Sunday, 12 August 2012

The Steam Room Facial

Throughout my teenage years rubbish teen mags always boasted how wonderful steaming your face was, opening pores, ridding of spots, yada yada.  I find putting my face over a bowl of boiling water quite frustrating and boring, just sitting there at the dining table veiled with a towel, hunched over like Quasimodo.  But I do however, like health suites.  At your local leisure centre they're not too expensive, and my, a real steam room doesn't even compare to a bowl and a towel...

Over the past couple of months I've been visiting my local leisure centre for their health suite and a swim, and in conjunction with my skin care routine, it's added an extra oomph to the clarity of my skin - not to mention how wonderfully relaxing it is in the steam room and sauna, especially when lovely people bring along a few drops of eucalyptus oil ;).  Before I go I always cleanse my face with Liz Earle C&P and a flannel, and whilst in the sauna I'll often give myself a facial massage (check Caroline's instructions, they're very useful!).  I ensure that the steam room is always the last place I visit before getting changed (as open pores + dirty swimming pool water makes me feel sick!), then I rinse my face to make sure it's not sweaty.

Once I'm home I usually use Sanctuary Therapists Facial Oil; I put around 4 drops in my palm, rub it between my hands to warm it up and release the aromatic scents, then gently swipe it across my face and down my neck.  It I wasn't totally relaxed, I am after this bit!  I associate the herbal smells of the oils with relaxation and bedtime... ahhh. 

The oil is usually enough for my skin, so I don't need any other products before I get into bed.  And when I wake up my skin is clearer, plumper and any spots/scars have dramatically faded.  I love my weekly steam room facial!

Note: I can't promise your local leisure centre will look quite as swanky as the steam room photo I've provided!  And they probably won't provide massages either..

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Summer Essentials: SPF Saviours

Banana Boat Ultra Plus Sunblock SPF50 90ml (I don't think they sell this any more, but similar is available)

SPF is undoubtedly the most important part of summer essentials, more so, holiday essentials.  Jetting off to hot climates is the one thing that keeps most people fighting through our dreary UK weather (winter and summer), but there's no point in going if you're not going to protect your skin!  UV rays work in two ways - as I always remember it UVA = Ageing, UVB = Burning.  Protect against neither?  You'll look old and sore.

I've used P20 since I was a baby; my parents trusted it enough then to protect my skin, and I still trust it now.  It's not cheap, but once a day application is right up my street, because I'm lazy when I'm on holiday!  You obviously need to remember that no matter what SPF you're wearing, you can still get too much sun.  So being smart and covering up when it's that little bit too hot will leave your skin thanking you.  I use the Banana Boat SPF 50 on my neck, shoulders and any other bit of me that's maybe had a bit too much sun and I can't cover up quite so easily if I'm out and about.  I also use it on my tattoo because UV rays fade the ink and I refuse to allow my money to be wasted like that!

For my face, La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL 50+ works like magic.  It doesn't clog my skin and cause me to break out, and despite its potent sun blocking qualities, I still got a tan on my face.  That's a Greek heatwave for ya.  With it being tinted, it's not for everyone, but for the more olive skinned girls Anthelios XL acts a little like a low coverage foundation, which I love.  Fair skins may find it a bit too orange though... Using other than P20 on the face does require re-application during the day - this most not be forgotten!  I also pop on some Hawaiian Tropic SPF25 lip gloss; practical and ensures I don't feel too grotty on the beach, along with my coloured in eyebrows and a lick of mascara...

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Graduate Life

So this past week has seen me looking like this:

And this:

Since being a newly graduated ex-student, interviews are quite important affairs.  They're the hour or so when, if you do well, can help define the rest of your career, and stop you watching Supernanny US and Judge Judy (I pine for my first year when this was my morning's viewing).  I know on the interview attire photo I'm bleary eyed and stare-y, but this was the best of a bad bunch.  I don't photograph well, clearly.

However, I'd like to announce that due to my smart appearance, (bleary eyed-ness) and maybe better interviewing skills than I once thought, I'm now a graduate with a full time job for a company that I like very, very much.  So all in all, I'm very happy.  I've bought a new, very expensive handbag to remind me I shall not be another graduate joining the queue at the Job Centre for the foreseeable future.

Hip hooray!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Summer Essentials: Skin Care Saviours

Clarins Pure Melt Cleansing Gel 125ml - £19.00 (sample pictured)
Bio-Oil 60ml - £8.99

It's no secret that I have crazy skin, nor is it a secret that I try my hardest to look after it, despite its continual attempts to rebel.  I've been told for years by doctors that 'being in the sun will make acne better', but this certainly isn't true for me.  It makes it much, much worse, which makes holiday skin care a nightmare, because there's nothing I can do apart from keep my face clean and hydrated.

My daily skin care routine whilst abroad consisted of SPF care (coming in another post), and repairing/rehydrating.  I used the Clarins Cleansing Gel to remove the traces of SPF and grime after a day at the beach, and the Liz Earle C&P (with a clean flannel) to cleanse every evening and morning.  The Eucerin Hydrating Care was applied in an early evening before make-up (since it's mattifying and hydrating), whilst the Oilatum and Eucerin Eye Cream were used at bedtime. The Bio-Oil was slathered over my shoulders and chest, since it seemed to calm and nourish the bits which caught the sun the most.  Unfortunately, too much time spent floating around at sea on a lilo turned my golden tan a little bit red-hued, but the Bio-Oil fixed this.  And of course, I coated my lips in lip balm continually, because sun, salt and sand leaves a withered mouth!

I can't pretend my skin was perfect whilst away, because my face hates the sun.  But with these bits and pieces I kept it clean and hydrated whilst away - so it was smooth and plump, even if it was spotty.  I can't win everything!

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Summer Essentials: Holiday Hair Saviours

My, oh my.  I've been a very lazy blogger these past few weeks - my apologies!  Life has most certainly taken over; I've also been to Greece for a week, so I guess I have an excuse for some of the time...  Holidays for me, typically, end up with me piling loads of stuff into the cases the day before, and arriving only to realise I've missed something I really needed - one year it was my glasses, and my sight is horrific, another it was pyjamas... So this year saw me using an excel spreadsheet to plan my whole luggage.  I forgot nothing!

My hair gets dry so quickly that I made sure I packed powerful products to keep it healthy, plus, hair hates humidity and damage - I had a Monica from Friends moment on day one, and spent the rest of the holiday with an up-do. :(  However, my saving grace was my pre-packed holiday hair saviours.

Aussie's Miracle Moist shampoo and 3 Minute Miracle conditioner provided a solid hair care base, since I needed to wash my hair every evening.  The combination of these two left my hair moisturised and soft, whilst washing away all the chlorine, salt and sand.  Every couple of days I'd also use the Lee Stafford Growth Treatment (blogged about here!), which replenishes vital nutrients in the hair.  This seriously helped keep it in good condition!

I'd also slather a load of Aussie Miracle Hair Insurance leave in conditioner all over before I left for the day, after I'd washed my barnet, and at any other point I could fit it in.  It's lightweight spray, so it ensured my hair was continually being invisibly moisturised, no matter what activity I was doing!  I also sprayed through Charles Worthington Heat Defence Spray as it contains UV filters - my hair colour certainly hasn't faded, so it must have worked well.  Lastly, don't forget to apply some sun block to your scalp.  I blob it on my parting and around my hairline, as burning these bits which never normally see the sun, hurts like hell.  And then it flakes off.  Nice!

My (rather easy) hair care routine meant that I've come back with hair that's healthier than I went with.  Typical!

It's clear that I took as many miniatures away as I could, and for some reason, doesn't show the mini versions online - sorry!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Sunday: Road Runner

Everything I need for a run.

Most Sundays bring a bit of a ramble post on The Beauty Stash.  A few times recently I've mentioned my intention to be healthier, and the past couple of weeks have seen me exercising daily - no kidding!

As a complete and utter novice, running has been hard.  Getting form, breathing and momentum right when you're too unfit to actually do the running takes the whole task into the ridiculous; but I've stuck with it.  I tend to go at night when it's beginning to get dark, so I can run around with minimal viewers, although with my iPod blaring out top tunes it's not like I'd notice them anyway!  I'm still taking fish oil supplements daily to try and help my joints (I have really bad knees!), but often I have to stop running or have a day off with the pain, which is very frustrating.  I don't think road running helps too much, since the hard surface means greater impact upon knees, but running on my local fields ends up a game of 'dodge the hole'... Breaking an ankle would hurt more!  Aside from the running, I've been keeping up with the hula hooping too.  I've still got bruises around my hips, but once I've stuck the music channels on and get twirling, my attention's elsewhere, so I don't notice them.

Outside Beauty, Inside Health wrote a great post about 'Fitspiration not Thinspiration' this week; the image stating 'Sweat Once A Day' is a rule I live by now.  There's nothing better than an increased heart rate and sweating to ensure your heart stays healthy!

Do any of you run?  Do you have any tips for beginners!?

Friday, 22 June 2012

Thierry Mugler's 'Womanity' *Debenhams Special Offer!*

Purchased at the Manchester Debenhams for £25.02.  Offer not showing online.

I mentioned a while ago that I really, really wanted this fragrance.  It's everything I want in a perfume, and I find it really addictive.  So, when I was in the Manchester branch of Debenhams and my best friend pointed to the gift set on offer, I couldn't say "no".  And bought two.

The gift set includes a 50ml bottle of EDP (normally £50 rrp alone), 100ml of body lotion and the cutest, substantial gift bag I've ever received in a set.  All of this was £25.02, reduced from £50.04.  With both purchases, it basically equates to buying 100ml of EDP for the price of one 50ml bottle, so I'm absolutely smitten!  Not to mention the fact that the bottles themselves are refillable, meaning that when I've used them up, I don't need to pay top whack for another (as refills are, of course, cheaper) - unless I find another bargain gift set!

I'm not sure if all Debenhams are running this offer, as it's not showing online, so you'll have to run to your nearest branch to see.  Either way, the Manchester store had a huge tabled piled up with them.  It took all my strength to only buy two...
Don't miss this bargain if you love it like I do!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Summer Make-up

I don't know if everyone's like me, but once the temperature begins to rise, my laziness with make-up does too.  After I've cleansed, toned and moisturised in the morning, I can barely manage to do anything else to my face: cue, summer make-up.  I'll no doubt be cracking out some variation of this over the next few months - especially whilst abroad, where I'm laziest!  I do love the 'no make-up, make-up', and these products do the job just right.

17 Blusher (First Kiss)

The only addition to this whilst abroad will be La Roche-Posay's Anthelios XL Tinted Face Fluid, which I mentioned in my May Favourites.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Sally Hansen's Long, Strong Nails

Sally Hansen Double Duty - £4.16 (at Asda)
Essie 'Cute As A Button' - £7.99 (at Boots)

Can you believe this photo shows just a week's wear of my new Essie polish?  I always paint right up to the cuticle, so you can see how much my nails have grown!  I know there are a few bubbles on my thumb (I'm not sure at what point these appeared, I don't usually get them!), but I have no wear on my tips at all.  As this is my first Essie polish, I think I can safely say that I'm now in love with the brand.

My nails have been quite weak for years; I suffer from splitting, and tend to find my 'most used' fingers (index, middle) experience the worst splitting/breakage out of all my nails.  At Christmas I began to square my nails, and had them like this for 3 months until the splitting began again.  I had to cut them really short and have been gradually regrowing them.  I've been using Sally Hansen's Double Duty since then, and my nails are rock hard.  I'm not even kidding! I put this down to Sally Hansen's protection, vitamin supplements and using a glass nail file.  I know everyone talks about OPI's Nail Envy being the bees knees, but honestly, I'll be rebuying another bottle of this when mine runs out!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

May Favourites aka The Skincare Intervention

There's no denying it, my skin is changing.  Gone are the days when I would abuse my face with harsh scrubs, chemicals and 'cleansing' wipes.  Part of the problem was that I didn't understand my skin - or skincare.  Fast-forward to now; I'm 21, my skin is less 'teenage', more balanced and I'm religious about my skincare.  I've ditched medication (which, incidentally, was also damaging my skin) to pursue more natural methods.  It's still a little oily, mainly around my nose and the middle of my forehead.  It's also dehydrated, and before the intervention, it stung, was bright red and so patchy I couldn't apply base make-up.  These days it's more balanced, but still drinks up all the moisture I give it; things are getting better though!

Skincare is subjective; what works for me might not work for everyone else.  Researching reviews and trial and error is the only way.  I'm still adding in new bits and pieces as I go along, but I use these products on rotation because my combination skin changes daily.  I cleanse, tone and moisturise every morning and evening, exfoliate and use masks/peels a couple of times during the week.  The list of products I've been using/enjoying over the past month are:

Both used with flannels and not muslin cloths!
La Roche-Posay Physiological Cleansing Milk (only if I have no water!)



 - And my array of health supplements that I'll post separately on -

Since it was a skincare overhaul, I can't be sure if individual products are having a particularly significant effect.  However, the combination of them on rotation has meant my skin is quickly getting better and I'm very pleased!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Sunday Round Up #11

Say hello to my pretty girl! I was in the middle of sorting my room this week (hence the piles of clothes...) and she came in to say hello :). She's so blinky though, I can never take a good photo of her. Realistically, this is a terrible photo, but she's just soo cute!

I've been so busy kick starting my new fitness regime that despite all my best intentions, blogging has taken a back seat. I'm sure it'll make an interesting diary over the weeks though - I've begun running this week, and today I bought a weighted hula hoop, so y'know. Feeling positive! I spend most of my time in a sports bra, so it can only be a good sign, right? The weight has been gradually coming off though (lost nearly 2st since my heaviest), so I'm hoping that increased exercise will help too. Fingers crossed!

I (accidentally) bought a few new bits at Boots today, so I'll introduce them into my skincare routine and see how it goes. I was thinking May favourites will be a bit different this month - it's been all about the skincare for the past few weeks, so the normal format I use won't really apply! I also wondered, is there anything you lovely readers would like me to write about? Anything at all? :)

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Black and Blue Disco Nails

Umberto Giannini 'Love Letter Blue' as part of Glam Hair Fashion Kit
Models Own 'Juicy Jules'
Sally Hansen Double Duty

Admittedly this polish isn't black and blue, it's more of a blue-black.  'Love Letter Blue' by Umberto Giannini was released as part of the Painted Lady collection for Christmas 2012; I bought it on Boxing Day and like the nail wraps, it's led untouched while I've been at uni.  On first application the colour is probably more akin to OPI's Russian Navy in tone, but with the added layers (for durability, the colour was opaque in one coat), it's become very dark.  Which I like, but it would have been nicer a little bluer!  Maybe I should wear less layers and repaint more, but I'm lazy!

And of course, my 'classic' disco ring finger.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Shaving Experiment


After reading The Vagenda's wonderfully brilliant article on female shaving (not necessarily the face, like Jessica Simpson), which gained national coverage (Emer O'Toole even featured on This Morning), I became both fascinated and intrigued by the whole topic.  As a student who has studied gender politics, I get all wrapped up in a complicated thought process when I'm divulging in said issues.  The most base argument that female shaving rests on though, is that women inherently believe that hairlessness is attractive, because society tells them so.  Most men seem to believe it too; although coming across men who believe that women shouldn't look like infant girls isn't unheard of!

As a woman who deals with the trials and tribulations of body hair on a (mostly) daily basis, what I'd read in the article really began to gnaw away at me.  I've mentioned before that I have PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) which means my hormones are crazy, and my body thinks I need excess hair, much like men do - although thankfully, mine isn't as bad as some, like The Bearded Lady who appeared on This Morning as well... So hair removal is something that plagues me, and always has done.

At 10 years old my body was embarking upon puberty, and I had the hairiest legs on a child I'd ever seen.  They bothered me that much that my mum let me shave them, and I've continued doing it for the past 11 years.  After reading the article, I realised that I'd always shaved/waxed/plucked and preened because I thought I should, not necessarily because I wanted to.  Which is exactly my point about the problem with female shaving; we all do it because we're told that attractive women aren't hairy women.  And this is what I have a serious problem with; I'm never one to shy away from going against the convention.  Brazenly stating I don't want to get married, have children or be an oppressed woman is just the tip of the iceberg.  Realising that shaving was just another thing that we women do to be 'sexy' for men really annoyed me, so I decided to tackle it head on.

So as an experiment, I decided to see how long I could last without shaving, but more importantly, how I felt about it.  All about my body, for me.  As my body hair grows quickly, it wasn't long before I was fighting off the urge to remove it all.  Every time I looked at my bare legs something in my brain immediately went, "Ew!  You've got some seriously unsexy legs!".  But every time it happened, I felt alarmed and genuinely sad that I couldn't look at my body in its most natural state without feeling disgust.  Surely looking at our own natural bodies should be the most acceptable way to see it?  I actually found it frightening that I am so mentally conditioned that my brain thinks culturally first - in other words, I think what I'm told I should think, rather than what I want to think.  And that's something I realised that The Shaving Experiment needed to tackle - in fact, the most important thing it needed to combat.

I lasted about a month without shaving my armpits; I was going to an event in London and couldn't bear the thought of wearing a vest top with hairy armpits.  It sounds crazy, but although I'm doing the shaving experiment for myself, I was unable to show it off to the general public.  There's this inherent fear that strangers will point, stare and laugh.  That you'll be mentally noted down in their list of Western hairy women, after Julia Roberts.  Who am I kidding - no one gives a crap about what I do!  Yet there's something that makes me consciously decide whether I'm brave enough.  The armpit hair is probably the hardest - I wear a lot of sleeveless tops, so I was continually reaching for jackets and cardigans, although it was always a conscious decision.  I also think its proximity to eye level (in comparison to legs) makes it much more of a brave statement to parade around.

Legs are less difficult.  I wear jeans most of the time, so I only ever get to flash my leg hair to my boyfriend, my (male) housemate or my family.  My boyfriend in particular has informed me he really couldn't care less, which is nice!  He found armpit hair a bit weird; he accidentally stroked it once and screamed.  Maybe he thought I was smuggling hamsters?  My mum, it turns out, is actually a beacon feminist - she hasn't shaved her legs in weeks and still wears skirts, but I wonder if her diminishing eye sight is more the cause than a feminist agenda...  My sister, on the other hand, is a tough cookie.  She got an epilator for her birthday and has been threatening to do us both in.  "I seriously hope your hairy legs aren't some feminist statement," she proclaimed.  Well, sister, it kind of is.

In the hot spell last week I even donned shorts.  And went out in them.  I'd be lying if I didn't say that sometimes I feel nervous when I think of someone pointing them out.  But at the same time, I also have a sense of smug nonchalance.  Like not caring, but pride in not caring, because they're my legs and I can do what I want with them.

Despite caving in early doors with the armpits, I am proud to say that my legs are still going strong.  Intriguingly, I've found the skin on my legs is much healthier sans shaving, which made me really question how damaging shaving is to our epidermis.  Yet we brush off scaly legs, thinking that smooth legs are too sexy to say 'no' to.  I'm not sure how much longer I'll manage to completely not shave for, but I'm the kind who loves a challenge - I complete challenges with a sense of gleeful determination.  The Shaving Experiment is almost a challenge with no end.

But I can definitely say the experiment has changed how I think and feel about my own body.  Mainly, that I do have choice.  I don't feel like as soon as hair grows, it needs to be removed; I'm comfortable with it being there, because whether people find it unsexy or repulsive, it's mine.  My body is for me.  I have such a relaxed attitude to body hair now that I almost don't believe how different I am.  My mum mentioned how fuzzy my pits were this week - I genuinely hadn't even noticed!  Ultimately, I'm much more comfortable in my body being in its natural state, and slowly, my culturally-washed brain is beginning to change.  So I'd say The Shaving Experiment has been a success, and I'm incredibly happy about it!

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Nail Wraps & An Apology

Umberto Giannini Nail Wraps - part of the Glam Hair Fashion Kit

I've finally got round to using these nails wraps after buying them in the Boxing Day sales, and then leaving them at home whilst I ventured back to uni.  I thought it was about time I gave them a go, and being the first nail wraps that I've tried, I found them surprisingly easy!  I have a few crinkles and bumps, especially around the edges of the nails, but getting them completely flat was the hardest part for me.  I've slathered Sally Hansen's Double Duty over the top and edges in hope the wraps will have a longer life, but we'll see.

And the apology.  I've not blogged in so long that I genuinely feel guilty every time I think about it!  After moving back to Manchester a week ago I've been both extremely busy with settling in/housework and enjoying being home.  The glorious weather has had me out, traipsing around the South Pennines with the dog (or my Dad), and generally soaking up the countryside.  It's so nice to be back!  I will try to be more active on here...

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Sunday Round Up #10

A present from the boyfriend.  I also realise how much this photo makes this post seem a lie...

I can't believe Sunday has come round again!  This week's been incredibly uneventful; I went to the cinema on Wednesday to see the new Avengers film.  It fulfilled the criteria of the 'action movie', which was enjoyable, but I found that the storyline left much to be desired really.  I prefer films that make you think, but it was an afternoon out, so I'm not complaining!

I've been trying to be a lot more healthy this week - trying to eat a big portion of salad at least once a day, and by salad, I mean a big bag of mixed greens.  It's going well, and I'm actually starting to enjoy it too.  I've also been researching health food supplements for ladies with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, as we tend to lack quite a lot of important vitamins and minerals which keep bodies healthy.  Plus, with unstable hormones being the main cause of the symptoms, I've been researching the best supplements to balance them.  In a few months when I've trialled and hopefully seen some positive results, I'll record the best and worst - mainly for my own future reference!

The time has also come to move home too, so this weekend has been all about packing and getting ready for the trip.  I'm really not looking forward to all the sorting out I have to do once I get home; it's like a monster just waiting for my return...

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Clarifying Hair With Head & Shoulders

Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care Shampoo (500ml) - £4.99 (250ml version pictured)

I've never really had a problem with product build-up, but the past few weeks have been a nightmare.  My hair's been getting greasier quicker and needs washing more often than I care for.  It's also meant my scalp's been feeling quite uncomfortable and itchy.

My scalp is completely flake-free, so it could only be a build-up of products causing the discomfort.  I purchased a bottle of Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care shampoo in hopes it would sort my hair problems.  It has.  The eucalyptus oil is kind of tingly/soothing on the scalp, and I imagine it would really help those with particularly itchy heads.  It smells nice too, which as I've mentioned before, is such a defining factor for me!

The best part?  I've woke up today with bouncy hair that looks like it's just been washed.  Hurrah!  Head & Shoulders is renowned for stripping hair of nasty build-up, and that's exactly what it's done for me.  But be warned, I've heard using the non-colour protect versions on coloured hair can result in the colour being stripped!

Friday, 18 May 2012

You Sexy Mother Pucker!

Soap & Glory's Sexy Mother Pucker in Candy Gloss (7ml) - £9

I wasn't too sure on Lana Del Rey when she first burst onto the scene, and I'm still not completely sold.  I do however, like her style.  And her mouth.  There's something so alluring about lips.  This is a new fascination of mine, and last Christmas when I bought S&G's Big Splendour gift set (for myself...), I cast aside Sexy Mother Pucker declaring it far too sticky for my liking.  But since my new obsession for giant lips has surfaced, so has Sexy Mother Pucker.

Now, this is still incredibly sticky, no matter how you look at it.  With hair as wild as mine, and the UK weather almost certain to blow leaves and flies at your face, Sexy Mother Pucker will result in sticky hair and bits on face.  But there's another certainty too.  Big lips.  Since the formula is so gloopy and thick, it lasts a really long time after application.  So that's maybe the only plus point to such a sticky gloss.

Sexy Mother Pucker cannot be worn over other lip products and still create the plumping effect, so it's SMP or nothing.  I have the shade Candy Gloss, which is politely pink with subtle glitter, which act as reflective particles to make lips look bigger.  Upon application, there's a tingling sensation.  It's not offensive or painful, like I've heard other lip plumpers to be and it also doesn't give trouty mouth.  The gloss raises the fine lines out of your lips, which is actually quite a nice effect in my opinion - just subtly larger.  I like.

Sexy Mother Pucker is good for reasonable plumping, and high pressure weather conditions (no wind).  I can't imagine using this tube so much that it runs out, so I won't need to repurchase.  I'd probably look at other lip plumpers that aren't sticky glosses...

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Avon Glimmersticks

Avon Glimmerstick in Blackest Black and Saturn Grey - £6 each (now £3 on offer)

Avon Glimmersticks have been around for quite a while, and as an all-round, good quality eye liner it's little surprise that Pixiwoo have mentioned them a few times too.  My mum sent me a package a few weeks ago containing 'blackest black' and 'saturn grey', so I was so excited to try them out and got on with it right away.

There's a lot of things I love about these eye liners, and the fact that I reach for at least one shade every day is testament to that.  The formula of the eye liners is firm but creamy enough to make application incredibly smooth without the sticks snapping (although winding excess stick up would snap it!)  There's no dragging either, which makes using the eye liner so much easier than others that I own.  I love that there's no sharpening with these as well - just twist the stick up, and down again - so there's never wasted product.  I've also found that they take a really long time to wear down, which is surprising since they're so creamy.  The packaging is also pretty smart; neat plastic casing, a lid that clicks on and the 'twist' section is almost half the tube, so no fiddling.

The formula is waterproof, which although it won't last after washing your face, it does take a bit of effort to really get it off.  Because of this, I use it for my upper and lower waterline.  It does transfer a little, but I've found it to have much longer-lasting capabilities than the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On liner that I've used for years - Avon's Glimmersticks do not end up half way down my face, so I'm very glad for that!  The creamy formula does smudge if you rub it hard enough - it's not as 'fixed' as a liquid eye liner, which has its positives and negatives.  I much prefer using a pencil to a brush though, and the colour is pigmented enough to look just as dramatic.

I am somewhat confused over the 'glimmer' in the name 'Glimmerstick'.  My 'saturn grey' liner does have a shimmer in the product which, despite what the swatch photo tells you, you can't see it on your eyes - and 'blackest black' has no shimmer at all.  They both apply quite matte on me.  I'm not complaining, as I don't want sparkly eye liners any more anyway, but some might find it a bit of a let down.  But overall, I love these eye liners and choose them over any other that I own.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Get Scrubbing: Pulp Friction

When my sister began raving about Soap & Glory, I was pretty nonchalant.  So many brands are released on the high street, with many varying in quality, that I find it quite difficult to become excited by them.  When I finally got round to trying out Soap & Glory with the Big Splendour Christmas gift set, I finally began to get excited about the brand.  I absolutely adore everything from the packaging - the colours, images and names - to the smells of the products.  Smells are so important for me, so to really love skincare, it's got to smell appealing!  Pulp Friction, I should note here, smells different to the 'classic' Soap & Glory smell that everyone loves so much in Hand Food (blog), Clean On Me, The Righteous Butter, Mist You Madly, etc.

Soap & Glory really hits the nail on the head for me with Pulp Friction.  The scrub is one of the best, maybe even the best that I've ever tried.  It's a clay-style paste which, becoming slightly foamy with use, is so easy to spread it all over your limbs without needing to keep applying more - bonus!  The pumice, which I presume is the particles, is abrasive without dissolving, so you could probably over-scrub if you're not careful!  But it means that you can really buff your skin with the single application.  Of course, the harshness of the particles means it's not suitable for your face, since facial skin is so much more delicate.  But it's amazing for the rest of you!

I probably exfoliate more than I should because I just love, love, love the smell!  It's described as 'fruitigo' - citrus, woody and fruity.  My sister isn't keen on the scent, but for those of you who like 'Womanity', or a more heady fragrance, this is one for you.  It's deep, rich and addictive; my sister called it 'manly', since I guess the undertones are similar to masculine fragrances, but personally I love that depth.  And best of all I can smell it on my skin all day.  This is one I definitely will be purchasing again - I even prefer it over exfoliating gloves these days.  Maybe because it smells so good I could lick my own arms... But that's worth £8, right?

My Pulp Friction was part of my Big Splendour set, but I left it at home when I moved back to uni, so I've only just got round to using it!  After lots of scrubbing, I've still got half a tube left - a little goes a long way, and the tube is huge.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Sunday Round Up #9

I thought I'd give you all a giggle with this Sunday's photo.  I'm not the kind of blogger who loves layering on the slap for a special weekly photo (well, not every week anyway ;) so I thought I'd share this little beauty with you!  I went out on a (rare) night out with uni friends on Friday and persuaded my boyfriend to come out with the girls.  Yes, that's my boyfriend in the photo for those of you who didn't know.  Complete nutter, right?  That's why I'm with him, I'm nearly as much of a crazy, it's just rarely photographed.  This photo just makes me laugh every time I look at it though.

There's not much been going on this week really.  I've been job hunting and watching 'Smash' - amazeballs!  It's a definite watch for anyone who wants a 'grown up' Glee...

I've also joined Caroline ('s bandwagon to Save The Flannel.  I've been using them with my facewashes/cleansers twice a day and I actually think they're tons better than muslin cloths, so I'll probably post about the difference soon.  The acne is slowly getting better because of them - although some of you may have read my Tweet today that I've got a horrific spot, which has since doubled, literally, into another spot.  Bloomin' great!

I also wanted to just say a HUGE thank you to the followers I've gained recently!  It's so lovely and humbling to have any readers at all, so I'm thankful to all of you for taking the time :) xx

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Sanctuary Body Moisture Spray

I first tried Sanctuary products at Christmas when my Mum bought me a massive gift set of body pampering treatments.  I was a little hesitant at first, since I'd not really heard much about the brand, but within one session of scrubbing, washing and intensive moisturising, I was in love.  The brand is very on point - luxury at home; you can find everything, from everyday treatments right through to real spa-style pampering, for every part of your body.

I also love tiny products, and saw this in the 'mini' section of Boots.  For £2.50 and '3 for 2' running, it seemed a perfect time to trial it.  The Body Moisture Spray is actually like a dry oil mist; it smells divine, like all the other Sanctuary products I've tried - a smell which I cannot describe, no matter how hard I try!  All I know is, the smell is so delicious, I can't stop sniffing it.  I find this is also the perfect solution to my dislike of the laborious task of applying body cream.  It takes around a minute to spritz over my limbs and torso, quickly rub it in, and with it being a dry oil, there's no residue and it's soaked in fast enough for me to get dressed.  Now I don't have to feel quite so guilty about moisturising my face religiously, and ignoring the rest of me!  My skin overall feels so lovely and soft all day too, and I feel like the benefits of the sweet almond oil, jojoba oil and Vitamin E are evident.  There's a lot to be said for these oils!

I've used the Body Moisture Spray for around a handful of uses so far, and I've got half a bottle left.    Since this is a travel/test it version, I don't think that's too bad!  I actually purchased it for a weekend away, and it was perfect for travelling.  I've definitely enjoyed using it so far.  My only gripe is the mineral oil - I prefer not to use it as part of my skincare routine, and don't really want to on my body either.  But considering the price I probably shouldn't complain too much!  Despite that, I'd definitely consider buying the larger version and ditch all the body creams!

Boots' website also boasts good reviews for the Therapists Facial Oil, so I'm thinking about trying that next. Has anyone tried it?  Or can recommend another facial oil for dehydrated combination skin?

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Trash or Treasure?

I love empties posts!  It's one thing having a list of things you've purchased, but when you've actually used them up your opinion of them is so much more important.  And of course, whether you'll repurchase them too - hence treasure, or trash.

Tresemmé Ultimate Hold Hairspray - I love Tresemmé hairspray, maybe it's the size of the can and value for money when Boots have it on offer, but I always repurchase.  I always find their hairspray delivers too.  Sometimes my hair can get a bit over-coated in the product, especially after a night out, but I'd rather have firmly held hair whilst on the tiles than a cavegirl-esque barnet!  This was the first time I'd bought Ultimate Hold, and found it quite similar to the other 'strong' hold ones.  So yes, I'll repurchase, but if they don't have this specific one in stock, I won't worry too much about buying an alternative!

Dove Intensive Repair Shampoo - These bottles don't seem to last me very long which is frustrating.  I don't think the shampoo does anything incredible, but my hair both smells and feels nice after using it, so if it's on offer I wouldn't say no to buying more.  The conditioner, on the other hand, I love.

Clean & Clear Truly Gentle Facial Wash - I bought this ages ago and thought it was time to use it up, so apologies for the bottle looking horrid!  It's very gentle, with the gel wash having no exfoliating particles.  I did find that it left my skin quite tight and dry, but it worked well with a facial brush since it lathers up just enough to wash properly with.  Without the facial brush I really struggled with it, as my face never felt clean enough.  I won't repurchase, because I don't think it works well enough for me - I need more hydration.

Clean & Clear Dual Action Moisturiser - I really like this moisturiser.  It doesn't stop my oiliness, but the salicylic acid really helps to unclog pores and keep skin looking clearer.  Being a cream I also found it quite moisturising, although maybe not hydrating enough for my skin.  As you can see, I cut the tube open to use it all up, I liked it that much.  I'll repurchase again, but it just bugs me that I need to use a primer with it too.

Blistex Intensive Moisturiser - Love this stuff!  You only have to look at my Twitter photos to see I purchased about eight of these when they were on sale in Asda.  I use it every night before bed, and sometimes during the day if my lips are really dry.  Fixes everything!

Carmex Cherry Lip Balm - This isn't as good as the Blistex for me, and the price comparison between them isn't great.  I do like it, but I'd prefer to use Blistex Intensive any time, as I don't think Carmex is hydrating enough for my lips.

Lee Stafford Hair Growth Treatment - I love this stuff.  I will definitely be repurchasing when it's next on offer!  My hair feels healthy without being coated in silicones after using it.  I also think this is one of the reasons my hair is beginning to grow, is healthy and the ends aren't splitting.

Blink Contacts Soothing Eye Drops - I discovered these last summer when my manager had laser eye surgery and the doctors prescribed these drops.  They are literally at the top of their game, you will never find better.  I get slight hayfever and my eyes become dry, so as a contacts wearer it becomes quite uncomfortable.  I've bought about 3 bottles of this so far - each lasts me a few months - and I've never looked back!  These drops made me realise how badly dry eyes affect vision.  I can now see properly, hurrah!

Witch Anti-Blemish Skin Clearing Primer - I enjoyed using this, although I'm not sure how much good it did for my acne.  I prefer to use a mattifying moisturiser now, instead of moisturiser then primer, to lessen the 'layering' under my foundation.  This primer does make a nice base for make-up, but I didn't see any real effect on spots.  As a gel, the consistency is quite light, applies easily and you don't need much either.  I probably won't repurchase.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Sunday Round Up #8

Just squeezing a quick Sunday Round Up in before it's Monday!

1.  UNI IS OVER.  £25k worse off, a wealth of knowledge gained.  This needs to be underlined around 30 times and in triple bold print for the importance it holds for me.  I now have to find a proper job.  NO!

2.  This week's been very strange, it's hard reverting to 'doing nothing' after being on the edge of 'super stressed' since September.  This is literally the first time I've had no work to do since my final year began... no holidays, no time off.  Life is feeling strange; good, but strange.  So I've spent most of the week trying out some new make-up and skincare products.

3.  I also bought two aztec print vests from the New Look sale (one is in the photo).  For the both of them it was only £8 - love sales!  I'm just gutted I left my NL gift card at home with £2 on it.  Go to NL, the sale is impressive.  Lots of summer pieces I noticed, which I found odd.  Are NL predicting that summer is already over?

4.  I arrived back at uni this evening from a whirlwind few days in London.  For my boyfriend's birthday I bought him (read: us) tickets to the Royal Philaharmonic Orchestra's Film Gala at the Royal Albert Hall.  All very royal.  It was an amazing evening!  I'd recommend going if you like that sort of stuff.  It's just made me miss playing music SO MUCH.  We also popped to the cinema to see 'American Reunion' with my boyfriend's best friend this afternoon.  It was nice to chill out and laugh - although my lovely boyfriend kept telling me off for laughing too loudly in the cinema.  What!?  It's a comedy!  I can't help having a hearty laugh.

5.  'Once Upon A Time' is my TV programme of the week.  Loving it.  I'm addicted.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Power-Up With Red Nails

Models Own 'Garnet' (Promotional w/ Jacques Cider)

I mentioned in my April Favourites post that I've been on a nail polish ban for a month - using only Sally Hansen Double Duty, if anything.  My nails are so much stronger and the splitting has stopped.  I don't think polish is bad for nails, per se, but chipping and polish remover is quite damaging on mine.  So now that it's May I've begun with a bang!  I love bright red nails, I think they make me feel just a little bit empowered.  There's something so statement about red nails.  And of course, just to ensure they were even more over the top, I added a glittery ring finger as well.  Perfecto!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

April Favourites

I've become an avid reader of Caroline's blog,, and decided to crack this out after leaving it lying around and only a handful of uses.  I use this on days I've not exfoliated, and I've found it is actually very good at bringing up all the dirt in my skin.  It doesn't contain menthol, which I love, as although I use a cheaper alternative more often, the menthol drives me nuts.  This leaves my skin feeling super clean without the 'tingle'.  I'll definitely keep using until it's empty.

I've been using this for nearly a year now - the same bottle... and I'm still a huge fan.  My hair has been questioning me about the next 'big' salon cut, but as money isn't great at the moment (woes of a student), I keep telling it to be quiet and leave me alone.  I keep using this, along with hair masks, and it's just keeping the ends from drying out and splitting.  Godsend, really!  There's often deals on this too, which make it superb value for money.

With crazy skin I realised I needed to try a new 'everyday' foundation and gave in to the hype with this one.  I'm so glad I did!  At first I had problems with it going a bit patchy throughout the day, then after reading Caroline's blog, I realised my skin was so dehydrated with the environment sapping the moisture out of my face, that it was slowly drinking my foundation throughout the day.  Ew!  So with more hydrating moisturising, this has become a very good foundation, it's the only one I use, in fact.  And it smells like fruit when you put it on.  Yummy!

Rave, rave, rave.  That's all I ever hear about the buffing brush!  And rightly so.  It's wonderful, up for anything and so soft.  I use mine for application of liquid foundation, but also found it can also be used for mineral foundation too.  Best thing I've ever bought.  Maybe.

I got this in my Liz Earle Christmas gift set with C&P and didn't really know what to do with it.  I'd never really been told how to cleanse, tone and moisturise properly.  After becoming a skincare obsessive (I'm trying to balance my skin without medication), I began to spray my face with this after cleansing and before moisturiser.  It's quite herbal-smelling and leaves skin feeling clean and refreshed.  It 'soaks in' within about 30 seconds too and helps to rehydrate my obviously very thirsty skin.  I look alive after using this!

TV:  Hart of Dixie - New addiction.  Rachel Bilson looks incredible in this programme, and her outfits have me drooling in envy.  I just wish I could be her, to be honest.
Book:  Fun Home by Alison Bechdel - Touching graphic novel/memoir.  Every time I read it my heartstrings are plucked.  Amazingly talented, Bechdel created a jigsaw of her younger years to tell us the story of herself, her father and their complicated sexualities.
Nails:  None!  I've been on a nail ban all month to strengthen them up.  They're looking much more lovely now.  Hurrah!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

5 Steps To Beautiful Hair

1.  Get Naked
No hair dye, no bleaching.  Healthy hair is virginal.  The chemicals and bleach contained in products that change your hair colour damage the cuticles and mess with its arrangement.  Hair extensions that cost the Earth are virgin hair - this should tell you how healthy virgin hair is.  Of course, if you suffer from the large amount of greys that I do, getting naked isn't so easy, unless you fancy the 'Oh these? No they're not expensive streaks dahhrling, these are my own!'  But if you can go naked, do it.  Or semi-permanent it, I believe these are less damaging.

2.  Wear Protection
Everything damages hair, from brushing, to heated styling, to weather.  We just cannot win against the hair damagers, they're out to get your mane whether you like it or not.  The best thing you can do is collect things that are going to act like MMA fighters against all these elements; almost every hair care range does some sort of protectors.  Find the best ones for your hair type.  If it's dry on the ends, use a cream protector, but a weightless spray is good for the rest of your head.  Use them everyday, your hair will thank you.  Preventative protection in the form of conditioners is also useful.  The stronger and healthier hair is from masks and treatments will make it braver, or less dry, so straightening won't turn your ends into short-and-curlies.  Yes, I've had that before too. Naaice.

3.  Be Dirty
No matter how much you love the feeling of clean hair, I can guarantee your hair doesn't feel the same way.  Washing your hair daily makes it very angry, because all that time your scalp has spent producing nourishing oils to make lovely, healthy hair has been stripped away by foamy chemicals.  Dry shampoo is kinder to hair, so if you can manage this in between washing, your hair will be very thankful.  And really, who cares if you've got bed hair.  Some might actually find it kinda sexy.

4.  Go Au Naturale
As mentioned, heat styling crisps ends, splits them and snaps them off.  This is not a way to get beautiful hair.  Cutting out the use of styling tools will do wonders for your hair, even if it's just by half.  I didn't even know I had curly hair until 3 years ago when I stopped using a hair dryer and straighteners religiously.  Embrace your hair's natural beauty, leave it to dry (or at least turn your hair dryer to a cooler setting!) and skip the straighteners/curlers once in a while.  You might actually find that your wild mane is exceedingly cooler than you first imagined.  And if you realise that the crazy hair is not quite your thing... just use protection!

5.  Trim It
This is a fatal mistake that so many make.  Not getting your hair cut at all just means that those split ends you've accumulated will continue splitting... right up the strand of hair.  Split end trims will equal shaved head before you know what's happened and people will start to question whether you've pulled a Britney, or are just a huge fan of Natalie Portman in V For Vendetta.  Many say that hair 'loves' being cut, and makes it grow.  This doesn't have logic, as hair has grow patterns (youtube it); however, cutting off the manky bits will mean that as your hair grows, the ends won't be falling off.  It'll be healthier and therefore longer (if you're trying to grow it, anyway).  Trimming it doesn't necessarily mean hairdressers costs - my sister hacks off my ends with the kitchen scissors, and I do her's.  We often wear our hair wavy/curly so blunt ends aren't needed.  I'd rather have no split ends than be putting it off because I don't want to fork out the dollar.

These are basic points, but points which I go by nonetheless.  So take my offering of sterling advice, dodgy photo and titles that made me giggle, and run, my pretties.  And don't forget, healthy hair is the sort that grows.  Mine was above my shoulders in November, it's a slow, curly grower, but it's healthy!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The 'I Want It' List

Like every other person who likes nice things, I've always got a mental shopping list of things that I'd quite like.  It's just a case of being able to pay for them all.

1.  La Roche-Posay Effaclar H.  Recommended by Lisa Eldridge, this is perfect for those of us with problem skin that's been beaten to an inch of its life with prescribed medication.  I'm really paying the price at the moment for years of stuff 'advised' by doctors.  I'm now realising that was their easy way out, and my skin is now ruined.  Effaclar H could be the one to help me.
2.  Caudalie Beauty Elixir.  Yes, yes, I know.  The hyped product of the moment.  I'm just embarking upon the skincare vessel and I'm pretty sure that I need this in my arsenal, since it's a toner and a serum in one.  Very useful for dehydrated, upset skin like mine.
3.  Thierry Mugler - Womanity.  I got sent a little sample spray of this in the post after I signed up for one over Facebook.  I wasn't sure how much I would love it, but sprayed it on anyway.  I'm not kidding when I say this is the nicest perfume I've ever worn.  I need the biggest bottle money can buy.
4.  Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair.  This being something my Mum uses, I've seen the effects up close - and they're impressive!  You don't need much, and use it in cycles, so a little goes a long way.  Though maybe I'm just trying to justify the price... Either way, I'm pretty sure it will fix my acne scarring, help with any new acne and get my skin to a good place.
5.  Clarins Lotus Oil.  Oil for combination skin is surprisingly effective.  This is expensive, but there's enough testimonials online to vouch for the beautiful skin this gives.  It contains all natural oils to help balance and rehydrate the skin.  I could probably say I need this too.

So lots of skincare this month, with a little bit of fragrance thrown in.  This very much emulates what I've been thinking about recently - repairing my skin, keeping it healthy, and of course, smelling lovely!

All images from the linked-to websites.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Sunday Round Up #7

This is what my week is looking like from tomorrow.  I can barely believe it, after three whole years, I will not know what to do with myself when I wake up on Tuesday morning as a free woman!  By the way, I'm not the only twenty-something with a personal filofax, right?  It's just so organised, I love it.

This week has been a bit of train wreck in all honesty, I had a deadline on Thursday and as soon as that essay was handed in I had to start on my next one right away.  There's been late nights, even later mornings where I'm so tired I'm turning my alarm off in my sleep... I think I'm just needing some rest.  My skin has been also feeling the stress, so I'm covered in pimples - although I've decided to step away from the acne antibiotics and try to manage it without medication, so I imagine it's also a bit of backlash!  Once I find a good skincare routine, I'll definitely do a post about it for anyone who may need some inspiration for conquering acne.  This will probably also include things which aren't necessarily products - foods, massage...

I had a mental list of things I wanted to mention in this post; I've forgotten all of them.  Curse of the final week of uni, I tell thee.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Real Techniques Release The Expert Face Brush

You better believe it guys, Samantha Chapman's Real Techniques brushes now include a Buffing Brush alternative that can be purchased on its own.  Hooray!

I've heard no end of complaints from bloggers (and my mum) who wanted the Buffing Brush but weren't prepared to pay for the Core Collection - although the Expert Face Brush is currently retailing at £9.99 + p&p from, and I'm not sure if Boots are stocking it yet as it's not on their website.

Considering that the Core Collection retails at £21.99 (I purchased mine from Boots) for four brushes, £9.99 for one doesn't boast the same value for money.  However, if I'd had the option of the Expert Face Brush when I was purchasing, I would've probably gotten the single brush since I don't use the whole set.  If you are swayed towards the Core Collection, I must say that the case is brilliant!  I have it open with my essential daily brushes lined up and ready to go!

I'm sure loads of you (mum, you're included!) will be incredibly excited about this brush - Sam Chapman has said herself it's just like the Buffing Brush on her latest Youtube video.  And you only have to search RT Buffing Brush online to see how much (justified) hype surrounds it - personally I use it every single day.  I don't know how I managed without it.  Hopefully Boots will be stocking it soon and you can all get your hands on it without having the buy online!