Tuesday 29 July 2014

Polka Dot Angel

Dress - The Whitepepper / Shoes - IKRUSH* / Socks - American Apparel
Necklace - Your Fashion Jewellery* / Bracelet - Black Tied / Rings - ASOS

After a quick break I'm back with an outfit post! The school Summer holidays are finally here which is why I've been a bit absent from the Internet lately. Blogging becomes a bit trickier with a four year old to entertain all day long! Andy also had the last few weeks off from work so we've all been spending time together as a family. We've been doing up the house a bit & going on lots of adventures including our yearly trip to York Maze which is always an awesome time. I've really been enjoying the weather this year as well. I'm normally a bit of a vampire during the Summer because I hate getting even the faintest hint of tan. I've just gone overboard with the sun protection, finally got my hands on a decent sun hat & now I'm happy to spend all day basking in the sun. And good weather means I can splurge on new pairs of cute high waisted shorts & plenty of pretty dresses.

Words cannot express how much I love The Whitepepper. They're pretty much the only independent clothing brand that I constantly check out & buy from. I would quite happily have an entire wardrobe comprised solely of their clothes if only they weren't quite so expensive. This is my fourth of their Angel smock dresses as I can't get enough of their cute & slouchy style. The material of this navy polka dot dress is lightweight, silky & floaty - perfect for Summertime. The Angel dresses are really oversized so I always buy them in size XS or S, the shape is more flattering that way. Dresses with pockets get a big thumbs up from me too. You can wear them to hide a multitude of sins including flabby arms & food babies. Now that's my kinda dress! My obsession with jelly shoes lives on with these silver glitter flatform sandals from IKRUSH. Jelly flatforms have to be the comfiest heels ever! I personally think they look best worn with a pair of frilly socks like these cute ones from American Apparel. I was recently sent this lovely multi-chain silver cross necklace from Your Fashion Jewellery & I think it's a great statement piece. The obsession I have with cross jewellery doesn't seem to be dying down anytime soon either!

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Tuesday 8 July 2014

SkinChemists Bee Venom Repair & Protect

SkinChemists Bee Venom Repair & Protect* - £79.95

After being blown away the sheer amazingness of SkinChemists Rapid Facial mask I had high hopes for this bee venom-infused skin treatment. There's been a lot of buzz about products with bee venom in ever since people like Victoria Beckham, Kylie Minogue & Kate Middleton declared themselves as fans. But is it a gimmick or is bee venom really the answer to all your skin woes? Bee venom contains a peptide called Melittin. Applying this substance tricks your body into thinking you’ve been stung for real which causes your skin to increase it's collagen production & promotes healing. It's similar to a topical version of Botox because it essentially paralyses the skin to keep it from wrinkling. It also has anti-bacterial properties which can help to heal blemishes.

SkinChemists have used this science behind the skin benefits of bee venom to create the Bee Venom Repair & Protect. This is a targeted treatment that claims to soothe & heal blemishes and have an instant effect on the visibility of spots. Alongside the bee venom this product features Manuka honey which is well known for it's anti-microbial & anti-inflammatory properties. It hydrates & heals the skin, naturally enhancing the skin renewal process. Another key ingredient is Allantoin which promotes further healing. The treatment itself comes in a little tube with an applicator wand. You simply use this to apply the product directly onto the affected area. It smells a bit like a mixture of alcohol & honey. The white substance feels smooth & creamy and is pleasant to use. Just in case you were concerned about the whole bee sting thing, don't worry, bee venom products aren't painful at all. It dries invisible with a matte finish so it would be great to keep with you for continued application throughout the day. The tube is easy to pop in your handbag & it can be used on clean skin or on top of your makeup.

Unfortunately this did nothing for my blemishes. Even when I kept on applying it several times a day it did nothing for the pain, size or appearance of my spots. I don't know if it's because my skin has become accustomed to acids & retinol that it hasn't worked for me but I would've expected this to have at least some effect on my active spots. The Manuka honey kept the area hydrated but otherwise my skin didn't benefit from this product. I can't say that I think it's worth that hefty price tag at all. For eighty quid I would expect a spot treatment to completely eradicate my blemishes within hours. It was certainly an interesting concept but sadly I don't think bee venom products are for me.

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Monday 7 July 2014

Beauty Duos: Fast Drying Nails

Mavala Mavadry Spray / Mavala Mavadry Top Coat

There's nothing worse than spending ages manicuring your nails to perfection only to smudge them ten minutes later. As a busy mum I never have time to let my nails dry properly. If I want to paint my nails I have to get it done fast which inevitably leads to smears & fabric imprints. For years I've relied on Seche Vite to speed up the drying process but it still wasn't quick enough for me. I'm not too keen on the excessive gloopiness or how it makes your polish peel either. But I've finally come across a solution. Enter this marvellous Mavala Mavadry twosome.

The Mavadry top coat is one of the fastest drying top coats I've come across. It gets to work right away leaving your manicure touchable within a matter of seconds. It appears pale pink in the bottle but applies clear giving your nail polish an incredible glossy finish. Your nails still look wet long after the polish has dried. It doesn't make your polish peel or shrink but it isn't that great at preventing chips. However if you combine it with a good basecoat (my current fave is Sally Hansen Maximum Growth) then your nails will be totally sorted for about a week.

After applying the top coat I like to finish things off with the Mavadry spray. This really cements everything into place & encourages further drying to prevent any chance of smearage. You just need to wait a minute for your top coat to fully dry & then spray this over each nail from about 30cm away. This extra coat reduces chipping & adds lustre with even more protection. It has an oily texture which adds a hint of moisture whilst it dries the polish. The smell is a bit chemical but it's worth it to be able to use your hands again so soon after painting your nails. It's a quick routine for perfectly polished nails. Although you can use the top coat & spray separately I think they complement each other brilliantly. Sometimes good products become truly great when you combine them together.

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Sunday 6 July 2014

Eucerin DermoPurifyer Active Concentrate

Eucerin DermoPurifyer Active Concentrate* - £9

If you've been reading my blog for a while then I shouldn't have to explain my lurve of acidic skincare products. If not then you should know that products containing alpha hydroxy acids are fantastic at clearing up all kinds of skin problems, especially acne. The acid that I've found to be most effective on the type of blemishes I'm prone to is lactic acid. My holy grail Elemis cleanser features lactic acid found in fruit enzymes which makes it gentle enough to use every day. However if you're really suffering from bad spots then an acidic cleanser might not be enough for your skin considering you're gonna wash it all off a minute later. So when Escentual introduced me to their latest skincare brand Eucerin, their DermoPurifyer Active Concentrate immediately caught my eye.

The DermoPurifyer range is Eucerin's collection of blemish busting products. They work by fighting against four key factors responsible for the formation of acne & blemished skin which are: excessive sebum production, clogged pores, bacteria growth & inflammation. Most of the products in this line contain either salicylic or lactic acid. The reason I was so interested in the Active Concentrate is because this is a lightweight serum that uses lactic acid. It's a highly potent spot fighting serum making it ideal for those wanting to achieve optimum results in a short amount of time. The acid in this product has a comedolytic effect which means that it unclogs pores & reduces comedones. One of the other ingredients in this product, decandiol, helps to prevent the further development of blemishes so Active Concentrate is also recommended as a preventative measure to keep your skin looking clear in the long run.

The formula is very light & fluid so it sinks into the skin quite easily & makes my skin feel silky. I tend to only apply it where my skin looks a bit congested or is breaking out. I've been using this at night before applying my moisturiser because I'm a bit paranoid about overdoing it with the AHAs during the Summer. If you have really oily skin Eucerin claim that you could get away with just using this instead of a moisturiser. Don't forget to apply sun protection afterwards though! One thing I cannot stand about this product is the smell. It's like a mixture of industrial strength soap & old man aftershave. Luckily it soon dissipates & you can't smell it at all. Pungent or not, the effects are well worth it. I've been using this product for about a month now and I've definitely noticed that I've had less congestion & fewer angry blemishes. I struggle to shift the little bumps on my forehead but this has worked really well on them. It's not quite as effective on my closed comedones as retinol is but this is light enough to use everyday without being harsh on the skin. Plus you can also apply it before your makeup to help fight against spots during the day as well as at night. Active Concentrate is a very affordable yet effective way of clarifying the skin & it's so easy to slip this product into your current skincare routine.

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Saturday 5 July 2014

Ten Of The Best Beauty Subreddits

If you're not already a member of Reddit then you're missing out on a treasure trove of information & entertainment. Along with Tumblr, Reddit is one of my favourite places to waste time on the Internet. Their tagline is 'The front page of the Internet' and that's a pretty accurate description of what it is. Users post links, images, articles or ask questions to start a discussion & others can reply or upvote/downvote the post and it's comments. Once you get used to the format Reddit becomes really fun & addictive. I suggest getting the AlienBlue app for iPhone/iPad & Reddit Enhancement Suite for your browser. No matter what you're interested in there's bound to be a Subreddit for it. I love /r/WTF for grossing myself out and on /r/IAmA you can often ask celebrities anything you want to know. I always check out /r/3DS, /r/gameofthrones, /r/britishproblems & /r/rupaulsdragrace too. What you might not realise is that there's a huge beauty community on Reddit where you can find a lot of information that you won't necessarily read on blogs or in #bbloggers chats. Obviously running a blog is a lot of work so not every beauty lover has one. Reddit is a great way to read about products or routines that non-bloggers recommend. It's also a brilliant place to share your own blog posts. Here's some of my favourite beauty Subreddits that I think many of you will enjoy.

/r/SkincareAddiction: As an obvious skincare addict this is the beauty Subreddit I check the most. A lot of the product recommendations are American but the knowledge is sound. You can ask for help with your current skincare routine & people will point out where you might be going wrong. I've read a lot of interesting advice about AHAs/BHAs & Retinoids here. There's some very helpful info about sun protection products too. Did you know that the clogged pores on your nose aren't actually blackheads but sebaceous filaments? That's just one of the many things I've learned there ;)

/r/Beauty: This is a general Subreddit for all things beauty related. People always share interesting articles here. Again it's a great place to ask for advice or product recommendations.

/r/NaturalBeauty: As the name suggests this Subreddit is all about natural beauty products. I'd definitely recommend checking this one out if you're making the switch to natural skincare products or makeup. There's often posts about DIY beauty products too which is really cool.

/r/MakeupAddicts: There are several makeup Subreddits but this one is my favourite as there's a nice balance between FOTDs, swatches, advice & reviews. I especially enjoy the rant/rave threads as other members give quick but useful summaries of what they've been loving & loathing that week.

/r/BeautyDiagrams: This board is dedicated to detailed tutorials, how-to posts & videos. This is a really helpful Subreddit if you're trying to figure out how to contour or pull off a smokey eye. They post some amazing hair tutorials too.

/r/AsianBeauty: This is a wonderful resource for reviews & swatches of Korean, Chinese & Japanese beauty products. If you want to check out swatches of BB Creams or Etude House lip products then this is the place to go. Asian SPF products are often superior to the ones we can get over here so you can find out more about those too.

/r/RedditLaqueristas: I like this Subreddit when I'm looking for nailspiration as people often post cool nail art here. It's another way to find swatches of polishes & read about different nail polish brands.

/r/HaircareScience: If you're having problems with your hair then you can ask for advice here. There's lots of product recommendations for specific hair & scalp issues. If you're interested in the science behind co-washing, keratin treatments, silicones or sulphates then there's a lot of relevant information on this forum.

/r/FancyFollicles: This is mainly a Subreddit for people to share pictures of their hair but it's a good place to look before you book a hair appointment. I like all the posts with pastel/weird hair colours as it's nice to know exactly which dyes people have used to achieve their look.

/r/TheGirlSurvivalGuide: This is another more general Subreddit but they post some awesome 'life hacks' for girls. There's advice on a whole host of subjects including contraception, periods, supplements, anxiety, work & exercise as well as the usual hair, skin, makeup, nails etc. One of the great things about Reddit is that there are few restrictions so you can be as TMI as you want. Feel free to share all your embarrassing girl problems here.

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Friday 4 July 2014

June Favourites

Essie Spin The Bottle*
This Summer is all about nude shades for me. My current favourite nail polish is Essie's Spin The Bottle. It's a milky creamy peach colour that blends in well with my skintone. I actually really like the mannequin hands look haha. Unlike many nude polishes this goes fully opaque in two coats. I can't stand sheer polishes so this is much more my style. It's such a flattering colour & would look perfect adorning your digits whilst relaxing on the beach. Check out my swatches here.

Illamasqua Eye Brow Cake in Motto
I'm becoming slightly obsessed with trying new brow products much like the way that I compulsively purchased nearly every highlighter going a couple of years ago. If I want to use a powder on my eyebrows I normally go for MAC Omega eyeshadow as it's a very natural looking soft taupe shade. I've had my eye on Illamasqua's Eye Brow Cakes for quite a while though as I really love those dramatic Illamasqua style brows. As I have ashy blonde hair & dark eyebrows I went for the shade Motto. It looks very grey in the pan but it actually works brilliantly on anyone with cool-toned hair. There's no red tones or warmth in it at all. The power is buttery soft & very easy to apply. It is highly pigmented & stays put all day long. You can use it wet or dry depending on how you want your brows to look. Mix it with a drop of Illamasqua Sealing Gel for extra drama. I think the texture is what makes it superior to my good old MAC Omega. Somehow it's easier to get really thick & full brows that still look natural. There's something special about these Eye Brow Cakes, I can't recommend them enough!

Claudia Louch Chamomile Face Wash*
To give my skin a break from all the acid treatments I like to balance out my skincare routine with some gentler products. This is a soothing gel cleanser from Claudia Louch's botanical skincare range. The combination of chamomile, red clover, elderflower extracts & white willow bark extract really calms everything down & naturally relieves any inflammation in the skin. People tend to think of gel cleansers as something that will strip the skin but as all the Claudia Louch products are 94% natural & free from harsh chemicals that isn't an issue here. It cleanses without leaving my face feeling dry or taut, simply nourished & refreshed. This would be a really brilliant cleanser for anyone with sensitive skin. Full review here.

Elemis Soothing Apricot Toner
When I recently repurchased my fave Elemis Tri-Enzyme Resurfacing Facial Wash I noticed that Gorgeous Shop had a special offer on where you could get both the cleanser & this toner for just £25. I've always wanted to try one of Elemis' toners so it was too good a deal to pass up. The Soothing Apricot Toner maintains the skin's pH level without alcohol or harsh chemicals so it doesn't strip the skin of it's natural oils. It is very gentle so it would be suitable for those with sensitive, delicate or hormonal skin. As the name suggests this toner has a delicious apricot scent & feels very calming on the skin. It helps to reduce redness & soothe any irritation. You can apply it with some cotton wool or by spraying it directly on your face. It makes my skin feel a bit sticky but that soon goes away after I apply my moisturiser. I sometimes take this out with me to cool down as the temperature rises. A quick spritz of this toner keeps my skin looking fresh & radiant, lovely!

SkinChemists Rapid Facial*
This face mask is simply incredible and so it should be considering it's insane price tag. If you have blemishes, blackheads, blocked pores, congestion or dull skin then this stuff will work wonders for you. This mask uses glycolic acid to chemically exfoliate the skin & it also contains some grainy particles for a bit of manual exfoliation too. It feels very tingly on the skin but it doesn't make my face look red or irritated at all. It completely clears out the skin & resurfaces it leaving your face feeling super smooth. My skin is left looking glowy & bright too. The results are almost as good as going for a proper spa facial. If only it came with a fluffy white gown & some brownies! Make sure you check out the SkinChemists special offers page as they often lower the price of their products to just £19.99. Read my full review here.

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