Monday, 31 January 2011

My Favourite Night-time Treatments

I have always been meticulous when it comes to making sure my skin has been thoroughly cleansed, toned and moisturised.  Night time is when your skin rejuvenates and repairs itself so it's really important to make sure you're making the most of it if you want good skin.

I have a skincare/hair routine that I go through every night before bed and it never takes more than about 20 mins.  This routine ensures that my skin and hair always look their best and I have a few stand out products that really make a big difference.

The first one is a product that I was sent some time ago and it's Rodial's Glamtox night, a gel formulation that "contains a gentle retinol which works to re-surface, thicken and plump the skin whilst reducing pore size. The skin will gain an energized and radiant glow come morning. glamtox night also works to strip away hyperpigmentation creating a light and bright skin tone".  This treatment is mega expensive at £90.00 and to be honest I would only buy this as a HUGE treat for myself because it's hard to justify buying skincare for that amount of money.  I've been using it for around 7 weeks now and I have definitely noticed that my skin looks more radiant, plumped and even. 

If you feel like £90.00 is way out of your price range, and let's face it, most people wouldn't want to pay that much for a serum, then Rodial do a sample pack of the product (containing 10 x 1ml sachets) for £10.50.  I think this would be a great way to determine whether this product is for you and also you could just use it once or twice a week as a skin boost instead of using it every single night.  When my one runs out I will be doing exactly that!  I find that you only need half a pump of the gel because a little goes a long way.

Next up is my favourite brand of soap/moisturiser, Dove.  I will ONLY use Dove soap and I use the Dove Body Silk Cream on my face every morning because it lasts forever, keeps my skin super soft and makes a great non-greasy base for makeup.  For an extra boost of hydration, I use Dove Rich Moisturising Creme before bedtime if my skin is feeling a bit parched.  It's great value for money because you get a big 150ml tin for only £1.99 and you only need a small amount for each application.  It's great for areas of the body that are prone to dryness like elbows and knees.

My favourite body moisturiser is Origins Ginger Souffle Whipped Body Cream but only as a night-time treat fot my skin as the fragrance would probably interfere with my perfume.  I know whenever I apply this before bedtime, I will wake up with silky smooth skin and a gorgeous warm aroma of lemon and ginger.  The scent is something I never get sick of, it's just so yummy!  This is the perfect body cream to apply just after exfoliation because it's easily absorbed and very rich.

My feet always need that extra helping hand to stay smooth and soft because I'm a high heels fan.  My feet can get battered sometimes so it's important to get the PedEgg and foot file out every week.  In between this though, it's great to apply a rich foot cream to keep the skin as hydrated as possible.  My foot cream of choice is Soap & Glory Heel Genius because it always leave my feet feeling refreshed, hydrated and smelling lovely.  It's a great foot cream to apply before slipping on some cotton socks to further intensify the treatment.  It's the best foot cream I have found to date and this is my third tube of the stuff!

I apply lip balm every single night because I hate having flaky lips, which often happens in winter.  I haven't suffered from that in a long time because this Korres Guava Lip Butter keeps my lips incredibly soft and smooth.  I adore these lip butters and have them in a few different shades because they are just such a pleasure to use.  Your lips instantly feel better when you apply them and the Shea Butter and Rice Wax work their magic in no time.  I slather on a thick layer to my lips just before bed and ALWAYS have one of them in my bag when I go about my daily business.  In my opinion, these are the best tinted  lip balms in the medium price range of £6.00.  You have to try them! My favourites are the Guava, Jasmine and Pomegranate ones.

When it comes to "that time of the month", I sometimes get a breakout or two on my jawline and they are always those really sore spots that seem to take ages to go away.  I always rely on an aspirin mask to get rid of them but it's always nice to be able to apply something before your makeup to prevent and further infection or irritation.  By doubling up your defences, the blemishes will vanish even quicker...this is especially important when you have a special event to go to.  Spots can really dent your confidence and you get paranoid that everyone is looking at it/them.  I have found that Origins Spot Remover Anti-Blemish Treatment Gel is fabulous at reducing the size and redness of spots when worn in the daytime and at night.  It contains Salicylic Acid, Witch Hazel, Oregano and Clove Buds to "zoom in on even the angriest blemishes to speed their banishment and reduce the look of redness".  The instructions read as follows: Cover affected area with a thin layer. Begin with one application daily, increase to 2 to 3 times daily if needed. If dryness or peeling occurs, reduce frequency of application. Wear under makeup or alone.  This product helped to clear up the small cyst-like spots I had on my jawline in a couple of days.  Perfect!

I like to treat my hair to an overnight moisturising boost at least twice a week because blonde highlighted hair can get very dry, very quickly.  To ensure my hair stays silky soft and looking healthy, I apply Alterna Overnight Hair Rescue which "awaken to smoother, softer hair thanks to this fabulous overnight treatment which harnesses micro hair proteins and amino acids to penetrate your hair from within, bio-identical hair lipids restore shine and elasticity whilst positively charged ions restore your hairs natural softness.  This transforming treatment has a cumulative result, so the more that you use it the more dramatic the results.  Free of Parabens, Gluten, Mineral Oil and Phthalates, you can be rest assured that this formulation contains nothing but the best for your hair".

This product is amazing and I always wake up to hair that feels stronger and really healthy.  When you wash it out of your hair, you can still feel the benefits afterwards because it helps any shampoo & conditioner to work better on your hair.  Love this!

And the time has come for another makeup crush in the form of this blue smokey eye on Nadine Velazquez from 'My Name Is Earl'.  I love when the smokey eye is given a different twist by adding a pop of colour and this blue looks amazing against the olive tones of Nadine's skin.  The blue contrasts beautifully with her brown eyes and I reckon a lilacs and purple smokey eye done in the same way would look great against blue or green eyes! 

This makeup also ties in nicely with the 70's Studio 54 glamour looks that are doing the rounds this season.  If you want to know what products were used to create this look, then click here.

What are your favourite night time treat products? Will you be going for bolder colours when doing a smokey eye?

Friday, 28 January 2011

New CID Cosmetics Palette Review & Topshop Jewellery

I am a big fan of palettes that have multiple products in them so I can chuck them in my case when I'm heading off on holiday.  On my recent trip to Cork, I took the New CID Cosmetics Eyes, Lips & Cheeks palette with me and I just wanted to do a quick post on my thoughts.  It contains 3 shimmering eyeshadows and one matte, 3 lipglosses and a blush.  It has a mirror in the lid, a double ended applicator and it's priced at £24.00. 

I was looking for the most compact palette I had to create day time looks and this one more than fit the bill.  The three shimmering eyeshadows in ivory, light taupe, dark taupe and matte mid-brown create a very natural, softly defined eye for daytime.  I just brushed the lightest shade all over the lid, defined the socket-line and outer edges with the mid shade, then used the darkest brown to add more depth and tidy up my brown eyeliner.  The ivory shade makes an awesome highlighter for the inner corners of the eyes too.

The matte brown (used lightly) makes a great brow powder too so there was no need to take anything extra with me in regards to that!

The eyeshadows have fantastic pigmentation and create a really pretty sheen on the eyes without looking glittery - perfect for daytime wear.  They went on smoothly, blended extremely well and lasted all day when applied over a good base (I used Mac Paint Pot in Soft Ocre).  The matte shade takes a bit more work but from experience, they always do because they do not have as much dimension to them as the shimmery shades.

Here's some swatches of the eyeshadows to give a better idea of how they look once applied...

At first I thought the lipglosses might be a little bit bright but they apply very sheer and leave a really nice juicy, strawberry pink on the lips.  The first two shades below are ever so slightly shimmery, whilst the third along has no shimmer whatsoever so you can choose which finish you like best.  I also experimented with mizing the blush with the lipglosses.  This gave them a slightly peachier tone and looked great too.

The blush in this palette is just plain gorgeous for Spring/Summer! It's a vibrant peachy pink that brings life to your face.  You only need to dab your blush brush in this VERY gently to pick up enough product.  It made my face look really fresh!  I was very impressed because sometimes blushes in these types of palettes can lack quality or have chunks of glitter in them but this once applies smoothly, blends beautifully and lasts all day.

So in conclusion, this palette is well worth investing in if you travel alot or like to keep your makeup in your bag to re-apply during the day.  All the products in it are high quality and super wearable, it really does save you from lugging around loads of different products too.  It's lightweight but it feels well made and sturdy, compact and I love the white and hot pink packaging.  Thumbs up on this one!

When I was in Cork shopping with Maddie, I popped into Topshop to check out their Spring collections and I couldn't help but be distracted by all the lovely jewellery!  They have so many gorgeous pieces for Spring/Summer!  I didn't pick anything up at the time because all these stores are more expensive in Ireland in comparison to Scotland so I wanted to wait till I got home.  I had never paid much attention to Topshop's jewellery in the past but seeing all those lovely things has made me think again!

The first piece on my hit list is this amazing turquoise pendant...

I am truly obsessed with turquoise jewellery in summer! There's something about that colour against fresh white clothes and a tan that just looks amazing..  I love the delicate gold effect chain detail on this necklace and the way it falls over the stone.  It WILL be mine!

Now I don't even have my ears pierced...but these make me want to get them done! How pretty would these be on holiday!  I love the pale pink colour of the beads and they would look amazing against any colour of hair!  Maybe I should go get my ears pierced now?! Or maybe that would just make me want to buy a truckload of earrings...

I always crave silver jewellery in winter and as soon as Spring/Summer rears it's head, I gravitate more towards gold shades.  I think the above bracelets are so lovely and I really like the battered look to them, together with the delicate charms.  So pretty!

And now for the song that boosted me to do an extra 5 mins on the cross trainer at the gym this morning.  It's a feel good tune and I like the sentiment being the lyrics too. 

What do you think of the jewellery at Topshop?  What song is currently most played on your iPod at the gym?

Thursday, 27 January 2011

A Weightloss Experiment

As you all know, I have been on my own little weightloss journey over the past 2 years.  Well, I wouldn't call it little because I have lost over 2 and a half stone (36lbs to be exact).  I went from a size 16 to a size 12.  I am now at that tricky stage where it becomes more and more difficult to shed those last few lbs.  I have been continuously monitoring my overall weight, fat percentage, muscle percentage, water percentage and bone mass using this Body Analyser Scale.  It's important to know these percentages so you can see what's happening with your body.  If you have been working hard at the gym, sometimes your overall weight doesn't change but your muscle percentage may have gone up and because muscle weighs more than fat, this may cause your weight to stay the same or increase.  Similarly, depending on the time of month, your water percentage can differ, which also affects your weight.  So instead of beating yourself up that you haven't lost a lb that week, these scales help you to understand your body's composition and identifies where you have made progress. 

Just as a side note, I have a healthy, balanced diet and I go to the gym 5 times a week for an hour & 15 mins each session, mixing cardio with weights and other resistance work.  I DO NOT believe in extreme diets as this is not a sustainable answer to weight loss.  It's all about using common sense and thinking long-term.

My goal is to be a toned size 12 (I think that's a US size 10 but correct me if I'm wrong!).  I don't think there is a universally perfect size because everyone carries their weight differently and has different bone structure.  My bone structure and my immovable 34E chest dictates that I am supposed to one of life's curvier females which I am more than happy to be.  My chest measurement hasn't changed a jot since I started so my body has decided I will forever be top heavy! I have about 10lbs to lose but this isn't a number set in stone as I prefer to judge things by how my clothes fit me.

Rodial contacted me recently to ask if I would like to try their new Crash Diet Kit which consists of fat burning dietary supplements, protein shakes and a body gel which claims to aid water drainage from the body.  The kit has been marketed as a tool to help you drop a dress size in 10 days.  The whole kit is priced at £149.00 so it's not cheap but any stretch of the imagination.  For more info on the kit, please click here.  I was initially wary of the name as it doesn't go in line with my attitude to weight loss i.e. anything with 'crash' in the title.  This is what the kit looks like:

Now I know what you are thinking..."she just said she doesn't believe in diets and now she's about to try something called 'Crash Diet'!".  Well, after reading the instructions to this kit carefully and researching it online, I quickly realised that the name 'Crash Diet' is rather misleading because these products are designed to be used as a SUPPLEMENT to a healthy, balanced diet and exercise regime.  In simple terms, you aren't depriving yourself of food on this plan.  You eat your normal healthy diet and use these products to further aid your weight-loss so you're adding to your diet, not taking anything away.  This kit has been bashed by a few people online but as far as I can see, it's the same as guys drinking protein shakes to build muscle after being at the gym.  So I asked myself...what do I have to lose?...Well, lbs hopefully!  Here's a quick rundown of what each product is designed to do:

Crash Diet Smoothie Banana and Strawberry Flavoured Protein Shake - Each powder sachet contains 66 calories and can be mixed with water, skimmed milk or juice.  It contains a combination rich in proteins and polyphenols to sustain your energy.  You drink one per day before OR after attending the gym.  Before exercise the protein shake will help preserve lean tissue (muscle) by decreasing muscle breakdown and will provide a small amount of energy. Post exercise the protein shake will aid recovery (even more so when combined with carbohydrate) as the protein will be available for energy and lean tissue regeneration.

Crash Diet Sticks Dietary Supplement - These 5g powders are designed to be mixed with 100ml of water and taken before a workout.  It helps to speed fat burning, give you more energy for your workout and eliminate water rentention.  They are rich in guarana, green coffee extract and green tea which all help boost your metabolism and burn fat.  Meadowsweet, cherry stalk and ash leaf in the powder also have draining properties, helping the body get rid of excess water.

Crash Diet Intensive Two Week Body Gel - This gel is designed to be applied to the abdomen area after you have warmed the body up through gentle exercise and they claim it helps the body to drain excess water which may make you feel bloated.  This is the product I am most dubious about to be honest because it's a topical remedy but I will keep an open mind!

I will be trying this kit over the next two weeks, together with my usual healthy eating plan and exercise.  I will be monitoring my body as usual and I will hopefully be able to comment on which of the products is more effective.  I must stress again that this IS NOT A DIET!  I am merely adding these supplements to my usual regime which was designed for me by my trainer at the gym. 

I will let you guys know how I got on with this in two weeks time!

As stated above, this kit was sent to me for consideration by Rodial and as always, my opinions will be completely honest.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

My Cork Trip & A/Wear Clothes Haul

I always love going to Chris' home town, Cobh (pronounced 'Cove') because there's such a relaxed feel to the whole place.  I love the whole Irish attitude...every shop I walked into, I was greeted by a friendly, smiley face asking me how I was.  That's so nice when you feel totally welcome in a store, sometimes the staff can be so intimidating or downright rude in other places.  Everyone there is so informal and casual (in attitude, not in dress).  I also love the Irish attitude to having a good time with the help of some alcohol!ha ha.  The above pic of Chris is the view from his parent's house - it overlooks the harbour in Cobh and I just think it's a gorgeous view to wake up to.  In summertime, we like to sit outside and sip a glass of wine as the sun sets...perfection.

We did the rounds while we were back and saw all the people we hadn't spoken to/seen in a while so that was nice catching up with everyone.  The above pic is of me and Chris' parent's cat, Grumpy (full name 'Grumpy B*tch', I'm being serious!).  She used to be alot more standoff-ish but she's slowly mellowing!

Of course, you can't go to Ireland and NOT have a couple of nights out so we heading into Cork city with some of Chris' college friends - a great bunch of people.  The vodka and red bull in my hand in the above picture proved to be a big mistake when I woke up the next day! ha ha.

I think the last pic there was me and Chris attempting to do a duet on the dancefloor (and probably failing miserably.ha ha).

Chris' mum, Maddie, took me on a shopping trip to Cork City and bought me some clothes as part of my Christmas present which was so kind and generous of her.  She always spoils me rotten!  A shop which we don't have in Scotland, A Wear, always seems to have alot of nice stuff that catches my eye so we ended up getting everything in there.  I like the fact that not many people here will have the same items...there's nothing worse than turning up somewhere in the same dress as someone else!  I had one of those very rare days that happens once in a blue moon where everything you try on fits perfectly and looks great.

The first thing I have been after for a couple of weeks are a good, well-fitting pair of flared jeans, since they are now back on trend for the summer.  I used to wear flares when I was a teenager because they were in fashion then too.  Sometimes I wish I held onto things for longer because everything comes back into fashion eventually!  I think the most important thing to think about when you are buying flares is that they are alot more flattering when they are tightly fitted to your legs all the way down to your knee.  These are the jeans I chose:

Image from A Wear website.

These jeans have a little bit of strecth in them so they fit very comfortably without making your stomach spill over the top...never attractive!  I love the fact they are so fitted down to the knee and then properly flare out at the bottom, it's really flattering on the legs and lengthens then when you wear heels or wedges.  I had to buy the 12L size because I need that bit extra length in the leg since I plan to wear them with high wedges...half mast trousers are a massive bug bear of mine!

This is how they look when worn with my wedges...

I have had these Faith wedges for ages now and I was so happy to see that wooden and raffia wedges are very much in vogue for this summer!  So that's one thing I won't have to go and buy...not that you HAVE to buy these things but I am a terrible shopaholic!  It's an illness!

Those wedges are just the most comfortable ones I have ever owned because the leather is SO soft and the straps are thick so they don't cut into your feet.  These wedges are great because they can be worn in a casual or dressy way.  Dune are also great for comfortable wedges for the summer! 

I love the current trend for 50's style, floral dresses because they are PERFECT for my figure.  They flatter a curvier figure/women with larger chests and because they nip in at the waist, they are very slimming.  I love all the retro trends that are emerging at the moment, alot of them are right up my street!  These dresses are all so cute and girly and A Wear has a ton of them.  They are all part of their 'Garden Party' Collection.

Farrah Print Fixed Wrap Dress £35 (the dress you can see me wearing in the pics above)

Maddie was calling this the 'smartie dress' because of the colourful pattern.  I love all the vibrant colours in this dress, the fit is absolute perfection for me.  I would say it would flatter most people because it has a wrap over style bust, a tailored waist and it sits just above the knee.  I also love the cap sleeves that hide any sign of dreaded 'bingo wings'! ha ha.  I think this would make the PERFECT summer/holiday dress because it's colourful, lightweight and would look so cute with wedges.  I also think this dress would look fab with retro style platform court shoes if you want to go all out 50's.  Here's a close up of the pattern...

Another similar dress I got was this Ashley X-over Wrap Dress £40

This is another SUPER flattering dress with a rounded wrap over design at the you have to be careful when crossing your one wants to see your frou-frou!  It's another 50's inspired dress with it's ditsy flower print, v-shaped cross over bust and short sleeves.  I find that these necklines are the most flattering on my big chest and the sleeves make my upper arms look slimmer too which is always a welcomed bonus!  This dress is slightly shorted than the first one, sitting a couple of inches above the knee.

For a more modern twist, this dress has an exposed zip at the back.  I know alot of people don't like that kind of detail but I think it makes it look more contemporary.

The next dress was actually in the sale so we got it at a bargainous price!

I thought this was another great dress that would be perfect for summer with flat, embellished sandals or wooden wedges.  I like the ruffle detail at the bust, which sits flat on the dress so it won't emphasise a larger bust.  The gold zip detail is also cute and means the dress would look great accessorised with gold jewellery.

I wasn't sure about the next dress because I thought it might have too much detail up top but you should always try thing on before you make a judgment on these things!

The dress actually looks really nice when I tried it on and because it's made out of such a floaty, sheer fabric, it doesn't feel too bulky up top.  The dress actually has gold buttons all the way down the front as shown below (although these have been hidden by the ties/bow in the pic above)

This dress is very girly, floaty and again, perfect for Spring/Summer.  It sits on the knee and is again, very flattering due to the v-shaped neckline, tie waist which can be tied at the front or back and lightweight fabric.

I love all the graphic patterns that have been all over the catwalks for this season so this next dress catch my eye immediately.  i couldn't find it on the A Wear website but it's actually by a boutique brand that is sold via the store called 'Jasmine (London)'.  This was about £25-30 I think.

This dress is made from a silky fabric, although I doubt it's real silk at that lower price.  I like the fact that the dress combines black with brighter colours so you get the best of both world.  It's has an interesting v-shaped bandeau neckline and sits about 2 inches above the knee.  This dress also really flattered my figure because it graduates in at the smallest part of my waist and then gently flares out.

I spotted this necklace on a mannequin and it was the only one left in the store!  I couldn't find it on the website but it was 8 Euros in the store.  It's a double tired gold chain with a heart and a cute little, intricate clutch bag.

I was really impressed with the quality and fit of the A Wear garments given their price range.  They always have loads of lovely things in that store.