Monday, June 22, 2015

'I Do Declare It's Summer...' Part Three: The Skincare

For the third instalment of my summer beauty series, I wanted to tell you all about the skincare - and especially, facial skincare - products that I'm currently raving about.

Garnier Pure Active Micellar Water

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about Garnier's Micellar Water. It was a new but welcome discovery for me, and I'm completely converted. It removes all trace of makeup gently and with ease, leaving skin soft and cleansed. Just as easy as a makeup wipe - just better for the skin.

This time, I picked up a slightly different version - though staying loyal to the Garnier brand. This time I tried the new 'Pure Active' version, which is more targeted to oiler skin and this is something I can sometimes struggle with. 

There isn't much difference to report between this and the original Micellar that is tried before. That said, as my skin is more oily than sensitive, this is probably the better choice for me.

Overall, still love it - and Micellar Water is definitely my favourite discovery of the year so far. As a newer product, I've seen quite a few places offering reductions on this, but it is normally £4 but should allow you 200 uses.

Clinique 3-Step Skincare

My first experience of using Clinique cosmetics was when I got a 'Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion' as a magazine freebie - and it very quickly became my favourite moisturising product... Ever.

The DDML is part of the 3-Step skincare range, where you combine three of their fabulous face products to give you visibly healthier skin.

The 3-Step skincare range includes Facial Soap, Clarifying Lotion and Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion. The range is slightly different dependent on your skin type, with four variations. 1 is for Very Dry to Dry skin, 2 is for Dry Combination skin, 3 is for Combination to Oily skin and 4 is for Oily skin. Each is specifically developed to leave your skin perfectly cleansed and nourished. 

I skipped Step 1, which is the Facial Soap, and went straight for the next step.  I didn't feel like I really needed to add it to my shopping basket, as I already have some and my ability to wash my face isn't an issue of concern for me.

Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2

Step 2 is to use the Clarifying Lotion. It's a gentle exfoliating solution, which in Clinique's own words 'de-flakes to reveal clearer skin'. It's formulated to remove excess oil, leaving a better base for moisturiser.

I apply it with a cotton pad, after taking my makeup off and washing my face. It has a really powerful scent, and actually has a really tingling effect on my skin. The solution does contain alcohol, so I would definitely be careful about using this on broken skin. It is advised that you use the skincare plan is used twice a day, but I would be concerned that this would be a little harsh on my skin if I used this so frequently.

After use my skin feels revitalised and fresh, and ready for the next step.

Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion

I love love love this. No exaggeration. I first used it alone and was so impressed with how smooth and radiant my skin was after use. 

Combined with the Clarifying Lotion, it really feels like I'm taking off a layer of rubbish on my skin and leaving it feeling brand new.

Clinique claims that it strengthens skin's moisture barrier, and I'd certainly agree. My makeup glides on more easily and stay on for longer, as I'm not suffering with dry skin.

I find that a little dab of this moisturiser goes a long way, and previously it's lasted me really well so it is good value for money. 

In total, the Clarifying Lotion comes to between £16.50 and £26.00 dependent on size. The Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion comes to between £17.50 and £30.00 dependent on the size.

Have you tried any of the products above? What are your summer skincare staples? Let me know in the comments below! 


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

'I Do Declare It's Summer...' Part Two: The Hair

Since I envision this is the first summer in a while where my hair will be doused in chlorine infused waters, I've been working to make sure it's in good condition before I take that flight.

Chlorine can remove the natural oils in our hair, taking its shine away with it and can even leave us with split ends. It's notable, that these scenarios are most commonly linked with extensive exposure to the substance - but as I do plan to splash around in the pool a bit, I want to make sure the barnet is looking good before I fly.

Loreal Elvive Fibrology Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner

If you're a big reader of the blog, you'll know I've reviewed a few of the Loreal Elvive shampoo and conditioners, and just recently, I found another favourite.

I'm currently using the Loreal Elvive Thickening Fibrology range. It contains a patented ingredient called filloxane, which penetrates deep into the hair and works to cleanse and thicken it.

I'd normally be dubious about such bold claims but having used the product for more than a month, I can definitely vouch  for its effectiveness. Rather than just feeling like my existing hair has thickened, I feel like I've gained about 20 times more of the stuff! It's much more bouncy and full of life, and the condition is great. 

After shampooing, I use the conditioner. I'd definitely recommend combining the two, as the conditioner leaves my hair feeling that little bit softer. 

One thing I really love about Loreal Elvive hair care products is that they all have a fantastic scent, and this one is no different.

Both products are £3.99 each, which seems a relatively standard price for these type of products. It's worth noting they're often included in various 3 for 2 or 2 for so much type offers, so keep your eyes peeled!

Macadamia Oil Extract Mask

I received one of these as part of a Christmas gift hamper, and it took me a little while to get around to using it. I'm not the sort of person who can lay about in the bath for hours when I'm thinking about the billion other things to do, so I never really have the time for hair masks and treatments.

When I finally got around to trying this, I was really surprised. At just £1 in some supermarkets, this product is a real bargain but it definitely does the job. 

The macadamia oil ingredient is nourishing to hair and boosts its strength. You apply it after washing your hair, leave on for ten minutes and rinse out. After use, my hair was much glossier and super soft. 

At such a reasonable price, you can't go far wrong with this one - which is a lovely little treat for the hair. Dry and damaged hair is a thing of the past!

And finally...

I'm also hopeful that my holiday will do wonders for my hair. I've always been blessed with hair which naturally highlights itself and hey, it would be nice if the sun could save me a little on highlights. Here's hoping! 

Photo credit: (Macadamia  Oil Extract Hair Mask)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

'I Do Declare It's Summer...' Part One: The Legs

As we enter the month of June, realisation is suddenly starting to dawn on me that we are heading straight into summer - and it's time to step up the beauty regime.

In true blogger style, I thought it would be good to document the process and so you can expect to see a few more parts to my 'I solemnly declare its summer...' posts over the next few weeks.

I'm due to go on holiday in a few weeks, and the prospect of slipping into a tiny bikini is definitely feeling a little bit daunting. I work out, I eat reasonably well and do generally take care of myself - but getting my legs out (thigh up AND ALL!) in a sun drenched location does make me a little nervous.

In preparation for my departure abroad, I've incorporated some additional items into my normal routine to help my leave my pins looking pristine...

Body Brush

One item I picked up was a long handled wooden brush. Why? Well because scrubbing this up and down your legs every day can make them look pretty damn good.

Body brushing has been a 'thing' for a little while now. It effectively exfoliates your skin, and frequent use is supposed to improve lymphatic draining, blood circulation and reduce the appearance of cellulite.

While so far I, *touch wood* have managed to avoid the dreaded peely skin. That said, I view body brushing as a positive preventive measure to get into the habit of doing early. Additionally, it's believed to generally improve muscle tone which is obviously a further benefit.

Since including this in my daily routine, my skin does appear to be a little bit firmer - and my legs are twice as smooth.  It's such a quick thing to do, I'm going to try and stick to this all the time.

I picked up my brush in Superdrug for about £6, so this is a real bargain beauty tool. 

Nip + Fab Cellulite Fix

I'm a huuuuuuge fan of Nip + Fab products - no exaggeration. My obsession started when I tried out 'Bust Fix' after seeing it won rave reviews online (I'll also be using this in my holiday prep). 

Cellulite Fix, which is endorsed by Millie Mackintosh, is formulated with cell active shape complex and caffeine which helps to breakdown and eliminate fat cells. It's intended to firm skin, reduce cellulite and leave skin smooth.

While I don't so much need this specifically for the cellulite reducing properties, I've found its been great at making making the skin around my thighs and bum that bit firmer. 

I use this every day after showering and brushing, and I'm pleased with the results so far. The tube recommends using this twice a day for best results, so I'm planning on doubling my usage the week before flying.


In the 'run up' (excuse the pun), to my holiday, I've been super busy but I'm still trying to squeeze in running a few times a week just to tone up a bit before donning my bikini.

I'm signed up for the Race for Life 5k in July, so in keeping up my training for that I'm keeping my bod in check at the same time. Bonus!

Running also tends to chill me out and I feel so much better after completing one,'so I'm enjoying the benefits to mind and soul - as well as body! 

Drinking lots of water

I drink far less than is recommended on a daily basis so I'm trying to improve this in the interests of absorbing the benefits for my skin, hair and energy levels! 

Drinking water also helps to make skin more supple and strengthens collagen - which is just the sort of results you want to see in your pins! I'm aiming to drink 3l a day, and I'll definitely need to keep this up while I'm in the sun!

What does your pre holiday prep entail? Stay tuned for the next part of my 'I do declare its summer...' posts! 


Monday, June 08, 2015

No7 Stay Perfect Instant Tan Review*

I recently received some blogger mail in the form of a new instant tan from No7. As a naturally pale skinned lady, obtaining a natural tan is nigh on impossible for me so I do find myself reaching for the bottle in my attempts to achieve that summer glow. No7 is a brand of tan that I hadn't sampled before, so I was curious to see how this one would perform.

Firstly, I was really pleasantly surprised to find that this didn't come with the usual strong tan smell that could basically highlight to anyone in a 100 mile radius that you're faking it. This one actually smelt really pleasant, and not remotely over powering as can sometimes be the case. 

I set about slathering it onto my pins with my tanning mitt and was really impressed with how well it blends together. It was incredibly easy to avoid any lines or streaks, and it runs in well and is quick drying so it's really easy to build up colour without smearing. 

The shade I used was Light/Medium, which was a perfect match for me. It gave me really natural coverage, completely avoiding any Tango-esque faux pas'.

I wore it to an engagement party, and my outfit for the evening encompassed a white blazer. I thought this was the perfect test to see if the tan transferreed easily, even if I was a little concerned about the longevity of my favourite jacket if it did. Beauty bloggers got to do, what a beauty bloggers got to do and all that...

I needn't have worried, as my tan stayed completely intact - as did my outfit. And I managed to test the longevity of my tan even further when I got back so late couldn't be bothered to shower it off before bed. The next morning, I still had a healthy glow and no tell tale signs on my bed sheets either!

I'm so glad I got to give this a try, as I was really impressed with the results. The colour of this is much more subtle than with tans from other brand I've used, which definitely boosted my confidence wearing it - given that it actually looked realistic!

The price tag for a bottle is £12.50, which is probably a little more than I would ordinarily pay for an instant. That said, the formula did go a long way so I'd envision that it would last quite well. 

Overall, I really liked this No7 product and I'll definitely be reaching for it again in the future. 

*received as part of a Review Panel.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Long distance love: Why it isn't THAT bad

Perusing the pages of the April issue of Cosmopolitan, there was one article that really caught my eye. ‘Am I weird for keeping his toothbrush?’ asked Jameela Jamil. Yes, I thought, loopy as they come.
In fact, as I read on, I found that the odd title had been triggered by a recent love split. A love split from a guy who could trigger an hour long panic attack when she considered for too long the prospect of not waking up next to him. His dental products presumably eased the pain. 

The cause of the split was a career move to the US. In following her career stateside, she was faced with the prospect of long distance relationship – and ultimately decided that option was a no go. 

Having read such an emotive description of this 'king among men',  I was flabbergasted that they weren't even going to attempt to maintain a cross continent courtship. In fairness, she lays out some valid reasons. The act of navigating a long distance relationship is something she describes as a ‘tricky combination of pen pals and chastity belt’. Those couples ‘share anecdotes not experiences’, they lose their connection. And maybe she has a point. But it’s not all bad. 

I've done long distance twice. Most of the first three months of my relationship was spent 200 miles away from my new boyfriend. Two years in we were in the same situation again; the price you pay for meeting your partner at university. Granted, it wasn't the sort of distance Jameela and her beau would be faced with, but it was definitely not commutable.

While long distance isn't the most enjoyable thing in the world, it can be done. Having become a bit of a dab hand over the last four years, here are my top tips for making a bad situation a little more bearable.

Jameela likened video messaging to 'standing outside a closed patisserie' - being able to look but not touch. Personally, I'd prefer to be at least checking out the nice slab of cake I'd nabbed for myself than not at all. After all, who doesn't like cake?

Fill your calendar
Scribble the next time you're going to see eachother BIG in your diary and highlight the crap out of it. Plan something super fun and get excited counting down to it together. It'll come around before you know it.

Be normal - but not possessive
Check in with eachother and take an interest in what you're both getting up to - but not 24/7. Jameela notes that long distance you have to be careful talking about a new friend of the opposite sex, and I disagree. Be as normal as you would in person. If you are going out of your way to be shady on the off chance you might stir up a bit of jealousy otherwise, then you're really digging your own hole and jumping right in.  

Go shopping 
No I'm not suggesting you drown your sorrows in credit card debt after overdoing the retail therapy. Everybody loves a present. It doesn't have to be big or grand but unexpected post is a cute way of showing your other half they're on your mind.

Remember why you are doing it
If it was just a mindless fling you wouldn't be bothering. You obviously have enough faith in the relationship to know you want to give the long distance thing a bash. Let that be enough to spur you on at the difficult bits! 

Absence truly does make the heart grow fonder and one of the advantages of long distance love is it's hard to get complacent. You don't get accustomed to seeing eachother all the time, so the buzz is twice as big when you do. And on that note, I hope that's the case for Jameela and her boy. If anything is going to make the heart swell, my bet is a few months in the U.S. should be enough to do it!


Monday, June 01, 2015

Product Testing | Barry M Silk Collection in 'Truffle' - Review

As of this week, I am officially a Beauty Blogger for!

As a big fan of the Barry M brand, I was particularly excited that the first product to fall through my letterbox for testing was one of their nail polishes. My collecting of varnishes already extends into the hundreds - but I'm always pleased to add a few more to it.

This polish is part of the 'Silk' collection. Originally released in Spring 2014, the range comprised of six pretty pastel pearlescent shades. They are subtle yet pretty, and dry to leave a velvety matte finish - while still maintaining a slight sheen.

I got to try the polish in 'Truffle', which is a light metallic nude colour. It is not the first varnish I would ordinarily choose on the shelf, but when I applied it, I was pleasantly surprised. 

I applied a Barry M base coat, before using two coats of Truffle. It's quite a thin polish, but glides over the nail rendering all brush strokes invisible as it dries. I found that it was more quick drying than other nail varnishes I've used, and it creates a silky flawless finish - as per the name! I finished it off with a Barry M topcoat. 

Having tried some of the silk polishes before, I do recommend using a topcoat. I found that these chip away more quickly than other varnishes, and the clear coat adds a nice glossy layer which I really like as well.

The built in shimmer in 'Truffle' adds a glamorous dimension and really sets it apart from standard, more 'flat' nudes. I actually think it has quite a champagne tone to it, and so it was the perfect choice of nail paint for celebrating at an engagement party this weekend! 

I also think this polish will be great for summer because of its sandy shade, and I can definitely see myself reaching for this as a good everyday polish over the next few months.

Overall, this is another winner from Barry M, and retailing at just £3.99, you can't really go wrong!