HAUL

Haul

Over the last year or so my Boots Advantage Card has been racking up points, that I had hoped to spend on perfume (YSL Manifesto if you must ask), but as I’m a lowly event coordinator with little to no pay left at the end of the month, items I’d usually pay for, have had to take a massive chunk out of my Advantage Card Credit. But never mind, I’ve got a nice heap of goodies to try out and love, which will keep me going through the summer. Happy days.

HAIR:

Aussie Miracle Hair Insurance Leave In Conditioner: As mentioned in my post about the prep, care and maintenance of bleached hair, Aussie is a go-to brand when my hair is in need if some TLC. There is a leave in spray specifically for coloured hair, but as not all my hair is coloured, I was drawn to the utterly delicious Miracle Hair Insurance. The Jojoba seed oil is very nourishing, and this acts as a great precursor to blow dry or styling spray. As I’ve sworn of blow drying whilst the weather’s been so nice, I’m spritzing this all over, then letting my hair dry naturally- I’m left with soft, tousled hair that is conditioned, nourished and beautifully scented. A winning product for hair in a heatwave.

Batiste Lace Dry Shampoo: Having loved the exotic scents of the Coconut Dry Shampoo, I was surprised I was so easily lead astray. But this is, for want of a better description, the least tacky smelling dry shampoo they’ve launched. It does spray a bit too white for my darker roots, but after a good rub and a thorough brush, I’m left with some wonderfully refreshed hair. As a plus, it helps keep my braids stay in place really well!

FACE/BODY:

Garnier Moisture Match Shine Be Gone Mattifying Fresh Cream: I really wanted this to be good. A green tea infused gel type cream claimed to keep my skin matte all day. Oh it did that alright. But the texture was very bizarre, almost slimy. In fact I’d liken it to running dust filled hair gel into your face! The scent was fine, very refreshing, and it was really cool and light, but it felt like the cream was pilling, or had bits in it. Ah, maybe they were the “super absorbent mirco-spheres”. Whatever they were it resulted in an unpleasant experience, and the tube going in the bin after a weeks’ trial.

L’Oreal Plentitude Ideal Balance Cleansing Wipes: HCCing will always be my cleansing routine of choice, day and night, but every now and then, a wipe wins for convenience. With the weather being as it is (currently hovering around 28C), my “normal” skin is edging ever closer to “combination”. A few outbreaks close to my hair line, the usual scattering along the jaw during Shark Week, and a not so normal t-zone, I’ve been using the Cleansing Wipes, in place of my usual Re-Nourishing one which I grab post-work out as a quick alternative to a full on cleanse. Both do an excellent job of removing make up (even stubborn mascara), are mildly exfoliating, and thankfully the Cleansing wipe isn’t too drying, or astringent. A winner.

Botanics All Bright Refreshing Eye Roll On: Probably a result of no sleep, not enough water and genetics, has lead to me having some very sore and puffy eyes of late. The old wives tales of cold green tea bags, frozen spoons and the oh so classy cucumber slices, have done little in helping my sore peepers. Armed with a 20% off Botanics voucher, this was the first thing that caught me eye. No pun intended. I enjoyed using the All Bright range last summer (the night cream is superb, try it!) and as this little gem was packed with hyaluronic acids and hibiscus, my eyes felt cool and refreshed even on the first application. Really helped reduce the puffiness, and I think that those stubborn dark circles are reduced too. Pop this in the fridge overnight for a really refreshing eye treatment.

Nivea Invisible Black & White 48 Hour Antiperspirant Grew tired of Garnier, and their very wet and over-scented Mineral Roll Ons. Knowing that any antiperspirant I bought had to stand up against my majority black wardrobe, it’s not at all surprising that this came home with me. Barely scented, cream based and gentle on sensitive skin- this is a great product that doesn’t interfere with any perfume you care to wear, or transfer onto black. AT. ALL. As I’ve not got a single white top, I can’t comment on the “no yellow stains” element, but I’m sure it works. Oh. and my armpits are comfy and dry at the end of the day. Another winner! 

MAKE UP:

Dr Jart Water Fuse BB+: This was on my Wish List at the beginning of the year, and I’m so glad that I finally have it. It doesn’t quite last the full day (I’m finding I need to touch up with my Rimmel Stay Matte Powder every now and then), but the coverage is incredible, it goes on like a dream (thanks partly to my Real Techniques Stippling Brush, which was also on my list), and has doesn’t make me look shiny at all. The aloe is great for my skin so I’ve not experienced any breakouts or irritations, which is always a good thing.

Garnier 5 Second Perfect Blur Primer: This has big, grand claims: reducing the appearance of lines, shine, wrinkles and pores, but it delivers on every single one. A soft pink colour, and a very silky texture, this primer goes on beautifully and, as per the press coverage, improves the appearance of skin immediately. My mum recommended this to me a few weeks ago, as a base and primer, rather than as an improver, and it works really well with the Dr Jart, leaving me with flawless, glowing, soft skin.

Will be a good few weeks, or months, before I can managed another decent haul, but for now I have lots of pretty things to play with. Looks like the Manifesto will have to stay on my wish list a while longer…

SILVER LININGS

Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Liner in Nude.

Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Liner in Nude.

Some women feel naked without lipstick, some without perfume. Some woman feel their best with a full face of make up, and some (the lucky cows) are able to face the world full on with a spot blush alone. If the day or occasion calls for make up, I can’t leave the house without a flick of liquid liner. The emo in me won’t ever be able to part with black kohl, and both brush and felt tip liquid liners. Current favourites include:

- Rimmel Glam Eyes: the super fine brush and strong colour makes this my all time favourite. Its staying power is fantastic and thanks to the brush, you can get precision by the lash line. Never drags or pulls, giving a beautifully neat line.

- L’Oreal Super Liner: thick, lush, and very dramatic. Great for a more heavy line as the sponge tip applicator doesn’t lend itself to delicate lines. At all. 

- Bourjois Liner Feutre: A felt tip liner that delivers excellent colour and definition. Is prone to smudging, but that is forgivable as the depth of colour is outstanding.

But what’s the harm in trying to alter or develop my make up routine? There are a wealth of jewel coloured eye liners available (MAC, Rimmel, Nars I’m looking at you), but I thought I’d try something subtler, that could last more than a season. So what did I find?

Rimmel’s Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Eyeliner range has been getting the thumbs up from mags and bloggers alike, and given the price, it wouldn’t be too much of an issue if it didn’t work out for me, so I’ve bought both the Silver and the Nude liner.

The nude is lighter than my skin tone, and slightly peachy in colour. It glides on beautiful, with no tugging or pulling and is easily blended. Eyes appeared larger without my usual black liner, so I really worked my mascara (Soap & Glory- Thick and Fast) into my lash line. I’ve never looked good with liner on my waterline, but if I was a fan of it- I’d imagine that this particular liner would work well. Staying power has been impressive (applied at 9am, and still very much in place at 3.30pm- even in the heat!).

The Silver liner is really awesome! Incredibly vibrant (look at it shine!) and really sparkles. It’s not often I go for metallics- metallic nail varnish is really not for me, and any pearlescent lip sticks, I think, should be left in the 80′s. But this lil liner is really fun, I’d be tempted to use it in conjunction with a thin line of liquid on the lash line for an evening look.

It’ll take some time to get used to skipping liquid liners in my usual routine, but so far, I’m loving the alternatives.

PROTECT YOURSELF, BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF

Even though some months ago I swore off dying my hair ever ever EVER again, the urge to go lighter was just too much,and a few weeks ago I took to the box and began two rounds of dip dying.

L’Oreal’s Wild Ombré No. 2 was a massive disappointment- maybe my ends were too damaged, maybe I hadn’t prepped my hair as much as I should have, or maybe I’d bought the wrong shade? Whatever the reason, I was left with gingerish ends- and despite the careful “fading” technique and the use of the (shoddy) plastic dye comb, there was no fading at all- it was all very blunt and very severe.

After a bit of research into the best (and preferably gentlest) lightening products, I bit the bullet and went for bleach. My hair has, over the last 6-8 months become a lot stronger thanks to regular trims, good conditioners and avoiding dye. But with the dip dye phase still going strong, I thought I’d give it a try- and if it all went wrong, I could always chop it off! (My hairs almost shoulder length now, which is long and odd for me!) But first- we must prepare ourselves.

PREP:

If you’re going to dye your hair, you really must prep it as best you can. You’ll be stripping your hair of colour and nutrients, so you need to pump in as much goodness as you can. The high street is full of good (and cheap) intense conditioners- L’Oreal Elvive Full Restore and any of the Aussie 3 Minute Miracles can work wonders on damaged hair, and set you up for the dying process really nicely. I did 2 intense conditions before I did the bleaching, making sure my hair was as healthy as possible before I damaged it again! I settled for Lee Stafford’s Argan Oil Treatmet (£14.99) which left my hair very soft and shiny, as well as restored, healthy and smooth. Other intense conditioners I’ve tried have been Bedhead’s Urban Antidotes and Dumb Blonde (but more on that later).

DYE:

It broke my heart a little that I was opting to bleach my hair, but being the stubborn broad that I am, I insisted on going ahead. Amazon reviewers were singing the praises of Jerome B’s bleach, with the 40% peroxide really delivering results. Claiming to delivery silver bright whites rather than horrific oranges and yellows, they praised the value for money- I put my money towards a cheap, and often looked over product. So on a grey night in June I prepped the mix and went for it. The recommended development time was 40 minutes, but I pushed the boundaries, and waited for an hour. The results were impressive, I’d somehow managed to get a good graduation of colour, from Californian blonde just below the ears, to vivid, almost ice white ends. Well done Jerome B!!

MAINTENANCE: 

With great hair, comes great responsibility. I’ve always been quite blasé about using colour specific shampoo and conditioners, opting instead to use hair specific (damaged or normal). But with the introduction of some serious bits of blonde, I chose to invest in some treatments that would help maintain the colour and protect the vibrancy of the shades. John Frieda’s Sheer Blonde range seemed like a safe bet, but my Mum (a bright white), recommended any shampoo that was violet, and highly praised Aveda’s Blue Malva and Professionnel Série Expert in Silver. Both reduced the brassiness of yellow tones, and helped make hair lustrous, shiny and healthy. I opted for the cheap and very cheerful Touch of Silver range (from £2.00 on Amazon). The shampoo (Twice Weekly Brightening) and conditioner (Intense Treatment) are not for everyday use, so they are an additional cost, but both are great little products. The shampoo is almost ultraviolet in colour- a deep purple that is actually quite petrifying, but it really does help reduce those horrid orange tones that come from bleaching and pre-lightning. The conditioner is superb- leaves the hair extremely nourished (more than a standard colour conditioner). It foams up, which is new for me, but when left on for 10 minutes, I’ve got the softest, blondest hair EVER!

CARE: 

In addition to blonde-specific shampoos and conditioners, I’m keen to try toners and treatments that can really help keep the colour. Fudge’s Whiter Shade of Pale  works as a toner, and is very adaptable. The longer you leave it on (max. 30 minutes), the brighter the outcome. I’ve yet to leave it on for the full half an hour but having had the patience for 15 minutes , I can vouch for its effectiveness. A high street investment has been in the form of Aussie’s Miracle Hair Insurance which great for when I need that extras bit of love and care pre-blow dry. And of course, no blonde would be without TIGI Bedhead’s Dumb Blonde. The most delicious of smells, combined with the most intensive of conditioners. This helps nourish deeply and thanks to the Colour Safe Guard technology, colours really do stay “perky”. Quite happy to use this as an intensive hair masque, so the Soy, Wheat and Sunflower proteins can really work their magic.

THE GAME CHANGER

L-R: Rosa Centifolia Cleansing Gel, Frankincense Night Cream, Vita Mineral Day Cream. WIN. WIN. WIN.

L-R: Rosa Centifolia Cleansing Gel, Frankincense Night Cream, Vita Mineral Day Cream. WIN. WIN. WIN.

Red Magazine always has the best samples. Chanel Mascara. Elemis Flash Balm. Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish. All winners, and all products that I’ve gone on to buy. But this months copy came with a REN trio that has caught me a bit off guard.

I have, for years now, sung the praises of No. 7′s Beautiful Skin HCC treatment and refused to believe that there was a better face cleanser on the market. It left my skin clean, soft, glowing, and helped clear up some adult acne I’d been battling for years. However, I am always willing to try other face washes and I am now torn. REN’s Rose Centifolia Cleansing Gel is a revelation- it really did cleanse my skin like never before, leaving it very refreshed, energized  and smooth. The No. 7 always left my skin with a light creamy film to to it but that’s always been forgivable , REN leaves it squeaky clean with no residual product, and noticeably smaller pores. The fragrance is perhaps a bit strong for a face wash- more rosy than their Moroccan Range (see previous post), but this is the only downside. The full sized bottle is available at a very reasonable £17.00, and I’m looking to invest come pay day. Gel wash is the way to go if you’re after a really thorough clean- the cleanser isn’t harsh enough to dry out, or oily enough to cause a breakout.

The Vita Mineral Day Cream (£25.00) is only slightly fragranced (thumbs up) and hasn’t resulted in any skin issues, and when used together, I was left with refreshed, very clean, firm skin that easily absorbed both my serum and eye cream.

Finally, the Frankincense Revitalising Night Cream. Said to leave skin “radiant, smoothed and beautifully healthy”, it is a great little number to end the day on. Pleasant, exotic fragrance, luxuriously rich texture that was easily absorbed. Might be a bit oily for my skin type, but as I’m looking to invest in products to help reduce the onslaught of aging (oh god), this could be an investment piece as the results have been impressive. But at £32.00 a pop, I might have to reconsider.

COMING UP ROSES

my rose collection L-R: Ren Moroccan Rose Body Cream, Penhaligons Peoneve, Ren Moroccon Rose Bath Oil, Ren Moroccan Rose Bosy Wash

my rose collection L-R: Ren Moroccan Rose Body Cream, Penhaligons Peoneve, Ren Moroccon Rose Bath Oil, Ren Moroccan Rose Bosy Wash

It has been too long since I last gave up half a day to sit down and blog. I say half a day because I have put together a nice long list of things I want to review, recipes I want to share and missions I want to undertake.

The reason for my absence was a combination of work, work related stress and most recently, stress related depression. But I’m back on top, with a new perspective on a lot of things- most notably how I look after myself, and to actually value and love who I am.

So, lets start with a few reviews. I have, for quite some time now, been besotted with all things rose. When Vaseline brought out their Rosy Lips Lip Therapy I was first in line. The subtle pink sheen combined with their usual (excellent) moisturising properties, meant that the little tin was a permanent feature of my kit. For my birthday I was lucky to be given a full sized bottle of Penhaligons Peoneve, one of the most heavenly scents I’ve ever smelt. With a top note of violet- it is almost bitterly sweet on first application, but the heart notes of rose (Hungarian), peony and hedione (similar to jasmine, but more citrusy) soon levels everything out. The rose is not synthetic smelling or tacky, and thanks to the peony, the overall scent is very fresh and earthy. Base notes include vetiver, musk and cashmere, leaving a beautiful, elegant scent. I don’t wear it often (it’s too precious to wear everyday, and it’s certainly not on my “I can afford to buy this” list), but it is a firm, firm favourite.

Every girl knows that one of the best ways to make a scent last, is to wash and moisturise with complimentary products, with similar scents, and nothing compliments Peoneve so much as REN’s Moroccan Rose range. Made up of a bath oil, and a body oil, scrub, cream and wash. The body wash is very delicately fragranced (as is the whole range, really), and lathers well. Followed up with the body cream, my skin is left very hydrated and silky. The bath oil is a great alternative anything that bubbles- it is a great little stress reliever, suitable for sensitive skins, and unlike other bath alternatives (see Lush) it won’t ruin your bath!

That’s it for now. I’ll be back later with reviews and recipes soon!

Bisous!

FLU

Save for the time I was out with bronchitis, and when recovering from a tonsillectomy, I have never felt as ill, as depressed or as exhausted as when I contracted flu.

Having never had flu before, I presumed that I was simply suffering from a nasty head cold, but alas, after day 3 of violent shivers, head aches that left me wearing sunglasses inside, and a relentless, painful cough- enough was enough. When I started hallucinating we knew that something was wrong and at the advice of NHS Direct (God bless ‘em), we went to hospital. In a snow storm.

There I was seen by the funniest, kindest, most down to earth Doctor. He diagnosed me as having flu and told me I’d be written off for at least a week, with the recovery taking some time too. I laughed him off. I’m a tough cookie. So back home we trekked (by way of taxi), I returned to bed, Dan, ever the hero, did a food run. The next week was spent moving at a glacial pace around the house, on occasion having a walk around the block (only to return home exhausted and cold), and drinking gallons of hot honey and lemon.

But I survived. My body is now weak and vulnerable, and I’m going to have to spend the next couple of weeks being sensible, healthy and gentle.

My goals are:

  • get back into rowing
  • up my water intake
  • never get flu ever again ever ever ever

VO5

 

my post-oil hair. soft, supple, beautifully healthy.

my post-oil hair. soft, supple, beautifully healthy.


Since October last year, I’ve sworn myself off home hair colouring, as the damage it was doing to my hair was eventually going to be irreversible, so I decided “now’s the time to start taking care of my mop”. With dye out of the window, along with nutrient stripping shampoos and conditioners, excessive straightening and curling etc, I’ve set about hunting down products that will help restore my hair to being bouncy, shiny, healthy and strong. My shampoo and conditioner of choice is currently the L’Oreal EverPure range, with no sulphates and rich in botanics, I’m finding my hair looking fantastic, even if I do subject it to a speedy blow dry every now and again. Hair is moisturised, and in the process of being restored to good health.

But shampooing and conditioning is not enough- this damaged mane of hair needs something special to heal it as much as possible. Hair oils- most notable ones with argan oil (packed with Vitamin E and antioxidants, great for fighting against free radicals)- are readily available, and are getting a lot of praise from press and bloggers alike. Time to investigate.

VO5 is a brand that I don’t know much about- but having researched their available ranges, I’m impressed with what they offer. From TLC treatments to powerful powders, super serums to magic mousses- this is a brand that has everything. Their “Maintenance & Repair” range contains a series of shampoos and conditioning treatments, and their famous hot oils- all of which claim to turn your hair into “your crowing glory”. But can their dinky bottle of “Miracle Concentrate” deliver?

Oh yes it can!!

2 drops on towel dried hair, followed by a gentle blow dry, has turned what was a dry, frizzy, damaged head of hair, into a smooth, healthy, very touchable crowing glory. I use it quite sparingly as my hair is quite short, but the effects are clear to see- and having used it 2-3 times a week for almost a month now, I can officially say that VO5 has saved my hair.

I really am so impressed with this product: it’s affordable, available, reliable, and effective. The rest of their range is yet to be explored, but if one tiny bottle can achieve so much, goodness knows how amazing my hair could be…