Tuesday, 21 June 2016

May Favourites

Innisfree Ampoule Intense Cushion SPF 34
Asian beauty products are becoming increasingly popular over here. I've been testing out quite a few different items recently & have completely fallen in love with cushion foundations. Brands like L'Oreal & Lancome have helped them to become more accessible in the UK. I really like the L'Oreal one but it still pales in comparison to a proper Korean cushion foundation. The main difference is that the Korean ones are refillable & it costs much less to refill a cushion than to buy a new one. They also aren't just a foundation, they have many different skincare benefits too. My current favourite is the Innisfree Ampoule Intense Cushion. This foundation is incredibly moisturising & really gives you that dewy skin look that is so popular in Korea. This cushion would be ideal for those with dry or dehydrated acne-prone skin. I have it in shade #13 & it's a perfect match for my skin colour. It provides light to medium coverage that still covers blemishes & scarring. It looks so natural on the skin whilst giving a poreless, flawless finish. The sponge blends everything out really well & application takes no time at all. This would be such a good base for the summertime as it feels so light on the skin & the compact is ideal for touching up throughout the day.

Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick
I always end up calling this brand Sum 41 for some reason but Su:m37 is actually a premium beauty brand from Korea that specialises in naturally fermented skincare. I am obsessed with their Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick! The name reminds me of a Sailor Moon weapon but this is one of the best cleansers I've ever tried. This cleanser is unique in that it's a twist up coconut oil-based stick infused with many essential oils & fermented damask rose extract. It also contains real rose petals which has to be to most luxurious way to gently exfoliate your skin. You just rub the stick over damp skin & it will delicately lather up before melting away any impurities. I use it by itself in the morning & as a second cleanser at night after removing my makeup. It is so hydrating, so gentle & would be ideal for all skin types.

Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence
The last Korean beauty product that I've been loving this month is Missha's First Treatment Essence. This hydrating water is legendary amongst Asian beauty fanatics as it is essentially a dupe for SK-II's Facial Treatment Essence. The SK-II version will set you back £115 whereas you can get the Missha FTE on eBay for about 20 quid! The main purpose of essences is to prep your face for other products. I normally use it after my chemical exfoliant & hydrating toner but before any serums or moisturisers. This helps anything I put on my skin afterwards to be more effective. I usually put about four drops on my hands & then gently pat it into my face. It feels just like water & is very refreshing. What makes this essence special is that it is enriched with 80% fermented yeast concentrate & niacinamide along with lots of other great skincare actives. The ingredients have many soothing, moisturising, brightening & anti-ageing properties. Since I started using this product my skin has felt better hydrated & looks a lot brighter. It works really well on redness & gives me a much more even looking complexion. Definitely check this out if glowing, softer, clearer skin is something you desire.

Bioderma Hydrabio Eau De Soin Moisturising Anti-UV Mist SPF 30
Facial sun protection is something that I use every single day, come rain or shine. However I am slightly guilty of not applying it correctly. I always slather the stuff on in the morning but I never reapply it during the day. There's just no easy way to do it without removing all of your makeup at the same time. That was until Bioderma came out with this amazing sun protection spray. You simply mist it on your face & your skin will be fully protected from the sun without ruining your makeup. It just feels like a hydrating facial water & it doesn't sting my eyes or disturb my makeup in any way. You still need to apply a normal sunscreen in the morning but this spray will allow you to keep topping up with SPF 30 whilst still looking fully glam.

OPI Original Nail Envy
My nails always grow really long without any effort on my part. However they also always break off or split so I finally decided to do something about it. I have put off buying OPI Nail Envy for years! I'd heard so many good things about it but the £18 price tag always put me off. I ended up buying it off eBay in a set with OPI Avoplex cuticle oil for just £15.99 & I'm so glad I did! My nails feel so much stronger now & I love how shiny it makes them look without proper nail polish. I do sometimes forget to apply it every other day but my nails are still reaping the benefits so it's clearly working for me. Avoplex is also pretty awesome & it has replaced my beloved Essie Apricot Oil as my cuticle treatment of choice. I love massaging it into my fingertips as it keeps everything looking smooth & healthy.

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Friday, 10 June 2016

Matcha & Ginger Baked Oats

Matcha tea is something that I simply can't get enough of. I tried my first matcha latte about three years ago & I've been hooked ever since. Matcha is basically a powdered version of green tea leaves. It has 137 times the antioxidants of regular green tea & a much smoother flavour. It can also be used in food, not just drinks. So far I've tried matcha oreos, pocky, ice cream, kit kats & swiss roll. The oreos were my favourite, I just picked them up from my local Chinese supermarket. Anyway I've been keen to try out some more baking recipes using matcha instead of just drinking it every morning. EatCleanTea are currently running a #SummerOfMatcha competition & asked me to come up with a recipe using one of their matcha powders. I'm still following the Slimming World diet so I decided to make something SW-friendly in the form of these delicious matcha & ginger baked oats.

EatCleanTea use the highest quality green tea leaves from Japan to make their matcha powders. Something I've never come across before is flavoured matcha so I was eager to try one of theirs out. I chose the Matcha & Ginger tea. They also do plain & mint matcha. The ginger variety tastes incredible & features many health benefits. The matcha increases your energy levels, boosts your metabolism & detoxifies your body. The ginger boosts your immune system, lowers your blood sugar & helps to relieve muscle soreness. It's also great if you suffer from frequent indigestion or nausea. This tea has the same mellow flavour of plain matcha but with a sweet & spicy kick from the ginger. It smells really strong & tastes a bit like fresh gingerbread.

I normally eat a bowl of porridge every day for breakfast as it's the only thing that actually fills me up & it fits into the Slimming World plan. 35g of oats counts as one healthy extra B. My consultant recently posted a recipe for baked oats on our Facebook group & it tasted just like cake! Everyone in my group is totally addicted to eating them. They make a nice change to having porridge every morning but are just as filling & even more scrumptious. As I have already tried mixing matcha into my porridge, I knew that the flavours would go well together. I figured that I could put my own spin on the recipe by using the tea to create matcha & ginger baked oats.

Here is the recipe that I used for my baked oats:

You will need
2 eggs
35g porridge oats (1 hexB or 6 syns)
2 tbsp sweetener
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla Muller Light yoghurt
1 tsp EatCleanTea Matcha & Ginger powder
2 tsp ginger preserve (1 syn)

Put all the ingredients except the ginger preserve in a bowl & whisk together.
Pour the mixture into a small oven-proof dish.
Drizzle the ginger preserve down the middle of the mixture in the dish.
Bake at 180°C/350°F for 25-30 minutes.

I'm really pleased with how the baked oats came out. They don't taste oaty or like a flapjack at all. The texture is like a very dense cake which is always fun to eat at breakfast time. It feels very indulgent yet is still completely on plan. The ginger matcha & ginger perserve both add a really fiery kick to the dish. This amount of matcha powder is sure to get you buzzing all day long. Let me know if you try it out!

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Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Teami Blends

Tea is something that I have become increasingly passionate about of late. For most of my life I only drank peppermint tea but there's a whole world of different blends to try out there. Over the past few months I've become a fully-fledged tea addict. I can't start my day without some matcha or lady grey & I can't go to bed without a cup of rooibos. Some of my favourite tea brands include Twinings, teapigs & Bluebird Tea Co. They've all created some amazing flavour combinations & I think it's incredible that I can drink tea that tastes exactly like birthday cake or mint choc chip ice cream! As well as being a delicious beverage, tea can also have many health benefits. Teatoxes continue to rise in popularity but you don't have to drink something that will wreak havoc on your bowels in order to improve your wellbeing. Teami Blends recently got in touch & asked if I would like to try out one of their loose leaf teas. They currently offer six unique blends of health-based tea which all have certain effects on the body. These include Teami Alive, Teami Relax, Teami Skinny, Teami Colon Cleanse & Teami Profit. As I could always do with a bit more energy I decided to go for their Teami Energy blend.

The Teami Energy* tea is made from a glorious blend of Oolong, Yerba Mate, Ginseng, Lemon Grass, Peppermint Leaf, Goji Berry & Rhodiola Rosea. The ingredients are all natural & rich in antioxidants. They also contain Vitamin A, B complex, C, D, E, Potassium & Magnesium. As the name suggests, this tea was developed to help you feel more energised & awake. I love drinking it first thing in the morning & just before that afternoon slump. It really helps me to focus on my work & get things done. I've found that it helps to push me a little bit further when I go to the gym too. If you're a coffee addict you might want to check this out as it will give you a natural boost throughout the day without keeping you up all night. Herbals teas aren't addictive like caffeine so you won't become dependant on it. Some of the other health benefits include boosting your immune system, improving mental alertness, aiding digestion, suppressing cravings, increasing concentration, enhancing productivity & raising cardiovascular endurance.

Tea can do so many things to enhance our wellbeing. Even the ritual of making tea is a relaxing process & can be an important part of self-care. But for tea to be truly enjoyable it has to taste good too. Teami Energy has a very strong herbal taste. One of the reasons I chose it was because I love the flavour of oolong & yerba mate. It very much reminds me of the tea you get in Chinese restaurants. The peppermint leaves give it a nice refreshing lift. I think it tastes delicious by itself but if herbal teas aren't your thing you can sweeten it up by adding a bit of honey or lemon.

When I first heard of Teami Blends it wasn't actually because of their teas. A few weeks before they contacted me I had spotted their Teami Tea Tumbler on Facebook & immediately snapped one up. I've recently gotten into brewing loose leaf tea & I've been trying out a few different tea making accessories. I did have two loose leaf teapots but they both smashed so I ended up just placing the infuser baskets from them directly into my cup. I'd say that this is the easiest way to brew tea but I hated cleaning all the tiny leaves out of the mesh baskets as they would always get stuck in them. This bottle seemed like the perfect solution & I'm completely obsessed with it!

The 400ml leakproof tea tumbler allows you to brew your tea & drink it whilst you're on-the-go. You simply remove the lid & mesh insert, place a teaspoon of leaves into the cup & fill it up with boiled water. Then you just pop the mesh insert & lid back on before allowing your tea to steep for a few minutes. It features double layered walls which keeps hot drinks hot without burning your fingers & cold drinks cold without any condensation. It's made from BPA-free plastic so it's completely safe to drink from & there's no danger of me smashing it like my ill-fated teapots! The mesh insert works extremely well & prevents any particles from getting in your mouth. It's also super easy to clean which encourages me to use it even when I'm at home.

The only real downside to it is that you can't remove the tea leaves once you've brewed the tea. Most teas will recommend that you steep them in boiled water for about 4 minutes before removing the leaves. I like to drink pretty strong tea so when I use teabags I often leave them in the cup. But for certain types of tea, green tea in particular, the flavour can become impaired if you steep it for too long. I really dislike the dry, bitter aftertaste you sometimes get from green tea so I always make sure I remove the teabag or leaves promptly. Teami Energy still tastes fantastic but I'd just be careful if you want to brew other teas in this cup with a shorter steeping time.

Teami Blends' loose leaf teas are priced at £19.99 for a 65g pack but they have kindly given all of you a discount code! You can get 10% off by entering SPARKLY at the checkout. They also offer free delivery on all UK orders. Even if you don't particularly like the sound of the teas they have available I would highly recommend getting one of their tea tumblers. It will revolutionise the way you make loose leaf tea forever!

Have you tried Teami Blends before? What is your favourite tea?

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