Beauty | Lifestyle | Health

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Weekend Post: A Break

I feel like for my weekend post this week I need to address my absence. I've not been blogging for long but I know there are some people who come back and I don't want to seem to have disappeared in a puff of blogger dust. Working full time and blogging whilst trying to maintain some semblance of a social life is proving quite difficult - so ive decided to take a little break.

Walks in the local area help clear my head. 

The last few months have been pretty exhausting, due to work I don't get a hell of a break over Christmas or new years and I think the next week I'll be taking a break from blogging. Lately I've felt like I wasn't making my posts as 100% as they should be and it's felt a little like a chore. I may cut down to one beauty post a week as I think I'd rather do something whole heartedly rather than two things kinda half assed.

I have a lot of exciting plans and opportunities coming up in 2015 and I think I'm bestboff right now saving my energy and get back into doing things the best I can. I'll be back early January once I've had some time to rest, photograph and draft some new posts that I can be proud of.

Until then I'll always be creeping twitter and instagram - so if you want to keep up me the links are in the sidebar.

Hope everyone has a lovely new year and I shall be back soon.

Claire x

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Frank Body Balm: A Brief Review

I absolutely adore Frank, that's no secret. I started out using scrub Frank three times a week - now I use it everyday. Naturally, when I found out there was a new product coming out I was straight to the website as soon as it was released to order it. I've used it every day for three weeks now. Lately I've had particularly bad dermatitis on my hands, I've used steroid cream once in the whole time while usually I'd use it most days. I wanted to substitute Frank body balm instead to see how he coped with my angry skin. 

Frank Body balm claims he'll help with the same things the scrub fixes - eczema, cellulite, dry skin. Again, like the scrubs this product is cruelty free and vegetarian (not vegan this time as it has beeswax). 
Essentially what happens is my skin cracks and gets very dry and irritated - just drying your hands with a towel after washing them is very painful. I used Frank on my hands several times a day and always before bed - I think this is the best time to apply creams as they really have time to sink in while you rest and your skin heals and renews itself. My skin is still quite dry but no longer painful at all and the redness is completely gone. Scrubbing my hands gently every night has also helped get rid of the dead skin from the dermatitis break out. I'm amazed at how gentle this product is to use as well - it's quite fragrant when first applied and is a real balmy/buttery texture and melts very quickly when it comes into contact with the skin and doesn't sting aggravated skin at all. It's a little bit gritty but once you've rubbed it into your skin a bit it's not noticeable at all. The smell is gorgeous, if you're familiar with the Original Frank it's just like that - a coffee and orange scent. 

Aside from my hands I also thought I'd test it out on the seasonal eczema I get every summer. The heat tends to inflame my skin, particularly on my legs where my skin is in contact with chairs while at work. I used this little tube of "smooth love" every night and not only did my skin improve markedly (no photos unfortunately) but I've noticed a major improvement in the cellulite department. I didn't have masses before but it's still something I was conscious of. My thighs and bum have never looked better (despite the fact I've been slacking off on going to the gym lately...). My skin is smooth, bright and always smells delicious. 

Tl;dr: As a gorgeous a product as I expected from the makers of one of my favourite beauty products in my arsenal. Do purchase it and really give it a go - the results are beyond the price tag and feeling a little sticky for a while. 

Claire x

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Blemish Banishers

Summer skin = more spots (generally) for me. I thought I'd share my two favourite spot treatments - both are great for different reasons and both are very affordable too. One is the more scientific and medical option - the other is totally natural and just as effective so whichever way you lean I got you. These kinds of treatments are idea for the kind of people who get spots in specific areas but don't want to use a mask that will dry out their whole face. Aside from these I highly recommend always removing makeup carefully (double cleansing is your best friend) and if at all possible having one day a week makeup free - though it's hard to fit in sometimes - will help your skin breathe a little better.

Generally speaking I get hormonal break-outs and breakouts on my forehead and chin and just from touching my face. Both of these treatments are anti-bacterial meaning they help prevent more spots from popping up in the wake of your current face-demon. The Sebamed is slightly acidic to mimic your skins natural pH of 5.5 - this helps kill bacteria, dries the spot out and helps reduce redness. I recommend always washing your hands before applying anything to your face - this helps reduce your skin's exposure to bacteria and will reduce the chances of causing blocked or infected pores. This one is like a gel - it's clear and leaves no trace on your skin so if you're having a bare faced day you can use this without worrying about it flaking or drying out your skin too much to the extent that it's noticeable.

The Lush option Vanishing Act (Or Grease Lightning otherwise, depending on which country you're in) is also antibacterial, using tea tree and lavender to fight off bugs. The lavender also helps reduce redness, aloe soothes inflammation and the witch hazel helps tighten pores up to leave your skin looking smoother. Similarly to the Sebamed it's a watery gel like consistency in a little pump bottle - I find it's a bit tough to control how much you get coming out at times but once applied to the skin it dries very quickly so having too much isn't really a problem. This one can flake a little if you apply too much but the overall effect on your skin is worth it. This one is ideal for going under makeup as it creates a bit of a barrier between the spot and your makeup. Another lovely thing about this one is it's very effective but also very gentle - if my skin is a little fragile feeling I know I can still use this on blemishes without aggravating it further.

Both are very affordable - I bought my Sebamed from Feelunique for 4.20 GBP and Vanishing Act for $16.90 NZD - the Sebamed doesn't seem to last as long due to being smaller (and I tend to overdolse a little whoops) but they both deliver fantastic results. Now's the time of year to be meticulous with your skin - no one wants breakouts over the holiday period!

Applied topically each night before bed (I apply mine after a serum like rosehip) I find first thing in the morning my face is much clearer, smoother and calmer looking. Both are oil free and help dry out spots without actually drying out the rest of your skin.

What are your top products for beating spots?

Claire x

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Weekend Post: Now on Monday

The wind-down to Christmas is on eek - I have a lot to get through for work in the next week and a half. I'm certainly looking forward to a few long weekends but in the business I work in it's bound to be a busy time. In the mean time I thought I'd try make myself feel a bit more festive by writing some Christmas cards and *trying* to get some shopping done. I've done a bit more online this year so fingers crossed it all gets to New Zealand in time...! 

Smith and Caugheys is one of those special places for me - it's not just a department store, mum has been taking me there every Christmas since I was a child (as long as I can remember really) and it's really the only thing Auckland has that's remotely close to the huge stores in London like Selfridges and John Lewis and the like. It's a beautiful store and going there feels like Christmas, every year they have a unique display in the store windows for the festive season, this year it was "A Pirates 12 Days of Christmas" - this is one of the scenes. All the little figures move, it's magical. I managed to get a few bits for my family while I was there as well. 

Shopping always makes me feel a bit peckish - I bought mum and myself a cookie each from Mrs Higgins. They're so delicious - proper cookie texture of crispy around the edges and soft in the middle. 

Aside from all that I also finally cut my hair to the length I want - bit of a shock but I love how it turned out. It's been in the back of my mind for the last few months and this weekend was the time. I went to my usual hairdresser and as usual he did exactly what I'd asked for. 

I think from now on I'll be posting my weekend posts on a Monday (starting next week obviously...) - just to give myself a bit more time to get the photos sorted and really write something I'm happy with/that might actually be interesting to read. So henceforth I'll have a new post every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I don't get a hell of a lot of holiday at all this year so if I get a bit slack we'll face that when we get there.

Claire x

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Skincare Staples

All of these products are a daily thing for me - some of them are also pretty complimentary as well. Personally due to my skin I tend to lean towards preservative free/natural products and ingredients wherever possible. All of these tick the right boxes and have really helped my skin get to where it is now.

Ultrabland + Eau Roma Water by Lush. I think every post I do has something Lush in it - I've been using their products for over 7 years now and have no intention of stopping any time soon. I tried Ultrabland when I first started working there two Christmasses ago (eek how time flies). I was a little dubious as it is oil based and my skin can be a little on the oily side. However, since my skincare enlightenment I now know that oil based products are great for all skin types. This cleanser breaks down makeup like you wouldn't believe whilst also being really gentle on the skin. I use it around my eye area, to remove lipstick - everything. I always double cleanse to remove absolutely everything and this little black tub is worth its weight in gold. I think I'm onto about my 6th tub - I generally use one about every six months - which for everyday use is actually pretty cost effective.

Before using Ultrabland I never really got the "point" of toners. However Eau Roma Water is the perfect partner to Ultrbland. The way they work together is that the cleanser breaks down the makeup on your skin, then the toner helps lift the cleanser off leaving your skin clean and balanced without feeling too oily. I spritz this all over my face and remove with cotton pads. This toner is the most gentle one Lush makes and I find it smells gorgeous, the lavender and rose really calm the skin and it leaves you feeling very refreshed.

Rosehip Oil + Very Gentle Moisturising Cream. I've mentioned these both numerous times before - I've been using rosehip on my skin for years now. It's great for sensitive skin, healing acne scars, reducing redness and counteracting damage you're exposed to from the sun and pollution. Aside from that it's very balancing - my skin type is much more "normal" since using this and I absolutely love putting a few drops on after every shower. It's such a luxurious feeling product and even the packing is lovely. Aside from that it's also a Kiwi brand and I always love to support those where I can. I've not been without a bottle of this or the antioxidant variety for years.

I mentioned the serum version of this cream earlier this week in my Dream Team post - the cream itself again is great for sensitive skin as the name suggests. It also has hyaluronic acid in it meaning it helps your skin absorb more moisture than it would normally be able to. I love using this before foundation or tinted moisturiser as it creates a beautiful smooth base. It's also great for before bed on top of the rosehip oil to lock moisture in.

Coconut Frank. I talk about Frank all the time - I just can't get enough of it. It's one of those products that just sort of fixes everything. I use it on my face every night in the shower a bit like a face mask. Since doing this my skin is softer, brighter and any acne scars/blemishes are going away and fading. I actually feel OK having my skin bare which in the summer months is pretty much unheard of as that's the usual break-out time my skin goes mad. It's also really helped with the eczema on the backs of my legs which is a usual nightmare every year when the temperature heats up.

What products can you not live without?

Claire x

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Dream Team #1

Again I feel like I need to make another little introduction - this is the start of another "series" I want to do. Essentially the premise is pretty simple and I'm sure you can guess it - it's basically show-casing a few products that work particularly well together or a common complaint. This time I picked two products I love for sensitive but breakout prone skin. That combination in itself is pretty tricky - often products for breakouts are quite harsh and drying and can make delicate faces feel angry and sad. I don't want your face to feel angry and sad so I am here to help,  friends. If this sounds like you read on - I have several of these ideas lined up along with more "Focus On" posts with some more lovely ingredients worth talking about. 


To give you a little background I have very eczema prone skin - especially during the warmer months when the heat tends to aggravate it. However it's also a bit oily in the t-zone resulting in frustrating breakouts. Trying to cater for both skin-types is a bit of a pain - these two do it beautifully.

Catastrophe Cosmetic starts out by absorbing excess oil and soothing redness with calamine powder - one thing I hate most about my skin is when it looks inflamed. The anti-oxidant blueberries are beautiful for this as well. Sometimes I wonder if the fact alone that it's blue helps cancel out red tones in the skin. This mask isn't scrubby at all (aside from the very few blueberry seeds in it) so is great if your skin is a little timid around exfoliation too. The almond oil helps balance oil production and leaves the skin moist rather than too dried out. Whenever my face is a bit on the breaking out side I always reach for this in my local Lush store. The fact it's also preservative free and kept in the fridge means it's very gentle ingredients wise and is lovely and cooling on sore or inflamed skin.

Following this the Very Gentle Calming Serum does exactly as the name would suggest - it calms redness further whilst sitting lightly on the skin. If your skin is a little on the dry side you may want to follow up with another moisturiser or oil as well. One pump is enough to cover the whole face - it's particularly useful I've found for environmental irritation - i.e. pollen and the such which is so prevalent around this time of year.

Afterwards I generally follow up with the Very Gentle face cream or rosehip oil depending on the condition of my skin at the time.

What do you guys think of this idea?

Claire x

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Weekend Post: Work Christmas Party and Shopping

November was an unbelievable month - I'm quite relived it's over and we're onto the last month  of 2014. To kick it off we had the sales team meeting at work and the Christmas party. As I'm a part of the sales team it was a pretty full on week this week! Below is what I wore - absolutely kicking myself for not including the shoes I wore which were my Jeffrey Campbell Litas - I've posted them on instagram before and I'm sure everyone knows what they look like. 

Also snaps for me for actually smiling in a photo for once. My makeup was pretty simple really - my base was everything from my dewy skin post earlier this week paired with a Lime Crime Red Velvet Velvetine. I also wore xobeauty lashes - the style I chose was the Romantic. 

It was such a fun night - we had a group of drag queens come in and do a cabaret show. Everyone absolutely loved it. If you want to see more of what was there have a look at my instagram - linked in the sidebar. 

Due to being a 76 year old woman on the inside/I take as long to recover as one would I needed a decent sleep in on Saturday to make up for an exhausting Friday. Dad and I went into the city for a few things and naturally because we were in Newmarket we couldn't go past Tasca for lunch - I had my new usual which is the tapas plate below. Absolutely delicious and always up to a very high standard. If you're in Auckland I highly recommend going there for a meal.

The rest of the weekend has been pretty quiet and I've just spent it planning posts for next week, pottering in the garden a bit and painting my nails unsuccessfully twice - I just bought some new colours and have decided neither of them suit me *sighing emoji here*

Sugar-snap peas from the garden

Nails that are far too girly for me to handle. 
My mum finally gets back from Europe tomorrow too - much house cleaning has gone on this afternoon. I've done a spot of online shopping for Christmas and a bit in real life shops too (amazing). Can't believe it's only three more weeks until Christmas - eeek. I'm more concerned about the fact that I don't have plans for new years yet. I'm such an old woman.

Claire x

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The Nude Lip

Kylie Jenner inspired lips for paler girls - sometimes I find the browny colour a bit harsh on me - so I've found a combination that was mentioned in my recent monthly favourite that I thought I'd share properly. I always like to see the colour pay off of products too so I've included swatches (I'm just having such a swatch-y week good lord first the Hourglass palette then this?!) I'll stop posting my face next week I promise. This is my personal favourite combination.

Hourglass Femme Nude no.4 and MAC Lip Pencil in Subculture


The above swatches are in natural light - absolutely love them for defining the lip and it gives you a more put together look with minimum effort. 

Any must-have nudes I should add to my collection? (Already have my eye on the Femme Nude no.1...)

Claire x

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Do the Dew - How to with Oily Skin

OK, so I feel I need to make an effort to ~put my face out there more~ and it certainly won't be a weekly thing but I feel if I can show you swatches/how it looks on it'll be a lot more beneficial for anyone reading. Basically the deal is I love dewy/glowy skin but anyone with an oilier face knows that sometimes dewy = shiny. I've found a few products that mean that no longer need be the case. A few I've mentioned before and a few are a little newer.

Nars Radiant Tinted Moisturiser + Radiant Creamy Concealer (in Vanilla). 
I've mentioned this dreamy combination more than enough times - the moisturiser is great coverage, offers SPF and gives a really luminous finish to the skin. Pair this with the concealer in a pinky shade for covering blue/purple circles under the eyes and I find my complexion already looks a lot better. More fresh and a lot less dull whilst still letting your skin peek through rather than being too much like a "mask."

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette + Nars Lagina Bronzer. 
I don't know where the Hourglass Ambient lighting palette has been all my life but we've found each other now and that's what matters. This is the piece de resistance for oily skin that loves the dew. I use the centre shade for setting my concealer, the bronzey honey shade to warm up my cheeks - a bit like a blush. Finally I set all over with the left hand colour pictured above and you're all set. I like to pop a bit of Nars under my cheek bones to contour a little bit with a tapered face brush - as seen below. 

MAC Mineralise Blush in Warm Soul and Benefit Watts Up.
These two are totally optional but if I'm going out or really want to amp the glow up a bit I add both. The blush is a bit more intense than the Hourglass powder and still adds a lovely warmth. The Benefit highlighter is again very similar to the lightest shade in the Hourglass palette. 

The best part about all these products is they suit my oily/combination skin and really last the distance. In terms of what I'd recommend the most highly the Hourglass palette is actually fantastic value for money. This alone you can use alone as mentioned for blush, highlighter and setting powder. It gives the most air-brushed and beautiful finish. My skin is far from perfect and usually a bit on the pink side despite having very yellow toned skin everywhere else, you can barely tell at all using this with my usual base. 

Selfie Game Needs Work
Can someone please tell me I'm not the only one incapable of taking a good selfie with a camera? I had to use my phone camera for these eek - hope the quality is OK. I think they're just good enough to do the products justice. 

I've paired this with minimal brows and mascara and a nude lip - obviously this look is lovely with any eye or lip combo you like - I'll be using this for the work Christmas party this week. I'll be sure to post my Christmas look shortly after. 

P.s. what do you all think of the new theme?!

Claire x
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