working Museum with my family, Jamie's idea of heaven; driving a Choo Choo all my himself; family photo in a bomb shelter, as you do.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

NOTD: Rimmel 60 Seconds 'Rose Libertine'

{Natural daylight, back to the sun, no flash}

{Natural daylight, facing the sun, no flash}

Summer is well and truly here {if only for a week, let us not hold our breaths}, and I've whipped out the coral nail polish in true celebratory style. I don't have many of the Rimmel 60 Seconds nail polishes, but whenever I use those that I do have it makes me think I really should invest in more. I don't know about 60 seconds, but they really are fast drying, and very simple to apply with minimal fuss. Case in point, it was Colin's birthday earlier in the week, and faced with the state of my chipped OPI manicure, and less than an hour in which to get myself ready, I reached for this and was not disappointed. 

The colour is a gorgeous peachy coral, and looks fantastic even against my alabaster pale skin, and simply oozes summer. The finish is glossy and although this would probably benefit from three coats, it is mostly opaque in two, although I did experience some slight drag near the cuticles on some nails - although I always fear this is more due to my rushed application than the actual polish or brush itself.

The longevity is relatively good for a 'drugstore' nail polish, I squeezed two days out of it before I had noticeable tip chips. I'm loving this colour so much I've actually just removed and reapplied it for the second time this week, which is extremely rare for me I can tell you!

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any brand or company mentioned. All words, opinions and photographs are 100% my own. Some links may be affiliated. This polish was a gift from Lydia a couple of years ago.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

NOTD: OPI We'll Always Have Paris {Suede}

{Natural light, indoors, with flash}

{Natural daylight, outdoors, no flash}
I really love this nail polish, however it is so tainted by it's atrocious longevity...we're talking tip chips within less than 2 hours, and significant chipping all over the nail within less than 24 hours. Obviously, you could prolong the wear and maintain the colour by applying a top coat, but by doing this you will obviously loose the suede effect.

The colour itself is a gorgeous mid purple shimmer, and the suede effect is instant, making this a superbly quick dry nail polish, perfect for if you're in a rush. This is fully opaque in two coats, but you could easily make do with just one. I actually really enjoy wearing suede/matte effects on my nails, and if it were not for the ludicrous chipping situation, I would certainly wear this shade a lot more frequently.

As an aside, this was actually the colour I had on my nails when I went into labour with Jamie, so it does hold some sentimental value now, and I'll probably never 'get rid' for that very reason. I've also never actually been to Paris {hint hint Colin}, so I suppose I would have to keep it for if I ever do {again, hint hint Colin}.

I purchased this OPI polish from eBay, which is probably your best bet for getting the cheapest price possible, just ensure to check it is a legitimate listing, there are a lot of fakes.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any brand/company mentioned. All words, photographs and opinions are 100% my own. Some links may be affiliated.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Photos of the Week {20.5.12}


Photos of the Week: Enjoying a retro Caramel bar; delicious butter chicken for dinner; putting on boots and splashing in puddles in the rain; who knew that drains were SO fascinating?!; indulging in a freshly baked, homemade cookie, warm out of the oven; coming home to a bouquet of flowers, chocolate and a card to congratulate me on my new job; said chocolate - serious melt in the mouth heaven; could this be a gate to the Secret Garden?; my new read 'When God Was a Rabbit'; NOTD: OPI We'll Always Have Paris {suede}; FINALLY, some SUN and warmth forecast!

Overrated Product #7: Bourjois Magic Nail Polish Remover

When it comes to removing nail polish, the least amount of time spent on the task the better in my humble opinion. This offering from Bourjois is by no means a new innovation, but it's certainly received high acclaim in the online beauty community of late. This is marketed as a "1 second" nail polish remover, a little pot containing a moist foam inside that allows for quick and easy polish removal without the need for cotton wool. In theory.


Bourjois are hailing this as "magic in a pot", although from the outset I was incredibly sceptical of it's "1 second per nail" removal claims, and rightly so it would seem. It frustrates me that brands make such obnoxious and outlandish claims, for I would estimate that a '5 second' removal claim would be much more accurate. I'd be far more impressed if this actually DID what it said on the packaging. I am a fan of Bourjois on the whole, and cannot help but feel rather disappointed with this mediocre effort.

There's no escaping that dipping your finger into this pot, swirling for 5 seconds or so IS a faster way to remove your nail polish, however I must admit it doesn't exactly take me long with the standard cotton wool method. I must also offer some cautionary words of warning: DO NOT REMOVE GLITTER POLISH WITH THIS PRODUCT. I initially tried this out to remove my Topshop Parma Violet and Razzmatazz manicure, with only one accent glitter nail per hand. It took well over a minute to remove even a fraction of the glitter, and ripped the foam inside to shreds, meaning any subsequent removals now coat my fingers in tiny pieces of black foam - NICE!

Despite being an acetone and paraben free formula, I find it to be very drying on my fingertips, and in contrast to the claims on the packaging, this is not at all nourishing on my cuticles or nails. It leaves a significant oily residue on my fingers that I feel the need to wash off immediately {I've tried massaging it in, but it doesn't absorb}, which in my mind ruins the 'on the go' effectiveness that this product had the potential to offer.

There are some positives, although at this stage they are pretty weak in comparison with my rather scathing review. The scent, of red berries and vanilla, is more pleasing than most, but only lightly detectable after use {even once you've washed your hands}, and is certainly not a unique selling point in this case. It is also worth mentioning again that, whilst this IS a slightly faster method of removing your nail polish, the pros definitely do not outweigh the cons for me. As a further insult, this retails for £4.99, which I think, given its performance compared to other nail polish removers available on the easily accessible market, is daylight robbery.

It's safe to say I wouldn't recommend or repurchase this. I'm unsure as to why this has received such high praise, each to their own perhaps, but in my opinion this is NOT WORTH THE HYPE.

Have you tried the Bourjois Magic Nail Polish Remover? What did you think?

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any brand or company mentioned. All words, opinions and photographs are 100% my own, unless otherwise stated or marked in "italics". Some links may be affiliated.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Spotlight On: L'Occitane Pivoine Délicate


Pivoine Délicate Collection

Peonies really are wonderful flowers, so pretty and feminine, to me they conjure up a plethora of glamorous notions. L'Occitane have a luxurious abundance of peony scented products {one of which I've reviewed previously}, and have recently launched a limited edition collection entitled 'Pivoine Délicate', a more subtle embodiment of the scent. L'Occitane is one of those stores that I could just spend hours in, pouring over the decadent collections and admiring the delectable packaging - I can only apologise that in that respect, my photographs probably do not do it justice.


£35.00 for 75ml

"The Pivoine Délicate Eau de Toilette blends the silky softness of peony and rose petals with the green transparency of lily of the valley in a luminous floral accord with a soft powdery tail". This fragrance utterly surprised me, in the best possible way, for I just did not expect to like it half as much as I do. It's a very soft daytime fragrance, with obvious floral notes, but there is also a musky sort of sweetness to it that develops once it has been on the skin for a while. On that note though, I don't think that this lingers on the skin for too long, and certainly I don't get many comments when I wear this. It certainly wouldn't be to everyone's tastes {my sister can't stand it, and thinks it smells like old ladies - I obviously disagree}. If you are looking for a subtle, feminine and floral fragrance, this is definitely worth a sniff, and is truly superb value for money {you get a lot of ml for the £}, just don't expect superb longevity.
 

£22.00 for 8g


Admittedly, this is not a product I would normally use, but it does have a certain appeal to it, for sometimes I do crave a subtle shimmer that glints and gleams when it catches the light - only for use of an evening you understand, I'm not so sure it would be entirely appropriate to be shimmering like a Cullen for the school-run or playgroup session {unless of course this is the effect you desire}. Designed to be spritzed on skin and hair {although I personally wouldn't use it in my hair for fear of it looking like shimmery dandruff}, this will leave a delicate scent as well as softly veiled skin. This is something I would describe as a somewhat novelty product, although I do love the vintage style packaging and will keep this on my vanity even once it's used up.

£14.00 for 75ml


Having already found my 'holy grail' of hand creams, I can happily try out new ones knowing that I will have my old faithful to fall back upon, should things not go too swimmingly. However, I was very pleasantly surprised by this offering from L'Occitane, although perhaps I really shouldn't have been, having tried {and adored} their infamous Shea Butter offering on more than one occasion. I don't find the fragrance to be too overpowering, or even that noticeable on myself in fact, although when others have borrowed this to use I can definitely detect it. It's a very lightweight but effective cream formulation, that absorbs very quickly into the skin leaving your hands feeling well moisturised and more importantly perhaps, not in the slightest bit greasy. I am a huge fan of the packaging which allows for very hygienic application, and limits the potential for any accidental handbag spillages too. I would definitely recommend this if you don't mind your hands smelling ever so slightly like a bunch of beautiful blooming peonies.



Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the brands/companies mentioned. All words, opinions and photographs are 100% my own. Some links may be affiliated. Products kindly provided for review consideration purposes.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Photos of the Week {13.5.12}

 {I used Picasa to create the collage, and the iPhone app Instagram to take the photographs and apply filters}

Photos of the Week: my gorgeous little man; an evening with Audrey, simply perfect; LOOK, the remote, to myself...that means trashy TV, nails and chocolate; Topshop Nails - Parma Violet & Razzmatazz join forces; an epic chilli, cheese and nachos feast prepared by Colin; my little man with his big sticks on a sunny afternoon walk; looking small in a big, big world; stomping in muddy puddles; yummy peaches and cream cupcake to finish off my afternoon; my nails have gone dotty again; sporting the latest bath time hairdo, the bubble crown, it's all the rage you know! 

NOTD: Nails Inc for InStyle Fashion Fawn ft. Ciaté

Nails Inc for InStyle in Fashion Fawn & Ciaté Paint Pots in Beach Melba





I seem to be painting my nails every other day currently, and whilst this is actually something I enjoy and find relaxing, it certainly makes for a significant amount of NOTD posts...

This time I opted for a chocolate milkshake shade of brown, in the form of Fashion Fawn by Nails Inc for Instyle (released sometime last year, sorry). I wanted to add some polka dots, with my snazzy new dotting tool, but instead of going crazy and filling my whole nail, I decided to do one single line down the length of the nail. I used a creamy pale pink shade by Ciaté Paint Pots in Beach Melba, and actually really like the subtle effect - it's certainly not as obnoxious as some of my other nail looks. I finished off the look with a single layer of a Barry M topcoat - I'm in the market for a new one, so please do give me your recommendations.

Nails Inc for InStyle in Fashion Fawn, natural sunlight, no flash


Ciaté Beach Melba, natural sunlight, no flash




I found using a dotting tool refined the process somewhat, helping to make the sizing of the dots more consistent at least, although my application skills are far from polished {excuse the pun}. Practise makes perfect.

As an aside, please do excuse the messy cuticles and scraggy skin on my fingers, I've been negligent with my hand cream and boy am I paying for it now. My nails are also going through one of their flaky, brittle stages, and seem to be perpetually short and breaking *sigh*.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any brands or companies mentioned. All words, opinions and photographs are 100% my own. Some links may be affiliated.

Friday, 11 May 2012

NOTD: Topshop Parma Violet ft. Razzmatazz

Left: Parma Violet, Right: Razzmatazz
 The sun shone today...yes, I know, can you believe it {people of the UK?}, Obviously. as soon as I stepped outside with a camera, the clouds descended. Obviously. Determined as Mother Nature may be to ruin the party, I am not that easily deterred, and continued snapping away, such is my dedication.

The objects of my nail affections today are Topshop beauties once more, although sadly this time they don't belong to me, but my sister, so I suppose that makes them 50% mine {being the older sister surely affords me these privileges?!}.

Parma Violet, artificial light, with flash
Razzmatazz, artificial light, with flash

The main colour, a gorgeously creamy and milky lilac shade, is Parma Violet {from the permanent line}, that just screams spring from it's perfectly pastel hues. I can't seem to get enough of accent nails at the moment, although they've never really not been in favour, and the perfect choice was the stunning purple toned glitter Razzmatazz {what an amazing name, right?}. Razzmatazz is the purple sister to Adrenalin, and is equally stunning in all of it's sparkly glory, resplendent with holographic particles. I have to say this too, I simply adore the packaging of the polishes, so much.

Parma Violet, natural light, no flash

Razzmatazz, natural light, no flash

As an aside, I think Razzmatazz would actually go rather splendidly with Bluebell {Nails Inc for InStyle, featured earlier this week}, although with 2/3 coats it is actually opaque enough to be worn alone - pretty impressive for a glitter polish.

The longevity of the Topshop nail polishes surpasses any other 'drugstore' brand that I've ever tried, and I'm having to physically restrain myself to not purchase almost the entire line, I literally love them that much. I would wholeheartedly recommend them, and there are some utterly gorgeous shades perfect for Spring/Summer if you haven't already checked them out...not that I'm an enabler or anything...oh no, not me *wink wink, nudge nudge*.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any brand/company mentioned. All words, opinions and photographs are 100% my own. Some links may be affiliated. These polishes belong to my sister, she VERY kindly lent them to me for the purpose of this NOTD. She is love :)

A Review: Liz Earle Deep Cleansing Mask

Liz Earle Deep Cleansing Mask
Purifies and regulates oiliness

What Do I Think?
I'm no stranger to Liz Earle products now, and I really can't extol the virtues of their skincare products enough - the best advice I can give is to try them for yourself, or at the very least have a little read up about them. I must admit I can be a little slack when it comes to face masks, and generally only remember to apply them if I'm fitting in a spontaneous soak in the tub of an evening - although those are the perfect conditions to be doing it - the warm temperature and steam will help to open up and cleanse your pores. The nitty gritty behind this mask is the ingredients, including green clay and manuka honey {which my skin seems to respond very well to}, both of which are fantastic at deep cleansing, thereby helping to control oily skin, drawing out all of the nasties and excess sebum. I find this mask very calming and cooling on my skin, despite the initial tingles upon application, and it is left appearing brighter and almost instantly clearer. When I manage to use it regularly, and I'm talking about once a week at least here, I can definitely notice a vast improvement in my skin, and it seems to control my breakouts marvellously. This comes with two little sponges to be used for gently buffing off the mask {which you can leave on for 5-10 minutes, although I have accidentally left it on for 30 minutes and the Liz Earle Twitter team assured me that was OK}, giving you the added bonus of an exfoliation post mask too. I should note, this is NOT suitable for sensitive skin, although I've never experience any problems with it. This is ideal for combination, oily and problem-prone skins, and well worth investing in - it is pretty pricey, but I do genuinely think it's worth it.

Where Is It Available?
Liz Earle is available instore and online, and also from John Lewis and Fenwicks.

How Much Will It Cost?
 £14.00 for 75ml {and two sponges}.

Would I Recommend It?
Oh HELL YEAH! I love this stuff. My skin is by no means perfect, but this really does help to calm and soothe it, and if I'm having a particularly oily moment, it's the perfect antidote.

Star Rating:
5/5

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any brands/companies mentioned. All words/opinions/photographs are 100% my own. Some links may be affiliated. Product provided for review consideration purposes - but I have purchased it myself previously.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

A Review: Dove Damage Therapy Intensive Repair Express Treatment Conditioner

Dove Damage Therapy
Intensive Repair Express Treatment Conditioner

What Do I Think?
You know that viscous circle of colouring your hair, using heat to style it and then almost hearing it cry out for moisture and re-nourishment? Yeah, that. I am my {hairs} own worst enemy. I desperately want lusciously soft, healthy, flowing locks, yet I also want blonde tresses that unfortunately don't come naturally any more. So here I am, stuck in the perpetual cycle of constantly conditioning my hair to the max, in a vain attempt to restore some of it's former glory. If I get the right products, that attempt isn't always necessarily in vain. Sadly, I'm not 100% sure that this product is my answer, but it certainly gave a darn good try. It is indeed a nourishing and restorative conditioner, designed to be used regularly for a 'quick fix', but, and it's a big but {I like big butts and I cannot lie...}, on my hair at least, it's effects were not long term. My hair is very brittle and I suffer from a fair amount of breakage, something that this conditioner is aimed to help prevent, and I can honestly say that, despite prolonged use, it hasn't made the blindest bit of difference. What it did do, at least, was help to tame my frazzled ends slightly, and left my hair soft and shiny, but the results were very short term, therefore I wouldn't look to repurchase it.

Where Is It Available?
Dove products can be found in most UK supermarkets and drugstores, and is also available from various online stockists.

How Much Does It Cost?
This retails at roughly £3.29 for 180ml.

Would I Recommend It?
If you're looking for a quick fix treatment conditioner then this could work for you, but sadly my hair needs bigger and better things to help save it.

Star Rating:
2/5

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Skincare woes - can YOU help?!

I started to feel rather superficial writing this post, but then I realised that this IS a beauty blog, and beauty IS predominantly a rather superficial thing...I suppose it's the 'asking for help' aspect that was causing me to think twice about posting. I feel like I *should* know these things, but then, I never did profess to be an expert. Anyway, as usual, I digress. I need help with my skin, and I realised where better to turn than to my readers?! I'm hopeful sure there are some skincare junkies and gurus amongst you, or even people who simply know a darn sight more about ingredients and properties in products than I do!

I've said before that I have VERY oily skin (and hair), and it's really starting to get me down, not to mention that it's rather annoying when my carefully applied make up doesn't last long at all. I'm currently trialling a few products from Liz Earle that they kindly sent me, to see if they can help tackle the problem, but after asking on Twitter today for a solution, it got me to thinking about my whole skincare routine. My skin gets super oily after as little as 1-2 hours after washing it of a morning. I've tried not applying any moisturiser and going straight ahead with my foundation, but the problem still persists. I've also tried having some make up free days and only wearing moisturiser, but the same thing happens - after 1-2 hours it is shine city. I know that with oily skin I should expect to get shiny at some point, but so soon after washing my face seems a little excessive, and the problem seems to be exacerbating as I get older, which is not what I had expected.

I think I'm pretty useless when it comes to skincare, I can tell you if I do or don't like it, or if it does or doesn't work, but I don't actually know a great deal about the specifics behind it, if there is something in particular I want it to target. One of the questions someone asked me on Twitter was whether or not I was using an oil free primer or moisturiser. I had no idea, so off I toddled to the Liz Earle website, and checked the ingredients list for their 3 step system. It would appear that all 3 of the products, but more specifically the moisturiser, contain some form of oil, albeit naturally derived. As aforementioned, my skin becomes oily with or without products applied to it, but perhaps an oil free moisturiser, or some kind of super duper primer, could be the answer? I'm just not sure, although I have been doing a fair amount of Googling to try and help myself. I have tried a few different products in the past, but money isn't something I like to waste, so I tend not to buy skincare products without researching them first - case in point, I desperately want to try out the Caudalie Beauty Elixir that everyone is raving about, but I'm just not sure it would work with my oily skin, and am not prepared to risk it *sigh*.

So, should I be using an oil free moisturiser?
If so, can you recommend me a good one, that won't cost a bomb?
What other things can I do to help to control my super oily skin?
What are your skincare woes {because it's not all about me}?

Monday, 7 May 2012

NOTD: Bluebell Ice Cream

I can't get enough of polka dots on my nails at the moment, and although my dotting skills require some serious precision training, I think the end result is exactly what I wanted it to be: FUN!

 Natural light, at dusk, with flash

Natural light, at dusk, no flash
 
I used the gorgeous new Nails Inc for InStyle in the shade Bluebell and a Barry M Nail Paint in Berry Ice Cream - I hereby call this colour combination Bluebell Ice Cream. Bluebell is a gorgeously creamy formulation, opaque in two coats, and is the most divine lilac toned cornflour blue, and I can tell I will get a LOT of wear out of this. If you want it, go out right now and snap up a copy of InStyle magazine {UK} - there are two other shades available too. I alternated the shades on every other finger, then used the contrasting colour to apply the polka dots - somewhat sporadically and haphazardly.

I really want to refine my nail art skills, so I'd love to hear your recommendations for tools - for dotting in particular, anything much more advanced is probably a bit too time consuming.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the brands/companies mentioned. All words/opinions/photographs are 100% my own. Some links may be affiliated.

It's PAMPER time!

There is not much that I like better than the chance for a darn good pampering session, and let me tell you, when the opportunity presents itself, I grab it with both hands, very quickly! Pampering is what Bank Holiday Mondays were made for, surely?! As any sane woman would, as soon as Jamie went down for his nap, I headed to the bathroom, armed with a few essentials to pamper myself from top to toe. Here is my recipe for the perfect pamper process:

Pamper Essentials: Face Scrub, Face Mask, Hair Mask, Body Scrub, Body Butter.
Optional Extras: Body Brush, a Towel, a Razor.

Before you step into the shower {perhaps whilst the water is getting hot} use a Body Brush to buff your dry skin from your feet upwards - starting with long, firm strokes over the soles of your feet, then continuing up your legs, over you stomach {don't do your breasts}, and then up your arms - if you have a long handled brush obviously don't forget your back. I blogged about the fantastic benefits to dry body brushing before {it kick starts lymphatic drainage under the skin, and is great for reducing the appearance of cellulite}, and I favour The Body Shop Body Brush

Hop on into the shower, and wash your hair as normal. Then use a facial exfoliator to prep your skin for the face mask, I use St Ives Blemish Fighting Apricot Scrub, really massaging it in, then rinse it off. Comb out your wet hair {if you can, but don't tug at any tangles} then apply a generous amount of your chosen hair mask from root to tip, concentrating particularly on the ends if this is your problem area. Grab a dry, clean towel to wrap your hair in, for at least 10 minutes - doing this creates a warmer temperature, helping the cuticle to open and allows the mask to penetrate more deeply. I am loving the Percy & Reed Totally TLC Hydrating Mask at the moment, it's seriously nourishing and softening. Once your hair is wrapped up, pop on your chosen face mask {according to the instructions}, and be careful not to get your face wet! I use the Liz Earle Deep Cleansing Mask*, which can be left on for 10 minutes, allowing it plenty of time to work, plus the warm, steamy environment of the shower further maximises the effects. You should probably turn the water off at this point too, if you want to be extra 'green'. 

Now that your face and hair are luxuriating in their respective masks, it's time to turn your attention to your body, and use your favourite really scrubby exfoliator to buff away all those pesky dead skin cells. I favour the Soap & Glory Breakfast Scrub*, which does a seriously amazing job of sloughing away any lumps, bumps and dry patches. I spend a good 5-10 minutes ensuring I scrub every single inch of my skin, focusing on any problem areas, such as the thighs, stomach and backs of the arms {although you should check out my post on how to eliminate those pesky arm bumps if you're suffering there}. I like to finish up with shaving any areas that require it, to allow my hair and face masks a couple of final minutes to work their magic, and besides, there's no point leaving unwanted hair after you've gone to all this trouble. I can't stand shaving, but it's the quickest and easiest method for me currently, and I'm using a Gilette Venus Razor at the moment. Now you've paid your body some attention, it's time to thoroughly rinse off the hair mask and use a muslin cloth or facial sponge to buff away your face mask {giving yet another added gentle exfoliation bonus}.

Once out of the shower, pat your skin dry with a soft, clean towel, then whilst still slightly damp apply a thick and creamy body butter/lotion, for maximum absorption potential. To compliment my body scrub, I use one of my favourites, The Daily Smooth from Soap & Glory**, which is incredibly moisturising on dry skin. I always leave my hair up in a towel for at least 10 minutes, whilst I apply my toner, moisturiser and body butter. I ran out of time, but post shower is the perfect time to do a spot of eyebrow grooming too, so arm yourself with your tweezers and pluck those brows back into shape {the Tweezerman slanted variety** are my preference}.

What are your pamper time essentials? What is your favoured routine?

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any brands/companies mentioned. All words/opinions/photographs are 100% my own. Some links may be affiliated. Products denoted with a * were provided for review consideration purposes, products denoted with ** were gifted to me.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

When things don't go as planned...

The first few months of your babies life are supposed to be wonderful, overflowing with a delirious abundance of picture perfect moments, pure love and adoration, fragmented only by the occasional cry or lengthy night feed. Whilst that might be the highly sugar coated, rose tinted spectacle kind of view, it is true to some extent - the love and adoration part for sure, from my personal experience. However, there was an overwhelming amount of other emotions that I experienced, that certainly no one warned me about {some of which I've blogged about before}, and at times I didn't know quite where to turn or what to do. I'm writing this post spontaneously, straight from the heart - a little disclaimer now in case it gets a little heavy. If babies and/or tough times are not your thing, please do not continue reading.

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I've spoken about my birth experience before, and whilst it might not have played out exactly how I'd imagined it, overall it was a positive experience, I felt in control and was just so eager to meet my baby, that I was prepared to do whatever it took to meet him. However, nothing and no one could have adequately prepared me for the days, weeks and months that followed. I spent an agonising 5 days in hospital after having Jamie, the 5 worst days of my life, if I'm brutally honest. Don't get me wrong, I was totally in awe at what I had done and that the little boy in my arms was all mine {well, half mine, Colin gets to share him too!}, but I felt so truly unwell that it strongly clouded my existence. To cut a long story short, I ended up having a blood transfusion on Day 4 of my hospital stay, after which I significantly improved, and I suspect if this had been offered a little sooner I could have evaded an awful lot of negative experiences. I won't go into the specifics, it's a little too personal, and a digression from my point, but suffice to say I've never felt so ill, exhausted or alone {despite having Colin and my family by my side during the visiting hours}.

Once finally allowed home, I spent a week or more confined mostly to my bed, leaving only to use the bathroom, get food/drink, and pick Jamie up from his crib for a feed and cuddle. With a week of his two week paternity leave allowance spent visiting us in the hospital, it felt so unfair that almost as soon as he had us both home, Colin had to leave us and return to work again. I can tell you, that first week home alone was so daunting, but I obviously survived, albeit uncomfortably. There were no specific events that I can recall to you, but it was almost as if a fog descended upon me, and I struggled inwardly for a lot longer than I care to remember. I'm not talking about post-natal depression, more just an subconscious emotional isolation from those I loved and needed the most. I unknowingly pushed Colin away, shut myself off from him without meaning to, and didn't let him know how I was feeling. Looking back, it was almost as if I could cope with one thing, coping itself, and I failed to see or deal with anything else that was going on. I concentrated on getting through each day, working on establishing routines for Jamie and adapting them as he developed and grew. My life was a blur of sterilising bottles, feeding, winding, soothing, snippets of sleep and repeat. Nothing abnormal there perhaps, for the life of a new Mum, but it took a very difficult, private conversation for me to realise quite was happening, before my eyes yet I was blind to see it. I was devastated, but luckily the damage was not irreparable, and after a long, hard slog a great deal of lessons were learnt. No one could have pre-warned me of this, and sometimes it's valuable to realise that things might not be quite as you imagined, despite your best intentions, but more importantly, it's OK, it's nothing to be ashamed of.

Part of that fog, I believe, was due largely in part to how much I agonised over breastfeeding, for months, from almost Day 1, constantly expecting that it would get better, surely it had to? Nothing is ever as simple in practise as it is in theory, and I was experiencing an awful lot of excruciating pain, even when not actually feeding {which was more than likely caused by Raynaud's Phenomenon} {clicking the link is not for the faint hearted}. Despite multiple reassurances and guidance from Health Visitors, breastfeeding experts and family members, I knew that the pain I was enduring was fundamentally not right, yet I was still emotionally torturing myself because I knew that breast milk was the best thing for Jamie, and I desperately wanted to do the very best that I could for him. In hindsight, what I now know is that a healthy, happy Mummy was really the best thing for Jamie, and he certainly did not have that at the time. The visible difference in both Jamie and myself once I had made the difficult decision to stop persevering with breastfeeding was incredible, you could almost see the huge weight being lifted from my shoulders, and witness the sparkle come back into my eyes. Babies are amazingly perceptive, they are incredibly sensitive to how their Mother is feeling, and the tension that I was unwittingly transferring over to Jamie from my breastfeeding woes must have been very unsettling for him. It wasn't easy, in more ways than one, to wean him onto a bottle {he drank EBM - expressed breast milk - for approx. 1 month after I stopped physically feeding him before going onto formula}, but once he became accustomed to the teat, he was like a different baby completely - so much calmer and more content. As for me, I finally allowed myself to step outside of the painful world I'd been immersed in, and began to actually enjoy my new role as a Mother. Whilst I cannot extol the benefits and virtues of breastfeeding enough, let me say what I truly wish someone had said to me: "you know what, it's OK to stop, it's not that big a deal". Never, ever underestimate that a happy Mummy equals a happy baby.

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The point of this post is to be open and honest about my experiences, good and bad, because I know I'm not the only one that fought personal battles to get to where I am now, so many people will have gone through similar. Something I've been learning recently is how to turn negatives into positives, although at the time, it's not always as cut and dry as that. I hate to end on something that will possibly sound contrived and clichéd, but true nonetheless, because despite those times being dark and very, very tough, what they've taught me is priceless and immeasurable. Overcoming challenges, in whatever guise they may present themselves, brings with it an amazing feeling of accomplishment, and dare I say it, pride. Never regret a thing, because as long as you gave it your best shot, you tried, and that is what really matters.

Photos of the Week {06.05.12}

 {I used Picasa to create the collage, and the iPhone app Instagram to take the photographs and apply filters}

 
Photos of the Week: Do you see that time, 7.29AM, Jamie slept until then - WOW!; making dens in the living room, the best kind of fun; there's a boy playing with his cars under there somewhere; Choka Blok - I purchased this chocolate in Tesco for £1, it is seriously good; having a Diet Coke break whilst blogging; NOTD: the new Nails Inc for Instyle Bluebell polish; mani and pedi with the aforementioned polish, plus Nails Inc for Instyle in Power Pink on my toes; a WELL deserved glass of wine; my not-so-little boy having his morning beverage; my morning beverage; through the eye of a kaleidoscope.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Spring/Summer Nail Polish Picks

I'm in denial that spring has been taken from us, and replaced with monsoon season {I may be over exaggerating, slightly, but it is undoubtedly very wet in the UK}. However, if we keep forcing our cheery dispositions and spring-like choices upon Mother Nature, surely she will relent and give us back sunshine and warm, balmy days?!

How apt then, to fully embrace denial, and post today about my Spring/Summer nail polish picks {from my personal collection}! For me personally, nail polish is more than just a colour I paint on the end of my fingers, it's emotive and expresses my mood. If I'm feeling bright then I want my outward appearance to express that, and changing my nail polish is a darn sight more achievable than changing my entire wardrobe, just to channel my mood.


Without further ado, here are my Spring/Summer nail polish picks, to help us shake off the thick woolly cardigans and start to slip into floaty maxi dresses...


{where possible I've linked to previous NOTD's or mentions}

Ciaté Paint Pots in Cupcake Queen*; Look Beauty Nail Pop in Petticoat; Revlon Nail Enamel in Purple Petal


Cupcake Queen is a super bright fuchsia pink, with a very subtle violet shimmer running through it. Petticoat is such a beautiful, simple and effortless shade, one that I turn to time and time again, and it just looks so polished. Purple Petal perks up my mood, making me think of holidays and evenings spent sipping wine outside in the evening sunshine...ah, how something so simple can conjure up such evocative memories.

 OPI Nail Lacquer in Jade is the New Black; Nails Inc for InStyle in Bluebell, Topshop Nails in Adrenalin


Something a little different with these polishes, just looking of them makes me want to be outside, frolicking in the sunshine with Jamie and having careless fun. Jade is the New Black is one of my all time favourite colours, and I tend to save it for when I really need a boost, to make it feel all the more special. Bluebell is a very, very recent addition to my collection, but is the perfect pastel blue toned lilac that is superbly flattering on my skintone and great for Spring. As you all know, I've fallen for Adrenalin in a big way recently, it is just so undeniably pretty and perks up any manicure.

Nails Inc in Heather Grey; Topshop Nails in Eyes of Steel; Nails Inc for InStyle in Power Pink

Heather Grey is one of those unassuming shades that just looks perfect, yet it so often gets overlooked in favour of something more obnoxious, and every time I wear it I fall right back in love. Eyes of Steel is another incredible shade I'm particularly enamoured with, it hypnotises me in all it's metallic, glinting glory. Power Pink is another very, very recent addition, that I am currently sporting on my toes and just adoring, the perfect marriage of purple and pink, that in some lights mimics a dusky tea rose colour.

No7 Stay Perfect Nail Colour in Foxglove; Nails Inc for Diet Coke in New York; OPI Nail Lacquer in Senorita Rose-Alita

Foxglove is one of those shades that looks incredible whatever you pair it with, and compliments my skintone really nicely, it's so effortless. New York is the perfect shade for toes in summer, I wear it religiously and am gutted it was released via a limited edition collaboration. Senorita Rose-Alita, a mouthful to say, but nowhere near as complicated to wear, it's subtle, feminine and very summery.

What are your spring/summer nail polish picks?

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any brands/companies mentioned. All words/opinions/photos are 100% my own. Some links may be affiliated. Products denoted with a * were provided for review consideration purposes.