Thursday, 29 September 2016

10 reasons to get a dog….

Completely unrelated to my beauty features - but I figured dogs come under lifestyle and for that reason I'm dedicating 5 minutes to why dogs are amazing.

Having a dog means you will always have to get off your backside and walk. Walking is the best form of exercise, and with a dog you'll be walking rain or shine. 

Having a dog means you meet like-minded people, and dog-lovers you will find have compassion (probably more for their dogs than humans), but still they will be genuinely nice people.

Having a dog means you will never feel lonely, not only because you meet people but a dog does understand love and they give lots of it.

Dogs are amazing for children, especially those with any kind of special needs as they bond better and also help calm children down. The fact my son takes notice of our dog more than he does me, is neither here nor there.

Dogs are also amazing for getting the kids off the X-box and making them get outside and play ball in the fresh air. Note, try not to take to the park when football matches are on - mine has been known to disrupt the odd game.

Dogs are the perfect snuggle companion when you need something to cuddle up with, whilst watching TV, unless you are watching something that's featuring dogs - then that causes lots of trouble.

Dogs are not like having children, you can leave a dog for a few hours.
Dogs are the perfect excuse if you want to leave a party early. A child will have a babysitter, a dog doesn't and you have to get back to him/her.

Dogs are the perfect way to meet a guy - I've trained mine to chase cyclists and runners, but only if I say the word (fit man), NB this is a joke but you get the idea. 

Dogs wake you if there is an intruder, dogs also wake you if there are badgers and best of all dogs (although mine is dopey), usually eat spiders.  They also eat Power Ranger toys, which is great if you have too many of them. 

Dogs can't talk - so you can blame everything on to them i.e. the bad smell, the chewed up homework etc….

There - in less than a few minutes I've listed why dogs are amazing animals, and everyone should, if time allows get a dog. 

10 Hacks to Improve your Gym Workout

Okay - I have precisely 5 minutes before the school run, but as an avid gym-bunny and having 30 years of advice from top trainers etc here's a few tips I've picked up on the way.

Always use an incline of at least 1% when on the treadmill, this mimics the pavement - 0% is in effect the equivalent of downhill.

If you're bored keep it varied. Try 2 minutes on treadmill, hit pause, squat for a minute then get back on treadmill - repeat 5 times.

Cross trainer/Elliptical machine - always keep weight back on the heels, your heel shouldn't rise up as your rotate your legs.

Find the gym makes you ill? That's what the disinfectant spray is for - always wipe down equipment before and after use, to avoid getting colds and at worst (which I did), MRSA (although not saying it was from the gym!)

Try to find space in front of the mirror when doing free weights - it's important to keep a check on your posture.

That said, this is why many trainers despise Cross Fit, proper form and slow control is by far more beneficial, than rushed, heavy repetitions and will prevent injuries.

I use the spin bike regularly, a good playlist, imagination and closing my eyes can really help me imagine I'm competing and use clip ons - makes a huge difference to the muscles you use - aching hamstrings ouch!

Rowing, make sure you have the heel straps in the right place and as you pull back really focus on holding your core in.

Again when doing the plank or various body poses always try to find space in front of a mirror, where you can see yourself horizontal. This will prevent you from sagging and keeping your posture to form.

Step Machine - don't hold on - train yourself to use this great piece of equipment as you would naturally by using the stairs. By having your foot slightly off the step, you will naturally focus on using your glutes, quads and core to balance you. If need be bring the resistance down to make it easier until you're used to the balance.
Okay - I could probably write a book with a hundred more tips - but I have school run - ciao for now! Post your tips back to me!!!

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Must Have Eye Make-up Autumn/Winter 2016

Every season cosmetic brands launch variations of existing products and new ideas.  Sometimes it's easy to stay safe with what we know and yet as the light changes with season, so it affects the colours we wear, especially if we are starting to look slightly jaded and dull.

I'm all for change but I like to keep it realistic. I look at posts on Instagram and whilst the bloggers look absolutely incredible with their full, made up looks, they just don't transcribe well to a daytime look. Even for the evening some of these looks are so heavily made up for the camera and various filters that in real life, they just look quite frankly trashy.

When I test products I do not use filters, I test in daylight and I don't photoshop - I stay away from what is essentially, in my view - false advertising.  So whilst my pictures may not look as glamourous as some you may see on social media - they at least give a true indication of how they look.  This also translates to 'don't judge me on my photographing skills'. Anyway here's my pick of eye products this autumn.

Benefit Roller Lash Brown £19.50

I love Benefit Mascaras and have long been a fan of the Roller Lash. This time round I wanted to use something to enhance brown eyes and green eyes, rather than bog standard black and so tested the colour in 'Brown'. First as you can see from the picture on the left, I was short-changed on the lash department and so need every helping hand I can get.  With just one coat and when I say one coat, this is no wiggling back and forth with the brush, you can see the difference for yourself. Natural, fluttery lashes that are ideal for daytime - for evening all I need is a couple of coats and I'm good to go. I did have a flash on the eye as the sun wasn't shining today however, you can see that it's a rich brown that compliments the irises. With green & hazel eyes the colour highlights the brown flecks leaving them looking soft and beautiful.

Benefit they're Real Big Sexy Eye Kit £27.50

Three neutral duo shades alongside a custom shadow blender, makes achieving the wide awake look easy peasy.  Simply slide the blender in-between your chosen colour and apply to lids for an instant neutral look, that highlights and shades in just the right places. I love the rose-gold shades as these add warmth to the skin and so ideal for brightening dull skin tones.

Barry M Dazzle Dust £4.59

Every year I feature these treasure pots of glimmering dust particles, quite simply as they have always remained a favourite of mine.  Just a smidgeon on the eyelids is all you need for evening glamour, finished with a flick of eyeliner and lashings of mascara. I don't just stop at applying them to my lids, I use them to highlight the inner corner of my eyes, mix with body lotion and apply to my d├ęcolletage for a dewy highlight and also mix with lipgloss for the ultimate shimmering pout. I love the oceanic blue, which
can be built up for a solid shimmer, or just washed across the eyelid for an ethereal, mermaid glow.

New for Autumn & Winter 2016 are the palettes in Champagne Dreams £6.49 and Red Carpet Ready £6.49.  Champagne Dreams is ideal if you're clinging on to the last bit of sun kissed skin, as the bronze and gold shades pull out golden tones in the skin.  Red Carpet Ready is as it's namesake, all you need to create a smokey and long-lasting eye.  The pigmented shadow is thickly condensed, so that once layered upon the primer the shadow will last all night without budging.

The Estee Edit Metallishadow £17

 Estee Lauder have upped the competition on the metallic market with their newly launched Metallishadow Creme & Powder pots.  For the most bewitching eye, apply the creme base followed by the densely pigmented foil shadow.  The photos speak for themselves, but what the camera doesn't quite capture is the mirror shine, that gives a wow factor each time you blink.  The pots are quite simply fabulous, each containing a mirror and the perfect 'snap' compact, ensuring that the loose shadow stays firmly in the base without any spillage into your make-up bag.  

Clinique Quickliner for Eyes £16

The Intense Midnight Quickliner for Eyes is a deep, steely blue that lends itself to the darkness of autumn nights.  Its the perfect transition from summer to autumn without resorting the heavy black often used in winter.  The colour will make eyes 'pop', whilst the deep navy makes the white of the eyes look brighter. The pencil itself is of the softest formula, which ensures eyes are treated gently without any pulling or snagging.  I've applied on the picture to the left without any other make-up so you can see the density of the pencil. Best of all it's water resistant and doesn't budge all day long. Also suitable for sensitive eyes.

 I also tested Cliniuqe Chubby Stick Shadow Tint in Mighty Moss £17.50 a beautiful moss green, shot through with shimmering gold and ideal for complimenting autumnal tones.  The Vitamin E enriched crayons can be layered over one another to create your own unique shade, or simply glided across the lid for a softly shaded lid.  Keeping with earthy colours, I looked at All About Shadow in Black Jade, a beautiful crease free, shimmer shadow that again just glides on effortestly and stays put all day.  Again like the Chubby Stick, this shade picks out subtle flecks of gold that pick up highlights in the irises, especially brown and hazel eyes.

KIKO Milano Graphic Gaze Double Eye Marker £8.90

This liner is my little secret go-to for creating a range of graphic eye designs. It can be used in so many ways, but first lets talk about the design itself. One end features a tiny pin sized ball that releases just the right amount of ink, whilst the other end has a slightly larger head to it.  For instant volume to your lashes, simply press the smaller end close to the base of your lash and 'dot' your way across each lash - this gives the impression of a thicker base and longer lashes. For more a more dramatic eye use the thicker end to create a 'winged' effect or heavier rock chick effect.  It's a great concept and
I guarantee it will become one of your make-up must have staples.  Note from the picture shown (excuse the scary glare, photography on myself is not my strong point), I have used just on the left eye and not used any mascara just simply dotted the product on the very base of my lashes to 'thicken them'.
Elizabeth Arden £17 Precision Glide Eyeliner

Whilst this precision eyeliner is a doodle to use, and lasts an impressive 14 hours oh and is waterproof - lets just talk about the colour. Or maybe the photo should say it all. I get sent lots of products to test and sample and have to limit to just a few - and this is why I chose this one. The stunning deep purple is a must for anyone with brown eyes as any shade of purple really emphasises and adds contrast.  Yet on blue eyes and green it looks just as amazing, really making eyes stand out without resorting to bog standard black.  Once again the metallic hues are given extra oomph with the stunning deep grape, and adds instant kudos to the wearer for this seasons must have colour.

Elizabeth Arden Beautiful Color Eye Shadow £18

Luxurious, sophisticated and classy that describes the compact this gorgeous, crease free shadow comes in. I tested Cinnamon a suit all shade, which is perfect for day or evening and great as an all over colour on the lids. As with all the shades, the vitamin enriched formula is gentle on the eyes and comes with a

decent sized applicator. The eyeshadows are also available as a duo and come with a  complimenting highlighter for use under the brow brown or in the centre of the lid, for a flattering wide-awake look.

Eylure Brow Magician £11.95

Eylure have made their name for themselves as possibly best supermarket brand for long-lasting eye tints and brow products.  This Autumn sees the launch of the new Brow Magician, a double ended tube with precision brow crayon one end and a tinted fix gel the other.  What I love about this product is that it's easy to create your own personalised brow, whether you want full on thick brows, a more defined brow or simply to darken the colour.  On the left is my natural, over-plucked (from my teenage years) brow and to the right is brow after application of this product. You can see that it looks completely natural and not like the 'scouse' over-dyed celebrity brow, which in my opinion is unnatural and very unattractive. Again I get to test lots of eye-brow products and this makes it a winner, due to it's long-lasting formula and natural colour.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Radio Beauty Chat on Dehydrated Skin Conditions featuring Cult 51, ESPA and Dermalogica

Saturday I was invited into the studio to have a chat with Antonia Jones, presenter for Phoenix FM on how we should be treating our skin when it's been neglected through the summer months. Listen to the show to pick up tips on how we can treat this skin condition, which can cause itchy, tight and sensitive skin and at its worst if not treated cause permanent wrinkles to develop.

You can listen to the show here...

I took in a few great products that really concentrate on restoring dehydrated skin to its former glory of plumped, healthy looking and radiant skin.

Cult 51 Skin Serum £95

My love affair with Cult products started when I met with the founder Richard and realised that I was chatting to one of the skin scientists, who'd formulated some of the worlds top skin care products.  Taking the best of his knowledge and expertise he came up with his own brand Cult 51.

After sampling the products for a couple of weeks, my skin felt utterly amazing and looked incredible.  It is expensive but this is because the active ingredients are of a very high quality. When originally launched this 'glass slipper' product was showcased (alone in a glass stand), in Barneys and promptly sold out within a couple of weeks. Their advertising campaign and UPS was simply this - nada - all word of mouth from top beauty editors clambering to get themselves on the waiting list.

The serum can be used night and day and works within just 15 minutes of application.

The Night Cream £125 is very expensive but it works and lasts a good few months. The reason it's Cult '51' is because of the 51 claims to healthier skin from 52% reduction in the appearance of fine lines, protection of environmental damage and pollution, controlling pigmentation, increasing oxygen etc. 

 ESPA Tri Active Advanced Instant Facial £58

This is my little facelift in a bottle. You can see from where i've applied it to the back of my hand, that it instantly brightens and rejuvenates my skin, leaving it looking plump and silky. It has an abundance of active ingredients from hydrating Hyaluronic Acid, nourishing Avocado, Jojoba and Evening Primrose oils and Winged Kelp - an antioxidant proven to help tighten and firm the skin.

Dermalogica Phyto Replenish Oil £56.20

Dermalogica is a brand I've always relied on to be completely trustworthy in maintaining good skin. The reason being is that one of the top skin specialists advised me to use this many years ago, as the brand focus on what goes on inside the pot, rather than the packaging. What goes on inside is a high concentration of vitamins, again proven to aid in skin regeneration and healing, whilst promoting efficient cell renewal.

Just a few drops of this oil, either pressed onto the pressure points of the face (facial map enclosed), or mixed with your usual moisturiser, gives skin that dewy glow and most importantly, nourishing and instant relief of dehydrated skin.  It's comfort in a bottle and includes Chia Seed Oil to help with itchy skin, Camellia Japonica, which helps stimulate collagen, Orchid Flower Extract to repair and protect and Rice Bran Oil known for its properties of Vitamins B and E.
Just looking at my hand on the right, you can see how this makes the skin glow but without any feeling of grease.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Autumn 2016 Trends Beauty/Skincare/Accessories

This season one trend seems to be dominating the magazines and department stores and that trend is metallics. Fluid, shimmering pleats and blocks of metal are tempting us to look vaguely beyond our comfort zones of fleecy tracks and instead daring us to play with, what essentially is a futuristic fashion. However, there is a difference as this year it's not all 'gunmetal grey' as rose golds, satin blushes and all hues of nudes and ethereal pastels join in the party.

Now whilst this all relates well to the Vloggers, Bloggers and the trendsetters adorning London Fashion Week, the fact remains that mere Muggles like my 44 year old self, with 2.5 children (the dog counts for half) it's actually a bit scary. Whilst most of my friends have children that love a bit of sparkle and can use them as an excuse to release their inner Tinker desires, the fact remains that without the excuse of children, that bit of sparkle and blobs of metal down the local curry house on a Saturday night is a bit 'is she nuts' and as for the school run - well that'll give them more to gossip about.

So this week I've been looking at how you can integrate this trend into your daily life, without hearing whispers of 'mid-life crisis' and 'should've stuck to cutting her hair short'.

Daniel Footwear £119

The South Carolina Black Metallic High Tops tick every single box for the must-have footwear of this season. Glitter, zips, leather, contrasting sole and best of all extreme comfort. Wear with the pleated skirt, floral dress, satin slip or simply with black skinnies and then stand there, hand on one hip and wait for the compliments to roll-in.  The deeply threaded sparkle lends just the right amount of glitz without going over-board, whilst the various textures of black leather means these boots look right from every single angle.  So hyped up I was when I received them, that they were the sole reason (pardon pun) for getting a babysitter and dragging my friend along Brentwood High Street on Saturday night. Absolutely love and no, darling daughter not a high hope in hell of you borrowing them!

Kiss Gel Fantasy Nails £6.99

Loved by an army of celebrities, these easy peasy lemon squeezy, stick on nails are the quickest way to glam up for a night out. Use just one nail as a highlight (try it with a matching bling ring for wow factor), or if you want to go full on apply the lot of them for spangly, blingy nails. Guaranteed to bring attention, you'll be tapping your fingers all night long. Best bit - save on the hassle of removing glitter nail paint. My favourite has to be the thickly, condensed full on glitter nail, which looks like a diamond encrusted jewel.

Adore Jewelry Pave Arc Earrings £47

Simple, stylish and delicate, yet the sleek design gives them an edge, whilst the Swarovski crystals entice the eye towards the glistening, dancing diamonds.   I chose these to feature as you can either dress up the earrings by accessorising with varying lengths of delicate chains around your neck, or an armful of slimline bangles. However, my favourite way to wear these is to wear as they should be worn, on their own with no distractions. Gold plated and they also come with a 2 year warranty.

Stardust by Beauty Boulevard £12.50

This caused a bit of a debate on my Facebook page, when it was featured on a morning programme as the 'would you wouldn't you' wear it. If I was 12-30 yes absolutely I would, its fun, dazzling, cosmic and I was 'Disco Dolly Dance it Molly'. Would I wear it now? Too damn right, but I'll have to wait for Halloween or Christmas. The great thing about having kids is I can use them as an excuse to release my inner princess and I absolutely intend to with this kit. It's so easy to use, just apply wherever you want some sparkle - make like the celebs and place along your hair parting, paint an elaborate design around the cheekbone or, the very latest fad brush through your eyebrows. 

Morgan Taylor Nail Paints £10.99

Love love love, my favourite by far is the Best Dressed deep spangly magenta, as just one coat transforms nails into crystal talons that you won't stop showing off.  In fact, on the day of testing I went to the gym and fluttered my fingers under the lights of the cross-trainer and a young woman actually asked if they were gel nails!  Bronzed and Beautiful is a light bronze, shot through with glimmering gold particles and Could Have Foiled Me is a true, metallic silver ideal for experimenting with nail art.  If you're shy of using sparkle then these nail paints will ease you in gently. 

Chanel Les 4 Ombres 272 Tisse Dimensions Stockist 020 7493 3836 £40

Comprising of the only colours you will need this autumn from highly pigmented metallic silver, pearl, shimmering rose and deep plum.  The colours suit every skin tone and eye shade, which is why it's made my Numero Uno for eye palettes this season.  Apply the rose all over the lid with a pop of silver in the inner corner of the eyes, this will instantly refresh the eye for a subtle day time look. For a seductive evening look, simply add a highlight under the brow bone with the pearl shade and line the outside of the eye with the rich,wintry plum. The colours are glamourous and the packaging is Chanel and lets face it, there is nothing quite so attention worthy as a Chanel compact.

9ct Gold Open Bow Cuff £37

An understated piece of jewellery but hitting on the trends of all things bow this season. Yes bows are huge and whilst they look great flamboyantly flung around the neck or on shoes, sometimes its nice to have something a little more discreet.  I wore this with my hair in a ponytail and had several people comment on how delicate it was. The two tiny crystals catch the light and highlight the bow, demanding just enough attention to be noticed.  The lightness of this piece of jewellery makes it a pleasure to wear, as often cuffs have with me, pinched my ears making them unwearable.

The Edge Holographic Mirror Powder £5.95

'Twinkle twinkle little star, you'll see my nails from afar….'this powder is a must for anyone who loves their nail art or a 'signature' nail design. You do need an LED/UV lamp to cure the powder with the gel, but once on will transform your nails into mini disco balls. It comes with 2 applicators for spreading the powder on, whether you want a subtle moon dust shimmer or a full on holographic nail.