Sunday, 30 March 2014

March Favourites


It only feels like yesterday that I was putting together my February favourites and yet here we are again, another month gone. Where does the time go? Anyway, here are a few things I've been obsessing over recently.

I raved about the La Roche-Posay Effaclar A.I. Targeted Breakout Corrector recently, which as well as being an every day staple in my skincare routine also takes the award for longest product name ever, but I also picked up the Effaclar Duo+ and am equally impressed. This blogger fave is working wonders on my old acne scars and combined with the targeted corrector is helping to prevent current blemishes leaving new marks. Just like the targeted corrector it has a lovely fresh scent, is easily absorbed and wearable under makeup. I use this more as a treatment with a separate moisturiser on top as it's not enough for my combo/dry skin but it isn't overly drying in itself and would probably be fine alone on oilier skins.

There's been a huge stir about the new Revlon ColourBurst Balms and that was a bandwagon I was quite happy to jump onto! I prefer the glossier lacquer balms as I think the colours are just a bit more flattering on me, especially with my new found love of a bold lip, and my absolute favourites are Provocateur (bright reddish pink) and Enticing (darker red with a hint of brown). Staying power is reasonable, especially Provocateur which fades to a pretty stain, and they have a delicate minty fresh scent.

I'm actually on my second bottle of Lush Tea Tree Water and that in itself is a sign of approval as I'm not generally one for the repurchasing unless I really like something. This is light, refreshing and offers the antibacterial benefits of tea tree without being drying or stinky. I like to spritz it onto a cotton pad and gently wipe across my face, focussing on any pesky blemishes. It's also nice to hold the pad against any particularly irritated blemishes for a minute or two to help take the heat out of them.

I have to confess I'd never tried a fixing spray before but I saw Sineadycady use the MUA Pro Base Fixing Mist on a video a while back and figured it was worth a try for only a fiver. I've used it for a couple of weeks now to try and give me makeup some extra sticking power at the office and it's done a pretty good job. My foundation and concealer stay looking fresher for longer and my blush doesn't disappear quite so rapidly. A fiver well spent me thinks!

And a few other things I love but I've already bored you enough singing their praises:
Bourjois 123 Perfect CC is my current go to base giving me even skin, decent coverage and just a hint of the glowies.
S&G Endless Glove has officially taken over from Hand Food as my favourite hand cream.
Percy & Reed Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Balm is doing something fab for my hair and I like it!

What's got your beauty senses tingling this month?

Friday, 28 March 2014

The Humble Facecloth


There are all manner of weird and wonderful tools for applying our various skincare lotions and potions these days - muslin cloths, exfoliating brushes, even solid jade rollers - but why are we shelling out loads when there's a pretty nifty multitasking bit of kit available for mere pennies? I'm talking about the humble facecloth!

How much easier, quicker and less messy is it to wash cleanser off with a cloth rather than by splashing water in the general direction of your face? Or, in my case, around the entire bathroom!  Plus if exfoliation is high on your list of skin priorities but you can't handle a harsh manual exfoliator then a facecloth is perfect for a little every day polishing - soft enough not to irritate but those little cotton loops provide a gentle exfoliating action while you simply wash your cleanser off.  

Want to open your pores for a really refreshing, deep clean? Forget your elaborate steaming techniques and simply take one facecloth, soak with very warm (not hot) water, wring it out, drape elegantly onto face and relax as it cools. Now cleanse your skin and see how much fresher and cleaner it feels, not to mention how zen and chilled you feel.

Now I'm sure skincare purists will argue any facecloth for skincare use should be made of strictly undyed natural cotton allowed to grow freely in a field bathed in sunshine and carefully hand picked by unfeasibly happy people whistling a jaunty tune. Nice idea, but back in the real world Primark do a huge range of funky coloured ones to match any bathroom for the princely sum of £1.50 for 3. Just make sure to wash coloured ones first to remove any loose dye (40°C, no fabric softener).

I'm really quite fond of facecloths. You can keep your jewel encrusted spiky roller thingies - sometimes the simple things are best. Don't you think?

That's Bat Duck sitting atop my facecloths. I have no idea where I got him but he stands guard over my bathroom seeing off evil doers and generally making me giggle childishly. Everyone should have a Bat Duck!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Change is a coming!

Handlebars & Hairspray is changing to Shining August!

I started this here blog a few months ago mainly to see whether I'd enjoy writing one as much as I enjoy reading them and now that I'm getting into the general blogging groove of posting regularly and coming up with ideas I'm really enjoying it! So much so I want to keep it going and work harder on building it up into more than just my quiet corner of the interweb, but there is one itsy bitsy snagette - I didn't exactly choose my blog name wisely, did I? It's a bit of a mouthful, easy to mis-type and doesn't work for Twitter or Instagram. Way to make things difficult for myself!

So, it's time for a change to something I like and which works a bit better. Shining August is just a combination of my birthday month and what the sun is supposed to be doing that month. No deep and special meaning but I quite like the way it goes together. I'll be changing both my Twitter and Instagram handles to @ShiningAugust too.

At the same time as implementing the new name I'm setting up a custom domain name to match so it will take a little time for everything to catch up but there will be a redirect in place and if you follow on Bloglovin' they're on the case doing all the techy link changing behind the scenes. All I ask is that you please bear with me for a few days and then normal service will be resumed!

The change will happen on 31st March and for that week I'll be posting simultaneously to both the old and new names so I promise you won't miss a thing.

Thank you for your understanding and I really hope you'll take this little blog change journey with me. In the meantime if there are any other changes you would like to see then please leave me a comment and let me know!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Endless Glove (aka Soap & Glory does it again...)


Just when I though nothing could beat Soap & Glory Hand Food for scrumptious smelling, totally moisturised mitts along came Endless Glove 2 in 1 Mask & Hand Cream and proved me wrong. Not only is this a divine smelling, incredibly moisturising, non-greasy hand lotion but when paired with a pair of cotton gloves and a little snooze time it's a moisturising mask for your hands!

Now don't get me wrong, I will always be a loyal Hand Food girl but I must admit Endless Glove has stolen my heart at the moment. It contains all sorts of hand loving ingredients such as macadamia and grapeseed oils, pomegranate and Shea butters and an impressive sounding Eight Oil Aqua Wrap. You don't come across those every day, now do you?

I haven't tried the mask option yet but in the general hand lotion stakes the moisturising action does last a bit longer than Hand Food. The formula is a touch thicker too but is still easily absorbed with no greasy finger marks once it sinks in. The Fruitigo scent is just amazing - fresher and more fruity than the original S&G scent used in Hand Food with yuzu, orange oil, green fig and jungle pomelo essence. Now, reading that made me wonder, what exactly is a "yuzu"? I pictured it being a some sort of exotic coloured berry but according to Wiki it's an East Asian citrus fruit thought to be a hybrid of a sour mandarin and an ichang papeda. Oooo-kay! Well it smells good and I'm happy with that!

Have you tried Endless Glove? Or a yuzu for that matter?!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Effaclar A.I. Targeted Breakout Corrector


There are many words one could use to describe La Roche-Posay Effaclar A.I. Targeted Breakout Corrector, "mouthful" being just one of them. I'll settle for two though - pure genius!

I've seen a fair bit of press recently for the newly reformulated Effaclar Duo+, which apparently is da bomb for da blemishes (innit), but I must admit in all my blemish prone years this is a range that has never really pinged my radar. More fool me! Anyway, curiosity piqued and Boots 3 for 2 coinciding nicely with payday, I thought I'd investigate. I happened to be in the market for a new on the spot treatment as my beloved Clinique gel was leaving my skin a bit flaky so rather than opt for the much touted Duo+ I got the targeted corrector instead, which is actually the one product in the range I haven't seen blogged of late.

To me a good on the spot treatment should relieve irritation, soothe skin and of course get rid of the spot being targeted. It's an added plus if it can be used under makeup for daytime blemish blitzing too. The Effaclar corrector (that name is just too long to keep typing) is, if you'll pardon the pun, spot on in all respects. It soothed a particularly irritated patch on my jawline in minutes and has noticeably taken down one of those super sore, under the skin monster lumps after only 2 applications. It then continues, after 3 or 4 applications, to destroy the spot in much the same way you might destroy a plastic cup by running over it with a monster truck - completely and absolutely (but in a much gentler way). Added bonus it helps prevent those horrible red marks spots can leave, and which are a complete pain in the bum to conceal. 

Since this is a cream formula which sinks in quickly, isn't at all drying and doesn't leave any residue, stickiness or weird greasy patches on the skin it can be used day and night without interfering with makeup. I usually apply it between serums and moisturiser, giving it a few seconds to really sink in. I've even applied a tiny dab on top of makeup when a particularly nasty beastie has popped up during the day and it hasn't done any damage that couldn't be fixed with a dab of concealer. As if all that wasn't enough the absolute icing on the cake is that it even smells nice - fresh and mildly citrusy with not a hint of pungent tea tree to advertise to the world that you're in spot fighting mode.

This is without doubt the best blemish zapper I've ever tried and is now a permanent fixture in my skincare stable. I'm so impressed with it I've just picked up the Duo+ too. Take that, evil scars and blemishes!

Have you tried any of the La Roche-Posay Effaclar range?


Friday, 21 March 2014

Bourjois 123 Perfect CC


The whole double letter cream thing pretty much passed me by. I tried the Garnier oil free BB version and hated it (rubbish coverage, too dark, left me looking greasy) so pretty much avoided anything similar, but I was tempted to try the new Bourjois 123 Perfect Colour Correcting Cream as it promised to be something a little different.

Containing three coloured pigments to battle multiple skin woes (white for dark spots, apricot for fatigue and green for redness) and offering SPF 15 and 24hr hydration in an oil free base this sounds like a pretty impressive offering, and it is.

Although coverage is medium at best it's not meant to conceal everything (that's what concealer is for, duh!). The coloured pigments do even out my various skin tone issues, mainly redness and purplish scarring, rather well and leave my skin looking more awake and just the right side of glowing to be luminous without looking greasy. The formula is lovely and hydrating, which my dry skin appreciates, but also light weight so it shouldn't sit too heavily on oily skins. Staying power is also pretty respectable lasting pretty much all day with only one blot around lunchtime.

This is definitely one to apply with the makeup brushes God gave you (i.e. your fingers) as I found my Real Techniques expert face brush absorbed some of the product making application look a little patchy. My one complaint is that the shade range is pretty poor with only 4 to choose from. As always I went for the lightest (31 Ivory) and it's still ever so slightly dark for my pale winter complexion but this is a problem I have with all Bourjois bases and to be fair as it's not heavy or full coverage it's still perfectly wearable.

A quick word should also go to the accompanying 123 Perfect CC Eye Concealer. This is a hydrating(ish) and highlighting offering which comes in a clicky tube with a nice hygienic plastic applicator. A little goes a long way with this and it does brighten nicely but it's quite sheer so I tend to use it either as a second concealer or apply a second coat on the darkest areas of my eyes (usually the inner corner). Sadly I do find it settles into my lines a little, although at the moment my undereyes are so dry and dehydrated I suspect even the most hydrating concealer in the world probably would!

There is a third 123 Perfect product, a proper foundation, which I'm rather tempted to try...

Have you tried any of Bourjois' 123 Perfect products? Any recommendations for a super hydrating eye cream?!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

What's on my nails #11

It's spring, it's sunny and I am in the mood for something super bright and super girly! So, hot pink and glitter it is courtesy of Bourjois 10 Day Anti Chip in shade 15 (discontinued in Boots but widely available on the interweb) and Butter London's Lovely Jubbly.

In my humble little opinion Bourjois make some of the best polish on the high street, and certainly the best brushes. The colour of this little beauty speaks for itself and while it doesn't quite make 10 whole days in pristine condition it is one of the better lasting polishes in my collection. 

What can I say about Lovely Jubbly? It's absolutely packed with little flecks of magenta, red, blue and gold glitter and is so packed in fact that one coat gives plenty of coverage for an accent. This truly is one of those glitters you could build up to full coverage if you wanted, although it would be a nightmare to take off! 

Watch out for more pink things on this here blog very soon... 

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Percy & Reed Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Balm


If you've picked up a copy of  Elle's April issue you'll no doubt have also gotten your mitts on a tube of Percy & Reed's new Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Balm. It's so new in fact that it was initially exclusive only to Elle (released to the wider world on 15th March), so not bad as freebies go! I'm a big fan of Percy & Reed's Quite Frankly Flawless Finishing Polish, especially if I've curled or waved my hair, as it's a lovely lightweight cream which moisturises while giving flexible hold and definition. Plus it smells ah-mazing! So naturally I was pretty curious to try this new potion.

Wonder Balm is described as basically a primer for hair, a leave-in balm which gives moisture, shine, smoothness, definition, softness, light hold, high humidity protection and manageability. Phew! Can one product really do all that, and be suitable for all hair types? Well I can't vouch for all of those claims, but after using it a couple of times I and my dry, colour-treated, heat tortured hair do quite like it.

I've added his into my post wash styling routine as an extra step between oil and styling products - literally where you would add a primer into your makeup routine - and simply work a splodge inTo the ends and then up to about an inch below my roots. In and of itself it doesn't seem to do much except make my hair smell yummy (yup, it has that fragrance I love so much in the Finishing Polish). Where it does make a difference is in how the other products I apply work on top of it - they seem to work that little bit better so I end up with my usual style but a slightly improved version. Straightened hair looks a bit healthier and swingier and stays straight for longer, requiring only a brief touch-up come morning. Similarly, curled hair has a little more bounce and takes longer to drop.

Although the concept of a hair primer might be something new I do think there's something in it, and even if you don't style your hair as such I think this product would still add a little su'thing su'thing to an all natural do. Even if it's just that yummy scent!

Have you got your hands on this yet?

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Gone Fishin'


Although I routinely blog about various beauty bits you may have guessed that I'm not an entirely girly girl. Sure I revel in all things skincare, haircare, makeup, etc but I also ride a hulking great motorbike, do my own car maintenance and repairs and am no stranger to the many uses for WD40. I even remove spiders from the bath all by myself. So it should come as no surprise that I also have one or two hobbies which aren't your typically feminine pastimes and, since I'm trying to get more lifestyle into my wee blog, I thought I'd share one of them with you today.

Mention fishing to most people and they think of a bloke perched on the end of a pier with his rod and a bucket of bait enjoying some alone time. Most of the time that's pretty accurate but unfortunately for Mr P going fishing doesn't mean a bit of quality "man time" as I like to tag along too! I have my own rod and reel (a 12ft Shakespeare Sigma and SurfZone 70 in coordinating black and turquoise) and I'm perfectly capable of setting up my own rig, although I must admit I tend to leave the whole baiting business to Mr P. The is nothing about ragworm that makes me want to touch them - they're slimy, they smell and they bite!

You might imagine that the attraction of fishing is catching something yummy for tea, and for some that is the case, but I'm a vegetarian and haven't eaten fish in over 20yrs. For me the attraction is all about peace and quiet, picturesque surroundings and the chance to truly relax and spend time with my man and, sometimes, dog. Let me explain... 

In my professional life I work very hard. I manage staff, I manage big projects, I'm always on hand for professional advice and I'm always busy. At home I still spend a lot of time managing - bills and finances, housework and DIY (which we do share to be fair), dog, holidays and outings, etc. If I'm honest it all gets a bit tiring sometimes! Going fishing gives me a chance to truly relax. I don't need to organise anything, I don't need to manage anything and all I have to worry about is watching the little blue light on the end of my rod for that telltale twitch which suggests there might be a fish chowing down on my bait.



Even better I don't even have to worry about inclement weather (because we all know what a tropical paradise Southern England is) as we can relax in the relative comfort and warmth of Mr P's Defender, which has comfy seats, plenty of space and is kitted out with a stove and mini gas heater. I can ignore my phone if I want and just chat and enjoy Mr P's company. Honestly, it doesn't get much more chill-outy than a mug of hot chocolate in a nice warm truck accompanied by your lovely bloke and surrounded by peaceful nighttime countryside just waiting for something interesting to swim along! Besides, real live fish are way more interesting than what you see on the counter at Tesco. I've caught sea bass, pouting, whiting, dab, sole, bream, eels (icky, slimy things) and some really fascinating species including thorn backed rays, dogfish and smooth hounds (both types of shark, which is very cool!). In fact all the fishy photos in this post are animals That I personally have caught!

Have you ever been fishing? If your man/dad/mate goes why not tag along sometime?

Friday, 14 March 2014

A Body Shop Haul


I've always been a massive fan of The Body Shop, ever since my first whiff of satsuma bubbles as a little 'un. I always have a few body butters on the go (my current favourites are the passion fruit and vineyard peach ones) and my shower gel of the moment also happens to be one of theirs but I must admit I haven't really bothered with their skincare much in quite a long time. However, when a recent offer of a free night cream with a day cream purchase coincided perfectly with the latest episode in my never ending quest for the perfect moisturiser I took it as a sign...

So let's start with the day and night cream combo. Now I'm 30 and while I might not feel particularly old my skin is starting to remind me I'm not 18 anymore so I opted for the Nutriganics Smoothing Day and Night creams which are designed to hydrate for 12hrs, tackle first signs of ageing and generally smooth, plump and revitalise skin.

The day cream is lovely and light but still delivers a good dose of hydration to my dry, dehydrated and generally grumpy skin. It's been noticeably happier in the horrible Office Air conditions at work (y'know the sort of thing - dry, warm, recycled through a few too many people's lungs). It does look a tad shiny when first applied but quickly sinks in leaving a nice base for makeup. The night cream is a little heavier, as one would expect, but is absorbed just as readily and feels rather more luxurious than its price tag suggests. It also mixes wonderfully with the Trilogy Rosehip Oil I use each evening. They both smell yummy too - sort of citrusy with a hint of liquorice. Weird but oddly refreshing!

I've been using both of these fairly religiously for the last 3 weeks and I'm really pleased with them. My skin is loving the extra dose of hydration, which is also helping prevent my makeup from disappearing into my pores, and I am seeing some small improvements in the lines on my forehead and general texture of my skin. I don't think this is entirely just down to these creams as I'm using the REN Resurfacing AHA Concentrate religiously too but they do seem to be working together very well and I'm interested in seeing how longer term use works out.

This wouldn't be a haul if all I talked about was two moisturisers and since one of them was free I had to find something to make my cart up to the minimum for free postage. Well, two things and I blame TBS entirely for this next one as they made it too good an offer to refuse - a tub of Seaweed Ionic Clay Mask half price because I have a Love Your Body card. This is your typical clay mask designed to draw out impurities, clarify and refresh the skin and as a bonus it smells considerably nicer than most (although I'm sure this must be added fragrance). While this does do the clay mask thing pretty well, especially cleaning out pores, I do find it stings somewhat as it dries which would certainly irritate sensitive skins and means I limit use to once a week at most. It's nice but probably not one I'll repurchase as there are plenty of other similar masks out there which don't feel as irritating.

My final purchase was borne out of pure curiosity. I tried the tea tree range when I was younger and while it was ah-mazing at helping blemishes it was far too harsh for regular use on my skin so I was intrigued to try the new Tea Tree Cool & Creamy Wash which promised the same tea tree benefits but in a kinder cream based cleanser which also leaves skin feeling cool and oh so fresh. I must admit I was expecting this to be a bit harsh but it cleaned really nicely without leaving my skin feeling at all tight or stripped, and my goodness it really does give skin an icy blast! This is definitely more of a morning cleanser as it's great to help wake you up but I suspect wouldn't be great at removing makeup. While it won't be my every morning cleanser I'll definitely be keeping it around for skin freak out moments and mornings when I just can't wake up.

Do you use Body Shop skincare? What are your favourite products?

Thursday, 13 March 2014

What's on my nails #10


Firstly, yes I have finally gotten round to cutting those talons I was growing! I didn't have much choice after two of them snapped on my right hand (that'll teach me) but hopefully it won't take long for them to grow back. I must admit I much prefer this length - so much more manageable and I can type without hitting half a dozen keys at once.

Now, onto the real reason you're here, that gorgeous vivid turquoise currently adorning my nails. Isn't it just fab? With the weather finally taking a turn for the sunnier it's definitely time for a spring shade and this Barry M Gelly polish in Guava fits the bill nicely. It's bright and cheerful and if a polish could be happy then this one definitely would be. Unfortunately I found the staying power of this polish a little disappointing but I have been quite hard on my hands recently so it I'll reserve judgement until it's had another outing.

What's bringing your nails into glorious spring?

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

New Dressing Table


Ok my makeup collection may be tiny compared to most beauty bloggers but since getting into reading and then writing beauty blogs it has had a bit of a growth spurt and outgrown its little green storage baskets in our compact and bijou (i.e. minuscule) bathroom. Plus the bathroom ain't really the best place to be keeping it what with all the steam and soap flying about. So recently I set about finding it a new home...

We don't use our spare room much so it's been feeling a bit unloved but it happened to have the perfect spot for a dressing table area atop a chest of drawers, with the top draw providing plenty of storage space. Add a nice mirror, a pair of lamps, some storage baskets and some pots and the job is, as they say, a good 'un!


Chest of drawers - Aneboda by IKEA (no longer available but Austmarka is virtually identical)
Lamps - I've had these for years and can't remember where they came from but these Hyatt table lamps from Argos offer a similar lighting effect.
Storage Baskets (set of three) - Tesco Home (I can't see them online but they seem to be widely available in-store)
Brush pot and Glasses - stolen from my desk and my kitchen cupboard!

I have to say, though, no matter how pretty that mirror is or how much the organised storage pleases my inner librarian, the thing I like most is my tiny mini wheelie bin. I've no idea where it came from but I think it's pretty funky. If only I could find some mini bin liners for it!


Do you have a dedicated dressing table space?

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Conversations with Dog


As I write this Keeta, our Siberian husky, is stretched out on the couch with her head resting on my left arm. In fact she's making my arm go dead but she looks so content and sleepy I haven't got the heart to move her. She's a lovely creature who is in equal measure affectionate, stubborn, independent, excitable, greedy, lazy and daft. She's also addicted to cheese and Haribo which is why my packet of fizzy cola bottles is cunning hidden under a cushion next to me. She knows they're there and whenever I rustle the packet she grumbles at me.

Huskies are quite vocal dogs and although ours is quieter than some (she rarely howls, despite Mr P spending hours trying to encourage her with some interesting wolf impressions) she nevertheless let's us know when she wants something. If you have a pet, especially a dog, have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a proper conversation with them? Here are a few things I can imagine Keeta saying if she suddenly mastered English...

On being told she's not having any of my cheese sandwich...
Keeta: I suppose that's fair, it is your sandwich, but I like cheese. Besides, I'm cute and you love me. Please can I have some? Pleeeeeeeeeease? I'll just sit right here next to you while you think about it.

When one of us picks up her collar...
Keeta: That was my collar. That means I'm going somewhere! YES! Where are we going? Are we going in the car? Are we going for a walk? I'm so excited! What are we doing? Oh god, I hope it's not the vet. No I can't sit still. I'm far too excited! Lemme out! FREEDOM!!! (By which time we've usually just  about managed to get her collar on her)


On opening a packet of Haribo...

Keeta: Those are jelly sweets aren't they? I love those! Can I have one? Please? PLEASE? I'm soooo hungry. I don't care if you hide them under a cushion, I know they're there. I love you! Give me a sweetie! PLEASE! Ok, just give me a sweetie NOW!!!

On deciding she wants to go lie on our bed...
Keeta: You two look tired, you should go lie down. I know you're watching TV but you have a perfectly good TV upstairs. Come on! Look, I want to go chill out and your bed is so comfy! I promise I won't take over the whole bed, I'll make sure you have a little bit of space too. I know I'm not allowed upstairs on my own so please will you come with me? I just want to snuggle up with you all comfy like.

On meeting a very small dog...
Keeta: Lunch?
(To be fair she usually just wants to play but huskies are very rough and mouthy when they play, which small dogs tend not to appreciate!)

Do you have any pets? What do you think they would say if they could talk?

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Thin


I felt compelled to write an extra post this week in honour of National Eating Disorder Awareness week, which is this very week. Eating disorders are an issue rather close to my heart as I suffered with anorexia and depression during my late teens and although my relationship with food is a little better 10yrs on my body and I are still uneasy bedfellows.

To put no finer point on it I starved myself from a healthy 11.5st and size 14 (I'm 5ft 7 inches) down to a skeletal 6st. At my smallest I was a size 4-6. I was a little plump to begin with, but by no means overweight, yet I was convinced I was a huge, disgusting whale which no one would ever find attractive. I honestly believed the key to being happier was to lose weight, to be skinny. I was wrong.

Over the course of a year I cut all fat from my diet and then started reducing my calorie intake ultimately down to less than 100 a day. I existed (you can't call it living when you barely have the energy to walk up a flight of stairs) on water and thinks like sugar free jelly pots. And it worked - I lost a lot of weight and quickly - but I also destroyed my body. My breasts stopped growing and have never started again (I am a 32A on a good day), my hair became thin and dry, my skin was sallow, my eyes sunken and the widest part of my legs was my knees. My periods stopped, I was constantly shattered and freezing cold even in the middle of summer. Yet I ignored all of these negative things because I thought I looked good.

I don't think my parents knew what to do. They never really tackled me on my secretive eating habits (I used to pretend I'd already eaten or take food up to my room and hide it so they would think I'd eaten it). It wasn't their fault - they just didn't know what to do and we were never the sort of family that talked openly about feelings or emotional stuff. Fortunately I had some amazing friends and teachers who did see what was happening and who did try to help. I can vividly remember my A Level chemistry teacher sitting me down and telling me, in the gentlest way, that if I did not start to improve the school would consider having me sectioned. They never did but that was a turning point. 

A couple of months later I started to eat again, very slowly as my body couldn't handle more than a mouthful without me throwing up at first. Slowly I gained the tiniest bit of weight and it terrified me. I felt out of control and that's the crux of it. Anorexia isn't really about food, even if it may start out with a desire to lose weight - it's about exerting control over something. Now I can recognise that I am a total control freak and put that to constructive use but as a teenager, when so much is happening to you that you can't control,  that side of my nature was destructive.

10yrs on I suppose you could say I'm cured. I am a healthy weight and I eat regularly. I even eat junk food. That need to control, though, is still with me. If I find myself in a stressful situation I still start to unconsciously restrict my eating, almost like a reflex, but at least now I can recognise it and take steps to prevent it becoming an issue. I still compare myself to others all the time and find myself wanting. I wore a size 10 pencil skirt and size 6 jumper today but still had moments where I felt big, clumsy and fat even though my rational mind knows I'm not. I refuse to have scales in the house and don't know what I weigh because if I did there would be the potential to obsess over it.

I don't think you're ever totally "cured" of something like that, but what I do believe 100% is that you can learn to live with it! You can learn to control the impulse to control. I don't completely blame the media and images of tiny women, often with airbrushed or otherwise enhanced bodies, but they certainly did have a negative impact on my teenage mind. They absolutely do not help and I get really angry when I read magazines which promote healthy body image while using super skinny models on their fashion pages. Hypocrites! The thing is according to the vast majority of men I've spoken to, including my husband, they don't find those skinny women sexy. Go figure.

I know this has been possibly the longest post ever but I did say this was an issue close to my heart. If sharing my experience can help someone recognise a problem with themselves or their friend or family member then it was worth if. If you are worried about someone or yourself then talk to someone, maybe a GP or a teacher or a friend. Don't assume that dieting and being funny with food is just a normal teenage or female thing (anorexia affects men too). And please please don't fall into the trap of thinking that what you see in magazines is a true image of beauty which you must emulate. It isn't.

Friday, 28 February 2014

February Favourites


Gosh, another month gone already? I know February's the short one but it seems to have just flown by! Thankfully that means spring is getting that wee bit closer (yippee!) but until it lands here are a few of my favourite things from the last four weeks.

My skin is having a little mini freak out at the moment. It's dehydrated, irritated and dear lord the blemishes! Fortunately I rediscovered an old favourite in the Clinique Anti Blemish Solutions Clear Blemish Gel and put it straight back into service to try and tackle the worst eruptions. Applied at night it forms a little seal over the spot, dries it up and draws all the yucky stuff out (gross) so irritation is calmed and the spot heals quicker. I have to admit it stings a bit and can leave a bit of a dry patch while it's doing its thing but it most definitely helps, especially when teamed with tea tree oil.

Something else saving my skin at the moment, or at least the foundation on it, is Soap & Glory's One Heck of a Blot. My office has horrible air quality when it's busy which dries my skin out, and it in turn retaliates by becoming oily so that by the afternoon I've got more than my fair share of forehead "glow" going on. However, gently dabbing this across it restores my preferred matte look without emphasising either my pores or my expression lines. It's my first foray into S&G makeup but I doubt it'll be my last.

Now that my hair is shorter it seems to look dirtier quicker than when I had epic lengths to hide the third day grit but washing too often leaves it dull and dry so I've been dipping my toe in the world of dry shampoos. I hate the smell of pretty much all the Batiste offerings and the Superdrug one I tried was totally ineffective but having seen the hype for Dove Style+Care Dry Shampoo I figured it was worth a try, and I'm happy to report that the hype was well deserved. It feels like it actually cleans rather than just masking the mucky bits, it doesn't leave white residue all over my black hair (not a good look) and it smells fresh but not overpowering. It even adds a nice dose of volume. Lovely!

On a totally random note one of my favourite finds this month is a simple anti-perspirant. One of my pet peeves is how difficult it is to find a truly fragrance free spray to keep me feeling fresh - many claim to be but there's always a hint of something lurking in there! I love the perfumes I wear so I don't want my deodorant interfering with them and fortunately this Sure Pure Protection genuinely doesn't have any scent whatsoever. Nor does it have any alcohol, parabens or colourants. Plus it's genuinely effective and the dinky compressed version is perfectly handbag sized for top ups on a long day. Sometimes it's the simple things in life, dontcha think?

My final favourite isn't a product as such but I've been enjoying it so much I had to share. I've been using Trilogy Organic Rosehip Oil every night for the last couple of months but recently I've started taking the time to do a good five minutes of facial massage rather than just slapping it on. The idea is to help with drainage to try and stop those pesky groups of spots forming in the lower areas of the face. I think it actually does help because despite my skin's little hissy fit recently my chin and most of my jawline, usually prime blemish real estate, have remained reasonably clear. It's also really relaxing so it's the perfect little extra step to help me chill out before bedtime.

February is traditionally miserable but what's been making your month that little bit brighter?

Thursday, 27 February 2014

What's on my nails #9


Firstly, I admit my nails are getting a tad long but I really haven't had time to sit down and do a proper manicure for ages! I don't like them too short but talons make it difficult to type so they will be shorter by next week.

This week I've avoided bright, eye catching colours as I think they can look a little much on very long nails. Instead I've opted for something more toned down, neutral and undeniably pretty, even if I do say so myself. Plus this manicure reminds me a lot of how my wedding nails looked so it feels sort of romantic nostalgic for me too.

After base coat I applied two coats of Ciaté Amazing Gracie, a beautiful rose-tinted ballet slipper pink. This isn't an opaque polish, more of a nail perfecting tint which would be perfect for a traditional French manicure or a simple barely there manicure. Over that I added one coat of No7 Pearly Pink, which I don't think is available anymore (I inherited my bottle from my mum) but is basically a very sheer pink/gold shimmer. There are plenty of similar polishes around, or you could opt for something with a lilac shimmer for more of a spring pop.

Do you like the understated nail look or are you all about the brights?

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Learning to Love Liner


My eyes are my favourite facial feature and I probably spend proportionately more time making them up than the rest of my face. Although my makeup collection is rather modest by beauty blogger standards I must admit the majority of it is eye based and although I'm always looking for new tips on how to do different looks I'm generally happy with my day to day look. However, there was one product I'd always wanted to master but never seemed to get right - liquid liner. Well, the time has come to woman up and learn!

I have two felt tip liners - the Kiko Ultimate Pen Long Wear Eyeliner, which has quite a fine tip tapering to a very fine point, and the No7 Stay Precise Felt Tip Liner, which is slightly thicker but more tapered. Both are very black and last for ages but I think the Kiko one slightly has the longevity edge. Both are very simple to use with good ink flow and being slim are well suited the liner novice like myself. Like all felt tip liners they're best stored cap down to prevent them drying out.

I'm still no expert but now at least I'm confident I can manage a reasonable line along my lashes. So here are the tips that really helped me get to grips with it:
  • If shaky hands are an issue (they certainly are for me) then try resting your elbow on a hard surface so you're not trying to support the weight of your arm while drawing your line.
  • Don't try and draw your line in one go unless you're super confident. Go from the inner corner to the middle then from the middle to the outer corner so you end up with the thickest part of the line on the outer corner.
  • I often find my lashes, which are quite long, get in the way so I simply hold them out of the way with my other hand leaving a clear canvas to draw on. 
  • If you're not sure where to place a flick then stick a post-it note along the line between the outer corner of your eye and the tip of your brow.  
  • Get yourself on YouTube and check out some tutorials to see exactly how its done. There are loads of good ones out there, including some which will show you the best line to suit your eye shape.
  • As the saying goes, practice makes perfect and that's certainly true here. I got into the habit of trying out my line before I took my makeup off each night for a fortnight and I improved really quickly. Just keep trying tit out and eventually you'll find a way of doing it that works for you.   
Applying liquid liner is definitely a skill but it's not impossible!

Are you a liquid liner expert or a novice like me?

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Lush The Sacred Truth


I've been eyeing Lush up for a while as I was drawn in by the promise of all natural goodness for my skin and finally took the plunge with one of their "so fresh you have to keep it in the fridge" face masks.

Faced (pun fully intended) with an array of interesting looking and smelling pots in the little Lush shop in Southampton I wasn't sure which one to try but the ever-so-helpful lady suggested The Sacred Truth might be a good place to start as I adore exfoliating masks. This one uses enzymes from fresh papaya to dissolve dead skin with added wheatgrass to feed up the skin beneath.

Let's be honest, this looks revolting - not unlike congealed mushy peas - and is one of those masks you can only use when you know no-one is going to be knocking on your door! Fortunately it smells better than it looks. It's not too lumpy to apply and I go for a good thick layer as this only has a fridge life of 3 weeks so it'll only go to waste if I don't use it. It dries on the skin after 10-15mins but isn't uncomfortable and doesn't require lots of scrubbing with a flannel to remove.

I can't quite put my finger on exactly what this does for my skin but it seems to rather like it. It doesn't exfoliate as thoroughly as my favourite REN Glycolatic Radiance Renewal mask but my skin definitely looked brighter and just, well, happier after this mask. Often I'll double up on masks, using one after the other to maximise the benefits, but I didn't want to with this one. I was happy just to round off with the rest of usual routine and go to bed, waking to really quite nice skin the following morning.

As a targeted treatment mask I don't think this would cut the mustard but as a treat once or twice a week it's rather nice. Will I repurchase it when my little pot runs out? Possibly, but then I'm a fickle beast so I'll probably have my eye on something else by then!

Have you tried any of Lush's super fresh face masks?

Friday, 21 February 2014

New Collection Eyeshadow Palette


I admit I am a sucker for eyeshadow palettes but being on a limited budget means I haven't gotten my hands on many of the high end ones we've seen released recently (Naked 3, you will be mine one day!). However, on a recent trip to Superdrug I picked up a new dinky 8 shadow plus highlighter palette from Collection 2000 which is more than enough to satisfy my eyeshadow cravings (for now at least). It's so good, in fact, that I may need to pick up the other three from the range, just to be sure it's not a fluke you understand. I'm talking of course about the Collection Eyeshadow Palettes and I plumped for the purple version.

Each palette comprises 8 dinky shadows, each about the size of a 10p piece, and one highlighter. The shadows are a mix of shimmer and matte and range from light to dark. They're also cleverly numbered with instructions on the reverse of the packaging to make any look you're aiming for as easy as 1-2-3. Although some of the shadows are a little dusty and some have less pigment than others they all give good colour payoff, apply and blend easily and have impressive staying power even without primer.

Purple is ideal for green eyed gals as it makes our eye colour really pop. The colours are a mix of pinks and purples including the most beautiful shimmer rose gold which was an instant favourite of mine. My favourite multi-shadow look is a combination of top left, middle and middle right as the shades seem to blend together the best without overpowering each other too much.

The Collection Eyeshadow Palettes are available in Superdrug for the special offer price of £2.99 (usually £3.99). Given the quality of these shadows I think that's terrific value for money!

Have you tried any of these palettes yet? Which is your favourite?

Thursday, 20 February 2014

What's on my nails #8


I really loved the spotty lilac manicure I did last week - I got so many compliments on it! This week I thought I'd do something similar but I was feeling a little princessy so I had to get some glitter in there. Anyway, its so miserable at the moment (take a look at Monday's flood post) I'm game for anything that might cheer me up!

The base colour is Maybelline Forever Strong in Ceramic Blue (MIA from Boots and Superdrug but freely available on Amazon or eBay). It's a lovely pale grey blue with a "porcelain" finish which dries semi matte or lightly glossy with a top coat. The glitter dots are a mix of Barry M Aqua Glitter and Ciaté Serendipity, which I think was only available with the Mini Mani Month advent calendar. Both are clear bases packed with turquoise and dark pink glitter respectively and required a fairly thick splodge to get decent glitter coverage.

Add a top coat once everything is thoroughly dry et voila - one pretty jewel-esque manicure!

Do you do glitter or would you opt for genuine nail jewels?

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Wet 'n' Wild Weather


Do you remember that Kevin Costner film Waterworld where the whole world was covered with water and people basically lived on ships? Well we're not quite there yet in Hampshire but we're not far off!

You can't fail to have seen on the news how badly southern England has been affected by the relentless rain and storms we've had since before Christmas. I can certainly vouch for the fact that it's rained almost every day and some of the winds we've had have been so strong my poor little car has been blown all over the road. Near where Mr P and I live the New Forest has taken some serious hits with large areas flooding repeatedly and loads of trees coming down meaning closed roads dangerous driving conditions.

 Fortunately Mr P owns a Land Rover Defender (recently dubbed man's answer to Mother Nature's bullsh*t) which he's been using to rescue flooded vehicles, clear roads and generally help the emergency services. I'm going to sing his praises for a sec because he does this without being asked, without being paid and in some of the worst weather conditions purely because he wants to help. With over twenty cars recovered (some of which he managed to restart and get the drivers on their way), half a dozen trees cleared from roads, many stranded people helped and countless drivers redirected it's safe to say I'm seriously proud of him. He even took one couple Christmas shopping 3 days before Christmas after their car was drowned by a thoughtless truck driver.




I'm pretty impressed with the truck too. OK it might not be a sleek looking sports car and yet it's noisy and drinks diesel by the gallon but it's taken everything Mother Nature has thrown at us. It even waded us to safety through 3ft of flood water (that's right up over the headlights!) in complete darkness at 2am when a tree came down behind us blocking our escape on a deserted road. 'Twas very scary let me tell you!

If it's flooded near you then please, please take care if you're driving anywhere. Use a bit of common sense and don't plow your car into water on the road. Take it slowly and carefully and if you're not sure you can make it don't try. Watch out for the wash caused by large vehicles

If you happen to be down our way and get stuck out in the New Forest keep your eye open for a bloke with long blonde hair and a big black 4x4. If he offers you some help, be sure to say thanks 'cos that's my man!    

Sunday, 16 February 2014

4 Steps to Straight Hair


A month ago almost to the day I had a whopping 10 inches cut off my locks, taking me from a hip skimming lady of length to a boob skimming long layered bob. Check out the before and after, complete with the world's worst selfie, here. Do I regret it? Not a bit of it! Honestly, it was the best thing I've done in a long time as now not only can I rock a pony tail without developing a killer headache but it takes literally half the time to wash and style. Hurrah!

So how am I managing with my shorter locks? I have to admit I've never been all that adventurous with my hair - it's almost always been long and way too thick to do anything with other than drag a brush through. Between that and being ridiculously busy at work recently it's meant I haven't had the opportunity to play with it as much as I'd hoped but one thing I have managed to do is truly master straightening it.

Step One: Get Product-ed up!
These are the products I use, starting with pretty damp hair to almost dry:
  • 4-5 pumps of Tresemmé Oil Elixir Colour to soften, nourish and protect my raven colour
  • A little dollop of Tresemmé Texture Style Velvet Cream to separate out the layers and give a slightly piece-y look 
  • A generous helping of Tresemmé Heat Defence Spray to protect from the ravages of my straighteners 
  • Sometimes if I'm going out I'll add a squirt of volumising mousse to really lift my roots, but I haven't found one I'm truly happy with so no recommendations as yet.
Step Two: Rough Dry
I won't straighten my hair unless it's bone dry as if it's at all wet it tends to singe and snap so I flip my hair upside down and blast it with my hair dryer on a medium heat. This helps to add a little volume too, especially if I'm using mousse as well, but also makes me look like I've been dragged through a henge backwards. Mr P thinks it's the funniest thing!

Step Three: Straighten
The key to getting a really slinky poker straight finish for me is to work with small sections and use a comb in combination with my Babyliss Pro Elegance straighteners (I have the navy blue version). I slowly work on each section lifting it up and away from my head slightly to prevent my hair being completely flat. It takes a bit of practice to coordinate running the comb through my hair directly ahead of the irons but this technique gives much better, longer lasting results than using the straighteners alone. Once I've gone through all of one side of my hair I run the straighteners over the whole of each side of my hair to bring it together and iron out any last little kinks.

Step Four: Finishing
The final touch is simply to comb backwards through my hair while it's still warm to stop it falling into my face too much. Depending on what I'm up to I might add a spritz of shine spray or muss up my roots some with a few strategic sprays of Umberto Giannini Backcomb in a Bottle. And that's my everyday straightening routine! On non-washing days a quick run over with my straighteners usually revives my style and gets rid of sleep-induced sticky out bits. 

What's your every day hair routine?

Friday, 14 February 2014

Balm Barmy


It's official, I love a good balm. I must have dozens of lip balms in various tubs, pots tubes and sticks and a good few non-lip offerings too. Here are three of my favourites...

Botanics Super Balm (Boots, £4.99)
This is a bit of does everything product with a host of skin friendly goodies including rosehip, sweet almond and jojoba oils and shea butter. It's also 93% organic, fragrance and paraben free and the little pot is the perfect handbag size. This is great for dry skin patches, especially on the elbows, knees and feet, and makes a super nourishing hand balm although it's a bit greasy for use during the day. I've also used it to protect a cold-ravaged nose (see this post) and a slightly weird tasting lip balm but recently it's been doing its best work on my eyes. My undereyes are incredibly dehydrated at the moment and nothing seems to moisturising enough for them but a thin coat of this over night seems to be really helping. I'm also rubbing it into my eyelashes and have noticed a definite improvement in them with less lash fall when taking my mascara off.

Badger Sleep Balm (FeelUnique.com, £3.99 and £6.99)
I lead a pretty stressful life which makes it really difficult to switch off at night. I lie awake thinking about work, blog ideas, house stuff I need to do - there's always chatter going through my head! I was a bit sceptical about so-called sleep balms but I picked this up in the sale anyway to see if it would help. Certified organic and scented with calming lavender and bergamot I actually don't care if this helps clear my mind or not - it smells divine! Happily, and to my surprise, a smear on each wrist and a little on my temples or behind my ears actually does a pretty good job of  helping me to switch off and drift off. I know the various sleep potions by ThisWorks are world famous in the blogosphere but I actually prefer the smell of the Badger balm and my mini version is dinky enough to take travelling with me. I'd still love to try that pillow spray though.

Rêve de Miel Baume Lèvres (Nuxe, £9.50)
No post on balms would be complete without the queen bee of lip balms (geddit?). Rêve de Miele is without doubt the best lip balm I have ever used. I'm sure most of you will be no stranger to it but for the uninitiated this is an ultra nourishing, non-greasy balm which is capable of working miracles on even the most chapped and dry lips. As the name suggest this contains honey, along with shea butter, plant oils and grapefruit essence, and smells like a fruity honey cocktail. Apply a little before bed and it will still be there working its soothing and smoothing magic in the morning. As it's a matte formula you can also wear this under lipstick or gloss to keep lips nourished all day. I haven't found it to negatively affect wear much either. Currently FeelUnique.com are offering a sample sized Nuxellence Jeunesse Yourh and Radiance Revealing Fluid if you spend £20 on Nuxe products.

A final word also has to go to The Body Shop Lip Butters which, at a mere £4 each, are great for. Quick lip pick me up during the day. My favourite is the coconut one but I also have my eye on the chocomania and charity dragon fruit flavoured foundation varieties.

Which balms have you going balm-y?

Thursday, 13 February 2014

What's on my nails #7

After last week's reasonably successful but very messy attempt at water marbling I thought I'd stick to something simpler in the nail ark stakes this week. I love polka dots (as you may have noticed in this post) as they're a simple easy to do design and paired with an inverse accent nail in can be quite eye catching.

I know it's all about Valentines Day this week with reds and pinks everywhere but I really wasn't feeling a full pink manicure so I opted for this pretty soft lilac instead. It's actually the lighter of the two L'Oréal ones that I used for my marbling last week - I liked it so much I decided to give it a chance to shine on its own. The colour is called Riviera Lilac and I can only find it online from Direct Cosmetics but I'm sure I've seen it in store in Boots too. The white I've used for my accent nail and the dots on my thumb is Barry M Nail Paint Matt White which, for a fairly liquid white polish, is reasonably opaque but the brush could be a bit chunkier for ease of use.

Polka dot nails really are quite easy to do. All you need is a dotting tool of some sort but you don't need to rush out and buy a proper one - I used the end of a hairpin which I'd straightened out and it worked just as well. Using a scrap of paper and a dollop of polish as a makeshift palette simply dip your tool and dot onto your nails gently in whatever pattern you fancy. You must let the dots dry completely before you apply a top coat though or you risk smudging them.

Have you gone for Valentines nails or something a little bit different this week?

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

TMI Part Deux


Welcome back to oversharing central! Today's extra special bonus post is the second part of my own version of the TMI Tag doing the rounds on YouTube...

26. The reason I started blogging
The original question is why you joined YouTube but since I don't have a channel (yet) I changed it. I got addicted to reading blogs as I was a bit sick of the impersonalness (is that even a word?) of magazines and blogs are so much more real. I started writing one because I wanted to join in the fun!

27. Fears?
I don't really have any. I own two pet snakes so I'm definitely not scared of them. I don't mind heights, water, the dark, wasps, bees or spiders (although I could live without the eight legged monsters which inhabit out garden - they're huge!). I have a bit of an aversion to Audi drivers when I'm out on my bike.

28. Last thing that made you cry?
An animal rescue programme

29. Last time you said you loved someone?
Earlier today, to my husband

30. Meaning behind your blog name?
Another adapted question. Handlebars because I'm a biker and hairspray because a) I'm a girl and b) this is primarily a beauty blog and it sort of fits.

31. Last book you read?
Blood Stone by Nate Kenyon (random Kindle purchase)

32. The book you're currently reading?
Sacrifice by Paul Finch (another random Kindle purchase)

33. Last show you watched
Castle re-runs on Netflix

34. Last person you talked to
Our husky Keeta - I told her off for trying to steal my bag of Sensations

35. The relationship between you and the person you last texted
My husband, asking if he was having a good day out with his mates

36. Favourite food?
Satay tofu and crispy seaweed

37. Place you want to visit?
Money no object, Route 66 on a Harley Davidson or Australia

38. Last place you were?
I popped into Southampton this morning

39. Do you have a crush?
No, I'm old and married.

40. Last time you kissed someone?
My husband earlier today

41. Last time you were insulted?
At work last week - I have better hearing than some of my colleagues think I do

42. Favourite flavour of sweet?
Rhubarb and custard

43. What instruments do you play?
The oboe since I was 8 and the flute since I was 14. I can tinkle on the piano and I've got my eye on a tenor saxophone...

44. Favourite piece of jewellery?
My engagement ring - a marquise cut diamond set in white gold with yellow gold shoulders. It's a very unusual cut and my absolute favourite. My husband chose it all by himself without even knowing that so it was just meant to be!

45. Last sport you played?
I went running a few months ago. That's the closest I get!

46. Last song you sang?
Tonight the World Dies by Avenged Sevenfold, loudly (and badly) in the car

47. Favourite chat up line?
Ugh, I hate them!!!

48. Have you ever used it? 
No. I'm actually incredibly bad at picking up on when they're being used on me as well. #oblivious

49. Last time you hung out with someone?
I'm hanging out on the couch with the dog and my husband - does that count?

50. Who should answer these questions next?
Anyone!

Phew, all that sharing is tiring work. I'm sure I deserve some chocolate now...

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The TMI Tag

I've seen the TMI Tag doing the rounds on the channels of some of my favourite YouTubers and I must admit its kinda nice to get an insight into some of the people behind those fabulous channels. Anyway, I figured if I enjoyed finding about my favourite bloggers and vloggers then it's only fair if I share too. So here it is, my very own TMI Tag! I've split it across 2 posts so you're not reading for hours - the second part will be in a special bonus post tomorrow. Let the sharing commence...

1. What are you wearing?
Right now as I type, my scruffy sitting-around-the house Lee jeans, a random khaki top from Tesco and a fluffy black cardigan. I have my cute little leopard print ballerina slippers on too.

2. Ever been in love?
Yep, twice. Once with my first serious boyfriend and then with my husband.

3. Ever had a terrible breakup?
Thankfully only one.

4. How tall are you?
5 foot 7 inches (but most people think I'm taller because I usually wear heels)

5. How much do you weigh?
I actually don't know as I refuse to have scales in the house but somewhere around the 9 1/2 stone mark. Not a supermodel but no need for WeightWatchers!

6. Any tattoos?
Four - a Chinese dragon on my left bicep, a tribal butterfly between my shoulder blades, a Chinese symbol on my right hip and an ambigram that says "work hard" forwards and "carpe diem" backwards on my lower back.

7. Any piercings?
Several! Four in each ear lobe, a helix and conch in my left ear cartilage, nose, tongue, both nipples and belly button top and bottom.

8. OTP?
Richard Castle and Kate Beckett (I'm watching Castle re-runs on Netflix)

9. Favourite Show?
Don't have one but I like a lot of American dramas - True Blood, Arrow, etc

10. Favourite Bands?
I listen to all sorts from Mozart to Manson! Currently I'm mostly listening to Rammstein and Avenged Sevenfold.

11. Something you miss?
North East England. It's where I'm from and where my family are.

12. Favourite song?
It's a toss up between Metallica's Unforgiven II (which I walked down the aisle to) and Nothing Else Matters from the S&M album with the San Francisco Symphony orchestra (our first dance).

13. How old are you?
30 (ancient)

14. Zodiac sign?
Virgo, maker of extensive lists!

15. Quality you look for in a partner?
Wicked sense of humour

16. Favourite Quote?
"A lack of planning on your part does not consitiute a crisis on my part" (when I'm at work)

17. Favourite actor?
Christian Bale

18. Favourite colour?
Purple and turquoise

19. Loud music or soft?
LOUD! You really can't play metal softly, it just doesn't work.

20. Where do you go when you're sad?
Bed, specifically the very middle of the duvet where I can hide from the world

21. How long does it take you to shower?
About half an hour. Is that a long time?

22. How long does it take you to get ready on a morning?
For work, about 40 minutes. Slightly longer at weekends because I can take my time (and I can never decide what to wear).

23. Ever been in a physical fight?
Yes, but only because I used to do karate. I've never been in a cat fight or anything.

24. Turn on?
Muscular arms (my husband's could rival Vin Diesel's. Yummy!)

25. Turn Off?
The usual - bad breath, bad manners

Stay tuned for more over sharing tomorrow!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Feet Treat


I post weekly about what pretty colours I'm wearing on my finger tips but what about my long suffering toes? Yep, that's them in the picture in all their weirdly long and bony glory!

Feet are pretty important things - imagine trying to walk without them! - but when it's cold we tend to encase them in socks and boots and forget about them. Why not set yours free and treat them to a bit of TLC this evening? Here are a few ideas to say thank you to your feet for taking you around all those sales recently.

Night Time Nourishment - get your hands on some seriously rich lotion or a luxe body oil and apply liberally to your feet before bedtime. Pop on a pair of socks to protect your bedding and intensify the effect and let all that moisturising goodness soak in over night. In the morning you'll wake to smooth, supple and wonderfully soft skin and conditioned, nourished toenails. Soap & Glory's Heel Genius is perfect for a night time treat. Similarly, pop a light layer of lotion on before you put your socks on of a morning to keep your feet feeling loved throughout the day.

Tired Toes - you've been on your feet all day and now they are aching. What do you do? Get yourself a bowl of warm water, add a generous helping of The Body Shop's Peppermint Reviving Foot Soak, immerse your tired feet and relax. The peppermint in this soak will not only refresh but will also help get rid of yucky smells. Follow up with an intensive lotion such as Peppermint Intensive Foot Rescue. There is also a matching Reviving Leg Gel for shopped-out pins.

Pretty Polish - toenails deserve colour too, even if they are hidden away in cosy boots at this time of year. Carefully cut and file your toenails (straight across rather than in a curve) and add a base coat, colour and top coat. It's actually much easier to try out nail art on your toes so why not make your big toenails into accents with polka dots, flowers or other pretty designs?

Rough 'n' Ready - if you have rough skin on your feet now is the time to start dealing with it before the warmer weather is with us. Get yourself a foot file or pumice stone, both widely and cheaply available, or one of those clever gadgets that looks like a mini sander and gently exfoliate and buff away those rough patches. I would suggest doing this before a bath or shower to avoid damaging water plumped skin and applying an intensive lotion afterwards.

How do you pamper your feet? Are you lucky enough to have someone who'll rub them for you? That has to be the ultimate treat!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Counter Encounters


I am not the most confident of people, especially around folks I don't know, and I hate being pestered when I'm shopping so visiting makeup counters can be a bit of an ordeal for me. It first started when I was a teenager and visited one particular counter, birthday money in hand, to invest in some quality skincare. Unfortunately the consultant lady left me in no doubt as to what she thought of a 15yr old darkening her counter and I left empty handed and thoroughly disillusioned. I've actually avoided that particular brand ever since, although I'm sure she was an exception rather than the rule. 

Fast forward half a lifetime and I've had many much more pleasurable experiences (including in the John Lewis Southampton beauty hall, pictured) but I've encountered a few more less than friendly people too. So here are my top tips for dealing with the makeup dragons of this world!

The Pushy Penelope - this sales assistant really, really wants you to buy stuff, preferably as much as possible and irrespective of whether you want it or if it suits you. She will usually pounce on you within seconds of your arrival at her counter and won't leave you alone. Her tactics can be quite overt ("you should have this...and this...and this") or more sneaky (while ringing up your desired purchase she casually says "oh you'll want this as well" and reaches for the extra product). The best way to deal with Penelope is to be firm and stick to your guns - if all you want is that single pan eyeshadow then say so. If she gets too pushy just walk away - chances are there's another counter for that brand somewhere close by.

 The Ignores You Ingrid - Ingrid is the opposite of Penelope and refuses to acknowledge your existence no matter what. You could be dancing naked around her counter and she would still look right through you! The best tactics to break Ingrid's icy facade are to either loudly say how much you would like to purchase a product but unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a sales assistant around (this works particularly well when her manager is around) or to approach another sales assistant, and explain that you would like some information on a product and you assume she must be the expert as her colleague has nothing to say. Never underestimate the embarrassment factor!

The Rude Rachel - you're happily swatching away and all of a sudden a presence behind you asks if you actually intend to buy anything today. Enter Rachel! She's impatient and rude and makes it clear she would prefer you not clutter up her counter actually looking at the products. Remember here that you're the customer and you have the choice over whether you spend your hard earned cash with her or not. Politely inform her that yes you would like to make a purchase but not before you've had chance to choose what you want and either ask for her advice (if you want it) or ask her to give you a few minutes. Knowing that she probably is going to get a sale will generally make her back off but if not then tell her you were going to but don't appreciate being rushed and will check out a different brand instead.

The Snobby Sarah - she makes it quite evident that her brand's products are far too expensive, posh or exclusive for the likes of you, a mere mortal, to be thinking of buying. My 15yr old encounter was most definitely with a Sarah and I encountered several in my student days when I wasn't dressed up smart for client meetings or court (I'm not a raving criminal - I did law). Her catty comments make you feel about 3" tall and 6yrs old. The key to avoiding a Sarah is all in the approach. If you act like you're sufficiently rich and important (aren't we all, even if just to our mums?) to belong at her counter she will generally assume you do. I'm not suggesting you put on fake airs and graces or come off just as high and mighty, but a little confidence goes a long way and if you are a young person avoid going in a big group as this will unfortunately make you a prime target.

Now I'm not for a second suggesting that all beauty counter sales assistants fall into one of these categories. The vast majority are really lovely, polite, helpful and friendly and make your beauty shopping even more fun. Where you are served by one of these lovely ladies be sure to thank her!

Have you encountered one of these makeup dragons or are you lucky enough to only meet Lovely Laura's?

Thursday, 6 February 2014

What's on my nails #6


This week I've been a little bit addicted to nail art videos, especially those by Colette from My Simple Little Pleasures - she does the most amazing water marbles! I love nail art but I've never really done much myself until now. Never one to shy from a challenge I thought I'd jump straight in with my very own water marble attempt and I think it turned out ok, but let me tell you it is way more difficult than it looks! What you're seeing is the result of a good hour spent making a proper mess with water and wet nail polish.

Water marbling takes a bit longer than a standard manicure and is a bit messy but worth it for the unique looking end result. If you're thinking of attempting this its definitely worth learning how to tape your nails off beforehand otherwise the clean up would be epic! I won't go into the details of how to do the marble as there are plenty of tutorials around and I really do recommend Colette's.

The block colour on my nails is Essie Where's My Chauffeur, a lovely greeny turquoise block of colour with not a hint of shimmer. Essie really do do good solid colours in the most beautiful shades. To do the marble I used the Essie polish combined with a bright purple and a lilac shade from the L'Oréal Color Riche Nails range. You need to use quite liquid polishes to get them to spread in the water and these fitted the bill perfectly. There's a bit more of the lilac in the mix than I'd planned but otherwise I think these colours go well together.

Have you tried nail art like this? Any tips you want to share?