Friday, 15 August 2014

British Summer Essentials

There's nothing quite as unpredictable as the Great British Summer. One day the sun will be shining brighter than ever before... then the next day we'll get non-stop wind & rain. If you're having a UK staycation this year then it's best to be prepared for every eventuality. I've teamed up with luxury accessories brand Folli Follie to give you a few ideas of which things to take with you, whatever the weather. Last month they sent me the most amazing selection of goodies & I'm over the moon with everything I received. Here are my British Summer Essentials...

First of all you'll need a bag to carry around all of your belongings. You'd be hard pressed to find a more beautiful one than the Heart4Heart Shoulder Bag*. I was so excited when this arrived in the post, this bag is just incredibly stunning! It is available in five different colours but I think the red looks best. It's so bright & Summery but will look stylish all year round. I love pairing monochrome outfits with colourful accessories like this. I adore the rose gold hardware, especially that clover shaped lock. Everything about the bag just screams quality. Not only does it look gorgeous but there is tons of room inside & plenty of compartments to keep everything organised. It feels sturdy yet lightweight so it's a brilliant choice for your travels.

I was also sent these awesome tortoiseshell effect wayfarer sunglasses. How cute is the little orange case they came with?! The attention to detail is phenomenal. I really like how the four leaf clover theme is carried through their designs. The glasses feel very comfortable to wear & the lenses offer 100% UV ray protection. The wayfarer style is a classic & again the quality is top notch. Something else I've loved wearing this Summer is my black straw fedora hat from River Island. It's helped to protect my bleached hair from the sun & provide some shade for my face. I think it finishes off an outfit rather nicely too!

Although the UK weather is capable of doling out some wicked sunburn, we often don't see enough sun to develop a real tan. Even if you want to catch some rays you still need to wear some form of protection. Shiseido make some truly lovely sun protection products. I really like their Protective Tanning Cream N SPF 10*. It offers light protection & imparts a beautiful glow to the skin. The formula is very lightweight so it absorbs quickly & the tanner gives you a healthy looking natural golden colour. In a similar vein the Nivea Sun Protect & Bronze Spray SPF 10 contains a natural plant extract which helps support the production of melanin. Using this spray lotion will help to protect your skin & boost your ability to get a tan. If you're too busy for sunbathing then you can't beat a bit of fake tan. Admittedly I'm not a self tanning connoisseur but I've been very impressed with Lauren's Way Glam Tan*. The thought of tanning my whole body is quite scary to me but I've been using it on my legs to give them a bit of colour. The spray makes it very easy to apply & the colour is deep yet natural looking - not orange!

If you're incredibly pale like me then you should probably stick to using products with a high SPF. Most people seem to forget that your lips can actually get sunburned so it's important to use a lip balm that can protect your lips. I love this strawberry lip balm from EOS*. This flavour doesn't have sun protection but their lemon drop lip balm boasts SPF 15 so make sure you get that one! The formula is deeply hydrating & feels lovely on the lips. My favourite facial sunscreen is Soap & Glory's Sunshield Superfluid SPF 50. I use chemical exfoliants all year round so I always wear SPF 50 but it's especially important to protect your face during the Summer. I like this one because it doesn't leave a white cast, it doesn't feel greasy & it doesn't break me out. Check out my full review here. I always use this Nivea Sun Protect & Refresh Spray on my body. It offers SPF 50 & the spray is invisible so it won't leave horrid marks all over your clothes. It's easy to apply & feels cooling on the skin. I highly recommend it!

I love spending time in the sun but sometimes the heat can make you feel gross & uncomfortable. To make things a little more bearable during the recent heatwave I relied on these few products. The most important thing to carry with you is a bottle of water. It'll keep you hydrated and stocking up on them at home will save you a few pennies when you're out & about. It's a good idea to carry a dry shampoo with you during the Summer months. Sweaty hair is never a good look. I always buy Batiste products because they're cheap & get the job done. I hadn't tried their Pretty & Delicate Floral Dry Shampoo* before but the scent is really sweet & feminine - a new fave! I love the packaging too. I couldn't live without a bottle of Caudalie Beauty Elixir in my handbag. It's the perfect facial refresher with an addictive herbal scent. I use it throughout the day to perk up my skin & clear my mind. After a few hours in the sun my body starts to feel overly hot & sticky. Arran Aromatics have come up with the best solution for this short of taking a cold shower. Their Aloe Vera Energising Gel* is a wonderful quick reinvigorator for the body. It instantly cools down the skin & works well on sunburn. I always carry a bottle of hand sanitiser with me. If you're eating on the go or having a picnic then you don't want mucky hands. I really like the ones from The Body Shop. They come in loads of different scents but I'm currently using the Pink Grapefruit Hand Cleanse Gel. It smells so nice! A little pocket fan like this one can feel terrific when you're getting hot & bothered. Spray the Beauty Elixir or rub on some of the body gel first then use the fan on those areas. Say hello to instantly cooler skin.

Of course if everything goes wrong & the rest of the Summer is a washout then you'll need a good umbrella. I really like cute bubble ones like this as they seem to keep the rain out much better than your average brolly. Even if it doesn't rain then an umbrella can double up as a parasol so you can chill out in the shade no matter where you are.

What are your British Summer essentials?

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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Free From Frizz 6 Week Blowout Kit

Free From Frizz 6 Week Blowout Kit* - £26.97

Although my hair is naturally straight, I suffer from frizzy locks. My penchant for bleach certainly doesn't help matters & I rely on heavy duty conditioning treatments to keep it from looking damaged. A lot of my strengthening products contain keratin which is a protein that your hair is actually made of. By adding more keratin to your hair you can smooth out the surface of the follicles which boosts shine, prevents breakage & fights frizz. I've always wanted to go and have a keratin treatment in my hair salon but they are very expensive & can take hours. God knows I spend long enough there getting my roots done! Not only that but traditional keratin treatments are known to be carcinogenic due to the use of formaldehyde. So the idea of an at-home keratin treatment was a lot more appealing to me. Free From Frizz have produced a safe & easy to use treatment that can keep your hair de-frizzed for up to six weeks. It is suitable for all hair types including coloured hair. You can even use it on hair extensions! They have a mango scented kit available for thick/coarse hair but as I have normal/fine hair I've been testing out their watermelon set.

Free From Frizz have the cutest packaging! I love how the box is designed to look like a milk carton. The Blowout Kit comes with a pre-cleanser, a Denman brush & the active keratin treatment. You also get a pair of gloves & an instruction leaflet. The process is quite simple but there are still some parts which can make the treatment unpleasant to use. To start off you simply wash your hair twice using the pre-cleanser & comb through using the brush provided. Then you towel-dry the hair before dividing it into three sections. The next step is to apply the active keratin treatment using the nozzle to cover your hair evenly & brush it through again. You then leave the treatment on for about 40 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water. The treatment has the worst stench, kinda like rotten eggs. Be prepared to smell even after washing it off. Despite the awful smell, all of that was incredibly easy to do. However the next part is where things become a little less pleasant...

It's always been drilled into me over the years to never straighten my hair when it's wet so for the Blowout Kit to tell me to do the exact opposite felt really wrong. After rinsing the treatment out you then have to dry your hair again but still leave it a bit damp. Then you grab your hair straighteners, section off your hair & straighten each section six times! I hardly ever use straighteners or curlers because I know how much they can damage my already damaged hair so I was really worried about wrecking my hair. Nonetheless I proceeded with the treatment & went to town with the straighteners. It took ages to make sure all my hair had been straightened properly. This process left my hair feeling really dry with a horrible chemical scent. The real kicker is that you have to leave your hair like this for the next 48 hours to allow the product to 'fix'. The 48 hour wait is definitely the worst part of the treatment. During this time you can't wash or tie up your hair. You just have to smell a bit gross until you can finally get in the shower again. I'd suggest doing the treatment on a Friday night & hibernating all weekend. Then you can wash your hair on Monday morning & spend the rest of the day with your new beautiful glossy locks.

If you purchase the full treatment set you will also receive the Free From Frizz Blowout Shampoo & Conditioner. These frizz busting aftercare products will keep to keep your hair soft & healthy after the treatment. You can use these separately but their effects will be maximised if you combine them with the Blowout Kit. The watermelon products smell absolutely incredible! They're a welcome respite from the horrible eggy smell of the treatment. I love their packaging too. I remember spotting these in Boots & thinking they were drinks. They'll impart a delicious fruity scent to your locks & keep frizz under control. They're great for dealing with humidity even if you haven't used the kit beforehand. When the 48 hours of hell were finally up I washed my hair using this duo. Even when I was just washing my hair I could immediately tell how much silkier it felt. Blowdrying my hair afterwards was quicker & easier than usual as I didn't have to use a rounded brush to work out all the kinks. Drying my hair is the bane of my life but after the treatment everything was left perfectly sleek & bouncy with minimal effort.

And here are my results! I took these photos about a week after the treatment. I'm very happy with the appearance of my hair yet I still feel slightly conflicted about using the Blowout Kit. The treatment made my hair really soft & shiny. I don't think it's ever looked quite so glossy before. It definitely reduces the signs of damage & left my hair frizz-free for ages. I wouldn't say it lasted the full six weeks, more like three but I still think that's pretty good! The ends were left feeling rather dry though, probably from having to straighten my hair so much. As my hair is already quite damaged from bleaching I don't think I would use the kit again. The excessive straightening really wasn't good for the overall condition of my hair even though the keratin treatment made it look healthier. However if I had natural hair I wouldn't hesitate to buy it again. The shampoo & conditioner are really lovely so I'll continue to use them to reduce frizz & for that utterly gorgeous watermelon scent. Have you tried any Free From Frizz products yet?

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Monday, 11 August 2014

In-Shower Moisturisers

L'Occitane Almond Shower Oil / Nivea In-Shower Body Moisturiser* / Lush African Paradise

When you're as lazy as I am, an in-shower moisturiser can be a complete godsend. I always spend ages in the shower so when I'm finished I like to get dried off & dressed as soon as possible. Moisturising my body just never comes to mind when I've got a million other things to be getting on with. I am prone to patches of eczema though so it is quite important for me to keep my skin hydrated. That's why I prefer getting my moisturising done while I'm still in the bathroom. Luckily there are quite a few products out there now that can get the job done quick sticks.

If you're looking for a multi-purpose shower product you won't find anything better than L'Occitane's utterly gorgeous Almond Shower Oil. This does it all & smells amazing to boot! That beautiful almond scent lingers on the skin for hours. It works as a shower gel & body moisturiser in one so this is the best one to use if you're short on time. Despite being an oil it lathers up quite well and cleanses the skin without drying it out whatsoever. This shower oil is a real miracle worker if you suffer from eczema or psoriasis. It deeply nourishes those dry & irritated patches to reveal calmer, softer skin post-wash. I also love using this to shave with. It gives just the right amount of slip & helps me to get a closer shave around trickier areas like my knees. It is an expensive shower product but a little goes a very long way with this stuff. Each bottle lasts months & months for me so it's a worthy investment.

I always hear plenty of praise for the Nivea In-Shower Body Moisturisers. Nivea make several different versions of this product but I was sent the sea minerals one for normal skin. Unlike the L'Occitane one this product is only meant to condition the skin so you still have to use a shower gel or scrub beforehand. When you're done with everything else in the shower you simply massage some of this all over your body then rinse it off. The formula absorbs instantly so you're left with lovely soft skin after drying and get can get on with getting dressed right away. Although it isn't quite as luxurious as the other products it definitely does help to rehydrate any dry areas & smooth my skin. It's a brilliant budget buy that works surprisingly well. The sea minerals one doesn't smell that great though so I really want to try the pampering honey, nourishing cocoa & almond oil versions.

Having used up my tub of Ro's Argan Body Conditioner I decided to try out another Lush skin conditioner. After having my arm washed with several products instore (anyone else find this totally awkward?!) I decided to plump for African Paradise. At the time I didn't realise it but this product is actually pricier than the L'Occitane offering! This is a really indulgent treat for the skin. African Paradise combines loads of nourishing oils together including almond oil, moringa oil & marula oil with shea butter and cocoa butter plus a healthy dose of fresh mango juice. The resulting concoction is truly divine! The tropical scent is absolutely incredible & it stays on your skin all day long. I find it hard to stop sniffing myself whenever I use it. This is definitely the most hydrating skin conditioner. Nothing makes my skin feel softer. After washing it off my skin feels exactly the same as if I'd applied a regular body moisturiser but without any greasiness, stickiness or waiting around for it to absorb properly. It also features aloe vera to cool & soothe the skin which means that it can be used to treat irritation & sunburn as well. This is such a wonderful product & if you're desperately in need of some in-shower pampering then it's worth every single penny.

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