A blog for fashion, beauty, hair, cosmetics and lifestyle

30 Aug 2016

Gym makeup - what I wear

Wearing makeup at the gym - yes or no? It seems to be such a huge debate, with people on one side shaming women for wearing makeup to exercise, and the other side where women feel ashamed to leave the house without makeup. It's a minefield. Some arguments say it's bad for your skin, but then so is sweat - wash it all off when you get home! It sometimes feels that the anti-makeup brigade feel if someone wants to wear makeup in the gym, it must mean they don't put effort in or aren't taking exercise seriously. (although to me, exercise is a hobby, and I don't take any hobbies too seriously, they're meant to be fun right?). I also totally sympathise with people who feel they might like to wear a little makeup for a confidence boost. I've had terrible skin, if I felt self-conscious about another spot on my face it would definitely distract me from lifting! Vain and self-conscious, me? Yes. In a world where people get judged for wearing too much makeup and also for not wearing any, is there a right answer?

I am clearly a no makeup to the gym kinda girl when I'm going first thing in the morning - what's the point? I'm only going to wash my face when I've finished! However my favourite gym time is the second I get home from work. I like to throw my laptop and work bag into the house, quickly get into my gym gear and get straight out the door again. I take a nano second to throw my hair up, but I don't bother taking my makeup off! Then I can go run, punch or stretch out the stress of the day and start my evening right. However, this means that for gym days, I have to make sure my makeup will survive the whole day at work plus a workout. Here's what I wear. 

Blusher: a tiny dot of MAC Casual Colour in Keep it Loose

And how I look after exercise (I did a Kayla Itstines arms and abs circuit and weight lifting):

I find the makeup mostly stays in place. Because my foundation is so thin, more of a tinted moisturiser, it tends to melt off over the course of the day so I don't get the foundation sweat moustache look. The eyeliner and mascara stays nicely in place and a gel blusher means it also tends to melt away more easily than a powder blush. I'm most impressed with the eyeliner and mascara - normally I'm a bit panda-eyed by lunchtime with some formulas but these really are sweat proof!


23 Aug 2016

Evening Skincare Routine - a spotty blogger's discoveries

Here's part 2 of my skincare journey. Check out this post for my spotty bloggers daytime skincare routine! As I said before, I'm doing my best to treat my skin really well, using guidance from lots of bloggers and beautiful friends.

My evening routine is a little more complicated than my morning one as I have more time. I like the idea of piling on products and waking up the next morning looking like a different person! This routine is the one I generally use for "maintenance" when my skin is doing ok. I will share my spotty skin routine soon. 

1. Double Cleanse 
When I've had a long day with makeup and SPF on my face, a double cleanse means I can get all grime off and reduce the chances of spots. I like to use Body Shop Camomile Cleansing oil first (£10) to get off the greasy residue. You put this onto your dry skin and massage, then wet hands and massage again to form a bit of soap, then wash off with a CLEAN face cloth. I follow this up with Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter (£10 in the tin). Again you take a tiny bit of this and massage it into your dry face. It will melt into an oil, and then wet and foam, and remove with a face cloth again. These last ages as you only use a tiny bit.

2. Gentle Exfoliate
Again, I don't use physical exfoliators much, but this gentle one from Indeed is quite nice. It's a powder you add a few drops of water to and rub it into your skin gently. This is Indeed Powdered Exfoliator (currently £12.66)

3. Remove makeup
I make sure I have all last traces of makeup off with micellar water. My currently favourite is the Garnier micellar water (£3.33) because it's such great value for money and really gentle on my sensitive eyes. I tried the Garnier oil infused ones and my eyes swelled up enormously! I use a cotton pad to wipe away all my last eye makeup and anything else I've missed when half asleep.

4. Acid tone
The acid in my evening tone is Salycilic acid (an LHA) in this La Roche-Posay Efficlar lotion (£11). It helps unclog pores, perfect skin and reduce oil. Tingly!

5. Retinol
Retinol is a form of vitamin A and is given to people with acne to help soothe away spots and marks caused by scarring. It's also great for wrinkles so perfect for anti-ageing issues. I use Indeed Labs Retinol Reface (currently £13.33). It contains three forms of retinol, because we actually break it down within the cell to create all the lovely retin that we need for smooth skin and smaller pores. I love this product and have noticed a really quick difference in my skin.

6. Serum
I have put three products together in the photo, but I would only use one. A serum helps nourish skin overnight and pump in some moisture which is plumping. My favourite, hard-working serum is Vichy Lift Activ Serum 10 Supreme (currently £22.31). It contains hyaluronic acid and Rhamnose to help speed up skin renewal to keep skin looking young and fresh. Plus the hyaluron is apparently great for moisturising. I also like The Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Serum in oil (£15) which smells yummy and feels like a real treat, although is definitely a night product. My other favourite is Body Shop Bouncy Sleep Mask (£24) which is super-moisturising and feels really novel to sleep in a mask! Read my review here

7. Eye Cream
Night is a good time to use a lovely, thick eye cream. I have been using Perricone MD hypoallergenic eye cream which is very expensive at around £55 but any nice thick lotion would do well. Focus on ageing formulas, but keep an eye on developing small milia which indicate too much moisture!

Hope the post is helpful! I'll post a breakdown of top cleansers, masks and treatments soon!

20 Aug 2016

Daytime Skincare Routine - a spotty blogger's discoveries

Recently I've gotten into skincare in a big way. As an acne-riddled teenager, enjoying skincare would have been ridiculous. It was all creams, smelly lotions and gels which bleached the pillows! Yuck! Thankfully Roaccutaine and the contraceptive pill Yasmin cleared that up and my skin slowly started to recover.

Fast-forward to my late 20s, and a few months ago I came off the pill due to a cervical cancer scare (read Megan's blog Wonderful You for a fantastic account of why you should get a smear test ladies, she had a similar experience to me). Being a scientist, I read lots of journal papers and found there was a link between the contraceptive pill and becoming more susceptible to cervical cancer, so I decided to come off it. The only scary thing was that my pill had been helping me manage my skin for so long, I was terrified my acne would come back.

In an attempt to combat this, I decided to up my skincare game with support from my lovely friend Danni (who even remembers to use a perfect skincare routine when she's drunk - I've seen the evidence) and Queen Caroline Hirons. Through this morning routine, and my evening routine which I will share later this week, I've managed to keep my skin in control and glowing! 

 Me teaching the mother in law how to pout at the weekend! 

Here is my regular skincare routine in the mornings to last me all day

1. Cleanse
In the mornings, I like to use this gentle cleanser from Perricone MD (£36). It's really moisturising and smells a little like olive oil! It's hypoallergenic so I know I won't get any nasty redness before I start my day.

2. Exfoliate
I rarely use an exfoliator anymore as they are a bit rough to the skin. However when I feel my skin needs softening or looks a little dull, I really like this Body Shop Vitamin C microdermabrasion scrub (£17). It has new packaging now. The exfoliating agent is natural (no plastic exfoliants please!) and the vitamin C helps give your face a good glow. I use this only at weekends as it can leave you a little pink for a while if you have sensitive skin like me.

3. Acid Tone
This is a step I wasn't aware of until this year. Acid toners are awesome! This is Pixi Glow Tonic (£18) pick it up next time Marks & Spencer have a beauty discount event. The acid in this is 5% glycolic and I found I had to use it every other morning for a while, then start to use every day. (Titrate it up as my scientist friend Liz says!). Glycolic acid stimulates collagen and helps resurface, whisking away those dulling, dead cells. Read Caroline Hirons' blog for more on acid toners, and remember to use SPF after acid toning.

4. Another tone - if you want
I've been trying out this Rodial Dragon's Blood Hyaluronic Acid Toner mini from M&S. Hyaluronic Acid is said to help lock in moisture to your skin. To be honest I haven't noticed any benefits from this yet, but as it's a refreshing spritz I thought I'd use it all up! It appears to work best for those with dry skin.

5. Vitamin C Serum
This serum is Super Facialist Vitamin C+ Glow Boost Serum and is currently £11.33. Vitamin C helps skin firmness and really makes it glow! Some people may slightly flush as it's a strong ingredient but it will settle down. I've been really struck by the immediate impact of this serum on my skin quality. I've also heard it helps skin pigmentation issues so I'm wondering if that's what's helping my post-spot marks go away so quickly.

6. Eye Cream
I like to use this Boots wrinkle filler one, which to my horror I've just discovered isn't on their website anymore. This one from Cosmetox+ looks good though. I love the plumping ones for giving me a smooth under-eye area before I apply concealer

7. Moisturiser
A good, water-based, SPF moisturiser is the best thing to top off this routine. Water-based means it allows moisture in, and the SPF protects your skin from ageing and cancer. I'm currently using No 7 Beautiful Skin Day Cream for oily skin (£13.50) and find it gentle enough to not cause spots, but hydrating enough to form a smooth base for makeup.

8. Lip Balm
I'm a lip balm addict, so find this a nice way to round off a routine. This Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream Lip is amazing (£9.99). I got the tin version from a duty free, but there's a lipstick version too.


18 Aug 2016

Portsmouth Gin Festival!

What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon, than tasting gin!

On Saturday it was Portsmouth Gin Festival, a celebration of lots of gins in the heart of the city. I was planning on going and had my tickets in my hands, when we got invited last minute to a distant family wedding. Obviously the wedding had to win so I asked my friend Marie and her husband John to go and report for me. Here is their story:

 The event was easy to get to, with the Guildhall being a short walk from Portsmouth and Southsea train station. There were lots of train issues, but luckily we managed to get there. We both knew we liked gin before we arrived, but had never ventured for anything much more exotic than Gordons or Bombay Sapphire.

When we arrived, we picked up a copy of The Gin Book – a guide to what we would be tasting. We quickly read as much as we could in order to expand our repertoire and knowledge before tasting.

Throughout the afternoon, we managed four gins each, plus a taster…that’s about 1.3 glasses of gin per hour! There was so much choice but for our coupons (you purchase them when you’re there) we tried many different types

I tried: Leeds gin, Conker gin, Edinburgh Rhubarb and Ginger gin, Brockmans gin. John tried: Da Mhile Seaweed gin, Strathern Oaked Highland gin, Blackwoods Vintage Dry 60, West Winds ‘The Cutlass’ All gins were accompanied by a selection of Fever Tree tonic, soda water or ginger ale and potentially other mixers.

We found it interesting to notice we had a  male/female biases of the drinks that we chose, I went for the gins accompanied with more fruity and floral flavours.

Our favourite? We both agreed that the Brockmans was absolutely delicious and will be treating ourselves to a bottle at the end of the month!

Aside from the tasting and drinking, there were also events, displays and classes. We attended a masterclass ran by ‘Sir Robin of Locksley gin’ company where we provided with a brief history of gin and an explanation of the difference between distilled gin and London dry gin. They also shared with us a useful website with a recipe for making your own sloe gin 

The staff at the event were really helpful, especially in terms of advising where to go and how John could get around the building with his walking frame.  We were offered assistance on multiple occasions. 

As it was a lovely sunny afternoon, the only area of improvement for me would have been if this event could have been outside or offered outside spaces to sit. I liked the idea of sitting on a picnic blanket and sipping my gin! Apparently other locations like Guildford are more outdoors. 

Thanks Marie! I'm definitely using those tickets next year! Keep an eye on the Facebook page for more reminders in the future about your local gin festival. They do them all over! 

12 Aug 2016

Outfit post: Sunny weekends

We're almost at the weekend everyone! You're doing well! At the moment, I'm really enjoying walks in the sunshine with little Teddy dog. This weekend we went to a local country park and the wild grounds were looking amazing! I decided to wear my new gingham top by Louche from JOY

JOY isn't a shop I've been in before, although I have heard of it through lovely blogger Laura from A Daisy Chain Dream who wears so many things from them and I've always been interested by how unusual the items are. The top was sent to me by JOY, but would cost £30.

I paired it with my Matalan jeggings which are AMAZING and only £12! I have bought them in three colours now. They're proper thick denim meaning you don't get the unflattering knobbly knee cling and they look like actual jeans. I'm also wearing my rose gold super-sparkly sandals from Next, and my beautiful Cambrdige Satchel Cloud bag which I'm never without,

I've recently been trying out my MAC Face and Body foundation again, which I gave up on for a while. I'm not sure why I gave up on it, I've remembered how it gives me lovely coverage and lets my freckles shine though! I'm a big fan of a glowing natural look. Maybe when it comes to winter again and my skin is worse for wear, lacking that glow I may remember! I'm hoping to do a big skincare post soon to share with you what I feel has been helping my adult acne skin.

This weekend I'm looking forward to more dog walks and hot weather! 

8 Aug 2016

Learning to like coffee!

I don't like coffee, I prefer tea myself but it seems like everyone drinks coffee! I get asked "let's go out for a coffee" or "shall we get a coffee and go for a walk?" and each time I have to wait, go through the messing around with a teabag (or embarrassingly an entire tray with tea pot and milk pot etc!) Anyway, it seems coffee is the social drink! A couple of weeks ago I was sent some Beanies Coffee to try out, as a way to ease me into hard core real coffee drinking!

In an effort to get "into" coffee, I thought these Beanies blends may help out. They're only 2 calories a drink and have lots of different flavours. I've been trying out Chocolate Orange and Amaretto Almond instant coffees.

My personal favourite is the chocolate orange. Firstly, they smell AMAZING. They're a lot like fruit teas in that they smell really flavoury, but they taste much less like the flavourings than the smell if you prefer a proper coffee flavour. I tried them both black and with milk and although I still don't really like coffee (sorry Beanies, you did a great job!), Sam and Sarah think they're delicious and are quickly working their way through the tubs! I can see these being really popular in the office and a lovely little treat or gift - plus you can buy a set of 9 mini jars in your own selection of flavours for £22.50 so they make a great coffee selection box for those who don't love chocolate!

Do you have any tips for how to like coffee? Or how to make tea less of a hassle!

5 Aug 2016

My holiday in Venice

Last month, Sam and I travelled to Italy to see Venice, Florence and Rome. We hadn't been before and I wasn't prepared for how beautiful the cities are. I thought I'd share a photo diary of Venice, which is just stunning! 

The day we got there was the Festa del Redentore - a religious feast which included a huge party! There were enormous super-yachts in the bay and every boat was covered in lights and blaring out music! At 11pm there were fireworks for an hour! It was a spectacular celebration of our first day on holiday. 

We went out to dinner and explored the bridges on the way to the bay. I had selected an entire Italian themed wardrobe for the holiday, mainly based on The Talented Mr Ripley! This included dressing my boyfriend who is always game for my fashion experiments. The first dress was from Great Plains (the grown-up sister company of French Connection) who have dresses for every summer occasion. This stripy dress was made of a waffle fabric and super-cool for the hot weather, but really practical for layering up on the plane home. 

We had a lovely evening out, and I finally tried spaghetti with clams! Very brave for me and it was delicious. 

The second day was for some hard core exploring. We walked for miles around Venice, visiting St Mark's Square and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection which I loved. 

My day outfit was a white sleeveless shirt from ASOS and a stripy skirt from New Look. I added a floppy hat, big cat eye sunglasses from M&S, and my faithful Cambridge Satchel Company Cloud bag

I'd really recommend going to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, for the art, the views over the Grand Canal and the lovely winding walk Google Maps takes you on

That evening, it was a quick outfit change into this ASOS spotty dress for pasta by the lagoon and super-yachts. Sadly nobody let me on one to party with them

We then went for a nighttime walk around St Mark's square and watched bands playing in the dusk to everyone. It was really magical - especially after sharing a bottle of Prosecco in our AirBnB flat!

Overall Venice was beautiful. Three days was all we needed, and I wished we'd spent more time in Florence, but I would really recommend going there and walking until your feet fall apart like mine did! Remember to pack plasters! 

Our AirBnB was lovely - Venice is tiny so renting a flat in a non-tourist place is a really peaceful way of visiting the island but without being too far from the action. It was great fun putting on music, drinking bottles of prosecco and eating snacks while we got ready each evening! 
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