Rainy Sunday Reviews

It is chucking it down outside, the rest of the family is sleeping and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to review a few recent empties. This is motivated partly by my need to inform and also partly by the need to start throwing away some of the piles of boxes I have in the bedroom. I need to declutter. Stat.

As usual, if you are interested in indepth ingredient analysis and evidence base, then you are best off checking out hiddenharmonyworld.com & detailorientedbeauty.com. My reviews are based almost entirely on anecdotal endeavours 😊.

Artfully captured in the loo. Hygienic.Β 

Artfully captured in the loo. Hygienic.Β 

So, first up, Healgel 'Eye' - Β£32 for 15ml. I don't usually buy eye creams as a) they don't work and b) surely my highly expensive serum should be enough? Anyway, my under eye bags and discoloration were getting out of control and I was really keen to try this brand, who also offer face serums and general healing goodness. They were created by a plastic surgeon, which seemed a fairly good endorsement of skin healing knowledge. 

So, what did I think? Well, overall I thought it was a great product. It is a clear gel consistency which absorbed really quickly and left no residue. It felt lovely on the skin and did a nice job at hydrating my under eye area. Did I see any dramatic difference in my undereye bags and discolouration? No. Did people stop telling me I looked tired? No. Do I think any product will ever make much of a difference? Honestly, no. I'd love to try the rest of their range but don't think I'll be rushing to repurchase this or any other eye cream. I'm just going to keep chucking my money at serums, which seems like a more cost efficient exercise.  

Which leads me nicely onto two entirely different, but recently finished serums. First up the Chanel Hydra Micro Beauty Serum - Β£66 for 30ml. I got upsold this when buying some Chanel foundation and was really impressed by the hydrating base that it gave to my makeup. Imagine my overwhelming smugness when I later discovered that Caroline Hirons was extolling its virtues.  

I have really enjoyed this serum. It is a lovely plumping gel, which absorbed well and mixed with other products. It did feel like sacrilege to smother SPF all over it during the day and I think it is best used under a fresh face of makeup for an evening out. It does have the signature Chanel smell which I love, but may be off putting for others.  

It is a fair wack at Β£66 for something with no real 'treatment' properties, albeit a nice, hydrating serum. Its consistency and effect is so similar to the Vichy Aqualia Thermal serum (which is a third of the price - Β£22) that I'd say try that one in the first instance. It is by no means an essential but I would consider repurchasing in future.  

And, finally, we have the Zelens Brightening Serum. I had read so much about this and was desperate to get my hands on some, so much so that I contacted their PR team to get a sample. They incredibly kindly sent me a whole tube of the stuff to test, which I have now finished. 

I really wanted to love this as I am such a fan of the brand and there is clearly so much science and knowledge that goes into these products. Sadly for me it just didn't give any noticeable effects, which given its price tag (Β£135 for 30ml) means that I couldn't recommend it. Again Caroline Hirons reported that it really helped with her melasma, but I didn't notice any improvement after 4 months use.  

I started using it in the evening and my skin felt very dry and red initially. It didn't really break my skin out but it was certainly very irritated and didn't look its best. However, I persevered and my skin calmed down, but it didn't seem particularly brightening, nor did it treat any of my pigmentation.  

As with all skin products, some work wonders on some skin types and do very little for others. Sadly my skin wasn't a fan but I would recommend maybe testing out a sample if you are interested. Also a massive thankyou to Zelens for giving me so much information on their product and the good news is I have two other goodies of theirs to review, which have been much more of a success. 

So, for now, enjoy your Sundays. Not sure we will be leaving the house at this rate, but happy bday your majesty πŸ‘‘.  

xx

 

Windowsill shot Β 

Windowsill shot Β 

Mummy's little helper

No, this is not a blog post about gin. Or about Valium. Or about Cadbury's Dairymilk. All of which are essential components of motherhood. This short ramble is actually about the lovely brand Aurelia and their gorgeous New Mummies Gift Sets, which I had the good fortune (read stalked their PR team) to get my mitts on. 

I can't say that I know what the etiquette is regarding what to buy new mothers. I'll admit I tend to recycle unused baby clothes or toys, in what I imagine, is a fairly well trodden route of M&S baby grows around South London. However, if I were to be a more thoughtful person (this might happen) it would be BLOODY AMAZING to be given this instead. For YOU. The woman who created and gave birth to the small person. And YOU, who is more in need of some skincare and pampering than at any other time in your life. 

Aurelia are all about combining science and natural luxury βœ” and I'm fairly sure the founder is a mum from South London βœ”; they had me at Tooting Broadway. I was also, already, a big fan of their Refine & Polish Miracle Balm, which stopped me looking dead when I had gastric flu at Christmas. Absolute miracle worker, so I knew I wanted to try more. As luck would have it, they had just launched this new gift set targeted at new mums. It was like the Gods had aligned...... 

So, what do you get in this little box of goodness? Well, aside from the enduring gratitude of anyone you give it to, you also get their Miracle Cleanser, the Cell Revitalise Day Moisturiser, the Firm & Revitalise Dry Body Oil and if that wasn't enough, you also get a toy for your baby.  

Here is my mummy gift set amongst all of the hideous, neon toys that have taken over my house

Here is my mummy gift set amongst all of the hideous, neon toys that have taken over my house

"Lovely, pleasing, lovely, loveliness" would probably be the best way to describe this. They all smell great, they look gorgeous and they do the job of helping you feel and look marginally less hideous than you otherwise would.  *Be warned, you probably will cry if someone gives this to you. For those 5 minutes you will clearly look worse.*

The standout product for me was the dry body oil which was absolutely delicious. I used most of my sample within 5 minutes, as I couldn't get enough of it. I am obsessed with body oils and this one smelt gorgeous and was a master at hydrating the skin. Similarly I also had the opportunity to try their Cell Repair Night Oil  (although not included in the set) and was equally impressed. These guys do serious oils and either during or post pregnancy, this is exactly what my face and body required. 

I love the idea of this gift set (you might have been able to tell this) and as a newish mother obsessed with skincare this is clearly my love child. So, should you buy this for all your preggers mates, HELL YES. Should you buy this for yourself, OBVIOUSLY and whilst you're at it I would check out the rest of their range. It's *almost worth getting up the duff for.  

Adios. X  

 *this is probably not true. 

Β 

Β 

Empties, once again

I haven't written a blog post for bloody ages. Small people, work, never ending domestic chores all seem to get in the way of my burgeoning blogger career. I'm also quite lazy, and often would rather just watch the TV (which bizarrely just autocorrected as stab - sinister typo). 

Anyway, tonight I thought I'd update you all with my empties list. Bit of a no brainer as I think I've talked about all of these before, and if you haven't read my previous reviews then WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN 😜. 

So, first up; the repurchases. I keep trying to find other options to the Institut Esthederm Photo Reverse sun block, but I can't. It is thick, a bit chalky, stings when it gets in my eyes, but is the only thing I really trust as a true sunblock. Now that it is summer (looks outside window at clouds) I definitely amp up my sun protection. I do, also, try and wear a hat as often as I can, but honestly, I'm not doing my commute in a Panama (knob). 

So, whenever sun is about, this gets slapped on my face. It isn't for the faint hearted, and doesn't mix well with makeup. But, according to the blurb it not only protects against pigmentation, but also helps fade existing patches. It doesn't have an SPF rating (which a lot of French brands don't use), but I can testify that it works. Does it get rid of my melasma, no. But it has definitely helped prevent it getting worse during the summer, and is an absolute must for any enforced beach time. It is a whopping Β£55, but a tube will last the year (if you live in the UK and only have 3 months of summer 😜).  

On a similar vein, I am also a compulsive repurchaser of the EstΓ©e Lauder Antioxidant Daywear SPF 50. This has been the final step in my daytime routine for ages. It is moisturising, light, gives a lovely glow, has lots of SPF and is reasonably priced at Β£30. Great for a day at the office with limited sun exposure, or during the winter months. 

Finally, for the definite repurchases, is the Ren No 1 Purity Balm Cleanser. A lovely, thick balm which is really effective and lasts for ages. Β£24 a tube. What's not to love? Watch out for M&S offers on beauty, so you can get it for even cheaper. 

On my 'want to not repurchase but am sure I will' is the Cult 51 night cream. I have done a separate review of this and have a love hate relationship with it. I love the product but hate the price. I've managed to get my sister hooked as well. WHAT HAVE I DONE! 

On my 'liked' but not obsessed with list was the Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Balm. I remember first opening this and thinking 'where have you been all my life'?! It smells divine and is orange. Both key attributes in my book. And it is a really nice cleanser. It just isn't a great cleanser. It's not a thick enough balm for me, I never felt as squeaky clean as I do with my other regulars and it never really warmed up and properly spread over my face when I wanted to do a massage. So, good, but not great, and there are so many others out there to try. 

Right, I need to speed up now as Marcella is on ITV (you should watch this people)........ 

I bought the This Works Official 'in transit' moisturiser come mask come primer. I expected the world (apparently Victoria Beckham swears by this) but for me; damp squib. I found it lacking in much glow or oomph giving. It was a nice moisturiser, but nothing amazing, and I don't think I'll be using it again. 

Similarly, the Honey Mud silk cleanser by May Lindstrom left me a bit indifferent. It smelt great and was a good mask, but no noticeable effects on my skin. If I was going to buy anything from her range it would be the Problem Solver or the Blue Cocoon, which give a bit more bang for their considerable buck. 

I had a sample of Sunday Riley's Flora, which was gone in a flash, but a lovely, hydrating oil. As I have quite a lot of equivalent stuff at the moment I won't be purchasing, but did rate this as a great oil.   

Finally, I was given a sample of the Elizabeth Arden multi purpose oil. I'm a massive fan of the eight hour cream which sorts out a multitude of problems. I mostly used this as a body oil and it smelled great and did a lovely, hydrating job. Again, as I have lots of cheaper alternatives I wouldn't be running for this to buy, but it was a very nice (and handy) product.   

So there you have it. I need to drink wine now and watch a Police Drama. Happy cleansing. Xx 

The shelf of dreams (and dead plants) Β 

The shelf of dreams (and dead plants) Β 

Empties, Empties, Empties (including my wallet)

Empties, empties, empties and a pleasing roundup of what's been slapped on my face/hair over the past few months. On the one hand there is nothing more satisfying than scraping the last dregs out of your favourite products. On the other hand I now need to replace a whole load of skincare 😱😱😱. Biggest empty this month is going to be my wallet πŸ‘Ž

So, I'll begin with the 'can't live without/already repurchased camp'. First up, and no surprise is Emma Hardie's Moringa Cleansing Balm. Love this stuff, works brilliantly, can be left on as a mask, reasonably priced. What's not to love? Top tip, their limited edition (& highly portable) 50ml pots are currently available in M&S, so snap em up before they are gone.

Next up is the Alpha H Liquid Gold. Nothing screams 'new skin by morning' like this bad boy. I've slightly neglected it in recent weeks, second to my new retinol treatment, but this stuff is reasonably priced and I have yet to meet someone who doesn't look better for using it.

My other must haves du jour are Sunday Riley's Good Genes serum (bloody brilliant) and the classic Eve Lom cleanser. Not everyone gets on with this one, but it gives me an unparalleled cleanse with just the right amount of exfoliation if you are looking for a deep scrub. 

In the 'will repurchase' once I have checked that the mortgage has been paid is the Odacite Green Tea & Lemongrass, Radiance Effect Serum Concentrate. Originally a sample from Cult Beauty I hadn't expected to love this as much as I do. Completely gorgeous when mixed in with a 'treatment' serum for the day or moisturiser. It gave me a gorgeous glow and smelled great.

Another Cult Beauty sample was the Aurelia Refine & Polish Miracle Balm. This makes a lovely resurfacing mask if you leave it on and I was really impressed by the results. Top notch brand and available in SpaceNK.

A surprise winner was the 'Forever' Aloe Lips πŸ’‹ & Jojoba Lip Balm which I was sent as a tester. I seem to have perpetually dry lips and have tried a lot of (very expensive) lip balms. This stuff is bloody brilliant, hygienic and smells great. A definite repurchase from me.

Finally, I was slightly disgruntled by my ByTerry Bronze Generation eyeliner. It is the best waterproof eye pencil I have ever used (to be fair I haven't tried that many). But after sharpening it a few times, it just stopped giving out any colour and kept snapping. Really irritating as it was bloody expensive so I will be contacting them to see if I can get a replacement. 

In the 'lovely', but have similar products to test camp, so not going to repurchase now is Olaplex. It's hard with slow burn products like this to see the effects and to know if they are worth the price. I have a few other hair masks to use so will defer getting this again, although I would recommend it to others.

I loved Sunday Riley's Juno but am keen to try another oil, so think I might go with Flora or the Kat Burki night oil instead this time.

I got through two bottles of Pixi Glow Tonic and thought it was a really lovely, good value product. However, I've got the Zelens PHA resurfacing pads which do an equivalent job, so no need for a repurchase.

Finally the Oskia Renaissance Anti-Ageing & Brightening Supreme Cream was yet another sample. It's difficult to quantify the efficacy of a serum in such a short space of time, so I can't give any overwhelming conclusions. It seemed nice and sat well under my makeup, but I wasn't bowled over by it. So probably not a long term option for me. 

So there we go. That blog post was the equivalent of going through my rubbish bin and writing out a shopping list. Scintillating stuff!  

If anyone has any recommendations for cleansers/serums etc please do let me know before I place my next order. I'm always keen to try new stuff and am almost *justified in a few new purchases! xxx

*who am I kidding  

Next month's mortgage repayment is accounted for......Β 

Next month's mortgage repayment is accounted for......Β 

Liebster Award

I have been slacker than the arse on my drop crotch jeans at getting round to writing this blog post. I have no problem penning an ode to an acid exfoliator, but find it way harder to answer any questions about my self.

The ever gorgeous Cassie from the Chic Mama blog nominated me to answer 5 questions about my alter ego a.k.a 'The Spilt Milk' as part of the Liebster Blog Awards. I've read several other posts by bloggers who have been involved with this concept and really enjoyed their offerings. Basically, the idea is to give a shout out to the blogs that inspire us to get dressed in the morning, or make us laugh last thing at night. 

I'm all for over disclosure and linking up the disparate bloggers strewn about the World Wide Web; heaven knows it can be lonely out there some times! 

So, in the spirit of Mr or Mrs Liebster (or whoever they are)  I will be duly answering Cassie's 5 questions and then nominating 5 other blogs that I love. Thankfully, my Mastermind specialist subject just happens to be myself 😬, and "I've started.........so I'll finish. 

1. Why did you start blogging? 

I started blogging and using IG about three months into my maternity leave. I had hours of time on my hands whilst breastfeeding my daughter and I got bored of scrolling through endless celebrity selfies (unbelievable, I know). I realised that I had a shed load of opinions that I wanted to voice, but no one to share them with, particularly at 3 in the morning.

I cracked one evening after a fretful trip to IKEA, when I could no longer cope with the mind numbing lack of achievement the day had offered. Thankfully my technologically savvy husband was able to set up the blog and IG account as I sat sobbing over flat pack furniture. He was very supportive of my vision to 'express myself' (euphemism for moan/brag/bore the pants off people about my love of shopping & skincare). I think he was grateful that I found a creative outlet as it took the pressure off him!  

 

2. Who or what inspires your posts?  

The blog has always been based on the stuff that interests me, which disturbingly appears to be *my* skin, *my* hair and *my* clothes.........awkward. I may one day branch out and write about something a bit more altruistic, but for now it is all rather self serving.

The Spilt Milk was intended to be a bit of a diary/skincare journal that I could look back on in years to come and relive the ramblings of my postpartum self. But it turned out that I had ALOT to say about skincare and it has become an outlet for my obsession with all things beauty, interspersed with anecdotal hair loss references. Probably not going to be winning the Booker Prize any time soon but I've really loved writing and discovered a new passion for photography. 

 

3. Beach or city holiday?  

City, city city. Two reasons: firstly I hate the sun (I'm a pasty Brit with melasma). Second, did I mention I LOVE shopping? City break every goddam time (easy on the culture, big on the shops). 

 

4. Your guilty pleasure?  

I would have said the obscene amounts I spend on skincare but I genuinely feel very little remorse for this. I do, however, feel sullied by the amounts of reality TV I watch (and enjoy). So probably TOWIE (sorry, this probably means very little outside the UK). The SHAME.  

5. Your proudest achievement to date?  

Total cliche but it has to be marrying my husband and having our daughter. Those two are the best thing I ever did (although I have had some pretty special facials........)  

 

6. Shoes or handbags?  

Definitely bags. I own piles of the things and yet have still never found one that allowed me to handily access my keys, phone and wallet. I spend hours groping around the bottom of rucksacks, totes, satchels, clutches and can still never find what I bloody need. Anyway, aside from this, I have always loved bags. Even the posh paper bags you get from shops, all get squirrelled away. No matter how fat, spotty or rough you may feel, a bag will always look good on you. 

image.jpg

So, there you have it. The fabulous blogs that I nominate are below (links to follow - I am currently computerless). 

1. Nowweare40

2. Chloelovestoshop

3. Thenaughtyfortydiaries 

4. Thatluxuriousfeeling 

5. Fowlmouths food (warning - this will make you hungry) 

And the questions to these guys are as follows:  

1. Why did you start to write your blog?  

2. How would you like the blog to develop?

3. How often do you spend on your phone a day? (full disclosure please) 

4. What do your other halves/quarters think of you writing a blog? 

5.  Selfie or arty coffee table shot? 

I look forward to the responses! X  

Power Ball

Last night I was a serious pain in the arse. I attributed this to a hypoglycaemia induced rage (didn't get my spag bol until 9pm) but I have now come to realise that I was going through post breastfeeding withdrawal (PBW). 

I have been incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to breastfeed. I am a big supporter of women doing what is right for them; be that breast or bottle. I am also aware of how many of my friends have struggled to breastfeed, so recognise that this isn't something to be taken for granted. 

That said, since my daughter started munching on humous and I returned to work I'd been feeling ready to tap out of further breastfeeding duties. In recent weeks my daughter had mostly just used me as a giant pillow when supposedly feeding and we were both ready to call time on the boob bar. 

I hadn't really expected it to have much of an impact on me (I was too busy imagining what combinations of alcohol I could drink) however, I was wrong. After picking several fights with my husband, claiming that my daughter no longer cared about me & feeling like I couldn't cope with her whining for one second longer, I eventually realised that I was experiencing a PBW.

Understanding this and being made aware of my crazy hormones (yet again) has actually made this a more bearable experience (power is knowledge). And sorry as I am that my breastfeeding days are over, I am also feeling quietly liberated and ready to embrace all of those previously non breastfeeding friendly activities. 

No. 1 on this list as a skincare obsessive was to crack out the retinol! Now, I was very cautious about using any topical acids during pregancy & to be honest my skin was the best it had ever been. I did reintroduce them during breastfeeding (glycolic, lactic & a bit of salicylic) but I refrained from cracking open the retinol powerball.

The risk of topical use appears to be pretty much zero but I wasn't going to take any chances and decided that to be 100% safe I would only use a retinol based product when this current period of reproductive activity was over. The use of oral retinol products (Vitamin A) for acne is MASSIVELY CONTRAINDICATED in pregnancy as it can lead to birth defects. So, understandably I wasn't going to be messing with that shit. 

But now I am free to indulge in the hardest core but most well evidenced skincare ingredient around. I'd watched with envy as people slapped on their Sunday Riley Luna Treatment Oil and blogged about the amazing results. As an acne, hyperpigmented and wrinkle prone lady I knew that a retinol based product was my best chance at improving my skin.  

And so by happy coincidence I attended a Zelens blogger evening hosted by the man himself, Dr Marko Lens. Dr Lens knows pretty much everything there is to know regarding skin improvement coming from a background in plastic surgery and dermatology. His brand of high end 'cosmeceuticals' are a combination of cutting edge science and plant extracts and are much championed by skin care bloggers. They are also on the pricey side so I was very fortunate to get several complementary (colour co-ordinated) macarons and the chance to hear about and test their new Treatment Drops range.  

They have Vitamin A, C & D drops which were all equally inviting, but I headed straight for the Vitamin A Retinol sample to get my testing mitts on.  

This product aims to 'promote skin renewal, improve skin tone & texture..........reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and dark spots.......& helps to clear blemishes....' Check, check, check. Most importantly for me it aims to do this with 'minimal or no irritation' as I am hypersensitive to pretty much everything. 

I very briefly tried a prescription retinol cream a few years ago and my skin got very angry after a few uses and so I discontinued it. To be fair I think you do have to go through some skin side effects if you are using this stuff at prescription level, but according to the hype these lower level brands are supposed to be free from irritation.  

I certainly hope so and am slightly apprehensive about possible side effects. So far I have only done one application & my skin was pretty red and itchy for the rest of the evening. Thankfully I woke up with no effects and am praying that I won't have too much Freddy Kruger fallout. The other point to mention is that you need to slap on the SPF with this stuff as it makes you much more sensitive to the sun. I hug the shadows any way, but applied a heafty dose of SPF 50 to be sure. 

So there you have it. I shall report back on my foray into the world of retinol treatment drops. Everything is crossed that these will be my skin saviour as I move into a post breastfeeding world. X 

 

Babies & retinol don't mix Β 

Babies & retinol don't mix Β 

Disclaimer: This blog is no substitute for any medical advice regarding the use of retinol based products in pregnancy or whilst breastfeeding. Always consult your GP or dermatologist. Β 

Have you joined the cult?

I'm very mindful of the fact that different skin types suit different products and what works for one person can do very little for another. I'm always glad to offer (read thrust) advice about products on various members of my family which is based on reviews I've read (Sali, Caroline, Ruth) or You Tube videos I've watched. However, ultimately my sample size for actually testing a product is 1 (yours truly) which I vaguely remember from GCSE maths, is spectacularly inaccurate. 

Fortunately, I'm not one to shy away from sweeping generalisations and outrageous claims based on very little evidence. Enter stage left, Cult 51. I've never actually written a review about these guys although they feature in my IG feed all the time. They are in my top 3 favourite products (Alpha H Liquid Gold & Emma Hardie Moringa Balm are the other two in case you were wondering) in terms of giving a noticeable difference to my skin. 

Like all good skincare desperadoes I was introduced to their night cream by a Cult Beauty Box sample pot. I was going away one weekend and was attempting to travel light (good joke there) so the 10ml sample pot was the perfect size. I didn't have room for much other skincare (as my bags were full of baby wipes and breast pads - sigh) so I had an unadulterated testing opportunity. I was fairly liberal with my application, as I was completely unaware at the time of how much it cost. Perhaps my lack of knowledge about this unassuming cream was a good thing as it didn't cloud my judgement about its effects.

Suffice to say I woke up the next morning to seriously radiant skin. You know when you are in someone else's house, looking in a different mirror you somehow seem to get a fresh perspective on your face. Well, that weekend I basically didn't stop checking myself out (and believe me, I like a good pouting in the mirror session) because my skin looked so finger lickin good.

I really struggled with forking out for the full pot as it is Β£120 which is steep even by my extravagent standards. However I finally took the plunge after a few wines one night - goddam drunken Cult Beauty shopping. Thankfully my pot has lasted quite a few months (mercifully longer than the hangover) and it really is gorgeous.

The only down side, apart from the price, is that it doesn't mix brilliantly with other products. I tend to layer it with a facial oil (currently Sunday Riley's Juno) and I have to wait a good 30 minutes between the two products to ensure that they don't just peel off the skin together. However, if you can bear to wait (and start your nighttime skin care regime early) then it is worth the combination of the two for unparalleled glow. 

I also recently got a sample of the Cult 51 immediate effects serum which I've been trying out. Again, a lovely product that did offer a really nice base to my skin before applying my makeup. Unlike the night cream it also layered really well with all the other products that I use in the morning - and I have A LOT of layers during the day.  

I'm hesitant to go quite as nuts over this serum. I really, really like it but probably not to the extent that I adore the night cream. I haven't gone out and bought myself a pot whereas the night cream is a definite repurchase, so I guess that speaks volumes.  

So there you have it. I've joined the cult, and suspect I may be in it for life. I worship fanatically at their particular brand of snakeoil and am happy to spread the word about their (expensive) but saint worthy elixir.  

Join the cult Β 

Join the cult Β 

The goddess of skin?

Apparently the ancient goddess Juno looked after the women of Rome alongside being the daughter of Saturn, protector and counselor of the state, wife of Jupiter and mother of Mars and Venus. So, all told, a fairly hectic schedule for our Juney baby, and little did she realise that she would also be responsible for giving women of Rome (and anywhere with Cult Beauty shipping) some serious hydration and glow. 

I've nearly come to the end of my tiny, bottled goddess, so I thought it was about time I gave it a review. It has been featured in countless Instagram skincare routine pics and has become a regular in my nighttime routine, so what of this Sunday Riley stalwart? 

I struggled to decide which of the Sunday Riley facial oils to choose from: Juno, Artemis, Flora or Luna. Sunday Riley gave an interview with Pixiwoo on their YouTube channel which I found really helpful to explain which oil to go for based on your skin ailment (I'll put the link in later but right now am writing this on my phone in the back of the car on a 6 hour drive to Durham. Good times.)

Luna is the oil I have seen most widely discussed as it led the way in non prescription, retinol based 'treatment oils'. This is targeted at people with more troublesome skin which is acne prone or hyperpigmented. Retinol is also one of the few ingredients which is actually evidenced based in terms of combating the signs of aging. 

I'd read quite mixed reviews about Luna with some people singing its praises from the roof tops and others accusing it of breaking them out and making their limbs fall off etc. I've always been quite intrigued by it, but whilst in the midst of pregnancy and now breastfeeding I decided to steer clear of anything too toxic and related to retinol.  

I originally tried a sample of Flora, which is targeted towards more mature skin and those in need of serious hydration. To be honest I really loved this oil as it was wonderful at hydrating my parched, pregnancy skin. But when it came to making an actual purchase, I couldn't resist the promising Cult Beauty write up of Juno, claiming an unparalleled glow.  

I've been heavy handedly using Juno for around 4 months and I have to say that I wouldn't be without a facial oil in my nighttime routine now. I just love the way they feel and (in my opinion) are so much more effective than any moisturiser. I tend to use them as the final step in my routine after serum + Nightcream (always Cult 51), aside from the 2 nights a week I just use Alpha H Liquid Gold.  

I have really enjoyed using Juno and definitely think that it does good things for my skin. Does it make me glow like a goddess? Possibly not, but it has worked well with all my other products to give a good hydration boost to my knackered face during a very sleep deprived period.  

They recommend using a few drops of this stuff which I think is a bit optimistic. I tend to go in with a pipette full to really get a heavy grease all over my face (nice, eh?) and at that rate I reckon it will last around 6 months. At Β£70 it is pretty punchy on the wallet, but it certainly does last and is a thick, quality oil. 

I'm quite keen to try out another oil for my next purchase. Possibly Flora, as I was so impressed by this originally, although Aurelia are also supposed to do a really nice facial oil and I loved their miracle polish cleansing balm (which makes the best facial mask when left on). 

So, if anyone has any recommendations for their favourite oil, it would be gratefully received? And has anyone out there tried out poor old Artemis, who never seems to get a look in?  

Let me know. X  

There's a goddess on my windowsill Β 

There's a goddess on my windowsill Β 

Colour me bad

For many people their hair is their 'crowning glory'; a majestic, tousled mane which can be tossed about with gay abandon. My hair, on the other hand, has always been shit. It is lank yet dry (I mean, how is this even possible?) full of split ends, thin yet frizzy and a tedious mousey brown. I have always been aware of this limitation (I wear a lot of hats) and relied on my dizzying wit and repartee, to ingratiate myself to others. Well, that, and obviously a lot of alcohol. It has therefore been an unwelcome realisation that not even my hilarious banter, or the strongest of Jaegermeister, can distract from the fact that my hair is now 'properly awful'.

My previous hair maintenance relied on lashings of bleach and as much Batiste and hairspray as EU Health & Safety regulations would allow. This provided a reasonable amount of volume and a touch of the 'dragged through a hedge backwards' look, which I'd seamlessly incorporated into my style. 

Cruelly, I have now been deprived of the fail safe option of dyeing my locks, as my hypersensitive immune system mounts a tsunami like response to even a drop of hair dye. I could have just about lived with this and gone for the enforced ombrΓ© look, if it weren't for the fact that I am displeasingly going grey  -  and I've told several people (my husband included) that I'm 23. 

I have discussed my hair woes at length in my previous blog post (here) so I won't bore you with them again. Instead I thought I'd update you on a few of the things I have been using to specifically try and cover the whistleblowing grey hairs.  

First up I invested in the Josh Wood Blending Wand which is available at M&S (here). This is actually the second time I have used it. The first time was last year when I was in between highlights and the grey streak was getting a bit too prominent for my liking. I initially bought the colour for 'blondes' which unfortunately turned out to be decidedly ginge, so I abandoned it.

Undeterred I opted for a brown colour this time around, to match my actual hair colour and (aside from the grey) the colour of my roots. I went for the 'cool brown' option which looked OK in the shop when I faffed about testing all the colours. Sadly, when I used it at home it also ended up going a weird gingery pink after it dried and frankly looked bloody awful. It is such a shame that the colours are so off as the coverage is excellent and it is really easy to use. If you have a reddish brown colour then it would probably be great but I'm going to try and take mine back as at Β£12.50 it isn't so cheap. Especially the second time round.

More ginge Β 

More ginge Β 

Next up I thought I'd struck hairstyling gold by investing in some brown Batiste. The thought of camouflaging the grey, cleaning and volumising my hair in one go was an exciting prospect and I skipped back from Sainsbury's with it, all ready to put it into action. To be fair, this did do a pretty good job at covering the grey but it looked spectacularly awful in the daylight. My hair line looked truly bizarre as I resembled some ageing mobster who had attempted to spray on their barnet. I also noticed that my daughter got covered in brown dust everytime she touched my hair or I attempted to blow a raspberry on her tummy. Nice try, but definite hair fail.  

Toupe centralΒ 

Toupe central 

The L'Oreal 'Magic Retouch' next caught my eye and was on offer in Superdrug for around Β£5. I bought the 'dark blonde' colour (to be fair it was the only one they had left) although there are more colours in the range. Initially I thought this seemed alright and it had a much smaller nozzle for precision coverage. But alas, once again, in the cold light of day, the colour was distinctly orange (think satsuma) and I had to wash it straight out. 

No magic here Β 

No magic here Β 

And so to my final offering in the war against grey hair - Grecian 2000. I mentioned this in my previous post and honestly, it is the best colour match I can find. It is a bit of a pain to use (it comes in a foam or liquid) and it is quite hard to target specific areas as it is designed for an all over the head effect. It also takes quite a long time to build up the coverage (several applications) so it is all a bit of a faff. That said, it does give a reasonable match to my roots (no ginger, hallelujah) and is bloody cheap. 

A man, sorry, girl's best friend Β 

A man, sorry, girl's best friend Β 

Granted it is far from ideal, but in these desperate times it is the only option I have for covering my grey without looking like Joe Pesci in My Cousin Vinny.  

My new look Β 

My new look Β 


As ever, if anyone has any pearls of wisdom on how to cover grey in inflammatory individuals such as myself, then please do let me know. X  

'The hateful five'Β 

'The hateful five'Β 

My musings on the Mondeo of the skincare world - the Clarisonic Aria

As I lie here on my death bed I thought I would offer you my final musings on a recent skincare purchase. It seemed wrong to pass over to the other side without sharing these pearls of wisdom on the Clarisonic Aria.

OK, possibly slightly melodramatic (moi, never) but I have got a horrible gastric flu which has resulted in me being bed bound for 2 days. My poor husband has been an absolute star looking after our daughter, but it has made me seriously question having another one. I mean, how do you cope when you have to look after your child and you feel like death? I really don't know how people do it. Granted I am the LEAST stoical person when it comes to being ill. But my God, I am going to struggle..... 

Anyway, digression aside, I had promised/threatened to report back on the Clarisonic Aria which I started using about 6 weeks ago. Given my inability to do much else, now seemed like the perfect time to let you know my thoughts.

I love using my clarisonic with a full face of makeup onΒ 

I love using my clarisonic with a full face of makeup on 

I have wanted a Clarisonic for ages (ever since I saw Jaclyn Hill giving her review of the Mia 2 - here). I am a sucker for a gadget and given how beneficial proper cleansing has been to improving my skin, I thought an additional cleansing tool couldn't be a bad thing.  

My slight hesitation (other than the price) had been that it might aggravate my melasma. I saw an interview between Dr Sam Bunting and Caroline Hirons which eluded to this. Slightly frustratingly Dr Sam was about to give a good explanation of why you shouldn't increase the 'energy' on the skin with physical treatments if you have melasma - here, but Caroline talks over her a bit. Now, generally the skincare God that is Caroline Hirons can do no wrong, but I did shout at the computer at this point as I wanted to know what gems, Dr Sam had to offer - (God know's I can't afford to pay to see her!) I think the general message was that extreme physical treatments like microdermabrasion and waxing might increase hyperpigmentation (more agressive cleansing wasn't mentioned). Still, it was enough to stall my purchase.

You also never see any of the top skincare gurus talking about Clarisonics, which again made me suspicious, as surely if they were so good, Sali Huges et al would be shouting from the roof tops about them. Of a timely nature Olivia Palermo's IG post did feature a Clarisonic yesterday, but let's face it - Ms Palermo no doubt only has the cashmere clad hands of angels touching her face and this is most likely a sponsored post. 

Despite these concerns, needless to say I got drunk (disinhibited after a glass of Prosecco) one night after Christmas and ended up buying one . Reservations cast aside I therefore had to use it as they don't come cheap.

I've been using it for about 6 weeks now, and I only use it at night and in my problem areas - so nose, chin and a bit of forehead. (I avoid the melasma areas on my cheeks, just in case.)  The rest of my routine is completely the same. I still use a warm flannel to wipe off the cleanser after I've used the Clarisonic and I have stuck to using the same amount of acid exfoliators on top (for my current routine see post here). 

Here I am again - i could do this all day.......

Here I am again - i could do this all day.......

And.........  well........ I really like it! I think my chin spots have definitely improved and it definitely makes my skin feel cleaner and better prepped for my night time products. It is really quick and simple and less hassle than doing your own facial massage (which I'd kind of given up on since having a baby, anyway). I've not noticed any reaction to using it (and my skin is incredibly sensitive) no breakouts, dryness, redness or aggravation of melasma. Top marks.

On the few occasions I haven't bothered to use it (it is bloody noisy and I didn't want to risk waking my daughter one night) I've definitely felt less 'clean' and ended up using a more exfoliating cleanser (Tata Haper Regenerating Cleanser) instead. 

It is a lot of money but mine was reduced to Β£99 from Β£150 (here) and I suspect that there are always deals to be had. Also, when compared to the price of some of my more ridiculous serums, it really isn't so bad....... 

There are several different models and I'm not sure if it honestly makes much of a difference. I would recommend watching the instruction video here as I didn't have a clue how to use the thing initially. To be fair i also can't really change a lightbulb. 

When I posted about the Clarisonic on Instagram it got a fairly muted response. People seem to prefer acid exfoliants and hot flannels. I use them too and feel that for my skin at least, I can definitely use all these products together. I think Clarisonics have become a bit unfashionable (Mondeo anyone) but in my book are actually really good. 

So, a big thumbs up from me. Yes they do look like a giant Remmington Fuzz Away for your face, and make a questionable humming whilst in use. But I wouldn't be without mine now for a serious deep clean. 

Anyone else got any views on these? Please do let me know. X  

10 tips to save your hair!

It is no surprise to anyone who has a) seen me in the flesh or b) seen my manufactured Instagram feed, that I have been having a few barnet problems of late. Some of these I can blame my child, or more accurately, postpartum life for (I use this excuse way too often) whereas some are more longstanding. Either way, as much as I love the bobble hat my husband bought me for Christmas (was this a hint?) I can't wear it in the office.  

Thankfully it turns out there are lots of you with pearls of wisdom on how to stop the Rod Stewart effect (not that I don't ADORE the pint sized Scottish crooner - I just can't pull off his hairdo). So I have lovingly compiled the TOP 10 barnet savers below to help tackle hair loss, trauma, dye allergies and limp, thinning hair.  

Hair today.........gone tomorrow

Hair today.........gone tomorrow

Hair Loss/Damage

1. Olaplex  

Raved about by several people who really know their shit (Caroline Hirons I mean you). This is a treatment that you can either get done at the hairdressers or you can buy the No. 3 bottle online and use it yourself as a weekly treatment. Great for any kind of hair trauma (bleach, heat damage, life) it acts to help rebuild your hair. I've used it about 3 times now - too soon to see significant results but my hair loss/damage certainly hasn't got any worse in that time. I'm going to continue with this in my routine for a while. Not the cheapest at Β£26 for 100ml (I got mine a bit cheaper on Amazon) but I reckon it will last me a few months.  Cosmo review on 'the science bit' here.

KK swears by itΒ 

KK swears by it 

2. Floradix  

It turns out living on Haribo isn't that great for your hair. Actually that's not strictly true, it wasn't just Haribo, I also ate a lot of cake in the post partum period. Whatever, 3 months later my hair fell out. Could have be the hormones, but perhaps a steak or some spinach wouldn't have gone entirely amiss. Or, even easier, just take supplements. I was recommended Floradix in particular for an iron boost but also a general multivitamin would do the job. Hair needs food too, peeps. Just not of the sugar variety. 

More nutritious than HariboΒ 

More nutritious than Haribo 

3. L'0real Elvive Fibrology Thickness Booster  

Just started using this one as it is supposed to instantly boost the diameter of fine hair creating the illusion of fuller locks. As my balder bits do have a few baby hairs growing over them I thought I'd give it a try. You apply it after shampooing and before your conditioner in the shower and there is supposed to be an immediate thickening effect which also increases over time. God know's what coating is being thrust upon my feeble strands and frankly who cares, if it works.  I've only used it once and it looked a little bit thicker so I may as well use it all up, although never going to be Barry Gibb on this stuff alone. Β£3.99 for 30ml here.

We have the technology Β 

We have the technology Β 

4. VO5 Plump It Up Amplifying Blow Dry Lotion

Continuing on the 'fake it till you make it' theme I swear by the this stuff for adding volume. I've tried loads of expensive alternatives but always come back to this. It 100% adds volume without giving you the Brillo pad effect and is dirt cheap. Β£3 for 200ml but always on offer here.

Bargainous volume Β 

Bargainous volume Β 

Β 

5. Dry Shampoo  

I use about a can of Batiste a week - I live by the stuff. I was slightly offended when my husband said that the smell of it reminded him of me. Not Chanel no 5, not wild roses, sodding Batiste. You know what, it saves me hours in the morning so I'll take it. Top tip is to put it on at night so that it gets properly absorbed and avoids that not cool grey effect you can get if you spray too close to your hair and don't rub it in. Saves hours washing and adds tonnes of volume. 

6. Kerastase Specifique Aminexil Force R

I've had two different people recommend this to me for hair loss recently. I've yet to try it but it seems worth a shot, although expensive. You apply a sachet a day to your hair and after 6 weeks it is supposed to be thicker and stronger. I'm dawdling because of the price although currently on offer at Β£84 for a 6 week treatment here.

Expensive but worth it? Β 

Expensive but worth it? Β 

7. Braids  

Not joking here. I've had to be very creative at hiding my bald AND grey spots which are much worse around my temples. Check out the Instagram account of @erinelizabethh who has video tutorials and loads of braid inspiration. It actually works really well to hide certain areas - although slightly infantilising. 

Braid time Β 

Braid time Β 

Grey hair/allergies to hair dye  

8. Alternatives to PPD

For all you people with normal immune systems and a great head of all over colour - that's nice. Now go away. For the poor sods like me who are horribly allergic to one of the major components of hair dye, read on. Sadly I discovered the hard way about 7 years ago that I am extremely allergic to hair dye. I'd always had blonde highlights and had never had any problems. But one fateful day I went for an all over dark tint and fuck me, I nearly went blind. Bleach highlights hadn't caused me too many problems since then but unfortunately I discovered I am also really allergic to toner - so much so that my hairdressers have refused to dye my hair again. Apparently sensitivity does increase, especially after you've had a baby. Helpful.

Clearly there are bigger fish to fry in he world right now than my grey hair but I have to admit I was quite sad when I was told that dyeing was no longer an option. Thankfully several of you got in contact to recommend some hair salons which are specifically for people with dye allergies - God bless you!  I've yet to book my appointment as I'm waiting for my patch test rash to die down (yes, really). But here is the list. 

Glasshouse Salon in London Fields

Karine Jackson in Covent Garden  

Josh Wood Atelier (who use the Wella Innosense PPD free dyes)  

9. Grecian 2000

I kid you not! Mostly used by men called Alan from the Midlands circa 1988, but my dirty little secret. Really good if you have loads of little grey hairs and are hideously (and I mean hideously) allergic to hair dye. You can put this on dry or wet hair and build it up to cover grey (can be washed straight out). Not the best effect but it does do the job and frankly beggars can't be choosers at this point. At around Β£10 for a can that will last you ages it is a bargain - although be warned if you have white pillow cases or towels as it does get everywhere!  

Look like a man from the Midlands Β 

Look like a man from the Midlands Β 

10. Go for the chop  

I'm loathe to put this here, as if you are reading this you are a) my mother or b) someone who wants help with their hair without having to resort to cutting it off. I am resisting so far but a good hack of my lengthy split ends probably wouldn't go amiss. I'll keep you posted on this but going for a restyle would most likely improve my barnet no end. 

Cut this woman's hair off. Please. Β 

Cut this woman's hair off. Please. Β 

If, after all this you are still hungry for MORE hair knowledge then you can also watch this latest Caroline Hirons blog here. She lists loads of products which are good for restoring the lustre of hair. I've tried a few and particularly keen to get my mitts on some of her recommendations. 

So there you have it - top 10 tips to restore your schujj. Any other ideas people have do let me know. All of your advice is very gratefully received! X  

Β 

Sample time! Les Beiges & Estee Lauder Double Wear

Β 

I am definitely a 'skin' girl. Eyes, lips and cheeks all come second to having really beautiful skin, when I'm focusing on makeup. This is probably because I have never had naturally nice skin - I've always had some element of acne, pigmentation and now wrinkles on the go. And let's face it, we want what we can't have......

I also crave the 'no makeup' look because although it is possible to cover up every blemish under a tonne of makeup, the result tends to be massively ageing. I'm really not into the whole 7 layers of foundation, concealer, contouring, highlighter, bronzer Kardashian look. Not because I don't think she looks good, but because I simply don't have the time or expertise to apply all this stuff. Plus with my lifestyle (more washing the carpet than walking the red version) I would look like a bloody idiot. Lisa Eldridge gives a good explanation of how to achieve the natural look when applying foundation and concealer in order to cover spots and create a no makeup look (here) - although it does take a bit of time, which isn't always available with a screaming small person. 

So the search for the perfect foundation  - achieving the right balance between coverage, glow and 'natural' finish - has been a long one. Sigh.

I'm a big fan of Chanel makeup and was introduced to them when I had the makeup for my wedding done a few years ago. I currently use their Vitalumiere in no. 20 which I love but it is a very light coverage and I wanted something with a bit more oomph. I also have their CC cream which is an SPF 50 and I bought last summer. It is really thick and does the job but feels a bit too heavy and the colour is not quite right for me.  

So I was very excited when I heard that Les Beiges Healthy Glow foundation was being released and the reviews I'd read so far were good. (Caroline Hirons review here).

I decided to go down the sample route pre purchase of foundation as I am one of those people who always feels obliged to buy a product once someone has applied it for me (sucker) regardless of whether I like it or not. Thankfully Chanel & EstΓ©e Lauder counters in Fenwick's gave me samples without a thought (God Bless ya).

I actually started with EstΓ©e Lauder Double Wear as my skin had massively broken out all over my chin and I needed some serious war paint to cover it. I have been wanting to try this for ages as it is the 'UK's best selling makeup' and it covers ANYTHING. However, I'd also always had my reservations as it is soooo heavy and I wanted to avoid the 'caked on' look (note there is a double wear maximum camouflage option as well which i didn't try but I suspect requires paint stripper to remove).

image.jpg

I was matched as 2N1 'desert beige' which was a reasonable colour for my skin, although maybe slightly dark. I used it sparingly and was impressed by the excellent coverage of the red, angry welts on my chin. It gave a nice look initially but after about an hour I did think I looked a bit dull and there was no glow to my skin. Overall I would say it was an excellent concealer and would use it for that rather than an all over makeup. I have actually tried the double wear concealer which I don't like as much. Weird, I know! A good one to have in the makeup kit although probably not something I am going to rush out and buy. Available here at Β£30 a pop.

So, on to the main event - Les beiges. I put this over the Chanel micro hydra beauty serum which I really like but probably wouldn't repurchase as cheaper products do a similar job.  

It is a nice creamy texture and definitely thicker than the Vitalumiere. The colour was also a good match for my skin although initially I thought it looked slightly too light. I applied with fingers and waited for the magic to happen - I.e for me to become Giselle, who is fronting their campaign. When this transformation failed to materialise I was a bit miffed. And a bit underwhelmed. My skin looked OK but not significantly different to using the vitalumiere. I also has to go in with a bit of the double wear on my chin as it was so red (and this covered it really well). 

So after a disappointing start I was a bit underwhelmed. But when I looked at my skin a bit later on the way to work it did just look "good". Really good actually. Very natural and soft but with a decent amount of coverage. It also looked good a few hours later...... and that afternoon.....and later that evening.....you get the drift. It lasted really well and importantly no caking under the eye.

image.jpg

There wasn't a massive amount of 'glow' going on (not as much as the Vitalumiere) but certainly a kind of healthy radiance - exactly like they said. I read that if you want a real glow you should buy the shade lighter. Personally I'm just going to chuck my Laura Mercier Radiance Primer on underneath and see if that boosts things a bit. 

I have to say I do really like this. There are a couple of other foundations I want to try (Makeup Forever HDYSL TouchΓ© Eclat Foundation,Charlotte Tillbury Magic Foundation) but I suspect I will end up going back and buying this. Β£36 for a magic pot (here) and well worth the price. x

Β 

It's a wrap

So there you have it; 6 months of maternity leave pretty much OVAH. I'd like to be able to succinctly sum it up- the giddy highs and bone thumping lows- but to be honest it's all been a bit of a blur.

I vaguely remember buying a lot of mohair jumpers (still unclear why), swaying at all times (even when not holding my baby) and becoming captivated by The Real House Wives of Beverly Hills (Lisa Vanderpump, I love you). I also discovered my inner loathing for group activities aimed at 'mums & babies' (shudder) and consequently spent an obscene amount of time on social media whist feeding my baby in various places around the South Circular.

I have cleansed, shopped and sworn my way through 6 months and by some complete miracle (my husband is as confused as me) we have managed to produce an unbelievably awesome baby*. Only time will tell what the collateral damage of my ferocious selfie taking will have had on her psyche, but for now, she rules. Literally rules. 

It was with a mixture of pride and disappointment this week, that I was informed by the child minder that my daughter had barely mustered a tear during her first session (seriously, she could have cried a bit). I dealt with the situation in a suitably adult way - I picked a fight with my husband and sobbed to the final episode of Fargo (series 2). Other than this unremarkable outburst, it has been business as usual. 

To be fair, I've got it easy. I'm only going back part time and the blow of having to earn a crust is being softened by the handy location of a SpaceNK right near work (score). My skincare addiction can continue (although with possibly a little less spritzing and staring in mirrors than I currently do 😳) and I can get back to applying my years of study to actual practice. Above all, I can finally have a shit in peace (apologies to my colleagues in advance). 

It has been a total revelation (who knew my skin would respond so well to acid exfoliators) sort of joking there.........learning all my daughter has to offer (deciphering the yells) and learning more about myself and my relationship than I could ever have imagined.

It has been a TOTAL BLAST! I am the mother of a tiny DRAGON but I am ready to re-embrace my work life - and anyway, I have a sneaking suspicion that it won't be too long before the next one comes along........X 

 *entirely unbiased viewpoint 

We are family Β 

We are family Β 

If it ain't broke

Like many skincare addicts I am constantly wanting to try the latest 'magic potion' which is *guaranteed* to give me the skin of a new born baby. I have stacks of serums and creams strewn across my bedside table, competing to make it into that day's routine.  

It is true that skincare regimes benefit from being able to adapt to current skin needs - more layers of hydration when dehydrated in the winter, increased salicylic and exfoliation when breaking out. But switching things up too much can often result in you never knowing what actually works for your skin, or products not having long enough to show results. 

Over the last month I have (for once) been sticking to a reasonably stable routine - which I am tentatively declaring a success! I will always have less than perfect skin (hyperpigmentation, acne scars, broken veins....) and without actual treatment, I don't expect those to change. But I do feel that the background quality of my skin in terms of brightness and reduced breakouts, can be improved.  

And so, what has been working? 

I probably rotate my cleansers the most in my routine and I have an obscene number of them. But the ones I use the most are the Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm, Eve Lom Cleanser and Ren No.1 Purity Cleansing Balm. I use with flannels in the morning & I've just started using with my Clarisonic Aria over the last week for nighttime. I LOVE them all and these products, above all else in my routine, have reduced my breakouts significantly.  

Following this I have been using the Pixi Glow Tonic morning & night. Occasionally my skin feels a bit stripped and tight so I give it a miss at night (especially if I am using Alpha H Liquid Gold, which I I do about twice a week). I never used to use a regular acid toner, but have liked using this (and am really addicted to the smell - I know, bit strange!)

My daytime skincare routine is normally the most varied but for the last month I've been fairly consistent. I've used the Hylamide SubQ Anti Age serum and Low Molecular HA Hydration Boost serum which absorb really quickly and layer so well. Hard to say if my skin is significantly plumped with these, but it does feel hydrated and smooth - and they are seriously good value! 

Over this I use the EstΓ©e Lauder Antioxidant Daywear SPF 50. It smells lovely, gives a great glow and most importantly has SPF 50 which is essential after all my acid exfoliating.  

Good Morning!!!!!!!!Β 

Good Morning!!!!!!!!Β 

At night I have cut out several steps. I was initially using the Hylamide serums at night but they didn't mix with my other products. So, after a double cleanse I go straight for the good stuff. I slather (cautiously as it is soooo expensive) Cult 51 cream over my skin. It feels gorgeous, my skin drinks it up, and without fail it looks better in the morning after I've used this.  

My final step is always an oil. I tend to wait about 20 mins before I put this on to make sure all of my Cult 51 has been absorbed. Then it is 3/4 of a pipette full of Sunday Riley's Juno oil. I really like this oil although suspect that I will try a different one from her collection next as I am so curious about the range.  

Get your sleep on Β 

Get your sleep on Β 

So there it is. My current skincare essentials. Spritzing and masks make guest appearances, but these guys are my right hand men of the moment. Give me good glow! X  

The wind in my sales

Thanks to my ferocious pre Christmas spending, my usual January sales splurge has actually been very modest this year. Perhaps it has something to do with the 'no man's land' of maternity leave, where days of the week and hours of the day lose their meaning....... Where was I? Oh, yes: I was talking about shopping. 

I have racked up some major sales binges in previous years (sort of proud, sort of not proud). I have a tendency to get a bit overwhelmed when faced with racks of discounted goodies and have often arrived home from Oxford Street with a raft of unsuitable outfits and virtual kidney failure, having had "no time" to stop for refreshment. 

Anyway, all change this year. Not only has my focus drifted more towards skincare (my body has been so many different shapes and sizes over the last 12 months I've temporarily given up on clothes) but I've also had limited access to the shops. Sales shopping with a screaming baby is my idea of torture - so close and yet so goddam far! 

So my offerings are limited but potentially winners. Oh, and only two of them were actually in the sale. Whoops.  

New shirt, new cardigan, new(ish) baby

New shirt, new cardigan, new(ish) baby

First up, my Topshop denim shirt. Totally unexciting but a complete winner and half price at Β£18! 

Β 

Unfortunately, as is often the way, once I was in Topshop I ended up trying on all their new season stuff and found myself buying this beaut of a dress. Sadly I have expanded out a whole dress size over Christmas (wtf) which made for a tense half an hour in the changing room. I REFUSED to accept that I was no longer my standard Topshop size 11 and walked away with the 12. Obviously I am going to lose the weight......... 


Next up I stumbled across a new branch of Question Air which has opened up dangerously close to my house. I took the opportunity to ignore every heavily discounted garment and walked out with the full price American Vintage cardigan which I have been lusting after. It is great. I felt a bit guilty and then remembered that I'm going back to work in 3 weeks, so sod it. 

Cardigan love - even full price! Β 

Cardigan love - even full price! Β 

Skincare never really goes on sale so I have limited bargains to report on that front, save for the Clarisonic Aria which I bought when a bit pissed one evening whilst breast feeding. The danger of evening online shopping.

A lovely, fellow instagrammer posted a link to this and it had a whopping Β£50 off. I have wanted one of these bad boys for ages but resisted as they are so expensive. However, when reduced to Β£99 and after 2 glasses of prosecco it seemed like a perfectly reasonable acquisition.

i just love using my clarisonic with a full face of makeup on, during the day

i just love using my clarisonic with a full face of makeup on, during the day

I will do a full review at a later date. They do seem to be the Mondeo of the skincare world right now: deeply unfashionable but very functional. I have to say that I love it and after only a week of use my skin looks better already. But it ain't no glycolic/lactic/salicylic/DNA forming facial pad so they don't really get a look in any more. Cruel, cruel skincare world. Nothing wrong with a power tool. 

And so there you have it. Short and sweet: my current sales/non sales purchases. I love them all. May the shopping force be with you. X 

The etiquette of buying Christmas gifts - for yourself

I'm not quite sure what the etiquette of buying yourself Christmas presents involves. It all feels a bit sneaky and decidedly un-festive. Better to give than to receive? How about doing both?  

I am a compulsive shopper. If you have read any of my previous blog posts this will come as no great shock. So surely buying for others, which appears to be the central tenant of this 'holiday' should be a no brainer? Well, yes and no. I've got shopping for the laydeees in my life down: young or old they all get skincare. The boys and men? I'm hopeless. I can't get excited about sourcing ninjango toys and neck ties. And as for buying for my husband - nightmare and picky doesn't even begin to cover it. 

And as so often happens, I find myself setting out for the shops with good intentions and ending up buying a shit load of swag for me. Take yesterday. I had my eye on a great weekend bag (a middle class necessity if ever there was) for Monsieur picky and I (foolishly) thought a dead cert. Only the 'handles were too skinny.' WTF? Unfortunate as the satchels by the same range were *totes amaze* - (good pun, eh?) So I may have inadvertently bought one of these beauts for myself. And nothing for my husband........ 

Better to give AND receiveΒ 

Better to give AND receive 

And whilst we are on the subject I *may* have got a bit bored whilst shopping for my nephew and brother in laws and ended up browsing in Topshop and Mac. Busted.  

Unlikely to contain the perfect present for an 8 year old boy

Unlikely to contain the perfect present for an 8 year old boy

But what to do post shopping binge? Claim that these goodies are from my 4 month old daughter? Try and justify their necessity in my life?  Hard to do with a pink lipstick. Wrap them up and put them under the tree? Bit creepy. Declare it a selfless act of altruism? - you simply wanted to take the buying pressure OFF your nearest and dearest. I've decided to go for the fifth option which is to brazen it out. Wear everything straight away and look fab in the run up to Christmas. My husband: 'is that new?' Me: 'yes'. Pause....... Husband: 'Sighs'. 

Brazening it out and about with my new bag Β 

Brazening it out and about with my new bag Β 

It does make family Christmas a bit more embarrassing when you walk in clad head to toe in new stuff and you've bought everyone the same CD from the Texaco garage round the corner.  

Which brings me nicely to the subject of wish lists. Poor form or genius? Our family is split down the middle between 'Russian Roulette' present buying and the 'Captain Sensible' whatsapp present lists. I have a foot in both camps. I have a skincare wish list as long as your arm (all of the Zelens serums, Tatcha luminous dewy skin mist & soothing triple recovery cream, May Lindstrom Blue Cocoon, Clarisonic........) but I also do love a good surprise.

My nearest and dearest have gone for the latter so Christmas Day could really go either way. At least if I do get given a tub of yardley bath cubes for Christmas the emotional fallout will be mitigated by all of my recent purchases. My lips will be flushed pink (with new lipsticks) and will be the focal point of my 'gracious look' as I accept my presents. Although if anyone I know reads this blog post they would be completely justified in getting me coal - spoilt spilt milk doesn't even cover it! 

Until the sales.........X  

Crude oil

Aside from cleansers, facial oils are the other must have component of my skincare routine. I don't feel ready to go to sleep at night unless I have doused my face (and unfortunately my carpet - that stuff stains grrr) in large quantities of oil. I am heavy handed when it comes to application - no 'two pea sized drops' for me - I want to be able to cook a family sized portion of chips on my face before breakfast. 

But before I begin eulogising about how great oils are it is probably worth clearing up the myth that oils are bad for the skin and cause spots. Not so - read here. I've had acne for most of my life and believe me, oils have only improved my skin. The Nouvelle Daily blog did a great post: 'An oil for every skin type'  which saves me having to embarrass myself by trying to talk about the science behind why oils work so well for your skin. 

I went BIG for oils about 2 years ago. My skin was in a mess, I was working hard, drinking lots of coffee, sleeping badly etc etc - it left me with the dullest skin and even with a serious dollop of night creme ( I was using Sisley Restorative Facial Creme at the time) my skin just always felt dry by the morning.  

By the time I got pregnant last year I was already a convert. My skin got much thirstier with the baby guzzler on board and I was a bit more wary about using toxic goo on my face - so again, my oil addiction just got even more out of control. 

I've tried going back to not using oils and just sticking to serums and night cremes instead. Sadly, they just don't cut the mustard in quite the same way and my skin is never as well hydrated in the morning. I actually now tend to skip a night time serum in favour of Juno (see below) on its own (after a good exfoliation) or after a dollop of Cult 51. My skin in the morning is definitely the best it has ever been with this routine.

My gateway oils were a couple of general crowd pleasers that are often recommended on various 'best for your skin' lists. I went for the Keihl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate (Β£36 for 30ml) and the Neal's Yard Rehydrating Facial Rose Oil - Β£20 for 30ml. Both good, hard working oils that are a great follow up on top of a night cream - although I wouldn't necessarily use them straight on the skin as a single treatment as they don't give me quite enough oomph. I've long since finished the midnight recovery and am on my second bottle of rose oil. Good job peeps. 

Neal's yard strikes again! Β 

Neal's yard strikes again! Β 

I also went to Morrocco last year where I NOT ONLY went to an argan oil cooperative (yep, they saw me coming) but I also bought virtually the entire crop. I was throwing this stuff around like it was going out of fashion: on my face, hair, body, cereal - I bloody stank. Actually it did get a bit whiffy at times and I pity my poor husband having to lie next to a nutty smelling oil slick. Still, that stuff is liquid gold and my skin and hair (if not my husband) thanked me for it. Neal's yard also do a good argan oil Β£17.50 for 50ml - cheaper than an Easyjet flight and 4 nights in a riad.

Argan oil (from random co-operative in Morroco, Marula Oil (African Botanicals) and Jojoba Oil by MV Organics Β 

Argan oil (from random co-operative in Morroco, Marula Oil (African Botanicals) and Jojoba Oil by MV Organics Β 

Sticking on pure oils I've also used rosehip (good for scarring) and jojoba and marula oils. They are all good for skin suppleness, hydration and are packed full of antioxidants. Ideally you are looking for cold pressed, top quality oils with NO additional ingredients. Many claim that oils are ridiculously overpriced and you are most likely paying for packaging/branding - this is probably the case for pure oils (I'm not going to pay Β£50 for 30ml of Argan oil) but i think with the higher end mixes (incorporating additional skincare ingredients) you do end up getting what you pay for. Be warned that oils do have a shelf life, so you don't want to leave them festering for too long. Read more about the top natural oils and what they are best at here.

Hipster rosehip (from TKMaxx bargain bin) Β 

Hipster rosehip (from TKMaxx bargain bin) Β 

Moving on to more of a big spender in the oil stakes are the Sunday Riley crew. Here is a great explanation by Ms Riley herself (in conversation with PIxiwoo) about which oil to choose based on your skin type. I started out with 'Flora' which is supposed to be for older and more mature skin. I thought it was great although I only had a sample size. It was enough to convince me to try more of their offerings and I went for Juno next. I have to say I have been really pleased with it and so far it has provided an unparalleled glow - although it is a whopping Β£70 so you'd like to think you'd wake up with a smile on your face (and no wrinkles) for that price. Available here.

Mummy and baby Riley Β 

Mummy and baby Riley Β 

 I've not been brave enough to try Luna as I've read so many mixed reviews - I have also been steering clear of retinols (or derivatives) whilst preggo/breastfeeding. Given that i have acne it would be the natural choice for me plus IT IS BLUE. Cool. Hirons likes it. Nuff said. 

On my oil wish list (other than Luna) is definitely the Kypris range and in particular the moonlight catalyst which is apparently an alternative to retinol (normally available from Selfridges but currently out of stock -boo). As ever a comprehensive review of the product range here by Caroline Hirons (before they changed their prices) and also the organic bunny.

Kypris I WANT YOU! Β 

Kypris I WANT YOU! Β 

Β 

So, there you have it. I love oils as the final part of my bedtime routine and can't go to bed without them (or my Gerard Butler cutout). The only downside is they stain your carpet if you drop them (which I somehow always manage to do) they turn your pillowcases brown and they are somewhat of a passion killer based on odour, taste and their ability to make you look like an otter. Still, what price good skin, eh? Xx  

Aperol Spritz

I am trying, trying, trying to put a positive spin on the fact that I was up at 1am, 2.30am and 5am. AGAIN. But it is hard. I have verbally abused my husband, kicked a few things around the house and been reduced to tears over emotionally manipulative Christmas adverts - and it is still only mid morning. 

Sleep deprivation is a cruel mistress and one that I sense is going to be around for a while. It is also a punishing time for your skin, which is supposed to be boosting its good self whilst you slumber. Which got me thinking at 3am this morning  -  how can I make this enforced awake time count?  

I'd like to think that I could be slapping on masks or exfoliating up a storm whilst I soothe my screaming, sleep fighting monster, sorry, daughter back to sleep. But let's face it: the wee hours of the morning when you are struggling to find your sick encrusted dressing gown and negotiate sodden breast pads IN THE DARK are not the ideal time to get your inner spa on.  Yet, I do always wake up with hardened dribble all over my chin and a witching hour intervention is definitely required. 

And so, as of 2 nights ago I decided to adopt a 3am spritz policy. Cue the 'Beauty Elixir' by French pharmacy good timers, Caudalie. I bought this product on the back of much hype a few months ago pre daughter and I haven't really given it much use.  

During the sweaty, uncomfortable summer months of my pregnancy I used the Neal's Yard White Tea Facial Mist a A LOT. It was given to me as part of a set and I can't say I'd ever really used a spritz before or much seen the point of them. However during the summer months when my skin was an uncomfortable and confusing mix of dry, sweaty and greasy (courtesy of SPF) I found this spritz in the afternoon, pre commute home, a real help. It was refreshing and you also felt that it was giving just a bit of organic goodness back to my poor skin. It is full of antioxidant white tea, calming aloe vera and organic essential oils. Β£11.50 for 45ml available here.

Love a bit of this Β 

Love a bit of this Β 

By the time I'd bought the Caudalie elixir I had bigger fish to fry (the birth of my daughter) and although I RIDICULOUSLY entertained the idea of spritzing my way through labour (honestly, wtf?) I never ended up using it. However, a one handed spritz is the easiest thing to use when holding a child (assuming you don't end up spritzing them too) and is the lowest maintenance skin care routine out there.  

image.jpg

And so I've decided to start using this must have mist at night to try and offer a bit of hydration to my skin during my forced nighttime waking. It takes seconds, makes no sound and I just leave it next to the cot (alongside the gin). Grape, orange blossom, rose, organic balm mint and a bit of rosemary. What's not to love for your face? I'd like to say it also soothes my daughter to sleep but hey, let's not get carried away. Β£11.50 for 30ml available here.

I've also taken to using a bit of mummy's other little helper - Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Creme (NOT Valium, although that would be nice.....) Post attacking my skin and leaving it a crusty mass (read about my traumas here) I have needed a round the clock hydration strategy on my chin which is almost more demanding than my daughter's feeding regime. Again, night time application of this multi purpose blitzer has tried to limit some of the damage of my overzealous spot squeezing. Β£26 for 50ml available here.

Mummy's little helper Β 

Mummy's little helper Β 

So, every cloud has a silver lining. I need to keep repeating this to try and convince myself of its truth. I may not sleep but I do have precious hours to spritz long into the night - bet you are jealous, right?  

Oh and finally - my dream, lust after spritz is the Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Mist. I know this is more of a daytime, pre makeup application spritz for a Kardashian worthy glow (thanks Jaclyn Hill for the heads up). But I would LOVE to try this both day and night - Vivianna Does Make Up review here. Bit of a pain to get in the UK but Santa, if you are listening? 

On my lust list Β 

On my lust list Β 

Finger lickin good

I don't know what possessed me but a couple of nights ago I was left unattended and committed a cardinal skin sin. I spent some quality time in front of the bathroom mirror terrorising my poor, poor face. 

My husband is constantly telling me to stop picking my face and i had been really good of late - frankly I just hadn't had the time. But I fell off the wagon hard on Thursday night. The lure of two deep spots on my chin that have been there for ages was just too much. ........

Nothing to see here - as long as I bend forward with my hand over my chin

Nothing to see here - as long as I bend forward with my hand over my chin

I was also overconfident, fresh from reading Caroline Hirons' latest cheat sheet on 'How to Pop a Spot'. She gives a thorough run down on how to mitigate disaster if you do fall into the trap of a good squeeze, but her main advice - and one that I echo is - DO NOT BURST SPOTS. EVER. Especially not ones that are so deep they go all the way down to your toes and you have no hope of removing the source. 

Unfortunately my brazen flouting of the rules of spot club resulted in a horrible, bloody mess with no satisfying end. I was hygienic, I applied bucket loads of salicylic acid and followed up with round the clock oil and Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour cream. But despite my best endeavours I have had to sit through a Sunday lunch with a horrible flaking scab on my chin that only looked worse after concealer had been applied.

By 4pm I had to put my scarf on (it was bloody boiling and I looked like a right t**t) because after a quick loo mirror inspection I realised that my whole chin was peeling off and even a trauma surgeon would have been put off their rhubarb crumble. I was back to my 17 year old acne ridden self (shudder).

Ok, so I exaggerate for effect but honestly, it was not a good look and you just feel soooo self conscious - way worse than having the original spot. It is also certainly true that it just ends up spreading the bacteria around the offending area. 12 hours in to 'spot gate' and there were a bunch of groupie white heads hanging around the area, looking for a pustular partaay on my chin. 

So, you have been warned. Sit on your hands, buy scratch mitts, wear a balaclava or whatever you need to do but AVOID squeezing that spot at all costs. It's not big and it's definitely not clever and your face will thank you for it in the morning. X 

Necessity is the mother of invention

Yesterday, once again, the water supply to our house was cut off. We seem to live on the leakiest hill in South London and this is not an infrequent occurrence.  

Whilst on the one hand I was celebrating (any excuse not to shower) and reaching for the Batiste (again) it did leave me cleanser less. Whilst I have many different kinds of cleanser ALL of them require water for a good rinse at the end. 

Anyway, as not cleansing is NEVER an option I decided to try using coconut oil which I've heard a variety of people (including a recent post by @theejude) advocate for skincare.

Thankfully we had a brand new pot of the stuff. Organic with no added ingredients so perfect for the job - a lucky coincidence as it is the only one that Sainsbury's stocks near us.  

So, with no alternative option I slapped the coconut goo on my face. It instantly reduced down into an oil that was very easy to spread on my face. I wasn't really sure whether i was supposed to leave it on my skin or to try and remove it. In the end I sort of half wiped off some of the oil off with a cotton pad and then applied my usual skincare.  

It felt slightly wrong putting this on my face (a bit like smearing lard on my skin - nice) but initially it seemed to do a nice job at cleaning my skin - although without water I never feel completely clean. 

However, by the end of yesterday (and to be fair it was a particularly fraught day-did I mention my daughter is teething? MISERY for all of us) my skin just looked a bit dull. Not terrible, not breaking out, just dull. I do think a good cleanse in the morning (with a flannel and bit of exfoliation) is really important. If anything, I now feel a bit more justified in buying all my cleansers because I think they do make a difference.  

However, coconut oil is also recommended as a leave on oil as well as just a cleanser. I'm happy to try this instead - let's see if it works. Any experiences with using natural cleansers do let me know. X  

I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts....oh no i don't. I have a bowl of clementines.Β 

I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts....oh no i don't. I have a bowl of clementines.Β