Saturday, 20 July 2019

Beauty Pie - is it worth tasting the pie?

You've probably seen the Facebook and Instagram adverts for Beauty Pie - a beauty lovers members club. And if, like me, you were intrigued but wondered if it was a rip off or didn't understand how it works.. I've gone in, I've joined and I'm going to give you the low down.

So Beauty Pie was set up by the same woman who founded Bliss, Flit Flop, Soap & Glory and Soaper Duper to really kick the luxury snobbish beauty industry in to touch. The premise? Beauty Pie products are made in the same factories as all your high end brands, using the same premium ingredients but without the high price point. But how is this possible?

Now firstly you can try out any Beauty Pie product without becoming a member. But you will pay the full (non member) price. And the member's price is such a big discount that why would you want to do that.

There are 3 levels of membership, and depending on which level you go for and pay for each month, will then give you an amount that you can buy up to. This is the typical price - the price you would pay if you weren't a member. But of course being a member means you pay the members price, which is a vastly reduced amount. The 3 levels of membership are £10 a month, £15 a month or £20 a month. So for:

£10.00 a month - you get £100 worth of typical price spend allowance
£15.00 a month - £150 worth of typical price spend allowance
£20.00 a month - £200 worth of typical price spend allowance

You pay the membership fee every month, whether you make an order or not. Think of it like Netflix or Amazon Prime. Your membership comes out of your account every month whether you watch any boxsets of not. You only need join up for 3 months, so if after 3 months you want to cancel, you can.

I've got the £10 a month membership (although I will be upgrading to £15 a month as there are so many things I want to try!).

I've detailed below what my first 2 orders have been and what they cost me, which will hopefully make more sense.

Order 1
I paid £10 initial membership (there was an offer on when I joined and I got an increased first month allowance of £150)
Ordered: One Powder wonder (typical price £26.00, paid £5.28), Uber volume boost mascara (typical price £20.00, paid £3.36), Future lipstick matte (typical price £20.00, paid £3.62)

So out of my £150 member access, I used up £66. But I only paid £10 membership + £12.26 = £22.26 (for £66 worth of product).

And because I hadn't used up all of my monthly allowance, it carries over to the next month meaning I had an increased allowance of £184.

Order 2
I paid £10 membership
Ordered: Jeju daily rehydration mist (typical price £30.00, paid £9.58), Petals, heliotrope & ambrette eau de parfum (typical price £125.00, paid £16.45), Sheer tinted oil-free SPF20 (typical price £28.00, paid £5.63)

So out of my increased £184 member access allowance, I used up £183. I paid £10 membership + £35.02 = £45.02 (for £183 worth of product). I wouldn't normally plan on spending this much but I wanted to order a perfume and so had saved some of my allowance to carry over from the previous month.

Do I think it's worth joining?  YES, I do. If you love your beauty - skincare, makeup and haircare (they've just started doing haircare), and you like to try new things and love yourself high end products but don't want to pay the usual extortionate price, Beauty Pie is for you.

A quick run down and review of everything I've ordered so far:
One Powder Wonder - this powder was the whole reason I joined Beauty Pie, as very highly recommended by Nadine Baggot. It's a translucent, suits all, very finely milled powder that takes away shine, helps blend make up, blurs, hides pores - it basically perfects your skin, in a light, non cakey way. This powder is better than my previous holy grail Mac skin mineralize!
Uber volume boost mascara - this mascara is lovely, it does give volume and length. It's a fairly wet mascara, which I think I am the only person not to favour, because of my rubbish application skills. So I have to be really careful or just use a cotton bud to wipe away any smears from my lash line.
Future lipstick matte - the staying power, application and feel of this lipstick is really nice. This particular shade (hearthrob pink) is just a touch too dark for my skin tone for daywear but evenings, yes. And I will be trying other shades.
Jeju daily rehydration mist - an antioxidant, soothing and hydrating toner with hyaluronic acid which you mist on to your face after cleansing and before moisturiser, or at anytime during the day. This smells fresh and is so refreshing. If you're struggling in the heat, this is lovely. I really can see a positive difference in my skin after only a few days of using this.
Super healthy skin sheer tinted oil-free SPF20 - a tinted SPF that you use on top of your moisturiser, it gives you SPF protection, whilst a good sheer tint that creates a blurred soft focus finish. I can happily wear this and just a touch of concealer.
Eau de parfum - you just have to smell this, it is devine. I'm not a perfume person, I can take them or leave them, preferring body sprays and light scents but this smells of a very high end, expensive, designer perfume. It's slightly sweet, slightly musky, floral bottle of bliss. Delicious.

There are so many items I've already added to my wishlist - the skincare looks amazing, my next order will include the new shampoo and conditioner and there's a new blush/highlighter palette that is the spit of the much lusted after Hourglass palette..

I hope this helps explain a bit more about Beauty Pie and how it works and that it is definitely worth trying a slice. Or three.



Sunday, 16 June 2019

Birthday Bucket Lists ... should you do one?

You've probably heard of these lists - 40 before 40, 50 before 50 etc. Lists of things for you to aim to achieve or do before or by the end of your milestone birthday year. I imagine this idea has come from the states but whatever, I for one think they are a great, fun idea. 
I'm turning (gulp) 50 next year and have been building my list for a while now. I want my list to be fun, challenging, mostly achievable but not make me resent it or cheat by just making up the numbers (such as "make lunch for work for a week" - I always do that!).
On my own, I got to 20 things on my list and then I hit a bit of a wall, mostly because most of my goals start with "go to...". and there is only so much annual leave I can get off work and more importantly, have the funds to go to all these places in less than 2 years. I started researching on the net to try and steal other people's ideas but couldn't really find many. I will be letting you see my list once I've finished it, maybe to give you some inspiration and because if I publish it.. I will have to give it a damn good go!

I did find this list of 50 things to do before your 50th (obviously you can deduct 10 or 20 if you're not as old as me) and as a bit of fun I thought you might like to see either how sheltered or not my life has been, and you can have a go at ticking off what you've done on the list.

There's also a 20 things you've regretted list I found, so I've put that at the end, purely for laughs yea, because frankly I don't have any regrets and nor should you. (And I'm looking at  you, Costa cinnamon roll of lushness..).

50 things to do before you're 50

  1. Buy a house - done. Nothing like getting home, shutting the door and world out.
  2. Have kids - done. 1 amazing daughter.
  3. Get married - done. Lets move on.
  4. Fall in love - I think so? Yea I'm pretty sure.
  5. Eat fish and chips on the pier - done.
  6. Donate blood - no. I would though. For the tea and biscuit as well.
  7. Read 100 books - only if I've been on a 100 holidays, so no!
  8. See your favourite musician/band live - no. 
  9. Learn a language - non, nada, nein.
  10. Attend a music festival - no. Want to.
  11. Own a dog - yes. More stressful than owning a child.
  12. Learn to say no to your mother - done.
  13. Stay out all night partying - yes, when I was 15. And we just talked so not really partying.
  14. See the Northern Lights - no.
  15. Visit Stonehenge - I drove past it. It's disappointingly small.
  16. Be able to remember which side of your car the petrol cap is on - "my side" "my side".
  17. Travel somewhere alone - done. Will do again.
  18. Sleep underneath the stars - in a tent? then yes. Without a tent, you must be mad.
  19. Watch a meteor shower - no.
  20. Dance in the rain - always.
  21. Become an expert at something - ha, no. 
  22. Quit a job - yes, on the 2nd day.
  23. See a volcano - yes, in Hawaii and Lanzarote.
  24. Visit all seven continents - which ones are they? So no.
  25. Throw a coin in the Trevi fountain - yes (fat lot of good that did!).
  26. Take a helicopter ride - yes.
  27. Have sex on a beach - I can't stand walking on sand, so no.
  28. Swim with dolphins - yes.
  29. Go skinny dipping - please, I'm British (so no).
  30. Ride a gondola in Venice - no.
  31. Make a snow angel - yes.
  32. Take part in a protest - internally, every day.
  33. Own your own business - yes.
  34. Go up in a hot air balloon - god no, scared of heights!
  35. Ride an elephant - no.
  36. Climb Snowdonia - no but driven past it, does that count?!
  37. Jump into a pool fully clothed - yes (forced in by my brother in law).
  38. Backpack across Europe - no.
  39. Perfect a signature dish - umm I mean I have 4 things I cook over and over??
  40. Drink beer at Oktoberfest - no, don't like beer.
  41. Run a marathon - ha, no that's my sister's gig.
  42. Get a tattoo - yes, got 2.
  43. Ride a Vespa - no.
  44. Watch comedy at Edinburgh Fringe - no, I don't like comedy.
  45. Write a novel - no but have thought about it.
  46. Write a journal - wrote diaries as a teen, they would have been hilarious to read now.
  47. Spend a month technology free - no.
  48. Try drugs - only the soft friendly kind.
  49. Have a threesome - please, I'm struggling to have a twosome!
  50. Go to an airport and pick a random flight - no, that is anxiety inducing shiz right there!

20 regrets (yes to regretting. No to not regretting)

  1. Not seeing enough of the world - no, I've been lucky with travel but there's still so much more to see..
  2. Smoking too much - no, I like a social ciggy. I think it makes me look cool.
  3. Losing touch with old friends - no, if you lose touch its run its course.
  4. Putting on too much weight - yes but it happens so quickly, I never stood a chance.
  5. Marrying the wrong person - yes. (I do regret that one but I got my daughter so..)
  6. Not starting my pension soon enough - no, I did but then I stopped for too long.
  7. Not learning a new language - it would be nice to learn spanish..
  8. Spending too much time worrying about what others thought of me - used to, then you get older and you don't give one, so no.
  9. Not learning an instrument - yes, the recorder, the clarinet.. awful instruments. 
  10. Not following a career direction I wanted - no.
  11. Living to work rather than working to live - no, never done this. 5pm switch off!
  12. Not looking after my health properly - no.
  13. Not being able to say 'no' - no!
  14. Not learning more about my family tree - no. I know who I want to know.
  15. Having children too old - no.
  16. Not having children - no.
  17. Not owning my own business - no.
  18. Not taking up more hobbies - haha, I am queen of hobbies and phases so no.
  19. Having children too young - no.
  20. Never living in the countryside - no, I have lived in the countryside and always wanted to. But it was far out, with no nearby emergency chocolate shops nearby.
Why don't you have a go at putting together a milestone birthday bucket list, but remember it's just for you and a fun thing to do.



Sunday, 9 June 2019

When your skin needs a break... Don't over complicate it

For a few years now we've all been bombarded with more and more layers to add to what was once a soap and water skincare routine. And don't get me wrong, I wholeheartedly bought in to this. My skincare routine became more complicated and time consuming by the month. I even had to buy additional bathroom storage to hold my cocktail cabinet of serums, oils, acids, retinoids and double cleaners.

And then out of nowhere, I got perioral dermatitis (PD). I can't say what was the trigger point and indeed this actually quite common skin condition is not only seemingly difficult for GPs to diagnose but it is very difficult to pinpoint what causes it. Here's some additional information (in case you or someone you know might ever suffer from PD)..

From the British Association of Dermatologists:
Peri-oral dermatitis is a common skin condition that more commonly affects women aged 20 to 50 years old. It usually causes persistent redness or small bumps (papules).  It can persist for a few months until the cause is identified and corrected. Peri-oral dermatitis is thought to be a type of rosacea. 

My PD started with redness around the sides of my nose, by my nostrils. I've always been red there so wasn't overly concerned for ages. But then it got worse, redder, drier and a few of the spots mentioned above appeared. At first I treated this as eczema (as suggested by a pharmacist), after a few weeks of no joy with Cetraben, I went to see the prescribing nurse at my surgery.  He diagnosed it as a fungal infection and put me on an anti-fungal cream for the face. A couple of weeks later and no improvement I was back at the surgery and this time a GP diagnosed rosacea and put me on Metronidazole (antibiotic) gel. This didn't help at all and indeed the gel really dried out the area and left it flaky. I started googling (as you do) and when I found some photos of PD, I knew that was exactly what I had. I even sent a message to Nadine Baggot and she very kindly said I needed Rozex - which is Metronidazole but in a cream. I've been using this for 5 weeks now and the PD has improved but not yet completely cleared up.  I did go back to the GP to ask for oral antibiotics but was told that I would need to be on a 3 month course, so I'll stick with the cream.

Needless to say my once tough/can take anything on it skin, is now lack lustre and a sensitive soul! As one of the triggers for PD is mixing and changing skincare products, I decided to really scale back my routine and use uncomplicated but effective products.

For the face
The Cerave skincare range has been developed by dermatologists to repair and strengthen the skin's barrier. Fragrance free, non irritating and non comedogenic but with all the key ingredients that we've all been trying to use such as Niacinamide, ceramides and hyaluronic acid all packed in to no fuss but easy to use packaging.

Hydrating Cleanser - this non foaming gel like cleanser is a delight to use, both in the morning and evening. You wouldn't think it could but it effectively removes all traces of make up, even eye make up (although I can't get out of using a separate eye make up remover for mascara). This cleanser leaves my skin soft and feeling hydrated and just clean.

Facial Moisturising Lotion - for a while I've been using the lotion with no spf for day and night. This is marketed as the night cream. If you like to use a separate spf or prefer your moisturiser not to have spf in, this is perfect. No fragrance, it's a light, easily absorbed cream that leaves skin soft to the touch and ready for whatever make up base you want to apply on top.
The lotion with spf 25 in is the "day cream". This has a slightly thicker consistency than the lotion without spf, and initially I thought would make my skin greasy(er) but it doesn't. It also sinks in quickly and leaves no sheen.

Both of the lotions and the cleansers I'm sure have helped in my PD recovery and I will continue to use because not only do they feel much kinder to my skin, they are really effective.
The lotions are £12.00 each and the cleanser £9.00 (and Boots have currently got a 3 for 2 on skincare including Cerave).

For the body
Love Beauty and Planet shower gel - I kept seeing these colourful bottles in Tesco and then Boots and when I read that the bottles are made from 100% recycled material, are vegan and use ethically sourced ingredients and are just an all round good egg of a product, I had to give it a go. And my word, this particular shower gel - shea butter and sandalwood oil, not only smells delicious, the shea butter in it leaves my skin so moisturised I reckon you could get away with not having to use a body lotion afterwards. (£5.99 for a big 500ml bottle).

But of course you need a body moisturiser and if like me, your skin needs some TLC after coming out of winter hibernation, then this non glamorous lotion will really help.
I got this small 50ml size in the ASOS beauty calendar but the 200ml size of Ameliorate Transforming Body Lotion is available from Amazon for £11.25.
Right firstly I'm not going to lie, when I first smelt this lotion I thought I wouldn't be able to use it. I can't describe the smell but it's not what you would look for in a body lotion. However, I have to say after the first couple of uses I can't even smell it now (although I do have a terrible sense of smell). At best now it reminds me of nappy rash cream.

The lactic acid in the lotion helps the skin to naturally exfoliate, removing dead skin cells and stimulating the renewal of healthy skin cells. The results are smoother, healthier looking skin. So I've temporarily ditched my gradual tan lotions to take my skin back to basics and start with a clean, smooth and refreshed looking canvas... ready for the sun (crosses fingers!).



Sunday, 14 April 2019

The life changing magic of actually giving a f***

Hi everyone.  Long time no speak.  Sorry it was me not you.

Have you ever had one of those "is this it?" times in your life? Where you feel like a hamster on the wheel, the drudge of adulting, the daily grind and you feel like you just need to get away/run away, just for a few days? Well that was me, I mean is often me and so I decided to challenge myself again to a solo trip somewhere. I couldn't really be faffed with going abroad and had started vaguely looking at spa breaks, yoga retreats, walking holidays in the UK. Problem was none of the retreats I found spoke to me, I either felt they were too serious for me (I am a beginner at yoga) or just seemed too aimed at groups. But then after Christmas I was having my hourly scroll through Instagram and in to my feed popped a post from @LifeRocks. And here it was, what I had been looking for - a yoga and mindfulness retreat in Anglesey, North Wales. What appealed to me was that the 3 day retreats only cater for small groups of likeminded women, so I already felt fairly confident that I wouldn't be the only solo traveler in amongst a hen party! So that was me sold and booked up for a midweek retreat in April.

The Life Rocks retreat is based in a beautiful, large home overlooking the stunning Trearddur Bay Beaches in Anglesey. The house is large but so homely, welcoming and comfortable and I was invited to treat it like my own home by the lovely Phillippa, who runs the retreats. (The title photo is the view from one of windows in my huge bedroom).
On the retreat were myself, 4 other wonderful ladies, Phillippa and Rose (our yoga teacher). The retreats can easily cater for a few more and we had all opted for our own rooms. I did have to share a bathroom but it was really no bother at all and I never had to wait to use it.

Day 1 (arrival)
We all arrived from 3.00pm onwards and were warmly welcomed by Phillippa and Rose with tea and carrot cake. And on that I have to say that the food on the retreat was some of the best I have ever had. We had Andy, a local chef, who provided us with delicious breakfasts, lunches and dinners - all vegetarian and all amazing. I am still dreaming about his bircher muesli!
We then joined Rose in the conservatory for some gentle evening yoga. Yoga sessions took place first thing in the morning (8.00am) and early evening, with a wonderful backdrop of the wide open expanse of sea and beach.
After dinner, we all gathered on the comfy sofas by a roaring fire and did the first group session, which was getting to know each other a little better and talking about why we had come on the retreat and what we had hoped to get out it. It was really pleasant but it didn't really click with me. I wondered if maybe this wasn't going to be the thing that would be able to tell me exactly what I should be doing in my career..

Day 2
The weather for the whole 3 days was glorious, with clear blue skies and sunshine. Which was great as I had driven through thick cloud and heavy rain to get there. We kept silence before breakfast every morning, so I took myself down to the beach to take some photos and get some fresh air before the morning yoga session.
At this yoga session we did some chanting. I've never chanted before, so I kept quiet. It didn't really click with me.
After breakfast, we all took ourselves off for a walk along the beaches and it was on this walk that I fell into a natural but quite deep conversation with a couple of the ladies. Somehow and from somewhere I spoke about my relationship with my daughter and the worries that I'm sure most Mums have and for me, my wonder and awe that my daughter is so loving and good at showing affection when I feel unable to do this. And it was then that one of these wonderful women, who had been a stranger to me before that day, turned to me and said "It's you. You've shown her. Your daughter's love and ability to show it, is from you". Something switched on in me in that moment.

After lunch we had free time and I was booked in for a 50 minute massage. I even let the lovely Elaine massage my feet. No one, not even me, has ever been able to touch my feet. She said my feet were wonderful, strong and healthy. The light in me increased.

After a post massage nap, evening yoga and another delicious dinner (during which we all tried to take photos of the stunning sunset), we gathered again by the fire for a session. And this was the moment for me that everything clicked, switched on, illuminated. One word, one name and the realisation that it was never about how I can make myself happier in my job, there's nothing wrong with my job and whilst I really like my life, my family, my friends, that one word was the light bulb moment that I was blocked, and had been for a long time. I told this wonderful small group of ladies that I needed a ..
plunger. To unblock all the build up. And that was it. Whilst on the surface everything can look fine and dandy, there is so much pressure on everyone to keep our sh** together, soldier on, be strong. And I want to continue to be like this but sometimes you need to acknowledge that if someone made you feel rubbish or a situation you are going through/have been through is horrible, we all need to allow ourselves the time to process it. Or else we will become blocked and that will just stop all the other feelings flowing through!

Day 3 (departure)
And so at the morning yoga session, I wholeheartedly chanted until out of nowhere tears were running down my face. I got it.

Our final group session was an interesting and revealing look at crystals and their properties and I was drawn to Rose Quartz - the crystal for unconditional love, compassion and forgiveness. Which says it all really.

Going on this retreat I didn't really have any expectations but what I got was being in a safe, warm and loving environment which enabled me to open up to not just this small group of truly amazing women, but I suppose more importantly, myself. I actually do give a f***.



Saturday, 26 January 2019

The Inky List - for those of us without a degree in chemistry

A couple of years ago we saw The Ordinary range of serums, oils and acids skincare hit the beauty world like a kick up the backside that was well over due. And for all the dramas that later came with the founder, and recently his sad death, you cannot deny that The Ordinary was the David to the high end and complicated beauty world's Goliath. And so the door had been opened to allow us mere mortals into the scientific world of retinols, Acids, AHAs, BHAs and oils. And then in walked The Inky List to further banish the mystery and extortionate pricing around all of the lotions and potions.

Here is a range of less Harry Potter potions looking products. The packaging and tubes have clear and simple to understand directions on how and when to use and what the product is for. And all at really good price points.

After the initial release frenzy, I've dipped my toe in and am trying out the Vitamin C face serum.
The Inky List explains this Vitamin C serum better than I can:
A powerful antioxidant with a host of benefits, vitamin C is a skin care celebrity for a reason. Able to both prevent and correct signs of damage, Vitamin C Serum can help to reduce the impact of daily skin stressors, including pollution and sun exposure, which can lead to pigmentation, accelerated signs of ageing and dullness (no thanks!) As well as this, vitamin C works to actively brighten and even out skin tone, while also boosting collagen production to enhance skin’s plumpness and elasticity. Offering all of these benefits (without eye-watering cost or alienating jargon) THE INKEY LIST’s Vitamin C Serum stars 30% pure, L-Ascorbic Acid in a stable, waterless formulation for optimum results and low irritation. Add this into your regime and you can expect bright, even, protected, youthful-looking skin.

I've been using this in the morning.  You can use in the evening as well but I've been using Retinol (see below.) On first use there was a very slight tingling on my skin but that was only the first time I used it. The cream, although quite paste like, does sink in quickly and I apply moisturiser after.
I've been using a retinol product in my skincare routine for a year now and for my age, wouldn't not include it. I like the cream retinol that the Inky list have developed which I apply in the evenings only and then follow with my night cream of choice.  The Inky list describe their Retinol:
A derivative of vitamin A, retinol helps to promote skin renewal and enhance collagen production to keep skin looking youthful, working at a cellular level to promote renewal and repair processes so that newer cells reach the surface quicker. As we age, the rate at which our skin renews itself slows down (sob) so retinol can be a great way of kick-starting cells back into action. Providing the highest quality ingredients formulated by a crack team of scientists and experts, THE INKEY LIST’s answer to retinol is sublime in its simplicity, uniting 1% stable retinol and 0.5% granactive retinoid (slightly stronger than retinol) with squalane for hydration and soothing. The slow-release formula minimises irritation while providing effective active delivery, working hard to minimise fine lines and wrinkles, even out skin tone tackle blemishes and improve skin clarity, leaving your complexion looking brighter, smoother and miles more youthful.

I recently read an article that said the 3 most important (and only) skincare ingredients you need in your routine are vitamin c, retinol and a SPF.  These 3 products alone will combat signs of aging, pigmentation, dullness and if you start using a facial spf as early as you can, and not just on holiday, you will delay the aging of your skin.

There are very few products that will give you an instant result and certainly with both of these products, I know I need to be patient and in for the long haul before I start to see real improvement in my skin. But whilst I'm waiting for brighter, smoother, younger looking skin I am confident in the knowledge that these ingredients are really benefiting my skin.

The Inky List Retinol serum is £9.99 and the Vitamin C serum £7.99, both and more available from Cult Beauty.


Sunday, 6 January 2019

2018 - Favourite Beauty Bits

You may (or may not) have noticed that I'm not blogging as often. And I think that's a lot to do with my realisation that I/we don't need so much stuff. And I have been so bad (or good?) at buying stuff. When I first started blogging, I used to buy a lot of stuff, so I had things to write about and because I wanted to try things out to tell you about. I've never seen the point in writing about things that I can only comment on the packaging of! All we want to know is does it work, right?

There was a point earlier in the year and I had no new products to write about and I thought I need to go and buy stuff to write about. But I didn't need anything. I have drawers full of products that I haven't used, why would I go and buy more? So 2018 was the year I decided to be a more conscious consumer and also use up all my stuff, and only allow myself to purchase new products once I've used up every last drop. My beauty favourites for this year are a smaller selection but these are things I have really used and will keep on re-purchasing.
Simple Dual Effect eye make-up remover (Superdrug £2.39)
Although I don't use waterproof mascara (which this is targeted for), I find the dual effect of water and oil which you mix before putting on a cotton pad, is so gentle and really effective for removing all eye make up. There's no rubbing needed, just a quick hold the pad onto your eye lid and then wipe clean. Just wish it came in a larger bottle but this small 125ml will last me 6 weeks of daily use. 

Cien Nail Polish remover (Lidl £1.59)
Two things I love about this nail polish remover are 1. that it doesn't leave my nails stripped and dry and 2. the dispenser - you just push down on the top with a cotton pad and the remover dispenses up and on to the pad, like a professional manicurist!
L'Oreal Unlimited mascara (Superdrug/Boots £10.99)
This is the best mascara I have ever used. It gives length, volume and doesn't smudge. It doesn't need the gimmicky bendy wand but whatever, it also gets better with age!
Touch InSol No Poreblem primer (Cult Beauty £15.00)
If you can get hold of this, it's well worth a try. The silicone texture ensures a silky smooth base on which to apply foundation. It does help to mattify and if you keep it in your bag, a small midday application on the T zone will see you shine free for the rest of the day.

Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Skinstick in Truffle (Harvey Nics £21.00)
This cream stick is my stand out product of the year. I am in love with it. I use it as a bronzer/contour/blush/eye shadow. It's that versatile. Granted for paler skins this would be too much, unless you want to bronze up. I apply the stick to the back of my hand and then apply with a brush. It warms up my face and adds some much needed shadow to fool a cheek hollow. Worth every penny.
Mac eye shadow in Woodwinked (Mac £14.00)
Ok so I only got this at Christmas and I'd never previously even seen it in the flesh but one swipe and I was smitten. This antique gold powder shadow is me in an eye shadow (not the antique bit!). It's brown yet its gold, it's one application for eye definition and it's two applications for a smoky eye. It's got the glint of gold, yet the subtleness of a day shadow. It's everything.

Bobbi Brown eye shadow in Toast (Bobbi Brown £19.50)
This is the shadow I've been using almost every day for the past 6 months. If you don't wear or like eye shadow (how? how?) but want something to cover darkened or veiny eye lids, this is for you. Think the colour of eye lids that have always had 9 hours sleep, no make up, no sun and lots of water. This is Toast.
Middle finger - Bobbi Brown Toast
Ring finger - Mac Woodwinked
Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer in Fenty Glow (Harvey Nichols £16.00)
I received this mini size along with a glorious gold highlighter for Christmas and even though I've only used it a few times, it's already a favourite. This is the lip gloss when you want to hydrate your lips and give them a wash of perfect natural lips colour. You can wear this gloss on its on or over any lipstick to give a luscious plumptious look. If you're going for a no make up look or bold eyes/subtle lips, this is for you.


Saturday, 29 December 2018

2018 - My Highlights and lost toe nails

I always feel a bit glum after Christmas and in to January. I can't help but have a sense of under achievement for the year that is ending and the dark, cold aftermath of the new year after the sparkly excitement of Christmas just leaves me feeling completely flat. So I decided to properly look back on 2018 and to remind myself of the fun and lovely things I got up to, so I can look forward to 2019 and all the excursions and excitement that could bring as well.

So 2018 didn't really see much to report until March when I started a new job. I do tend to change jobs every few years. I just can't seem to settle anywhere for too long. Once I know what I'm doing, the frustration starts to set in, frustration that yet another organisation is run in a way that I can't seem to just accept. It really is a case of "it's me, not you". In March I left a job which I wasn't sad to leave but the nicest people I have ever worked with. I felt really cared for there.. but you know onwards.. I've been in my new job 9 months now (I work in human resources in you're wondering) and at last I'm past that horrible unsettling new person period. This job is different for me in that I get to go out and about to other sites quite a bit. This has taken me totally out of my comfort zone, having to find and turn up to different sites and work with people I haven't met before and sometimes quite unfriendly (insert hostile) groups. But I've done it and I have to give myself a little pat on the back despite driving in to nearly every site the wrong way/parking in the wrong areas and waiting patiently and unnecessarily in my little car on a weighbridge (which is meant for HGV lorries) whilst the blokes in the office watched me on the CCTV..

May saw the 2nd biggest exciting opportunity from my blog to happen (after the Good Housekeeping feature, yes I'm still banging on about that!). I was invited to spend a couple of days at the beautiful Gainsborough Bath Spa hotel with Dove. This two day summer revived retreat was part of Dove's promotion of their new gradual tan body moisturiser. Along with a small group of other lovely bloggers, we were indulged with afternoon tea, cocktail making, dinner, spa treatment and morning yoga. These things don't happen to me normally so I was beside myself that I was invited and got to re-meet some fab bloggers I had met before and also make new blogging friends. It was a real pinch me moment and I made sure I appreciated every single second. If nothing like that ever happens again, I will always remember it.
The thermal spa at the Gainsborough Bath Spa
May also saw a sisters 3 day trip to Dubai. We had such fun, laughed a lot and got to enjoy the Dubai sunshine. May is a great time to go if you're considering it. The weather is perfect, very warm but not the crazy 45c + of August.

All my trips abroad came one after the other in 2018, which was great at the time but not for the rest of the year! June was our family holiday and this year we went back to Lanzarote and I did a full review here. Everything was perfect about this holiday.. except the weather! This was the first holiday I've been on when the weather has been disappointing.  And that was about the time that the UK summer heatwave kicked off. We did have a handful of nice days and thank goodness for our nightly Love Island catch ups.
Towards the end of June was the event that I had been aiming for and training for since January - the charity hike along the Jurassic Coast for Cancer Research UK. This was a 21 mile hike with a group of 11 other fab ladies. I mean lets call it 25 miles because the car park was quite far from the start point!
This was the hardest, most challenging, emotional, exhilarating, rewarding thing I have ever done. The picture below doesn't fully do justice to the hills (I would call them mountains) that we had to scale. This was more than a walk. There were times when we had to crawl up the hills, such was the steepness. Our walking poles were our absolute best friends. You could not do this walk without poles. The group of girls I did this hike with are my sisters' childhood friends but they have taken me in to their group and we now have this bond of something as equally as amazing and horrific that we all did!
I properly sobbed when I finished. That night I kept dreaming I was falling off cliff edges. But it was all worth it. To date I've lost 3 toe nails. Our group as a whole about 20 nails. And as a group we raised £3,500. Which we are all, very rightly, proud of.
Seeing the "hill" ahead of us was frightening!

The Swindon girls
In July I needed to start walking properly again as I jetted off to Seville for 3 days. Oh what a stunner of a city Seville is. This is a less busy, easier to get around Barcelona. My review here goes in to more detail. I will go back to Seville, it totally got my heart and re-ignited my love for flamenco (watching not dancing..) and also made me want to explore other Spanish city breaks.
The Real Alcazar 
August was the month my daughter turned 21. Even before her 21st year she has done so much, left home, bought her own house, excelled in her job, become mummy to 2 (really naughty) cats, learnt how to cook a roast and homemade lasagna, embraced hinching.. 
For me, my daughter turning 21 was the next chapter in her becoming a fully self sufficient adult and me having to tick off another parent milestone.
A good year travel wise and I hope 2019 is the same. Our group of girls have already booked a lush villa in Dubrovnik for a mass 40ths celebration (I'm just about in there as I'll be in my last year of my 40s!). Hopefully all toe nails will have grown back by then!

I'm looking forward to seeing what else pans out in 2019. Thank you again to all of you who still take the time to dip in to read my ramblings. I do really appreciate it and hope I've enabled you with some good purchases and helped you avoid some wastes of time.

Happy new year everyone.

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