Products that really work # 2

I love, really love making recommendations to people, especially when I then get a message saying ‘that [thing] you recommended is wonderful and I love it’. My last post Products that really work went down a storm, so I thought I’d do another one with some more stuff that I’ve found and loved*.

*and have paid for myself I must add, no sponsored products.

As before, a list and then all the chat:

  1. Bourjois Healthy Mix foundation – £9.99, here
  2. Bourjois Mat Illusion Bronzing powder – £7.99, here
  3. Mizon Snail repair intensive ampoule – £12.98, here
  4. Cetaphil gentle skin cleanser – £8.99, here
  5. Super Facialist Probiotic Micellar Cleansing Water – £6.99, here
  6. Art Naturals Argan Oil Hair Mask – £12.95, here
  7. Clinique Pop Lip (in Passion Pop) – £16, here
  8. Estée Lauder Double Wear stay-in-place eye pencil (in coffee) – £16.50, here
  9. Estée Lauder Magic Smoky powder shadow stick (in slow burn) – £18, here
  10. Superdrug Solait Face Fluid SPF30 – £3.49, here

Wow, look at that, all under £20 as well so they won’t break the bank. This first one is my total gem and I’ve been recommending it all over the place to people and they all love it too…

Bourjois Healthy Mix foundation is quite simply very lovely. Light, luminous and sheer but makes skin look great. Ok for my combination/oily skin although doesn’t have crazy amazing staying power, it will last you a day at work or a night out but probably not both without a touch up. Huge bonus is the fact that it evens out my complexion but you can still see my freckles through it. I like this even more than a lot of the expensive foundations I try and I try a lot. Not a massive range of colours depending where you go but I actually bought completely the wrong colour and it was still ok!

Bourjois Mat Illusion Bronzing powder is a daily wear for me. I bought the light one because I was still winter pale, but will be buying the other shade too for summer. Really nice, natural shade, no gaudy shimmer and can replace your powder if you use one. Friends asked where I’d got my tan from… it was this.

Mizon Snail repair intensive ampoule sounds a bit yuck putting snail slime on your face but given the results I have, I’d drink it if they said I needed to. Hormonal spot scars are almost completely faded and the dehydration ‘wrinkles’ on my forehead are gone after just a week.

Cetaphil gentle skin cleanser and Super Facialist Probiotic Micellar Cleansing Water. I bought both of these because all the fancy things I was using were irritating my skin. Both just lovely and gentle and have calmed and balanced my skin out over the last month. It’s much less oily, clearer and I don’t get a fright when I wake up in the morning.

Art Naturals Argan Oil Hair Mask – I haven’t had my hair cut since before Christmas and I think it’s thanks to this that it’s not dry, damaged or split. Really lovely and thick (I used it every time I wash, not just once a week) but doesn’t make your hair feel weighed down, just nice and healthy. Also doesn’t have a really strong smell, which for me is a plus (Moroccan Oil wafts everywhere).

Clinique Pop Lip – I have this in a different colour and if I’m honest, wasn’t blown away. However, this in ‘Passion Pop’ (lovely blue-red as they call it) is wonderful. Hydrating and long-lasting, doesn’t need much topping up and doesn’t dry my lips out like other fancy reds (hiya MAC).

Estée Lauder Double Wear stay-in-place eye pencil and Estée Lauder Magic Smoky powder shadow stick. Ok, these seem expensive for what you’re getting but it is totally worth it. The eye pencil I got in a lovely dark brown and it’s perfect for every-day wear. Combined with the Urban Decay primer (in previous post), it won’t budge at all and it comes with a nice little smudger on the other end. The shadow stick is frankly fabulous. Most shadow pencils are cream formulas which can smudge and crease everywhere, but this is powder – draw it on and smudge it out with a nice little brush and you’re set. Really nice shimmer that’s not too 90s and can layer up from daytime to night – I’ll be buying other colours.

Superdrug Solait Face Fluid SPF30 is great with summer coming. I don’t think you could wear this daily under makeup as it’s a bit too thick but this is always in my bag when I’m on holiday. Not greasy and won’t clog up the pores on your face like a normal sun cream might. They also do SPF50 and Boots do their version as well.

Let me know how you get on with these or any of the things from the first post.

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The Cult Beauty stash

The one where I spend loads of money on skincare so you don’t have to. I was after some new skincare to fulfill my resolution for the year to look after my skin. The guys at Cult Beauty were really helpful on Twitter and gave some recommendations based on my skin issues. 

So, what did I think?

Emma Hardie Moringa Balm and exfoliating seeds (I bought this direct from EH because I wanted the exfoliating seeds too)- you can’t do much of anything without seeing someone talking about this stuff. After using it for a few weeks, I can say that I love it but don’t feel like my skin can cope with it every day so it’s become more of a skincare treat for me. It smells like you’re in a spa and feels like a total luxury when you use it (especially if you get the free candles too!). Mixed with these little exfoliating seeds and suddenly you have an amazing smelling scrub. The flannel/muslin that you get is far better than any other counterparts I’ve used (Liz Earle and Aurelia). I’d definitely buy this again but go easy if you have tempremental skin. I’d LOVE if they started selling the candles because if fill my home with them. From here, £38 and £15

DNA Renewal foaming gel – I wanted to love this, I really did. It looks like it’s going to work and promises a lot. Sadly I think it was too potent for my skin, it also didn’t foam as much as I’d like and instead of a nice refreshing scent, it kind of smells chemical. On a side note, the tube may look good but trying to store it is a nightmare. From here, £17.50

Eos lip balm – I loved this, until someone told me that in the US there is some kind of law suit against them because they’ve been making people’s lips sore. Not sure on that one (I loved it on use but did find that my lips got drier than normal after) but I’d like it if they perhaps came up with a new formula that didn’t because then I would never be without one ever again. From here, £5.99

Resultime eye cream – This one is tough because I’ll be the first to admit that I do actually expect miracles from eye creams. However the eye area is much less dry and I think there’s been an improvement in lines as well as my eye makeup staying on better. Those lines are still there however which is why I’m not 100% sold. I want an eye cream that makes me look 21 again. I’ll use up the pot but wouldn’t rush to buy it again. From here, £37

Roques Oneil Therapie detox salts – They’re expensive. They’re a luxury. You feel a bit gut wrenched every time you use some because you’re having a £6 bath or something. BUT it’s totally worth it. Totally. They honestly make you sleep like a baby, better than a baby, like the dead. I even talked about them here. Buy here, £37

MV Organics jojoba oil – Again I’m not 100% sold for silly reasons but I think I would buy it again. I’ve been using this to take off my eye makeup because it apparently conditions your lashes (mine are sparse and brittle) and is a great moisturiser for the eye area. It feels like a bit of a con getting a tiny bottle of this oil because you need a good four drops each time. However it takes makeup off with ease, even waterproof stuff and I have noticed a difference in my lashes, it also is lasting a surprisingly long time. I would love if they found some way to actually package this up into an actual eye makeup remover. From here, £29

I think only the jojoba oil would make it into my regular skincare routine. The EH balm would be a treat (I wouldn’t panic if I ran out) and the Therapie salts are on all of my wish lists (bit too expensive to buy yourself all the time). I’m all for more companies providing samples of things, even for a small price, so that people like me don’t end up wasting a load of money!

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Products that really work

I buy a lot of ‘stuff’ and more often than not I use it once or twice, largely underwhelmed. There are however, some things that just work. They do what they say they are going to and the solve some kind of problem for you. So here’s my Top 10 ‘Products* that really work’ and a little detail why I love them below.

*I’ve not been paid for any of this, in fact I am decidedly out of pocket!
  1. Scholl cracked heel repair cream – £5.39, here
  2. Warpaint teeth whitener – £27, here
  3. Body Shop seaweed day cream – £12, here
  4. Urban Decay eyeshadow primer potion – £16, here (and other stockists)
  5. Rimmel Scandal’Eyes Waterproof Kohl Liner – £3.99, here
  6. Wunderbrow – £19.95, here (also on Amazon)
  7. Revitalash – £64, here
  8. Nailtiques – price varies £6-16, here
  9. Therapie Himalayan detox salts- £37, here
  10. Clarins radiance-plus golden glow booster – £16.70, here (and other stockists)

This might be a long one, as I’ll chatter on about why I like them all, so I’ll just say here…

I am still elusively chasing the perfect foundation, concealer, face products that make my skin as lovely as it was while I was pumped full of pill hormones (hi spots!) and haircare that gives me the locks of Blake Lively…so happy to take recommendations.

Scholl heel cream – it’s not a nice subject is it, feet but we all (mostly) have them and as they do all the carrying us around, they need looking after. This stuff it witchcraft. A few weeks ago I pretty much had a gaping hole in my heel which was SO painful. Three days of this stuff and it’s gone. How and where it’s gone I don’t know but it has. I’m very tempted to smear it all over my face and see what it can do there.

Warpaint – Ignore the fact that it’s the product of a glamour model or that the website might make you want to tear your face off, this stuff is great. It’s a (messy) black charcoal powder that you smear all over your teeth with a toothbrush (probably not your usual one) for two minutes. I’ve been using it for five days – as well as brushing as usual – and not only do my teeth feel cleaner than they have since my last hygienist appointment but they are WHITE, like really white, whiter than when I use my Crest WhiteStrips which aren’t all that good for teeth. It’s not cheap, it’s messy and might make a fudge of your sink but it really works.

[EDIT] should add that this is 100% natural, vegan and not tested on animals. It’s also safe for children to use!!

Bodyshop seaweed day cream – I’ve written about this before but it still deserves a mention. Not for everyone but if you suffer from oily skin at any time (certain points in the month?) or your makeup slides off in the summer, this might be for you. It really does control the oil on your face, so much so that I can only use it on days when I’m oily and I can even use a foundation that I would normally avoid. Not all the great for dry patches so if your combination skin, might not be for you.

Urban Decay eyeshadow primer potion – creasy eyeshadow no more. Really. All day. Even cream ones. Can also be used on its own just to even out redness and there’s a few different finished for matte or slightly pearly. Don’t really need to say any more.

Rimmel Scandal’Eyes Waterproof Kohl Liner – I don’t really need to say much here either. Nice and soft and really black. Doesn’t smudge off everywhere and even stays in the waterline for most of the day. Does make a mess when you take it off though!

Wunderbrow – I’ve only recently (since a few disasters), started to ‘fill in’ my brows and honestly, I hate it. I can never get it right and the stuff slides off throughout the day leaving me with odd brows. But not this. It literally doesn’t budge. It’s a bit of a mare to get the hang of and comes in a lipgloss type tube with a spoolie brush (mascara wand to us normals) to distribute. I’ve worked out doing the outline shape with my HD Brows pencil and then using this on the really sparse bits.

Revitalash – Ok this is mega bucks just for some longer eyelashes. In my defence I bought it before the wedding and when it ran out, didn’t replace it but it works. My lashes were crazy long, my eyes didn’t go a funny colour (as per some reports) and it was worth a splurge for a big event. Combined with an LVL treatment (like an eyelash dye and perm), my lashes were mega, the stuff of dreams. They did the all go a bit crap but that was after the wedding so I didn’t mind.

Nailtiques – if you Shellac and fear for your nails when you take it off, get some of this stuff. They have different types for different nails (dry, very dry, brittle etc.) and honestly, my nails have never been better.

Therapie Himalayan detox salts – They’re not cheap, more of a treat or a great thing to ask for as a gift because if you’re like me then you’ll feel guilty for spending that much on some bath salts. You know what though? Totally worth it. Not even kidding, you’ll sleep like a baby. If you struggle to relax and drift off then give these ago before you resort to clubbing yourself over the head or pulling your own brain out. Very similar to that blissed out post-massage feeling.

Clarins radiance-plus golden glow booster – They could have called it something snappier like ‘sunshine face’ or something. Basically, mix 1-3 drops of this little oil in with your day or night cream and have a lovely sunny glow. Nothing fake tan-y (I have never used fake tan for fear of streaks) and you can tailor it by using more/less. Can be a bit biscuity but if you mix it with a nice smelling cream then you don’t really notice it.

So, there we have it. Don’t say I never give you anything. Happy shopping!

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Don’t wish your life away

 

There’s nothing like a funeral to put things in perspective, especially one of a family member, and last week was no exception for me. What resonated most was a reading that was given, and I know I was not alone in walking away feeling like something had to change, I had to change.

...
For it matters not, how much we own,
the cars…the house…the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
that can still be rearranged.
...

From 'The Dash' - read the whole poem here.

The ‘dash’ in this poem being the short line between the year of our birth and that of our death. How would someone reading your own eulogy describe what you did in that time, in your life?

It’s something that has been on my mind a lot recently – somewhat of a inter-quarter/mid life crisis. Do I know what am I doing with my life? Is it what I want to do? Am I achieving anything of note? Am I treating people how I would like to be treated myself? Am I acting in the manner that I would like to be best remembered?

I’m pretty sure the answer to all of those questions is ‘no’.

I am almost certainly muddling along from day-to-day. Wasting my life beating myself up, feeling miserable, feeling lonely, waiting to feel ‘well’, being selfish and self-involved, longing for the weekend or the next holiday, sitting at home moaning that I’m doing nothing, wanting it to be Friday when it’s only Monday.

It feels very late in life to be working out who I am but there is still plenty of time to ‘rearrange’ and there’s certainly a whole lot of Monday to Friday, unplanned weekends and moments of feeling vaguely human that I should be making more of.

Time to stop wishing my life away and do something with my ‘dash’.

 

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Who needs enemies when you’ve got yourself

The saying goes ‘it never rains but it pours’ or something like that doesn’t it? Life is never just a one problem at a time scenario, it’s everything all at once from a great height.

I make no secret of having low self confidence and I also make no secret of the fact that the past year and a half hasn’t been easy for a few reasons. I’ve stress eaten and stress hormone-d my way to some extra body weight weight in that time and those lovely hormones (and age) are responsible for my skin looking like I’m on the wrong side of adolescence, I’m on my way to a sex change AND marching towards middle age.

Then there’s the things I do to myself, seemingly willingly. Self-sabotage. When things are going badly, I’ll make them worse and when they’re going well, I’ll look for a way to ruin it all. There has to be some psychological explanation behind it, but I have no idea why I do it.

Weight loss is going ok? Let’s eat a cake and another. Feeling bad about that skin? Let’s pick at it and make it inflamed as well. Generally on a Debbie Downer about myself? Let’s cut all that hair off and dye it a funny colour.

It was starting to feel like, at the turn of the year, things were beginning to straighten themselves out. So there we have it, I went and changed all that. Not only am I still stressed but now I’m overweight, pasty, spotty and have bad hair. Way to escalate a problem.

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The Men

Over a lovely dinner on New Year’s Eve, my husband and I (why do I always say that in my head in the Queen’s voice?) were talking about our Ex boyfriends/girlfriends – this may be an odd conversation for a couple I suppose, and I have no idea how we got onto the topic – and how those people have taught us things about ourselves and life.

I consider myself to have had four boyfriends prior to meeting my husband – those that I would call boyfriends and not pigs, flings, mistakes, interludes – and I think I learnt something important from them all.

Possibly unconventionally, I remain friends with them, at least to say hello if I bumped into them and maybe go for a coffee. Of course, I’d still be gutted that I hadn’t suddenly turned into a supermodel, their faces full of sick horror of the fact that they lost me, but I think everyone wishes for that!

(If any of you are reading this, hello!)

  1. The ‘high school sweetheart’. We met at school and somehow, through those messy teenage years, managed to stay together from 13 until we were 19. On a miserable day I’d say they were wasted years that crippled my confidence but really it spared me the near constant heartache of being a teenager. We spilt up during my first year of university when I finally realised that his argumentative streak had worn me to apathy (and I met a really hot barman). Life lesson: sometimes you just grow apart.
  2. The older man. He was a clever, driven older guy (26 to my 20) who wrote a song about me. I was pretty infatuated at the time, who wouldn’t be. He gave me my passion for charity work and a better understanding of who I was but broke my heart piece-by-piece until I had the courage to walk away. Life lesson: you can’t make someone love you not matter how hard you try.
  3. The cad. On, off, on, off, breaking my already broken heart even more, until I met someone else. At which point he made his mind up but it was too late. Great when we were together and I felt hot as hell, but as soon as I walked out of the door it was like I didn’t exist until the next time. Life lesson: chemistry is great but it doesn’t make a relationship.
  4. The one I ran away with. Fun, this was all about fun. Laughing and being my very childish self, pulling me out of the anxiety and depression I was in and pushing me to do new things outside of my crippled confidence. We ran away to Spain – which is still the best and most exciting thing I’ve done – but he was (and remains) and incorrigible flirt which drove me to suspicious, jealous spite. Life lesson: sometimes you’re better off as friends.

What followed was what my good friends would refer to as my ‘Adele’ phase (running out of the pub in floods of drunk tears when they played Someone Like You). Two years of being single, getting extremely drunk, meeting ALL the wrong guys, wishing I would meet ‘The One’ but not being at all ready for it and finally being happy and content by myself in my little house (eating Monster Munch for dinner and collecting cats)….at which point I did meet The One, when I least expected it.

I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, people come in and out of chapters in your life and I certainly wouldn’t be the person I am today without learning these things.

Know-it-all

As with people who have babies, and suddenly have all the things to tell you that you have ‘no idea’ about, so it is when you get married. Suddenly I feel I have a little wisdom to impart, that I wish someone had told me years ago.

I was sat with my head craned backwards in the sink at the hairdressers last week when I ended up talking to the girl washing my hair about New Years Eve and single friends, and men.

As it turns out, she finds herself with a string of ‘bad relationships’, which is not unfamiliar to me and this is my take on it.

One day, you’ll be married and feeling like you’re getting old, soft around the middle and crinkly round the eyes. When that day comes, you will suddenly wish that you hadn’t spend all of your young and single time worrying if he was ‘The One’ or if he likes you or if you’d ever meet the person who is ’The One’ and had just spent it having the most amazing time.

Don’t worry about meeting the love of your life or that all your friends are meeting people and you’re not. Don’t spend all of your nights out looking for a guy, scanning the crowd for someone who might just be him. Don’t waste tears and time on men who don’t call or text you back.

Go out, flirt with everyone, talk to new people, do new things, smile, laugh, drink too much and dance all night. Do things that you want to do, for you. Enjoy being by yourself and really learn about who you are as a person, without needing someone else to complete you.

Because one day, you’ll have met ‘The One’, despite thinking that you never would, and you’ll wish you hadn’t wasted all that time worrying and had just had an amazing time been your fabulous self.

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Quick, easy and tasty curry

Prawn curry

10mins and perfection

I usually have an issue with home-made curry. It doesn’t taste quite right, has nothing on a great take-away and is a bit of a disappointment. Until this one. It takes ten minutes to make and tastes great. At 222 calories per serving, it’s also great if you’re watching your calories or doing the 5:2 diet – even for a fast day! So – quick and easy prawn curry. Serves 2.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp medium or hot curry paste (I use Patak’s)
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 red pepper, halved, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 whole red chilli (or chilli flakes)
  • 1 tbsp mango chutney
  • 3 large, ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 150ml half-fat coconut milk
  • 200g prawns (cooked or raw)
  • 100g baby spinach leaves
  • coriander and lime juice to serve

Directions

  1. Heat a large pan and add curry paste, water, onion, pepper, chilli and cook for 4 mins until softened
  2. Add chutney, tomatoes and coconut milk and simmer for 3 mins
  3. Add prawns and spinach, cook for 3 mins until prawns are pink and spinach has wilted
  4. Serve with a squeeze of lime and coriander leaves

And THAT’S IT! Eat and enjoy. By Mimi Spencer for Daily Mail

My bridal prep and wedding skincare

I am and have always been a complete product junkie, so the wedding was a great opportunity to try out some lovely skincare products and make sure that I had a great base for my make up artist to work with.

I started using these a good few months before the wedding to give my skin time to have a new cycle and really get used to the new products. I really loved them all and will continue to use them for now – until I find new ones I want to try!
photo (1)1. Ponds Cold Cream, less than £5. I’m sure I’ve told you about this before, here. It’s cheap, it feels wonderful and makes my skin really soft. Gets rid of even the thickest makeup. I use a warm or a cool flannel to rinse depending on how I’m feeling – it will ruin your flannel though. Most often on offer in Superdrug.

2. Liz Earle Brightening Treatment Mask, £15. I only got this about three weeks before the wedding in place of an exfoliator (my skin is too soft and reacts badly to grainy ones) but I think it made a difference in a short time. Fairly pricey for just 50ml but you don’t need to use it every day, twice a week perhaps with your hot cloth to rinse. Worthwhile investment.

3. Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic, £14. Or as you and I would call it, toner. I use this every night after cleansing and I think it just helps balance my skin out and keep it free from blemishes. Doesn’t make your skin feel tight like some toners can, just nice and fresh. Decent size bottle that lasts quite a while.

4. REN Radicance Perfection Serum, £35. Ok, it’s not cheap but I’d read a great write up and I don’t think I was disappointed. I got this a month before the wedding, I use it morning and night before my moisturiser and I still have probably about a week’s worth left…and I’d buy it again. Was torn between this and the Flash Rinse which everyone is raving about. It evened out my skin tone and made it seem brighter.

5. AVON ANew Clinical Eye Lift Pro, £10 (usually £19.50). Possible the best money I have ever spent. There are two sections in this pot, one orange jelly-type cream for above the eye – brow bone and eyelid and one thick cream for the under eye area. Brilliant and fast acting, I noticed a difference, particularly in the brow bone area within days of using this. I have deep-set, slightly hooded eyes and this miracle cream lifted and tightened my brows.

6. AVON ANew Vitale Day and Night cream, £19.50 each (when I bought them, got one for £5 when I purchased the other). I will say straight off that I wouldn’t recommend these for someone with sensitive skin or eyes as they are VERY perfumed and even my skin took a few days to get used to them. However, once it had, I must say it’s lovely. Smoothed out a few of my very fine lines and I think it has pretty much got rid of any visible pores. Not too thick or oily but I’d say for people with normal/combination or dry skin.

7. Revitalash, £65 with p&p (will last a good few months). I think this is a bit of a marmite product as I’ve seen some people give bad reviews as they have had reactions etc. However, I didn’t – I just got amazingly long, lovely lashes without the need for extensions. It’s expensive but has lasted me ages and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it again when this one runs out! Just pop a very small amount along the last line before bed and watch them grow.

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