Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Hydraluron From Indeed Labs - The Every-Skin-Type Must Have!

We've all been there, freaking out over oily skin and reaching for the harshest, most stripping products to get rid of it. Truth is, when you remove all of the skin's natural oils, it goes in to overdrive and actually produces more oil - it's a vicious circle. It wasn't until I started getting interested in skincare (and frustrated with my own skin!) that I researched and found this out, and my whole skincare routine completely changed. I am now as gentle as possible with my skin, and I have seen massive improvements as a result. 

One thing that I thought my skin would never ever need was hydration. Afterall, with naturally oily skin and twice daily application of moisturiser, surely that's enough? Wrong. Standard moisturisers cannot penetrate the skin deeply enough to provide sufficient hydration, and as many of us oily skin girls are very frugal with moisturiser application anyway, this leads to dehydrated skin. Dehydrated skin cannot repair itself as efficiently as when it's hydrated, leading to numerous skin problems.

Hydraluron by Indeed Labs contains hyaluronic acid, which can penetrate to the deeper levels of the skin, and therefore delivers thorough hydration to your skin, where it really counts. Infact, it can hold up to 1,000x its weight in water, making it an incredible ingredient for hydrating and plumping the skin, as well as refining the overall texture. I use Hydraluron in the place of a serum at the night, so after cleanser and toner (Serozinc for me, review here), but before moisturiser. It disappears in to the skin within a couple of minutes and that's it. You don't necesserily wake up the next morning and think "Wow!", as if you were using Alpha H's Liquid Gold. Instead, it's more of a gradual effect. Your moisturiser will glide on to your skin, it will glow and feel plump and youthful. I have noticed that breakouts calm down and heal twice as fast as before, which is amazing as the red marks left behind after spots are, in my opinion, more annoying than the actual spot! Hydraluron is also supposed to be fab for smoothing out fine lines, but I can't comment on that as I don't have any.

I think Hydraluron would be beneficial to everyone - hydration is so important for preventing facial ageing, and preventation is better than cure, right? 

Have you tried Hydraluron?


Thursday, 8 August 2013

Avene Cleanance Exfoliating Mask - Review

Chemical exfoliators are a hot topic in the blogosphere as of late. Gentle, low concentrations of those such as glycolic, salicylic and lactic acids, which gently remove dead skin cells and renew the skin, tend to be favoured for problem skin as they minimise the irritation that physical exfoliators can cause. Following my success with Avene's whole Cleanance range, I was eager to try the latest addition to their acne-fighting arsenal, the exfoliating mask.

I love to use face masks twice a week, as they are the perfect excuse to ensure I get a little bit of time to myself to relax during a busy week. Combining effective yet gentle AHA and BHA with kaolin, this absorbant mask is perfect for detoxing and renewing sluggish skin. It also contains miniscule grains to manually exfoliate the skin. I must admit, it took me a couple of uses to even realise they were there because they really are that small and gentle! Although it isn't branded as a multi-use product, I think it would also be perfect as a gentle exfoliating cleanser if you don't have time to use it as a mask.

The mask dries up any impurities extremely fast, while refining the texture of the skin and leaving it silky soft. What really sets this mask apart from others is how it doesn't dry solid leaving your face feeling cemented and uncomfortable. Instead, after washing off, my skin feels lightly moisturised, and not tight and dried out like many other masks. Of course, it does contain acids so always follow up the next day with at least spf 20 (which you should already be doing!)

Since using the mask, my scarring has definitley reduced, my face glows and the texture is a lot smoother. For a really intensive treatment when my skin is playing up, I like to mix the mask with a pea sized amount of Avene's spot treatment, Triacneal (reviewed here). They really are a dream team when used together, and my skin is a lot calmer and has been put back in its place by the following morning. All in all, another fantastic product.

If you are suffering with acne, I strongly recommend you give the Cleanance range a go. It is very affordable and the products are fantastic - the reason my skin is now under control. I always have the range on standby for skincare emergencies and will continue to repurchase them. You can buy Avene's cleanance mask from Boots for £15, or Escentual, where it currently has 10% off.

Have you tried anything from Avene?


Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The Big "Muslin vs Flannel Debate" - Why I'm A Flannel Convert...

I've always had a sort of irrational fear of flannels - the sight of one would bring back memories of childhood, where my Mum would make me wash my face with one, and I've hated them ever since. A couple of years ago, after trying Liz Earle's infamous Cleanse and Polish, I introduced the muslin cloth in to my skincare routine. While they are fabulous for the first few uses, after a couple of washes, they are pretty much soft and useless. The past few days, I swapped  my trusty muslin for a Washi flannel (part of the Skin polishing set), and I am converted.

From using the Washi for the past few weeks, I have come to the realisation that muslins are useless. Girls, put down your muslins and order yourselves a set of these bad boys! Thicker than the muslin, they are much more effective at retaining heat, so your skin gets more of a spa-like steam with use. They are deceivingly gentle, unlike a brand new muslin, which is scratch-your-face-off rough. When I first tried the washi, I didn't really feel like it was doing anything - it's that soft on the skin. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see that my skin was glowing and extremely soft, even softer than after using a muslin - score! You really have to try it to believe it, but be incredibly gentle because that really is all you need for optimum results. After using the Washi just once, all of my useless, soft muslins went in the bin - seriously. Being a muslin devotee for years, if that's not a sign of a good product, then I don't know what is. You can buy a pack of 5 Washi's here for just £5.25, a lot cheaper than Liz Earle muslins!

Along with the washi face cloths, I received their skin polishing towel. If you suffer from skin problems such as acne, it is so important to have a seperate towel for your face, and to change it regularly. These towels are the ideal size so you can change it a couple of times a week, and not fill the washing machine up while doing so. They have a similar texture to the flannel and are to be used on damp skin to gently buff away any dead skin cells and leave the skin very glowy. It is very nice to use, but I wouldn't say it's a necessity if you are already regularly exfoliating. However, if you don't currently use a seperate towel for your face, you need one of these. And they're only £2.95 here, what have you got to lose?

If you fancy giving both the washi face cloths and polishing towel a go, they do a set which includes 4 face cloths and a towel, here, for just £5.95, usually £6.95. The products come packaged in the most gorgeous tissue paper, with information cards and even stickers - it is like christmas receiving your washi goodies (as if you didn't need another excuse to buy a set!). 

Which team are you on - flannel or muslin?


Friday, 12 July 2013

Marc B "Millie" - Zara Office City Bag Lookalike

Being familiar with marc b bags from their range at Topshop, I was very excited when I was contacted about reviewing one of their bags on my blog. You can imagine my excitement when I spotted Millie - the Zara Office City lookalike. Multiple compartments for the OCD freak inside of me? Check. Bags of space (see what I did there?)? Check. Gorgeous lining and an additional long strap? Check. I was sold.

Owning both bags, I find myself reaching for Millie the most, and here's why...

1. The shoulder straps, which are actually long enough to fit over your shoulder!
One thing that really annoys me about the Zara bag is how the straps are so small that you can only wear the bag on the crook of your arm, which is ok for a day shopping, but when it comes to lugging everything and the kitchen sink to college, it just doesn't work. Millie's straps are the perfect length to be worn comfortably on your shoulder.

2. The soft, "leathery" finish
While both Millie and the Zara bag aren't actually leather, the feel of the Millie bag is so much nicer. Very soft, meaning the bag has a very nice slouch effect, whereas the Zara bag is so structured it's been mistaken for a briefcase on numerous outings. I find the Zara bag to be scratchy in texture, which isn't very nice.

3. Lots of space, depth-wise
This is the major plus for me of Millie compared to the Zara bag. The middle section of Millie resembles a bucket bag, which I love as it has so much more room than the Zara bag. Although it being notoriously a very big, I find myself quickly filling up the Zara bag, but Millie hardly ever looks full. The shape of Millie is a lot nicer as well, and definitely more feminine.

4. Variety of colours
I know Zara did bring out a tan version of the office city bag, but it seems to have disappeared off the face of the retail world. Millie is readily available in both tan and black

While Millie doesn't have a padded laptop compartment like its Zara counterpart, do you really need one? That's what I thought.

The only downside to Millie is that you can't fit an a4 folder inside, which may be a problem for some. You can fit a4 books if placed in portrait, but unfortunately no folders (boo hoo!) This doesn't stop me from loving Millie, and I've had so many compliments for the few days I've had her.

All in all, a gorgeous, good quality bag with a luxurious leather-like feel and slouched, femenine shape. Lots of zipped compartments which are very handy and a leopard-print lining. Additional long strap and gold detailing to finish.

If you fancy your own Millie, you can buy her in either tan or black from the marc b website for £65 with free UK delivery.

Which is your favourite marc b bag?


Sunday, 7 July 2013

H&M Bikini Set Bargains - As Low as £2!

If you haven't got a bargain from H&M using their plethora of online discount codes, you are missing out. I've been using them for a good year now (they never seem to expire!), but my latest goodies are definitely 
the best bargains...

At the checkout, enter the codes:

1304 - £5 off your order
0241 - 25% off most expensive item

Using both of these codes allowed me to get the second bikini set for a mere £2, excluding postage! If that isn't a good deal, I don't know what is... One thing I will say though, H&M sizes come up tiny! Either try on what you want in store prior to ordering, or order at least a size bigger.

Are you going to take advantage of the H&M discount codes?


Monday, 24 June 2013

Warehouse: Prom Style for us Tall Girls!

Standing at 5"11, finding an aptly-fitting prom dress was always a nightmare. Luckily, Warehouse have a fabulous range of floor-length dresses perfect for us leggy ladies, just in time for prom season! I've created a prom-perfect look using one of my favourite Warehouse dresses, the Embellished Yoke Maxi.

I literally squealed a little when I came across this dress. Not only is it bang on trend with the embellished neckline and neutral colour, but look how long it is on the 5"10 model - you could sweep the floor with it! Warehouse even have a clever tool which allows you to virtually try on items. The Fitting Room allows you to create your own online body, using measurements such as your height, weight, hips and waist, which you can save for use in the future. It will then suggest the most appropriate size for you and show you how the dress will look on. Here's an example using my measurements...  

Absolutely genius! A must for us tall ladies - definitely worth a try before you purchase to avoid disappointment of a dress being just-a-little too short. Here are a selection of other lovely "tall-friendly" Warehouse dresses worn by the same 5"10 model. You can check out the other lovely Warehouse dresses here.

1 / 2 / 3 / 4

Where do you go for your extra-long dresses?


Thursday, 20 June 2013

ShopStyle's #festivalchallenge - My Entry!

If you're a regular reader, you'll know how much I love creating outfit sets. When Gwen contacted me about the ShopStyle Festival Shopping Challenge, I knew I had to become involved! The competition is running across ShopStyle UK, France and Germany, where one overall winner will receive a huge £1,000 cash prize to spend on a new wardrobe, and two runners up will each receive £200 to spend on their outfit. Amazing right?! The lovely Natasha is the UK ambassador, and you can check out her blog post for more details on how to become involved here. You can see my entry below...

Total: £199.47
(Could I have been any closer to the £200 budget?!)

I know I'm being a little hopeful for nice weather with my outfit, but a festival to me connotes glaring sunshine, blazing music and short shorts! Fringing is essential for any festival look - I love this H&M multi-toned bralette for its burgandy and orange hues. A pair of short shorts are essential to show off tanned pins and to also stay cool! Topshop is my go-to shop for denim, especially for their Tall section, and they certainly do not disappoint with these ripped hot pants. This gorgeous aztec-style kimono is ideal for stylishly shielding you from the sun whilst watching your favourite bands in awe, also from Topshop. 

I completed my look with my favourite New Look gladiator sandals and sunglasses, and of course a big floppy hat - a must for festival chic. The paint swirl blossom bag from Paul's Boutique is the perfect size and style for festivals - big enough for a couple of essentials but not obtrusive.

I went for a boho-chic style for my festival outfit, and I am really pleased with how it's turned out. I would definitely wear this outfit myself, and could see the kimono becoming my summer staple should I be lucky enough to win! If you decide to enter this amazing competition, you have until tomorrow at midnight to enter, and please leave me the link to your look, I would love to see it!

Do you like my festival outfit?


Tuesday, 18 June 2013

La Roche Posay Serozinc - My Skincare MUST HAVE & UK Stockist!

Toner has always been that pointless step for me: maybe a little refreshing on a warm summers day, but lets be honest, how many of them do we get?! I'd happily use them, but with no noticeable results... until now. Enter La Roche Posay Serozinc!

After seeing this toner raved about by the likes of Anna, Lily and Caroline, I knew it was something special. The only catch - it isn't readily available in the UK, which made me want it even more. After weeks of desperately scouring the internet for a stockist and even contemplating a visit to France for it, I found a UK stockist. Extremely excited, I ordered 2 bottles and they arrived the very next day, along with a couple of french skin care samples! I put it to the test straight away, and it has completely changed my opinion on toners.

A simple zinc sulphate solution that claims to soothe and purify skin irritations, razor burn, skin imperfections, and even a baby's bottom. I have only tried it on my face, but it really lives up to the hype! It definitely soothes redness and I have seen quite a remarkable difference in my skin - all from using a toner! My spots are literally so few and far between now, it's unbelievable. I've gone from having about 6-7 active breakouts all the time to a couple a MONTH! My scarring is significantly reduced, and it even hydrates my skin too, leaving it very soft and comfortable. I am in love with this toner, and have even ordered 2 more bottles: the seller's stock is going fast, as you can imagine!

I bought the Serozinc toner from this UK seller for about £10 and I received it the very next day! Now it is a lot easier to get hold of, I would recommend it to all of you, whether it be for the blemish-busting abilities, soothing or moisturising qualities. Something I thought I'd never say - this toner is fantastic.

Have you tried Serozinc?


Friday, 31 May 2013

Banishing the Blemishes #003 - The Skin Regime Book & Peel

Hi everyone! Part 3 of my Banishing the Blemishes series comes from a book called The Skin Regime: Bootcamp For Beautiful Skin. Dana, the author, contacted me a couple of weeks ago and very kindly offered to send me a copy, as well as a sample facial peel.

If you're anything like me, the thought of a peel makes you think of acid, pain, and your whole face being burnt off! Oh, how wrong I was. Dana's book guides you through how to safely perform peels at home, and encompasses skincare tips and tricks throughout.

I'm not really one for reading (unless it's a magazine, of course!), but Dana's book was a pleasure to read. It's written in a very matter-of-fact way, and is also very informative on the peels, and skincare in general. The book provides you with a Skincare Regime (hence the title!) to follow inbetween peels, which is very similar to my own, so big thumbs up to that!

*How amazing does Dana's skin look WITHOUT makeup?! Living proof the peels work wonders!

The book is ideal for any skincare fanatic (ahem, like myself), but also people who know very little about skincare, and have concerns about ageing/spots/scarring, etc. Now, on to the peel.

When Dana first contacted me, I was a little apprehensive of the peel side of things. I have always been worried about doing these sort of things in the past, but my mind was completely put to rest when I received the book. It's almost like a cook book, for your face. It has a whole section dedicated to how to use the peel, how to prep your skin before (and maintain it after) and a little bit on what to expect once the peel is on. After scouring the book, highlighting here and underlining there, I felt like I was ready to try it. The peel itself is in liquid form, so it needs to be gently swept over the face with a cotton pad, and left for around a minute (2 at the most). Upon application, my skin was tingling lots (a very strange sensation and quite hard to describe!). I washed it off, as instructed, and was left with very soft skin (if a little red!) The redness had subsided by the morning, but my skin was still beautifully soft!

Of course, I've only tried one peel, so can't comment on the long term effects, but my skin was left very soft and radiant. I can see how this peel would be fantastic for any congestion and scarring, as it really exfoliates and renews your skin. I would thoroughly recommend the book to all of you, as well as the peel. Even if you have sensitive skin, Dana guides you on how you can make the peel work for you. The peels are even sold in different strengths, so you're bound to find one perfect for you! Both the book and peels can be purchased on Dana's website here. You can also find Dana on Facebook and Twitter.

Have you ever tried an at-home facial peel?


Thursday, 23 May 2013

John Frieda - Frizz Ease Products

Having been a Frizz Ease serum user for years now, you can imagine my excitement on being contacted about some additional Frizz Ease products. I have been using some lovely new John Frieda products for 3 weeks now, so here are my thoughts on them!

The shampoo claims to block frizz and moisturise extra dry hair, for smooth and sleek hair. The formula contains a Frizz-Mending complex and olive oil to replenish moisture and restore natural hair frizz defences.

I was a little apprehensive that this shampoo would make my limp hair greasy after seeing the words "extra dry hair" and "moisturise", however, I was pleasently surprised. As with all John Frieda products, it smells lovely! The texture isn't as thick as I was expecting, a creamy gel, that foams up easily in to a good lather. I can't really comment on the shampoo's "frizz-mending" ability on its own, as I used the shampoo and conditioner in conjunction. However, I did notice a significant reduction in frizz. After drying my hair, I usually straighten it immediatley after as I hate it feeling frizzy. However, since switching to the frizz ease range (in conjunction with the serum, of course!), I don't feel the need to straighten my hair. Following a blow dry, it is silky, manageable and incredibly soft! As aforementioned, I'm not sure of the ability of a shampoo on its own to give these results, so I'll put it down to using the products together - a collective effect.

The conditioner claims to work on the same basis as the shampoo: to tame frizz and replenish the hair's moisture. I really like using a deep conditioner on the ends of my hair, and this didn't disappoint. The texture is thicker than your regular conditioner, so makes a really nice base if you (like me!) add a couple of drops of hair oil to your conditioner. I'm not the most patient of people, and having conditioner on my hair for 5 minutes for it to "work" is incredibly annoying. I like an immediate effect after 1-2 minutes, and this shampoo definitely provided that - big thumbs up from me! You know the feeling when your hair is so smooth as you rinse conditioner off? Yep, this definitely gave that feeling! A big thumbs up from me, for being very hydrating, and leaving my hair very soft after only a couple of minutes of waiting, hurrah!

Claiming to be ideal for both straight and curly styles, it instantly smoothes hair and camouflages dry, frizzy ends for a flawless, shiny finish.

I did stop using my beloved serum in place of this, but I found that in conjunction with the other products, it left my hair feeling weighed down. So, my sister was delighted to give it a go instead, and gave me her thoughts on it. She prefers to let her hair dry naturally and "scrunch" it with product to give a curly effect. She used this in place of her usual Herbal Essences (in the purple tub, the name escapes me), and was very happy with the results. Her hair usually gets a little frizzy the day after washing, and that was significantly reduced. She also commented on how soft her hair was since using the creme (although she may have stolen some of the shampoo and conditioner in addition!)

If you fancy trying out the products for yourself, you can buy them from Boots where the entire range is currently on 3 for £12!

For expert advice on hairstyling, head over to the John Frieda Youtube channel where you have access to a plethora of videos on everything from the John Frieda ranges to creating professional-looking hairstyles.

Do you use any John Frieda products?


Saturday, 11 May 2013

My Gorgeous New Bag: Dolly Mack Designs

This morning, I fell in love... with a bag. After thinking for months it couldn't get any better than the infamous Zara Office City bag, it most definitely has. Meet my gorgeous new Dolly Mack Designs bag!

A couple of months ago, I received an email from the lovely Nicole telling me I'd won one of Allie's gorgeous hand made bags. Allie runs Dolly Mack Designs and is incredibly talented in creating personalised, high quality jute bags. I liased with her, creating a bag that represented me - you can customise the hair style and colour, eye colour, outfit and even accessories, so the bag is perfect for you! It's then finished with your name, lots of glitter and a bow. I can't wait to show off my brand new bag to all of my friends, who will definitely be green with jealousy! 

The service I received from Allie was fantastic, she is friendly and very talented! Ordering your own bag is easy - just complete the order form and watch the space. It was torture seeing photos of everybody else's bags while mine was being made, but it was definitely worth the wait!

Dolly Mack hand-customised bags start from £25 for a medium bag and £30 for a large bag (mine is a large). To check out all of Allie's designs, visit her Facebook page here.

What do you think of my new bag?


Friday, 19 April 2013

Banishing the Blemishes #002 - Ren Clearcalm

Part 2 of my Banishing the Blemishes series comes from a natural skincare company called Ren. Again, having heard amazing things about Ren all over the blogosphere, I was so excited to be able to try out the Clearcalm range. Ren pride theirselves in producing products free from synthetic fragrance/colour, PEGS, parabens and propylene glycol. 

I received the Clearcalm range to try out, best suited to blemish-prone skin. The set compromises of cleanser, mask, moisturiser and night serum. Unfortunatley, the day moisturiser has been discontinued, but the tzone balancing fluid is a fanatstic substitute.

This cleanser is unlike anything I've ever used before, it is clay-based, so has quite a firm consistency, very similar to the mask. It is full of gorgeous natural ingredients such as french clay, salicilin and mayblossom to deep cleanse and detoxify the skin. I really like this cleanser, I feel it really calms down my skin and also any angry blemishes I may have. It is quite hard to remove on its own, due to the clay-base, so I like to use a warm muslin to remove, in the same way you would a hot cloth cleanser. I have already ordered the full size version of this, and would highly recommend it if you currently enjoy using a hot cloth cleanser, but maybe your skin is acting up a little.

This mask is fantastic, the real star of the range. In conjunction with the cleanser, it works wonders. It contains very similar ingredients to the cleanser, and does a wonderful job of clearing up any blemishes you may have. It has a very potent scent, but nothing too awful - I can definitely ignore the scent for the results it gives! I only apply the mask to areas where I have an active breakout, because it is very concentrated and can be a little drying. I think I've hit a winner here! I even apply it to individual under-the-skin spots as it does a great job of drawing them to a head. I am counting down the days until payday, when I can indulge in the full size!

This moisturiser really lives up to its name. This lavender scented gel contains an exotic mix of essential oils to mattify and balance the skin, as well as protecting the skin from free radicals. This would be the perfect moisturiser for combination skin had it contained some SPF. I always use SPF during the day, so was a little disappointed at this. For this reason, I like to apply a moisturiser with SPF after, which also gives me a little more moisture for the colder months. Nevertheless, it is a great mattifying moisturiser and keeps me shine free (almost) all day.

The serum-gel hybrid contains licorice to reduce sebum production and lingonberry extract to correct hyperpigmentation. It feels extremely light and comfortable on the skin, and is absorbed by the skin almost immediately. I can't really comment on hyperpigmentation, because if something drastically improved hyperpigmentation in 2 weeks, it would be a miracle worker. However, when applying this, I wake up with super soft and glowing skin, almost as if I've applied a liquid exfoliator such as Alpha H liquid gold. It's not quite moisturising enough for winter, however, I will definitely be reaching for this gem during the summer months when my skin is an oily mess!

I have thoroughly enjoyed trialing the Ren Clearcalm range, and it definitely contains some gems! As aforementioned, I have already bought the full sized version of the cleanser, and am waiting on payday before I buy the mask! If I had to recommend you one item from the range, it would definitely be the cleanser. I can't see my skincare routine without it, and in the long term, I'm sure it will whip my troublesome skin in to shape.

Have you ever tried anything from Ren?