Sunday, 19 August 2018

Is an Aluminium Free Antiperspirant as effective as one with Aluminium?

You may remember a few years ago when links between using an antiperspirant causing cancer were all over the press. The reason for these fears were centered around one of the ingredients in antiperspirant, Aluminium. What aluminium does is to temporarily block the sweat glands, so helping to stop you from sweating. The fears were that when aluminium is absorbed in to the skin, it gets in to the blood stream and interferes with our DNA and could lead to cancerous changes in cells or interfere with the female hormone estrogen, which is known to influence the growth of breast cancer cells. There has also been links between antiperspirant use and Alzheimers.

However, although there have been various studies in to both claims, to date there is no clear proven link or evidence to support this.

And whilst this is slightly reassuring, it does make you think about what's in your deodorant. You apply it to your skin every day, often straight on to freshly shaved skin. So I was really interested in the new range of 0% Aluminium antiperspirants from Soft & Gentle. As well as having no aluminium, the range has no alcohol and claims to give 24 hour sweat protection.

What Soft & Gentle have replaced aluminium for is Bamboo powder to dry sweat before it makes contact with bacteria present on the skin and Horsetail which helps to close pores.
I decided to give this the best test I could, a 2 stage test. The first test was a day at work in the recent heat wave. I applied the Soft & Gentle 0% aluminium to one arm pit and my usual roll on (Garnier Mineral Invisible, which also has no alcohol but does have aluminium) to the other. I also wore a 100% polyester short sleeved top, one which has always cut in quite close to my arm pits.. good test conditions right?!

So at the end of a long day, ok only in the office but a very warm office, I had a sweaty odour from the 0% aluminium pit and no such odour from the other..  I could also smell on my top that on the side of the 0% it absolutely needed washing, whereas no stinkiness on the other side.

The 2nd test I did was again doing one pit with 0% and the other my usual antiperspirant to.. a body combat class. Now these classes I love but I sweat like nothing on earth, it literally pours off me. And at the end of the class (where by the way the god damn air conditioning wasn't working!).. I was in desperate need of a shower and neither arm pit was fairing well but I could notice a real difference in antiperspirant efficiency between the 0% arm pit and my usual. My 0% arm pit felt like all the roll on had disappeared, sweated off.

So in summary, for me, this aluminium free antiperspirant does not give me the protection I need. I suppose I should be asking myself what is in my usual roll on that it can be so effective at almost stopping sweat and keeping odour at bay and what is it doing to my skin to do that? Maybe if I only wore natural fibres and didn't rely on this for high sweating activities, it would be perfectly adequate..?


Sunday, 12 August 2018

Brand in Focus - Dr Botanicals

Dr Botanicals is a London based vegan skincare brand. They care about all things natural as well as creating a skincare range that actually works. Made from pure natural ingredients, paraben free and with no harmful preservatives. If you are looking for skincare that will be gentle to your skin and gentle to the environment, you might want to give Dr Botanicals a go.

I was kindly sent three products to try out, which I've been using for a good few months now. The first is the Botanicals Cleanse & Tone.
This creamy rich lotion is both a cleanser and toner in one. I've been using this as either my evening cleanser (just using a separate eye make up remover) or massaging in to wake up my puffy sleep filled morning face. The cream has a gentle, fresh scent. Containing elderflower to nourish, witch hazel to brighten and balance and eucalyptus oil to remove impurities and dirt, it's a lovely combination in a creamy texture that leaves my skin so soft.

The next step is the Japanese Orange Revive & Firm Facial Serum. Sometimes I wonder what a serum step actually does but I am now so conditioned to do that step that I feel odd when I skip it, like if I've ever forgotten to put body lotion on after a shower. 
This orange scented lightweight serum is neither sticky or tacky and sinks in quickly, so doesn't actually feel like another layer of skincare.
The seabuckthorn fruit oil helps with skin elasticity, hydration and to calm inflamed or irritated skin. A great serum for sensitive skin. Neroil oil reduces uneven skin tone and blemishes and rose otto oil helps to reduce signs of aging. And although you'd be right to think "that's a lot of oils in a serum" the texture is not at all oily.
The stand out product from this great trio is Turmeric Antioxidant Overnight Treatment Mask.
This deeply moisturising shea butter overnight mask is a great one for when your skin is feeling parched, dull and a bit unloved. I was using this twice a week after recent holidays to help rebalance my sun exposed face. I can't figure out what natural ingredient in this mask makes it smell so refreshing and comforting but it does. The mask is a thick cream texture yet doesn't feel heavy on, it's just like a thick night cream. You can either apply and use as an overnight mask, washing off in the morning or as a quick 10 minute boost mask.
My skin after using the overnight mask appears plumped, clearer and generally just looking very fresh and rested. Which is what I'm always looking for!



Saturday, 11 August 2018

Why I prefer out of town shopping to the High Street

My home town of Swindon is a large town, which could almost be a City except we don't have a cathedral and I feel lack in the diverse culture of our nearby neighbour of Bristol. Our town centre is in dire need of a multi million pound rehaul, which has been promised to us for many years but yet nothing has come of this promise other than increased parking charges and more pound shops. And so for many years I've opted to get on the M4 and travel to Bristol, Bath or Oxford for my shopping experiences.

Luckily for me in North Swindon we have the Orbital Shopping Centre which has some of my favourite shops such as New Look, M&S, Next and Outfit. There's also an Asda Walmart, DW Sports Gym and a brand new Nando's. For me and many Swindonians the Orbital has everything you need. I can do my food shopping, get an outfit, work out at the Gym, fill my car up and get everything I need for a bit of DIY at home or even book a holiday.
This out of town shopping centre is not only clean and tidy, and with loads of free parking, in the past few years they've started putting on events which have created a real community feel and brought a more interesting experience when popping down to the shops at the weekend. Last year I went along to the Eat from the Streets pop up food festival, and this weekend it's returned again. With the stand out red Routemaster double decker bus in situ, kids can be entertained with colouring and games, and there's a face painter. A brilliant addition on last year is the live music and when I went down for some lunch, there was the Soul Acoustic duet playing. And what a talented pair.
Me and The daughter shared a pulled pork and coleslaw roll, with chips of course. Her boyfriend had buffalo wings with a blue cheese sauce.
There was a really cool bar trailer but we decided to opt for a rolled ice cream treat. And they were delicious.

It made for a much more interesting and tasty lunch than my usual cheese sandwich on a Saturday! What I really like about these events are they give you an excuse to slow down, sit down and enjoy some outdoor dining with family and friends. 

If you want some tasty food treats this weekend, why not pop along to the Swindon Orbital. There's more live soul music all day tomorrow as well. And you can sit back and enjoy the music and food without having to worry if your parking ticket is about to run out!

(This is a sponsored post).

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Travel Review - Seville, Spain

When people think of Seville in mainland Spain the first thing that will probably come to mind is oranges.. and yes Seville is known for that and I can vouch and say that the fresh orange juice is like no other I have ever tasted (my mouth is watering just thinking about it) but the main reason I wanted to go to Seville is not just for the orange juice but to get a taste of authentic flamenco and of course the spanish culture. And I'll be honest to visit the Alcazar palace, which is one of the filming locations for game of Thrones..

So a small group of us went to Seville, about a 2 hour flight from Gatwick, on a Friday (returning on the Monday afternoon). We arrived late afternoon and got a taxi outside the airport to our hotel, which was only a 25 min drive, and about 20 euro.

Stayed at: the Zenit Sevilla
The street frontage of this lovely hotel doesn't give anything away and when you pull up outside you could be forgiven for panicking but as soon as you walk through the courtyard (which is the also the access for the hotel's car park), you'll breath a sigh of relief. This is a modern, cool and sophisticated hotel.

The bedrooms are roomy, with really comfortable beds and modern bathrooms with big waterfall showers. None of our bedrooms had a view but who needs a view from your hotel bedroom when you can walk outside and see it for yourself.

The hotel has a small roof top pool. And this was the only part of the hotel which lets itself down. The area is really nice with large sofa seating areas and lots of shaded comfy chairs. However, for a hotel this size there was only 10 sun loungers and 2 day beds. And the majority of the sun loungers were broken, so you could only lie horizontal! I heard someone telling the hotel staff at the pool bar (which is open until 11pm) and they said they knew they were broken.. end of.

The hotel is located within the Triana area of Seville, which is mostly residential and known as the heart and soul of flamenco. There are lots of bars and restaurants to choose from. There wasn't any I can particularly recommend, all the ones we ate are were pleasant but I can't say I had a real stand out meal. Although typically on our last day, just before we left for the airport, we went in to an indoor market which had some great looking and really cheap tapas where a lot of the locals were eating.

There are quite a few must sees in Seville and although I had a few on my list, I didn't really research too well and missed a few sights I wish I'd seen (notably Plaza de Espana).

Full day 1 we jumped on an open top tour bus, which I always find a good way to get your bearings in a city. These are good value if you really utilise them and hop on and off and go the whole route. However, the first part of our route was not great, taking us through the derelict Expo site (why are all Expo sites like this?). We all got a bit bored and restless so got off.

We walked up to the Cathedral and when we got there, there was no queue to get in. You do have to pay to get in but it's not much (can't remember how much). The Cathedral is absolutely a must see and when you walk inside it takes your breath away.

Entry fee also allows you to walk to the top of the Giralda Tower. I didn't do that, being scared of heights, but I understand that the views are great.
That evening we went to a Flamenco show at El Patio Sevillano. This is completely geared up for tourists and depending on what ticket you go for, you could have a meal as well as the show. It's a good show but for me I prefer something more atmospheric. There are lots of flamenco shows in tapas bars and I watched a few minutes of a woman dancing in a small tapas bar by the cathedral one evening. She was just finishing so we couldn't go in but to watch was mesmerising and very emotional, so I would definitely say look for a smaller venue.

Also around the Cathedral area is a really nice shopping area. Lots of familiar shops, as well as some new ones to me and also bars and places to eat when you need a re-fuel. We went to a really cool rooftop bar one evening which had great roof level views of the Cathedral. A lot of hotels have roof top bars so it's worth checking some out for a pre dinner sangria.

The next day we walked from Triana to the Alcazar palace. Finding the entrance was tricky. Google Maps took us to the location and we walked around what was clearly the palace walls but then the route ended. There were no signs to the entrance either. More by luck than judgement we found the exit and were able to ask someone there where the entrance was. We did have to queue for quite a while and nearly gave up but it was worth the wait and once you get inside, the crowds do disperse.
The Palace and gardens were everything I'd hoped for and we could have spent so much longer there.

Seville completely won my heart. It's a beautiful city with so much to see and do. It's less busy than say Palma or Barcelona and I would say you need a little spanish to get by or have google translate ready as not many restaurant staff we came across spoke much english but please, thank you, can I have the bill etc will get you by.

I'll definitely be going back to Seville, now I have my bearings, to explore more on my must see list.



Sunday, 22 July 2018

Make Up to survive the Heatwave

In the UK we're not used to a decent Summer but this year, after a very long winter, we've been treated to some proper decent hot weather. Spirits are lifted, summer wardrobes are open and no one's getting much sleep! And if the weather forecasters are to be believed, this decent stretch of Summer looks to continue for a while yet.

The only problem for me is I'm just not used to this level of heat and humidity. It's fine on holiday when you don't need, or want to wear any make up but here at home, when you need to look half decent for a week of work, it's proving testing finding not just office appropriate work outfits but make up that doesn't slide off your face before your second morning cup of tea.

I've definitely been wearing less make up in this heat and I've been using products that aren't heavy. I'm also after products that help to control my oily t-zone and the unavoidable sweaty top lip and hair line that comes from going about your daily business (when you'd really rather be led by a pool).
Primer - Kiko City Filter Sunscreen Primer
The key to keeping your foundation/tinted moisturiser/CC cream in place is a good primer. Whilst a primer is another layer, applied after your moisturiser, it provides a base layer for your foundation to grip to, meaning it won't slide off.  Primers come in all sorts of guises, some promise to brighten or mattify, some give SPF protection.. the list goes on.
I've been using the Kiko City Filter, which I bought quite a while ago in one of their sales (so not sure if it's still available). But you can pick up similar primers and for this time of year, the key extra element for me is a SPF. This one has SPF 50, so I know I'm protecting my face fully.
Foundation - Maybelline Fit Me Matte + Poreless (£6.99)
Although this is sold as a foundation, because of its light consistency I've been using it more as a CC cream. The lightweight base still provides coverage, so evening out my complexion yet still letting my summer freckles come through. I apply a small amount of the liquid with a beauty sponge to really sheer it out. 
I've been really impressed with this foundation, which doesn't cling or sink into pores or lines. It's just a nice light base. 
Concealer - Urban Decay Naked Skin (£19.50 for full size)
I came across a Sephora when I was in beautiful Seville recently (blog post to follow!) so had to go in and pay homage. I didn't go really mad and mostly picked up some mini products from the sale section. One of them was the Urban Decay Naked Skin concealer. 

I've been using the same two concealers for years and I love the combination but I've heard quite a bit about this concealer, good things, and wanted to try it for myself.
Well it doesn't disappoint at all. It covers blemishes and brightens under eyes, it's not heavy or cakey, it applies like a dream. It's really very good. 
I'm sorry to my previous dream concealer combo but now I've found one product that will do the job of two.. I will be moving on to the Naked Skin.
Blusher - Benefit Rockateur (mini version which was part of a Benefit set I bought on an Easyjet flight)
When it's hot and humid, it's no time for cream blushers which just slide off to nowhere. A powder blush is the way to go and I mean the lightest hint, because hopefully you'll have a bit of a summer tan glow anyway. 
The Benefit Rockateur would normally be too light a blusher for me, however, in summer it's the perfect shade to add some depth to my cheeks without adding any unwanted redness.

Bronzer - I use a bronzer all year round and currently I've gone back to Benefit Hola, and I've been applying it heavier than I would at other times of the year. I apply it in a reverse number three on my forehead, under my cheekbones and under my jawline, all to define these areas and add warmth. I then add a light sweep to my cheeks and eye sockets. In summer I don't think you can wear too much bronzer!
Highlighter - Benefit Watt's Up (mini from the Easyjet kit)
Slight contradiction here because this is a liquid highlighter, which generally I would avoid in the heat, again favouring a powder version. However, I've been using this creamy stick more to add a subtle glow to my high points rather than an obvious stripe of highligher. Looks nice on eyelids as well.
Eye shadow - Bobbi Brown powder in Toast (£19.00)
I do still wear eye shadows in this heat wave, but I opt for neutral colours because I'm not looking to make a statement. All I want to do is keep oily lids at bay. Toast from Bobbi Brown is the perfect natural shade for eye lids. It lifts your eyes, giving lids an even, soft focused look.
Mascara - Benefit They're Real (also part of the mini Benefit from Easyjet kit)
As the weather has hotted up here, I've found my usual mascara melting and leaving tell tale panda under eyes. I only notice this quite late on in the day unfortunately!
They're Real from Benefit is new to me and I can see why people love it. Once applied, it isn't going anywhere and I know this because removal takes twice as long as my usual mascaras. But it's worth it to know that I'm not going to get panda eyes. This mascara has a fab wand which helps to separate and lengthen at the same time.
Last bit
Facial spray - Superdrug Vitamin E Hydrating Mist (£2.99)
I've been using facial mists for a while now and I can vouch that they do not disturb your make up and they seem to refresh my complexion.

This Superdrug super affordable hydrating mist smells lovely and it's refreshing mist not only hydrates your skin but gives you a shot of vitamin E and Aloe Vera. Keep this in the fridge for an even cooler spray, and take on holidays for a much needed cooling mist when in the sun.

I hope my pick of products that are getting me through the heat wave give you some ideas. Keep cool people.



Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Travel Review - Playa Blanca, Lanzarote

This years family holiday destination took us back to the windy isle of Lanzarote. With its dramatic volcanic moon like landscape and easy, typically laid back spanish way of going about things, I've always had a soft spot for Lanzarote.

We've been to Playa Blanca before but this year we went the other side, the Marina side. If you're looking for a small holiday resort, with lots of great restaurants within easy walking distance, the Marina end of Playa Blanca is for you.

We rented a three bedroom villa from Ocean Dreams Marina and Spa Villas. The villas are located opposite the Hotel Volcan and you can use all the hotel's facilities, pool etc. Both the hotel and villas are really great. On our arrival we were offered an upgrade (for a small extra cost) to one of the more newly refurbished villas, and it was worth every penny. Although I have to say that our original villa was the same size and perfectly adequate and homely, the upgraded villa had the WOW factor. And unbeknown to us, the addition of an inside/outside room with bi-fold doors was fully utilised on what turned into quite a few very cloudy days!
The villa had a large, freezing cold pool. Our last couple of days, when the clouds had finally moved on, did mean we all braved the pool but it was like an iron man challenge. Maybe we were used to pools that have been heated or had the summer season sun on them but a freezing cold pool is no use to anyone is it?!

There were enough sun loungers and, in our villa, a really lush day bed.
So the weather.. I'm not going to go on about it because it's not Lanzarote's fault! We were there for ten days from 10 June, so a little early in the holiday season and apparently the thick cloud was not usual, and it was still warm, it was just not what you want on your annual holiday is it.

As I said the end of Playa Blanca we were in was lovely, quiet (very when we were there), clean and pretty. A less than ten minute easy walk from our villa took us to the Marina area, which has lots of restaurants, bars to sit and look at the beautiful yachts whilst enjoying a jug of sangria and quite a few shops. There is a small supermarket, enough to get snacks and fill your fridge if, like us, you decide to go self catering. But equally the quality of food at all the restaurants we ate at (some repeat visits) was top notch.
The marina area is nicely laid out, and you can see that careful consideration has been given to the look and feel of the area.  Access is easy as well for pushchairs and wheelchairs.
If beaches are your thing, or you fancy a change from being poolside, a pleasant and flat walk along from Playa Blanca to Playa Dorada takes about twenty minutes. There's a really nice sandy beach with plenty of beach side bars and restaurants. And walking along the paved promenade you can see all the love locks.

Just up from Playa Dorada beach there is a shopping area, full of your usual holiday tat shops and (praise the lord) a Mango!
In the opposite direction to Playa Dorada is the island's famous Papagayo beach. We walked along the promenade, which was nice and flat until we were met with a very steep (I would say sheer!) cliff face. I'm sure there must be an easier way to get up on the cliffs to walk along to the beaches, and you can drive there, although they are rough tracks so you have to take it steady. As me and my sisters treated this walk as a training hike, we climbed up the steep cliff and once up there it was a very undulating walk along the coast line past two nice sandy beaches, one quite large and then the last beach is Papagayo. It is pretty and certainly from our high vantage point the beach and the sea looked stunning. But I would certainly not have wanted to walk to it carrying a day's worth of beach stuff, which you will need as it's only the last beach which has a small cafe.
Holiday reads
Sadly I only seem to find the time and concentration to read on holiday and thanks to the clouds, this holiday I read three books, all of which I can highly recommend.
This is going to hurt by Adam Kay - a real life diary of an A&E Dr. This is a must read, not just because it's funny, sad and well written but it makes you really appreciate our national health service and all who work within her!

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman - this wasn't what I thought it would be but in a good way. I thought it was going to be quite a dark story in to someone's mental health. It is about that but there's much more and the character, Eleanor, is heart warming.

Good me bad me by Ali Land - a similar premis as Eleanor Oliphant as in it features screwed up mothers! This novel is a bit darker but a great story and read.



Monday, 2 July 2018

Sexily Practical Lingerie from Playtex

I am not one for frilly or fussy underwear. I want my underwear to be comfortable, supportive and well made. In that order. I'm not one for colourful undies either - black, nude or white are the way to go, for me. 

And if you're anything like me (or maybe it's just me?), when I find underwear that is comfortable, I buy a few and then I just stick with those until I HAVE to buy new underwear.

And here's another confession - I like big pants, especially if they are non VPL (visible panty line). Big pants not only keep your derriere warm and covered, they are so much more comfortable to wear and a big pant is the perfect underwear when worn with trousers. Big pants can also help to give a flatter silhouette, especially over the tummy area. But I have found that some big pants can be ugly pants. Mostly made in cotton with a thick seam that just advertises "I'm wearing my Bridget Jones'"!
So when Playtex kindly contacted me to see if I'd like to try a lingerie set, I opted for my favoured black, big pants but with a sexy bra.

The set I was sent is the Playtex Perfect Silhouette bra and the Perfect Silhouette Shaping Maxi brief.  
The Shaping Maxi briefs are made from an innovative soft stretch microfibre and the feel is like a soft satin. The briefs also have an integrated tummy support which helps to flatten. I love these pants. Not only do they cover everything I want covered, they do help to flatten my tummy area giving a much slimmer silhouette when I've worn these with either trousers or a fitted skirt. The satin texture feels great to wear and unlike other "tummy control" pants I've tried, these are really comfortable and you can still breath! No VPL either.

The Perfect Silhouette bra is also made in the same fabric and is underwired and just as comfortable as the briefs. The bra, whilst being in a practical black, has a half cup of tulle that really gives it a sexy feel and look. 
The straps, once adjusted to your size, stay in place. No annoying slipping off the shoulders and the simple clasp at the back is not too wide, so you can wear fairly low cut back tops.
This bra fits really well and, as the name suggests, gives a really nice silhouette to any outfit. The smooth satin fabric means you can wear as you would a t-shirt bra with no weird outlines from lace or frills.

This set is just what I look for in lingerie and the Perfect Silhouette set is what I would call sexily practical.

The Perfect Silhouette set is available from and 


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