Beauty: Winter Beauty Buys

*BRRRRRRRR* Grab yourself a hot chocolate and come and join us.
Looking out of the window at the grey, rain-heavy sky has made me realise that the traditional British winter is now upon us. I can't say I'm particularly excited about the impending 5 months of cold, wet, dark and windy days, but we can try and cheer ourselves up with the promise of rich, indulgent beauty products!

In the next few weeks, I'm going to compile my list of my essential winter beauty buys and tips for keeping healthy and looking your best throughout the cold months. Alongside my research, I would love to know how you adapt your beauty and health routine to keep a glowing complexion and to stay snuffle free. You might add a face oil into your routine, upgrade to a richer day cream, or take a variety of supplements to keep the dreaded winter cold at bay - whatever it is, I want to know about it!

Post your comments below and if you are on Twitter, follow me @TheBeautyHall and post your essentials followed by the hash tag #winterbeautybuys.

I can't wait to read your recommendations!
Image courtesy of notthedestinationbut.blogspot.com


Birthday giveaway: we have a winner!

I have been checking my blog stats religiously, as I've been hovering at 49 followers for the past few days. Tonight, I refreshed the page and I was so excited to see that the blog has reached 50 followers! I know it's not the biggest number, but for me, it marks my first blogging milestone, and it's so much down to your support and lovely comments.

So to mark the moment, I can finally pick a winner, and that winner is Louise! Email your address over to me, I will send the prize out as soon as I get it!

Thank you all again for reading, and let me know your thoughts on possible themes for my next giveaway. My first thought is hair, but I am happy to be led by you!


Rimmel's Lash Accelerator: The Two Week Report

I've been using Rimmel's Lash Accelerator for just over two weeks now, and I have to say, I'm rather impressed. My lashes don't quite look like the ones above, but I've noticed increased length, softness and retention, which is exactly what the product promises. Normally, I'd see a lash on my cheek every few days, or one would fall out when I rubbed my eyes, but I realised this morning that I haven't seen one for at least a week. Coincidence? I don't think so

Lash 'growth' products work by conditioning and nourishing lashes to promote natural growth, thus allowing the lash follicle to retain the hair for longer, rather than containing some miracle ingredient that causes hair to grow faster and longer (if that had been invested, you can bet I'd be brushing it onto my hair every morning!) I've read that lots of people use flaxseed and other oils as a conditioner that provides similar results, but for me, the convenience of having similarly nourishing ingredients incorporated into a core part of my beauty routine is something I'm very happy to invest in. I love a product that multi-tasks, and Lash Accelerator definitely falls into that category.

But this isn't just about lash growth: it's about how good a mascara it is. If it was on performance alone, I'd still prefer Maybelline's The Falsies, but as this has the added bonus of moisturising the lashes, I will definitely be repurchasing. It was a little wet when I first started using it, but has improved as it's dried in the same way that so many mascaras do. The wand looks a little thin and flimsy, but it provides great coverage, coating even the tiniest lashes. Lashes are glossy and well defined, with no clumping at all. It is incredibly lengthening (that's before your lashes have grown!), and so it works much better when you've curled your lashes beforehand.
I'll post some more photos after a month's use, but all in all, this gets a big thumbs up from me. Have you taken the plunge with a lash growth product?


Review: The Permanent Blow Dry - everything you need to know

Image from harpersbazaar.co.uk
I had a look through my Google Analytics report today, and the most new visitors to my site find me through questions about permanent or Brazilian blow dries. Regular readers will know that I am a veteran of this procedure, and it's absolutely revolutionised the way I approach my hair care routine. Since starting to have these treatments five years ago, my hair has grown stronger, longer and healthier, and the process has allowed me to cut down to three blow dries a week and eliminate the use of straigteners altogether. No mean feat for someone with naturally dry hair who's been heat and colour treating it for 13 years.

So, here are my top permanent/Brazilian blow dry tips - what to ask at the salon, what to expect, and how to care for it. I should add that I've never been asked to review a keratin treatment/Brazilian blow dry and my experience here is all self-funded, and I hope this impartiality helps you in making a decision. There's no doubt that this is an expensive treatment, and I want you to get good value for your money!

1. A permanent or Brazilian blow dry involves the application of a keratin solution to hair to relax waves and ease frizz. It won't give a poker straight finish to naturally wavy hair (that's Yuko territory), but it will make your hair much more manageable, and if you do heat straighten it, it allows you to create an incredibly sleek finish. Most importantly, it's not damaging and actually moisturises the hair, making it a win all round. The keratin treatment originated in Brazil, and goes under many names including the Brazilian, permanent and ever-lasting blow dry to name but a few. Despite the names of the latter two, it's neither permanent nor ever lasting (see point five) and unlike other straightening treatments, it causes little to no damage to the hair (I've had some dryness as a result of back-to-back treatments, but it's nothing a few months off won't solve).

2. The process take between 1hr-2hr, depending on how much hair you have. Hair is shampooed, and left to sit with shampoo on for 5-10 mins. It's then rinsed, towel dried, and the keratin solution is painted onto the hair and combed through. Hair is then roughly blow dried and straightened with irons in small sections to ensure that every strand is covered. The heat of the straighteners activates and seals the solution into the hair, making it an essential part of the process.

3. If you have lots of split ends, the treatment won't be absorbed as well in those parts of the hair, so it's best to have the ends cut off before you have your treatment. You'll be spending a lot, so your hair should look great: don't hold on to damaged lengths! The trim doesn't need to happen at the same time, so if your usual salon doesn't offer the treatment, go for a trim and then book in for your blow dry.

4. The process isn't cheap. Many salons offer the treatment from £150, but for shoulder length hair, you're looking at closer to £200, with the cost rising for longer hair - my last treatment was £260 for hair that's around three inches below my shoulders. Ask at your consultation so you don't get a nasty surprise. Websites like wahanda.com occasionally have a good deal, so keep your eyes open. My last blow dry was a Wahanda deal and came in at a lovely £89 (update - it was a crap treatment!). If you're still wincing at the cost, I make an attempt to justify it at point six! Experience, however, tells me that you very much get what you pay for, and I'm now exclusively a Daniel Hersheson girl.

5. With appropriate care, the blow dry lasts for around three months and unlike other hair treatments, it fades, rather than grows out, so you aren't left with annoying frizzy roots: hurrah! I'll come onto what constitutes 'appropriate care' in points 12 and 14.

6. Before you book, think about whether this treatment is right for you. If you step out of the shower and your hair dries into sleek, straight heavenliness, consider me deeply envious and go and spend your £200 on a nice new pair of shoes and a couple of cocktails instead. If you spend 30+ minutes blow drying your hair every other day, straighten your hair most days, are sporting heat-related damage, or if you try and find excuses to stay in during times of humidity or rain, then get yourself booked in. I consider this treatment to be an investment as it saves me several hours a week that used to be spent styling, it's left my hair in better condition, and it's stopped me from running madly to the salon to buy every product that promises miracles and never delivers. It's definitely not for everyone, but if you can afford it and spend a lot of effort on your hair, it's worth a try. Before I started having this treatment, I would spend about £60 a month on my Kerastase supplies, and still spend at least 30 minutes every other day styling. Over three months, that takes us to £180 spent and a whopping 56 hours (yes, over TWO DAYS) styling. Think about your time and financial investments, and it may get easier to see how this treatment is good value - that is, if you're as crazy as me to spend all that time and money.

7. Always, ALWAYS go to the salon for a consultation before having the treatment. Not only will this allow them to assess whether you have the right hair for the treatment (Daniel Hersheson, for example, recommend their treatment for people with hair that's naturally quite difficult to manage, whereas other salons offer it for any hair type), but you can also get a sense as to whether this is a salon you're happy with. If you feel under pressure, or that it's not the right environment, this allows you to take your custom somewhere else. Read reviews of your local salon to find out about others' experience. When I lived in Manchester, I used to travel to London specifically to get my treatment done with Daniel Hersheson, such is the quality of their service.

8. Many salons recommend that you should wait at least a week after colouring your hair before having a permanent or Brazilian blow dry, and even then, the treatment can lift the colour. All round, it's a much better idea to wait until after your treatment if you're planning to colour your hair.

9. Sodium Lauryl Sulphate in your shampoo: is it ok? The recommendation from salons is very much, 'no, it's not.' I have stuck pretty rigidly to the command of 'no sulphates' throughout my five years of having this treatment, although I've occasionally used regular shampoo when I've run out of SLS-free. I can assure you that the odd 'normal' shampoo won't lift the treatment instantly, but it should be kept to a minimum. When I had my first keratin treatment, I wasn't recommended to switch from the Kerastase shampoo I was using at the time, and the treatment very definitely faded more quickly as a result of the SLS in the shampoo. Pureology is a great option (I am a big fan of the Hydrate range) but a cheaper alternative is Liz Earle haircare which is also excellent. See the bottom of the page for links to SLS-free shampoo reviews.

10. Following on from this, when you go to the salon, check what their house range is, and if it's not SLS-free, don't be swayed by the heavy marketing. Remember, when they wash your hair pre-treatment, it doesn't matter so much as the SLS is not coming into contact with the keratin solution. It's just your home routine that counts. I would genuinely be concerned at the expertise of the stylist/salon if they were pushing products that didn't help the longevity of the treatment, so make sure to ask about aftercare at your consultation.

11. The longer the shampoo is left on when your hair is washed at the salon, the better the keratin solution is able to penetrate the hair shaft and therefore, the better the treatment works. Shampooing opens the cuticles on each strand of hair, so a good salon will leave the shampoo for 5-10 minutes. Ask them about this when you go in.

12. In the words of Elle in Legally Blonde, "the rules of haircare are simple and finite" and this applies very much to your blow dry. You will get some instructions at the salon, and you should ignore them at your peril. In the first three days following the treatment, do not tie or pin your hair back, or wear anything that could leave a wave in your hair (headbands etc), try not to touch it, don't wash it or get it wet. If you leave the house without an umbrella, no matter how late it makes you for work, go back and get one. The thought of getting caught in a rain shower with nothing more than a newspaper for protection is a really crappy way to lose £200! I also avoid wearing lip gloss as unexpected gusts of wind have a habit of planting your gorgeous hair right on top of your goopy lips, which happened to me 10 minutes after my first blow dry, and caused me to scream loudly during lunch hour on Conduit Street. And yes, everyone turned around and clearly thought I was mental (but who cares? My hair looked hot!) Sweatiness is out too, so you'll be happy to hear you get a three day holiday from the gym: another reason to get a blow dry!

13. You can now get keratin treatments that can be washed on the same day. In my experience, they're nowhere near as effective as the treatment that needs three days to 'set'.

14. Invest in a shower cap for bathing, and have luke warm baths so there's no chance of the steam messing with your tresses. If, like me, you're used to hour long soaks reading a stack of fashion mags, bathing becomes depressingly functional at this time! If you do get your hair damp, make sure to blast it with a hairdryer asap,

15. If in the first three days you get a kink in your hair, don't panic. Just run over it with a straightening iron until it's flat, leave it to cool and get on with your day. No biggy.

16. After three days, you can wash your hair and if you're like me, you'll be straight in the shower on the strike of 72 hours (albeit with frantic calculations to make sure 72 hours have passed!). Use your SLS-free shampoo, any conditioner and your usual styling products and then properly blow dry your hair. It will look like it does after a trip to the salon. Stand in front of the mirror swishing, run to family, friend and loved ones and ask if they can believe that you've upscaled from tumbleweed barnet to hair that Jennifer Aniston would be jealous of, and then go jump in a waterfall, leap around in a field, and pretend your in your own hair commercial.

17. Enjoy the next three months.

** If you liked this post, please subscribe via Google Friend Connect at the top of the page :) **

For more information on SLS-free shampoos I've reviewed, click the links below:

Liz Earle
Tara Smith
Macadamia Natural Oils


Nails: Seche Vite

Barry M Navy nail polish and Seche Vite top coat

I am loving this navy polish by Barry M. I know t'is the season of greige and khakis (or should that be 'Car-Keys'? Well done, Models Own!), but I dug around in my nail varnish drawer and found myself unable to resist this gorgeous, rich blue. It conjures images of lavish silks and velvets in deep jewel tones, and is reigniting my desire to take my flat from a calm, minimalist haven to a darkly seductive and elegant fantasy pad. It's funny what a nail varnish can do for me!

And then there is the gloss on top: is it not the glassiest, most immaculate finish you've ever seen? As much as it has ravaged my nails in the past, I have a coat of Seche Vite on top as I was in a rush to paint them before bed. I'd forgotten just how much shine it gives the nail, and it manages to make even cheapy polishes look incredibly expensive. When I first got SV, I was changing my nail shades every few days, always finishing with my new found 'wonder' product, oblivious to the life-sucking that was going on beneath my perfect talons: and my god, were they dry after a couple of weeks! I'm not saying you should never use it, as it does look amazing, but it's definitely not for you if your nails are naturally brittle. Also, it's good to get into the habit of using a cuticle oil on your nails to replace some of the lost moisture, and think of SV as a special occasion finisher, rather than an essential part of your routine.

I'm going to try Leighton Denny's Miracle Drops next time to see if they are better for more frequent use so I will keep you posted. As much as I love the look of it, SV is definitely an occasional use product for me, alongside cupcakes, champagne and 5 inch stilettos.

What's your favourite Barry M shade, and have you had a positive/negative experience with Seche Vite?


Haircare: Shu Uemura Nourishing Hair Oil Review

It started like so many hair love stories. They met in a glossy salon, each having heard a little about the other, and keen to know more, they arranged a date in the bathroom. My hair told all about her past as an experimental teen who made some decisions she's lived to regret, but promised she'd turned over a new leaf and wanted commitment and most of all, love and care. She confessed to her long list of ex lovers, all of whom had eventually disappointed her, worrying that this would turn him off. Instead, Shu Uemura Nourishing Hair Oil enveloped her in his camelia bouquet and told her he wanted to look after her for the rest of her days. She said she wanted to take it slow as she's been deceived by wild promises too often in the past: Shu asked her to trust him, and he'd prove his worth. Three weeks later, Shu has shown that there's nothing quite like him in the world, and my hair has declared herself well and truly off the market.

Ladies, let me tell you: my hair looks good in love.

I'm yet to try Moroccan Oil or Rahua, but if things continue like this, I won't be bothering, as my hair hasn't looked this good in ten years. We all know that hair is dead but this is making my hair softer and softer with every use, and I can't quite believe how great it feels: I can't stop playing with it! The oil can be used as a pre-wash treatment and before styling - with only a single pump required to impart shine, softness and unbeatable gloss to even the most stressed out hair. I have been searching for a product like this for a long time, and have invested more money in the search than I care to admit to. I'd rather given up hope that I'd ever find it, but I suppose, like love, these things come along when you least expect them.

In terms of the product, the oil is incredibly light and although I have thick hair, I can see this working for fine hair as it leaves absolutely zero residue. At £32.50, it isn't cheap, but it is definitely a fantastic investment. As anyone needing to justify a purchase will tell you, the cost of a product is directly linked to its value: if you use something often, love it, and even better, see great results from using it, then that's the kind of thing you want to spend your money on! It's probably not for everyone: if your hair is naturally healthy, it may not make the kind of difference I'm talking about, but if your hair is dry and in need of a treat, I cannot recommend this oil more highly.
Given my recent hair-related virtuous behaviour, I can't say that this oil is the only thing that's different in my routine. I should remind you that I haven't coloured my hair for several months, and that I have completely stopped using straighteners and tongs, restricted blow dries to 3 weeks, use SLS free shampoo and am onto my fourth Brazilian blow dry in a year (they last for 3 months). My hair had been showing steady signs of improvement, but I have seen a significant difference since introducing this oil into my routine. What I'm trying to say is that I don't think there are any miracle products out there, but with good behaviour, this comes pretty close!

Are you using a hair oil at the moment, or is it something you're considering trying?


Makeup: Rimmel Lash Accelerator

I'm a sucker for a good mascara. In fact, I'm a sucker for any mascara that promises something better than the last one that I bought, and let's face it, one of those comes out every month. It's little wonder that UK consumers buy the most mascara: the market is saturated with products promising longer, thicker lashes that give the falsie look without the hassle. Count me in!

Unlike most beauty products that promise a huge improvement on what nature gave us, these mascaras actually deliver on their pledges instantly, so why the heck are cosmetics companies still filming their commercials with lash inserts and enhancing the images in post production?! Enter Rimmel's Lash Accelerator: it promises lashes 117% longer than when you started, and enhances lash growth in the bargain. I know that Rimmel have made their spokesmodel, Zooey Deschanel, look like a cartoon version of herself in the campaign, but I love their mascaras, so I bought one anyway.

My main objective in writing this post is to make my own mini plea to the companies that churn out mascaras with the kind of frequency that most of us buy milk: your consumers are intelligent and interested in what they're buying. They do research, they read reviews, and they take their money to the company with the best product. Mascara purchasing has almost become a lottery and with the highly edited adverts, we're relying on stats, rather than images: yes, you tell us that your trials have shown that the majority of your testers agreed on a whatever-percentage increase in the length of their lashes, but do you treat us to a normal, non-edited photograph of the product in action? Nope. I understand the need to maybe make lashes darker to ensure that the camera picks it up, but you can't tell me that there's no way to recreate the moment when you apply mascara to bare lashes and say 'WOW!' at the transformation! You are doing yourselves a disservice!

The images below are a little crap as my camera's not cooperating at the moment, but you get the idea. Here's me without mascara (excuse the tired face!)...

Below, you can see mascara on my right eye (the left of the photo) and none on the left (the right of the photo). Not the clearest photo, but look at the length of the outer lashes: big difference, no?

Can't get rid of the big gap above, annoyingly! Below is mascara'd eyes...

...and then a close up. In short, I'm delighted with the results!

Another big gap - I have to work out the formatting when I edit photos :)
So, if you're reading this, mascara makers, look at the above comparisons and have faith that your products can actually sell themselves. Save the digital mastery for the movies!
What do you think of mascara adverts? Does it annoy you that companies can't just present their products at face value, or post-production or not, will you continue to buy them, however much the ads are edited?


Makeup: The NARS Pure Matte Challenge

Finally, I have some time to post, and boy, do I have a lot to write about. Over the past week, I've bought Shu Uemura's Nourishing Hair Oil, Liz Earle light moisturiser, Rimmel's new lash growth mascara, Lancome's Teint Miracle foundation and a lovely capsule wardrobe for my trip to Rome next week: yey for shopping! So, that's the abridged version, and a little summary of the reviews you can expect over the next few days. Anyway, onto today's review: NARS Pure Matte lipstick! I was lucky enough to be invited to the Pure Matte launch at Selfridges, Oxford Street, and treated to a gorgeous application of my chosen shade from the range.

There are six shades in the collection, which is exclusive to Selfridges nationwide until 2nd October. The lipsticks are priced at £18.

From left to right: Volga, Vesuvio, Bangkok, Terre De Feu, Tonkin, Tashkent.

Above, I'm wearing Vesuvio, which is the most fantastically intense red I've ever seen! I also bought NARS' lipliner in Jungle Red as such a striking, heavily pigmented colour is bound to be prone to a bit of bleeding: never a good look. The liners are £14, but dupes will be readily available on the high street, although Jungle Red is outrageously beautiful and I am very glad I bought it!
Now, I make no secret of the fact that I have never been a lover of matte lips. I generally like my lips to be well moisturised and to always have a little slip. The thought of the heavy powder formulations that are so common in matte lipsticks has always made me reach for the Vaseline! For this reason, I decided to undertake the NARS Pure Matte 8 Hour Challenge! If I can manage to get through an entire day wearing a matte lippy, it's definitely got some decent credentials.
The product contains vitamin E, acai oil and a host of other nourishing elements, and I have to say, it really made a difference. It was 3.5 hours before I had to reapply, and that was only because I'd eaten a sandwich and transfered most of it onto the bread - not very appetising, I have to say!
However, look at my Starbucks straw below: only the tiniest bit had transfered from my lips!

Overall, I'm really impressed with this product, but then, I didn't expect anything less from NARS. I retouched my lipstick 3 times throughout the course of the day and got a comfortable 8 hours wear. The next day, my lips were a little dryer than normal, but nothing that a little more lip balm didn't fix. As for the colour, it's *phenomenal*. It's so pigmented, so intense, and really beautiful. If you're looking for an entry product to matte lipstick, or if you've had a bad matte experience, I'd take yourself to Selfridges and give these lipsticks a whirl. Although the range is currently small, there are more shades to be added, and the colours the six shades are so wearable, I'm sure there's something for everyone.
Will any of you be trying the NARS range?


Haircare: New Products

Last night I had my hair tidied up by Adam at Trevor Sorbie in Covent Garden. It's the first time I've been to the London salon, as I normally head back to their Manchester outpost when I'm visiting my parents. With this swishy new do, I think I'll be staying in London for future cuts! Adam explained that he is a third generation hairdresser (following both his father and grandfather before him) and his technique is so thorough and precise, it's almost hypnotic! The style is amazing and the dryness that had been creeping in has all gone. Ladies and Gentleman, I have a new favourite hairdresser.

So onto my purchase: Shu Uemura Art of Hair Nourishing Protective Oil. I have lusted after this for months but already had far too many products to justify its purchase. Since then, my haircare routine has been edited down to a select few items and I am so excited to see if regular use of this oil will help my hair on it's way to a glossy future!

It cost £32.50 for 150ml, but you only use one pump at a time, so I was advised that this bottle will last a long time. I will of course be enjoying my lovely salon blow dry for a little longer, but I will report back as soon as I use this.

I'll also be writing a more general hair health post soon, as I am astonished that I somehow managed to go 8 weeks before thinking I needed to have my hair trimmed. Ordinarily, I would be cursing my split ends at week 5, so I really think that my haircare routine is having an effect. To read up on my routine, click here, and for my advice on looking after you hair, click here.

Trevor Sorbie London can be found at 27 Floral Street in Covent Garden. For prices and appointments, go to www.trevorsorbie.com.


Makeup: NARS Pure Matte 8 Hour Challenge

This is me after the NARS Pure Matte blogger event last week with my very red lips: isn't that the most fantastically intense colour you've ever seen?!

So here's the background: I've never been a big fan of matte lipsticks. So often, they feel heavy, dry and cakey, and show up every imperfection. When I got the invitation from NARS, I was excited and intrigued to try the product as I knew that, if it had the NARS name on it, it would invariably be a fabulous addition to their already stunning range. The above photo was taken 3.5hrs after it was applied: the colour was still intense and the application remained flawless. However, it's time to put this lippy through it's paces and so (drumroll please!) tomorrow I will be updating you on the NARS Pure Matte 8 Hour Challenge that I undertook today! I applied it first thing this morning and then went about my day: eating, drinking, talking incessantly, as well as catching a nasty air-conditioned train back to London. Let me tell you, the results are GOOD!

How do you feel about a matte lip? Is this a product you've bought or are considering investing in?


Autumn style - I need to shop!

Clockwise from top left: Boots, www.asos.com, Skirt - Chloe, Dress - James Perse, Belt - Balmain, Vest - Chloe, Necklace - Kara Ross, Snood - Duffy, Cardigan - James Perse, all www.net-a-porter.com

I promised I would catch up on my posting, and here I am at midnight doing just that: how I've missed you, blog! I've been talking about doing a bit of a style post for a while, and I've been inspired by a lovely style blogger called Zoe: more on that later!

As you can see from the above pics, I have been indulging in a bit of fashion porn over at net-a-porter.com this evening. Now, as much as I would like to have the budget to always shop with them, I tend to have a browse at their edit and then translate the looks at my favourite high street shops like Zara and Whistles. As much as I love the idea of designer splurges, I find myself unable to justify £1,000+ on a handbag and £500 on a belt. After all, you don't need money to have great style, especially when a single purchase equals the cost of a holiday!

All this said, I do like to pull together mood boards of my favourite pieces to inspire my style for the season. My perfect outfit always has to be balanced, and that balance is generally about mixing a fitted piece with something loose and billowing. So, a skinny trouser goes with an oversized cardigan and chunky shoes; a fitted top with high waisted peg trouser and a delicate flat or elegant court. I like big statement accessories, and bags are either big clutches or big totes - my life doesn't fit with small!

So, here's a bit of what I want for the season. We're missing trousers and flats, but hey, I can only fit so much onto my slide! I am dreaming of the black dress with the white cardigan, belt and the boots - swoon - and the vest with some gorgeous skinny jeans, ballet pumps and a blazer would be my perfect weekend outfit. The knot necklace is my idea of heaven, and is the kind of easy piece that makes any outfit look instantly fabulous. The boots are the one bargain piece at £70 from ASOS! I will definitely be buying them, as soon as I have bought some more sensible Autumn pieces: I really have no need for more shoes...

So, onto my fashion inspiration this evening! After reading a comment from Zoe on my steaming post, I checked out her blog and love, love, love it. She has amazing taste and has created a blog that is basically an amalgamation of all my favourite things fashion and style-related. Make sure you check it out!

What will you be buying to update your wardrobe for autumn and do you love a designer splurge or a high street bargain?

Skincare: Steaming Update

Hi everyone! Firstly, I'm so sorry for the lack of posts over the past week: I've had so much work to get through that there just hasn't been any time spare, and because I'm so badly prepared, I didn't stock pile posts for while I was away: oops! Anyway, today is going to be dedicated to getting back on track, so expect a week rich in my ramblings!

I promised that I would update you on my steaming routine, and I have to say, it's gone really well. I started two weeks ago and steamed for 5-10 minutes every day, then followed immediately with Liz Earle's Cleanse & Polish, Boots Glycerin & Rosewater toner and No 7 Protect & Perfect Intense serum. I've already seen a reduction in blackheads and the couple of spots that I had when I started dried up very quickly and nothing else surfaced: result!

Then, I got complacent. Saturday and Sunday went by and I didn't steam. I went out on Saturday night, had a few drinks, and felt a little rough around the edges on Sunday, and by midday, I had the makings of one of the worst spots I've ever had! By Monday morning, I had two horrid spots that were so unsightly and uncomfortable that I got my head over the hot water for 20 minutes and vowed never to miss a day again! Since then, I've managed to steam for at least 5 minutes a day (although I naughtily missed yesterday, I will be catching up later) and it's made a big difference to the clarity of my skin. Each night, I've used my Dermalogica Overnight Clearing Gel - which is a wonder product if ever there was one - and I am really happy with the outcome. I've also not been moisturising, as I think my Sanctuary creams are now a little rich for my skin. I'm off shopping later and I'm going to look for an oil free moisturiser, as although I don't feel like my skin is suffering, I can't imagine see how not moisturising will benefit my skin in the long run.

A few of you noted just how boring steaming is, and I confess, it's not the most stimulating part of my day. I'm trying to see it as a little bit of 'empty brain' time, although on a particularly busy day last week, I did actually de-mist a part of the pyrex bowl and read a report through the glass! If you have sinus problems like I do, this routine will really help to provide some temporary relief: just don't put too much Vicks in the bowl as it feels like it's stripping the inside of your nose!!

So, if you're suffering from congested skin and feel as though you need an extra boost, stay away from the heavy-duty spot treating face masks and oil control products and try a facial steam. There's no investment required - we all have water, a kettle, a bowl and a towel - and it's the best skin treat I've had in a long time. Put the towel over your head and have a 5 minute daydream about your next holiday: zaps the stress and clears your skins. What more could you want?

I'm really interested to hear whether any of you have tried steaming? Is it something that you can see yourself doing regularly or is just too boring for words?!

Image courtesy of travelpod.com


My Name in Lights...well, almost!

This may not be particularly exciting news for anyone except me, but the lovely people at Liz Earle liked my review of their haircare range so much that they decided to feature a quote from yours truly on their website. Yippee!

As much as my blog is an opportunity for me to share my thoughts on the products I use, it's also a place where I can indulge my love of writing that is a little more creative than the health policy reports I churn out on a daily basis - snore! To have my writing, however small an amount, featured on another site makes me so delighted. If you want to have a peep, click here.

And thank you all for reading!

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