Spring Skincare Shakeup

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Hello Friday!  Hope you’ve had a good week whatever you’ve been up to – mine’s been absolutely mad.  It’s been one of those weeks where I haven’t actually done much or been out and about (lucky, I guess – the weather’s been mental here in Cardiff!), but have had a lot going on.  That being said, I’m so happy it’s the weekend – time for a little R&R and some pampering! 🙂

I feel like my skin’s going through a bit of a shift in season right now.  It’s been feeling a bit… winter-lagged (is that word?) for the past few months.  Dry, a bit sad-looking and a little bit more red and sensitive than it usually is – so, I’ve been loading up on anything that’ll inject it with some added moisture, scrub away the winter scales and inject a little radiance. But we’re heading into Spring now and so I’ve had a little bit of a skincare shakeup, and these are the products I’ll be using from now until the weather heats up.

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*Clinique Take The Day Off Makeup Remover for Lids, Lashes and Lips

I’ve been a massive fan of Clinique’s Take the Day Off Balm for a looooooong time.  It’s so satisfying massaging a blob of the stuff into my face and watching my makeup instantly dissolve.  Even more satisfying is smudging all my dark eye makeup until I look like something out of a horror movie – but sometimes I need a little extra elbow grease to remove all that liquid liner, waterproof mascara and liquid lipstick.  Enter Clinique’s Lids, Lashes and Lips formula which I was very kindly gifted by Clinique Cardiff.  It’s gentle (no stinging watery eyes or dried out lips!) and I’ve started using it when I go in for a second round of makeup removal – just to make sure everything’s squeaky clean before I start my deep cleanse.

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Kiehl’s Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion

Honestly, I’ve been thinking of making the move towards acids when it comes to exfoliating my skin – especially now that we’re heading into summer and technically those dry scales of winter shouldn’t be a problem anymore – but I’ve been using this little number from Kiehl’s for so long that it’s going to be tough to try something new!  I’ve had really dry skin all winter and this dude’s been my one and only for scrubbing away dead skin and polishing up the new.  You only need a tiny amount and some gentle circular scrubbing and it really does the job.

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Nuxe Nirvanesque Enriche for 1st Wrinkles

I picked up this baby in TK Maxx when I was looking for something to really soothe my super dry winter skin at night and it’s honestly one of the most beautiful face creams I’ve ever used.  I mean, I’m a little way past “first wrinkles” stage – but this little gem’s been really helping to keep my skin feeling soft, smooth and hydrated – and dewy!  I wake up with “I’ve had ten hours sleep and ten bottles of water” skin, and it smells really lovely.  Unfortunately, I’ve got a funny feeling that they’ve discontinued it – I mean, a quick google will find you a tub of the stuff, but I can’t find it being sold on the Nuxe website – but hey, I’ve adored everything I’ve ever bought from Nuxe, so if anything it’s converted me into giving the rest of their skincare rage a go. I’ll definitely be on the hunt for one of their lighter moisturizers to take me through summer. 🙂

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*Clinique Dramatically Different Hydrating Jelly

As I said before, I’m still coming out of winter with skin suffering from a bit of a hangover.  It’s been dry, sad and a little bit more sensitive than usual.  I’ve only just started using this hydrating jelly from Clinique, but so far so good.  I’ve been using a very small amount in the morning just to give my skin a little bit of a moisture boost, and to protect it from pollution when I’m out and about.  Because it’s lightweight, I think it’s going to make a great moisturizer when the weather heats up over the summer and I might make a full switch over in a couple of months.  Early days though, so we’ll see.

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*Elemis Peptide 4 Thousand Flower Mask and Eye Recovery Cream

Still a massive fan of this combo – and I think I’ve spoken about them a few times already.  The Thousand Flower Mask is an absolute dream when my skin needs a bit of a pick me up (it really smooths everything over and brightens things up) – I tend to use it on a Sunday evening after a bath and after I’ve exfoliated with the Kiehl’s Micro-Dermabrasion Cream – just when my skin isn’t necessarily looking for any added moisture, just something to generally perk it up.  The Eye Recovery Cream has been working wonders on my tired, winter-lagged eyes – keeping those dark circles at bay and working on those fine lines. 😉

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Nuxe Nuxuriance Ultra Mask

Again, Nuxe are quickly becoming one of my favourite beauty brands – their products are all such a treat.  I picked up this little mask from TK Maxx (all hail) on a whim and have been enjoying pampering my skin with it a couple of nights a week before I go in with my moisturizer.  It’s packed full of Hyaluronic Acid to smooth out the fine lines I’m staring to get and also claims to plump up skin and even out tone.  It’s got a metal roller that you use to squeeze and apply the product, and as it goes on it cools and reduces any puffiness.  The only thing I don’t love about it is the smell… but to be honest, it soaks in so quickly that you barely notice it.

Have a great weekend everyone! 🙂

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What’s in my Makeup Bag? The Winter Edition

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High five; we made it through January!  I’m so happy to see the back of it, and even though we’re celebrating the first day of February here in Cardiff with a fresh sheet of snow – it feels good knowing that we’re winging our way into Spring.  Soon – we’re not quite there yet – which means a few more weeks of dark mornings, dark circles and deathly pale skin, and that means a shakeup in the ol’ makeup bag.  It’s working so, so hard right now, let me tell you!

Just before Christmas I picked up a few new beauty bits and bobs from Boots and TK Maxx (if you’ve never raided their makeup section before, then oh boy, you’re in for a treat my friend) to see me through to Spring.

1. CYO “The Radiant One” Bronzing & Illuminating Compact in “Light”

Alas, my Florida tan is long gone and when I hit pan on my Body Shop Honey Bronzer I felt like it was time for a bit of a shake up.  I’ve got fair skin and honestly, I’m a bit of a Bronze-aphobe (is that a thing?).  Too much and I look like I’ve face-planted into a muddy puddle but at the same time, I do need something to warm up my pale skin.  I picked up the CYO Bronzing and Illuminating Compact on a bit of a whim when I stepped into Boots just after Christmas and absolutely fell in love with it.  It’s cheap – only a fiver – and the lighter compact is absolutely perfect for pale, cool-toned skin like mine.  The bronzer is subtle but buildable, while the added highlighter adds a really lovely glow.

2. Stila Stay All Day Foundation and Concealer in Light (3)

What a TK Maxx bargain this baby was!  I’m still a massive fan of the Bourjois Healthy Mix Foundation, but it’s a little dewy and so light and works best during spring and summer.  In the winter I need a bit more coverage, so I picked up this little bottle by Stila (since it was more than half price off) and it’s been evening up my blotchy – sometimes dry – winter skin.  It applies smoothly over blemishes and wrinkles, sticks with a matte finish (without drying things out) and really does stay all day.  Winner!

3. Lancôme Crayon Khol

An old favourite and the only eye pencil I use.  I can’t tell you how many of these I’ve got rolling around in my makeup bag that are literally just the nib.  I use the until they’re unusable – tight-lining, lid-lining, smudging – this baby copes with the lot and has never once irritated my eyes in the process.

Also, shout out to the Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Liner – it’s been my go-to for years.  I picked up the version with the micro-point last time I repurchased – wondering whether it would make it any easier to create the cat-eye flick I go for day to day – but actually, I think I prefer the normal tip.

4. Stila Eyes Are the Windows Spirit Palette

Another TK Maxx steal – I couldn’t believe my luck!  I absolutely love this palette; it’s got a gorgeous range of neutral, cool-toned shades with buildable colour for looks that work both during the day and at night.

5. Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in “Pink in the Afternoon”

I’m so fussy when it comes to lipstick.  I like cool-toned pinks (are we seeing a trend here?), long-lasting, absolutely no shimmer and they need to be moisturising – I’ve never got on with MAC’s range because they leave my lips a flaky mess.  I was devastated when Revlon discontinued their Lip Butter range, but thankfully, the Super-Lustrous range is just as good.  Pink in the Afternoon is that perfect “your lips but better” shade that I reach for every day. 🙂

I’m actually on the hunt for a new mascara because my Bad Gal Bang’s just not banging anymore – what’s everyone loving right now? 🙂

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How I Do: My Sunday Night Soak in 10 Steps

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I don’t tend to do baths during the summer, but as soon as those nights start drawing in all I want to do is simmer in hot, soapy water until my fingers wrinkle.  Yes, it feels amazing but it’s also a really important part of my week because Monday to Friday I get a bit lazy when it comes to taking care of myself beauty-wise.  My skin routine is speedy and slim-lined, I touch my face a lot when I’m working on the computer and I scrape my hair back into a clip because I’m too lazy to curl it – so Sunday night is devoted to taking it slow and making up for all that neglect!  🙂

Preparation

1. Hair Mask Time!

If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know that I’ve been on a bit of a journey with my hair and it’s still definitely in recovery (I wrote a whole post about how I’ve been taking care of my hair here) – so I try to whack on a hair mask once a week.  Usually I’ll melt some coconut oil and slather it on under a shower cap for a couple of hours, but recently I’ve been experimenting with something new.  Because my hair’s so fine I’ve been really trying hard not to fall back into my old habit of highlights and balayage.  But I’ve been really, really tempted.  So I’ve been looking up natural dyeing methods and came across a gentle alternative using just honey and water.

Here’s the science: Honey is naturally high in peroxide, and by mixing it into water you get a very gentle solution of Hydrogen Peroxide (found in most hair dyes).  It sounds absolutely ridiculous, but I’m on my seventh treatment and it’s actually working!  Of course you’re not going to get the same results as you would if you holed up in your local salon for a whole afternoon (and it definitely works best on lighter hair), but it’s a really easy (albeit very sticky!) way of gently lightening your hair and bringing out your natural highlights.

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2. Take off all my nail varnish (fresh week, fresh nails!)
3. Prepare the tub

I fill the tub with hot water, chuck in a bath bomb (Rosie from Miss Patisserie is my favourite), light some candles and prop the iPad up on the toilet (I love catching up with Youtube videos or rewatching my favourite shows while I’m soaking away).

4. Inform husband and dog that for the next hour – as far they’re concerned – I no longer exist. Bye!

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In the Bath

5. Wash hair, apply conditioner and leave it to rest.

I tried so many different expensive shampoos and conditioners when I went through all those problems with my hair – they were all a total waste of moolah.  The simple fact is you need to find a shampoo and conditioner that suits your hair condition and scalp.  I’ve got fine hair and a sensitive scalp which really seems to love the Garnier Ultimate Blends Oat Milk Shampoo and Conditioner combo – so that’s what I’m sticking with.

6. Exfoliate.

For my face I haven’t got a bad word to say about the Kiehls Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion Cream, and for my body I recently had a little tester pot of the Nuxe Reve de Miel Body Scrub which has been a total treat!

7. Cleanse

I know most people tend to cleanse then exfolitate, but I like to do it the other way around.  Before I get out of the tub, I wash my body with the Nuxe Prodigieux Huile de Douche and a sponge.  If you love the body oil from the same range, then you’ll love this – it’s got the same subtle, nutty scent and leaves a delicate shimmer on the skin once you’re dry.  I haven’t been using Nuxe products for very long, but I’m totally and absolutely obsessed!  They’ve very quickly become one of my favourite skincare brands.

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8. Moisturise

I don’t do anything to my face just yet, instead I focus on my body.  I’m a huge fan of The Body Shop‘s Body Butters, especially the Shea scented one.  I slather that everywhere and then target the drier areas (like my knee caps and elbows) with some of the Nuxe Dry Oil.

9. Fresh Pyjamas and Face Mask time!

I mean, is there anything better?  I recently ran out of my favourite face mask (The Origins Active Charcoal Mask has rescued me from many a skin emergency, let me tell you!) but luckily, I recently got to try some Elemis goodies courtesy of their spa at The Celtic Manor and a mask was one of them.  My skin wasn’t looking its best at the end of the summer after a stressful month, but the Elemis Thousand Flower Mask – which has the weirdest mousse like texture – has really helped sort things out.  My skin’s looking much brighter and healthier and seems in pretty well prepared for those months of drying central heating ahead of us.  I also really love Simple’s Sheet Mask Range if I’m looking for a more cooling, less messy mask. 🙂


10. Once I’ve washed off my facemask, I leave my hair to air dry and finish things off by applying a face oil.

I don’t put any products in my hair on a Sunday, nor do I apply any heat to it.  It’s nice to strip all the products out and just let it dry naturally and recover ready for the week ahead.  As for my face, I’ve been a huge fan of the Kiehls Midnight Recover Oil for YEARS.  I add a couple of drops to my moisturiser (Just plain old Nivea Daily) and then press it into my skin.

How do you do your Sunday Soak?  What are your favourite products to use? 

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5 Hot Weather Beauty Favourites

I can’t remember the last time we had a proper summer here in Wales.  And I’m not just  talking about a couple of lukewarm days here and there, but a real “it’s way too hot to sleep”, “I’m sweating between my toes” – kind of summer, with weeks and weeks of genuinely hot weather.  It’s been a-mazing, but it’s also been a bit of a shock to the system when the usual programming involves 365 days of tepid Welsh drizzle.  So, a bit of a shake up of the ol’ beauty routine is definitely in order when your makeup’s literally melting off your face and the agoraphobic pins are on suddenly show every day.

With that in mind, here are five beauty bits and bobs I’ve been reaching for every day during this heatwave (long may it sizzle!). 🙂

1. Simple’s De-Stress Sheet Mask

Not gonna lie, it took me a while to get on board with the whole sheet mask beauty trend; Sunny still says I look like a burn victim/Hannibal Lecter every time I prance around in one and I’m not 100% sure they make a massive difference compared to the more traditional face masks I’ve got stocked in my bathroom cupboard (The Origins Clear Improvement Charcoal Mask and the Liz Earle Intensive Nourishment Mask are still my top two), but damn it, they do feel good – especially during hot weather.  I picked up a couple of Simple’s sheet masks (I like the Rich Moisture Mask and the De-Stress Mask) from Tesco and ended up going back for more because they’re cheap and kind on sensitive skin, but more than anything else I really enjoy the cooling, soothing feeling I get when I wear one.  Plus if you keep them in the fridge they’re great to pop on when you’re feeling a bit hot and bothered. 🙂

2. Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic Spritzer

I LOVE this stuff; my skin drinks it up like a sixteen year old slurping down their first WKD (sorry, Liz; I’m sure that’s the branding you were going for…).  Except, this toner isn’t going to stain your lips blue.  I’ve got sensitive skin that’s prone to some wide open pores, acne and rosacea – the unholy trinity of skin complaints – and this little bottle of holy water always seems to calm things down.  It hydrates, brightens and shrinks my pores – plus, it smells lovely.  It’s also perfect to stick in your handbag on a hot day whenever you need a little refresh.  (I also love L’Occitane’s Essential Face Water)

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3. Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse

I can’t pronounce it to save my life, but oh baby, I like to think of this stuff as sexy, French je ne sais quoi bottled.  It’s basically a multipurpose dry oil (lightweight and not too greasy) that you can use to nourish not only your face and body, but also your hair – so it’s perfect for prickly, sunburnt legs and frazzled summer tresses.  Some people like to pour a little in their bath water or spray it onto their hair brush, but I like to just spray it on after I’ve showered to moisturize my skin and add a bit of a summery glow.  I feel like the scent is either a love it or hate it kind of fragrance – it’s kind of musky and old fashioned – but personally, I love it.

4. Make Up Forever Ultra HD Microfinishing Loose Powder

I used to steer clear of powders when it came to makeup because I was afraid of either drying out my skin or piling too much on – plus I tend to prefer a glowy look rather than the matte, chalkboard-look most powders create.  But in hot weather a setting powder is a must if you don’t want to look like a sad clown by lunchtime.  The Make Up Forever Finishing Powder works really hard to keep everything stuck in place without you even really knowing it’s there.  It’s talc-free so doesn’t dry out your skin, and also combats shine and mattifies without taking away that healthy summery glow.  A smidge on the pricey side, but a total knockout product if you want to splurge on something that really works.

5. Bourjois Healthy Mix Anti-Fatigue Blurring Primer

I’ve been using Bourjois’ Healthy Mix foundation for years and so when my Clarins Beauty Flash Balm ran out just before the heatwave, I set out on the hunt for a cheaper alternative to help combat sweaty makeup slidy face (…That’s the technical term, yes). So I decided to give the Healthy Mix Primer a try, and d’you know what?  It’s pretty good.  It’s obviously not going to punch as hard as Clarins, but it does do a decent job of smoothing out any redness and fine lines, and applies nicely under the Healthy Mix Foundation.  It’s a small tube, yes, but I never feel like I need to apply a lot – plus, it’s handy for popping in your carry-on if you want to feel a bit more human once you’re off the plane.

What beauty products do you reach for during a heatwave? 🙂

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How I Got my Hair Back

Just before I turned thirty, I cut my hair short.  I didn’t tell anyone I was going to do it, I just dropped into a London salon I’d searched up on Google that day at work, went armed with a couple of pictures I’d saved from Pinterest on the train ride, and I had the whole lot lopped off.  SNIP SNIP.  For someone who felt like her long hair had defined her throughout her teens and early twenties, this took guts.  And while the decision was impulsive and was put down by those around me to Saturn’s Return, the truth was that I did it – and decided that I needed to do it – because I felt like I’d completely lost control of my hair.  It was in bad shape and was making me miserable every time I looked in the mirror.

The long, mermaid hair I’d always thought of as “me” had split and thinned out to the extent that I’d actually stopped wearing it down, and just putting it into a lanky, limp ponytail made me upset.  It just looked awful.  Something had changed around the time that I moved to London.  London water is HARD, and the chalky residue it left behind every time I washed my hair was drying it out. It was so damaged that it was falling out in terrifying chunks in the shower or when I brushed it.  And even though Sunny and everyone around me kept telling me that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was, I refused to hear them.  But then I also refused to do the one thing I could to get it back under control. Instead of getting it cut, I desperately clung on to the meager strands I had even though they were beyond help.

Finally deciding to let those dead ends rest in peace was the first step I took to getting my hair back, and three years of hard work later, it’s looking so much thicker and healthier.  I mean, it’s not perfect by any means, but I’m happy with it.  I think I’ve finally found a routine that works. 🙂

Of all my weird patterned shirts (and there are a lot.  A LOT.), I think this mermaid one is my favourite.  Unfortunately, it’s a few years old now but I did find a link to one selling on eBay if anyone’s interested. 🙂

Regular Trims

When I was seventeen I had hair down to my waist and my whole hair care regime involved my Mum dragging me to her hairdresser once a year where I mournfully parted with an inch of a dead ends.  Then, during my twenties it became horribly clear that the old ways just weren’t cutting it anymore (…see what I did there 😉 ).  My fine, dry hair was far more prone to breakage than it used to be (thanks London water!) and so far more susceptible to splits.  That meant that the longer I left it between trims, the thinner my hair got as the split ends made their way up the hair shaft.  Nowadays I’m still a bit lacsy-daisy about getting my ass down to the hairdressers regularly, but as soon as I see the ends drying out and splitting, I go and part with as much hair as I need to to keep the hair I do have looking healthy.

Less Washing & Heat Styling

I used to wash my hair every day – and sure it kept my hair clean and restyled, but by doing so I stripped it of all its natural oils.  Plus heat styling every day on top of that made it dry, which in turn left it brittle.  These days I wash my hair no more than three times a week (I like the Garnier Ultimate Blends Sensitive Scalp Shampoo and Conditioner) and heat style it as little as possible.  (It also helps that the water here in Cardiff is nice and soft).

I’m a huge fan of Toni&Guy’s styling products; they smell amazing, they don’t weigh my fine hair down and they’re usually on a two for one offer either at the supermarket or Boots! 😉 I can’t rave about Vitapointe enough; it’s basically a leave in conditioner that you put on dry hair and I like to put it on my ends after styling or whenever they’re looking a little frazzled.  You don’t need a lot of it, it’s not greasy and it’s cheap!  Aaaaand, I like to put a coconut oil mask on my ends once a week – usually when I’m in the bath – just to keep those split ends at bay.

Keep it Simple when it comes to Products

When my hair was at its worst I started buying expensive shampoos, conditioners and miracle oils to sort it out.  But that was a waste of time and money.  My hair was already broken, and layering heavy moisture-rich products on top just weighed it down, stressed out my scalp and no matter how expensive they were they were never going to be able to bring my dead ends back to life.  These days I’ve stripped my products back and only use ones that work with my hair type – and, they’re all cheap as chips! 😉  Oh, and I stick with them – no more chopping and changing.

Ditch the Hair Ties

It got to a point where I was so depressed about my hair that I stopped wearing it down and instead scraped it back into a bun every day.  But using hair ties was just making things worse and left me with flyaways and split ends halfway up the hair shaft.  I know there are supposedly hair ties out there that claim not to cause breakages, but for me, going cold turkey on all hair ties was the only thing that worked.  Clips and pins all the way!

No Dye

When I was at Uni I went through a whole pink hair phase – which was fun at the time, but did horrible things to my hair and scalp!  I had highlights and balayage throughout my twenties and although I loved how my hair looked with a bit of blonde through the ends, it just made it drier.  I made the decision to go Au Natural a few years ago and it’s definitely helped my hair spring back to its former glory.  I mean, I’m tempted all the time to foil up again like I used to… but I’ve worked so hard to get my hair back that I just can’t bring myself to do it.

Be Happy With What you Have!

Last time I went to the hairdressers there was teen in the chair next to me getting highlights put in.  She had the most gorgeous mass of curls I’ve ever seen and hair envy hit me HARD.  But, sometimes you’ve just got to roll with what you’ve got and be grateful for it.  Did cutting my hair short suddenly give me thick, curly hair?  Nnnnope.  But, it improved the condition of it and put me on the path to healthier locks. Sadly, thick, curly hair just isn’t in my genes.  I have fine hair.  I have dry hair.  I have annoying baby hairs around my face that like to stick up.  And, I’m probably never going to have the mermaid hair I was blessed with in my teens again.  But that’s okay.  The problem with wanting what you don’t have is that you forget to appreciate what you do have.

What are your top hair care tips or holy grail products?  Let everyone know in the comments! 💇

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