Wednesday 30 December 2015

My Top 10 Beauty and Fitness Discoveries of 2015

As the year draws to a close, it’s time for a retrospective look back at my blog posts of the last 12 months.

Simply choosing 10 beauty products that have wowed me the most over the past year would be a challenge in itself – as last year’s ‘best of beauty’ list proved. But the task this year has been made doubly difficult.

Just before summer I launched Face Up Fitness, extending my blog’s editorial remit to include everything and anything fitness related. Now, it’s no longer just beauty products pulling at my heart strings and vying for a place in my end-of-year lists!

After much careful consideration and scratching of head, I’ve come up with a top 10 – a mix of beauty and fitness (mainly the former,  it has to be said, though it’ll be interesting to see how that develops next year) that were either newly launched or that I discovered for the very first time this year.  The list is in order of post publication.

Wednesday 23 December 2015

PMD Personal Microderm – Tried & Tested Home Microdermabrasion

Fixing skin problems can be a frustrating business. It can often take time for topical skincare and home beauty gadgets to deliver any measurable results.

Our bodies are constantly shedding dead skin cells and creating fresh ones. This process slows with age, leading to duller skin, increased pigmentation, fine lines, enlarged pores and so on.  Topical creams and devices usually treat these problems by stimulating the cell renewal cycle but it’s not quick – it takes between 22-55 days (depending on age) to complete just one cycle.

‘Fixing’ skin is a game of treating and waiting. But then there are those occasions when we hit upon a product that makes an immediate impact on the look of our skin. And I’ve just had a ‘halleluiah’ moment with this gadget - the PMD Personal Microderm.

Monday 21 December 2015

The bkr Bottle - Dislike the Taste of Water? Think Again!

I dislike the taste of water. Or perhaps it is water’s lack of taste that I so dislike. Either way, I don’t much fancy it and I rarely drink it. When I am ‘forced’ to guzzle down some H2O (while training at the gym, mostly), I tend to put a drop or two of Robinsons Special R concentrate into my bottle to add some flavour.

In all honesty, though, I really wish I could get my tastes buds around water, to reduce my dependence on tea and coffee (of which I drink loads) if nothing else.  Alas, I don’t think that shall ever be. But, and it’s a big ‘but’, I have finally found something that makes drinking water much more palatable.  That something is the bkr water bottle.

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Not Getting Your Beauty Sleep? Hello Vichy Skin Sleep

There is more than a little truth to the phrase ‘beauty sleep’. It’s during the wee small hours of the night, when our bodies are at total rest, that our skin repairs and rejuvenates - sleep enables the body to reverse everyday free radical damage through cellular renewal.

But how many of us don’t get the recommended seven hours of kip a night? I see a lot of raised hands out there, mine included.

Monday 14 December 2015

The Beauty Industry and the 30-Plus Woman – It’s Time for Change!

It was somewhat ironic that at a gathering of bloggers and beauty experts last month, meeting to discuss how the industry could better ‘talk’ to  women aged 30-plus, event host Avene should be showcasing new skincare featuring the strapline  - ‘Deep Wrinkles, Firming Anti-Aging’.

It was an irony not lost on the Avene executives present, who conceded that the messages on product packaging sometimes lags behind internal thinking. But what makes this anecdote particularly unsettling is that Avene is one of the more forward-thinking brands when it comes to having a positive attitude towards ageing! 

Friday 11 December 2015

Face Up Fitness: Body Testing and Why Faddy Diets & Exercise Regimes Don’t Work

There’s a lot of guess work involved in working towards our health and fitness goals, whether we're trying to shed a few pounds, pack on some serious muscle or simply get fitter.

There’s a plethora of different weight-loss eating plans to choose from and a strong temptation to ride the latest trend - hands up those on the 5:2 diet? It’s the same with exercise.

But how do we really know which eating plan or exercise programme is the best one for getting us to where we want to be? The truth is, without knowing exactly how our body works it’s a bit of a guessing game.

Wednesday 9 December 2015

3 Fabulously Quirky Scents to Get This Christmas

I’m sure we all have that relative who is impossible to buy for. Mine is my brother. He’s a man who has everything. His Christmas present is usually the last I buy because every year I struggle to find something fabulously quirky to get him.

Fabulously quirky is key because a) it’s fabulous, so I’ll know he’ll love it, and b) it’s quirky, so it’s likely to have fallen under his shopaholic radar.

If you’re similarly scratching your head, wondering what to buy that ‘difficult’ loved one, here are three fabulously quirky suggestions in the fragrance line…

Monday 7 December 2015

How to Look After Your Lips This Winter – Expert Tips With Dr Kuldeep Minocha

Winter can be harsh on our skin, and lips especially as we so often neglect them. Here top aesthetics doctor Dr Kuldeep Minocha, of Absolute Aesthetics, kindly shares his tips with my readers on how to keep lips looking and feeling sweet in chilly weather…    

Friday 4 December 2015

Face Up Fitness: The Benefits of Yoga and My Virgin Experience

Having goals is good but there’s not much point in setting them unless they’re challenging – and my latest one certainly is!

I went to my first ever yoga lesson last week and I have much to learn. Like mastering the move above - just look at it!  I have no idea what it’s called but here teacher Mark is using his two arms to hold and suspend his entire body in mid-air. Impressive!

Wednesday 2 December 2015

The Much-Fêted Biologique Recherche Facial

Biologique Recherche. Mere mention of that name is enough to prompt a chorus of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ from skincare connoisseurs from around the globe. I say ‘skincare connoisseurs’ as outside of those circles Biologique Recherche is not a name that terribly well known.

It is through writing Face Up Beauty that I have got to know the brand and I was thrilled at having the opportunity a few weeks back to experience the much-fêted BR facial for myself.

Monday 30 November 2015

Pinks Boutique Ultimate Anti-Oxidant Renewal Eye Cream – Natural and Organic

A cocktail of anti-oxidants is the big draw of this eye cream from natural and organic skincare brand Pinks Boutique.

Friday 27 November 2015

Brow Buddy by Billion Dollar Brows – It’s Oh So Clever!

The shape of our eyebrows has a dramatic effect on the way we look. Get it right and our faces can ‘wow!’

Here’s a case in point: in her book ‘The Plain Truth About Brows’, Billion Dollar Brows founder Natalie Plain switches the eyebrows of Penelope Cruz and Jessica Alba. Just look at the difference it makes to their faces. Striking!

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Black Friday – Deals Running Now and One’s To Watch

It’s Black Friday this week. You’ll know that, unless you’ve been living in a hermetically sealed room for the past few weeks, with no Internet access.

The bigger this American post-Thanksgiving promotion gets over here, the more sceptical I become about the deals (how fantastic and unique are they?). But if you fancy checking them out, here’s my pick of deals running now, plus a couple of Friday ones to watch…

Monday 23 November 2015

5 Secret Santa Gift Ideas for a Tenner or Less

I can’t see the wood for the trees, is what springs to mind when I look at all the Christmas themed beauty gifts around this year. If you’re thinking same, and are similarly bamboozled by so much choice, here are five secret Santa gift and stocking filler ideas for £10 or less.

Friday 20 November 2015

Foreo Luna and the New Night Cleanser Celestial Melting Gel - A Dry Skin Quencher

If you own a Foreo Luna you no doubt adore it. The sonic cleanser and topical skincare infusion device has won a legion of fans since its launch in 2013, and scooped up a heap of awards.

Foreo recently introduced a range of cleansers for use with the Luna, of which this Night Cleanser Celestial Melting Gel is one. You can of course use any brand of suitable cleanser with the Luna, as you can with any sonic device. We all undoubtedly have our favourites, but I’ve been particularly impressed with how hydrated this Foreo formula leaves my skin.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Face Up Fitness: Ladies, Are Those Heavy Lifts Damaging Your Health?

A few months back I had a health scare. I woke up one morning with pretty intense lower back pain. The previous day had been ‘back day’ at the gym, and I knew the two had to be connected.

I immediately called my GP (never neglect pain) and got an appointment for the next day. I then made the fatal mistake of googling ‘lower back pain’ and I convinced myself that the pain was due to a weak pelvic floor, something every mum who’s been through natural childbirth fears like the proverbial plague.

Monday 16 November 2015

Balance Me This Christmas

When it comes to value for money beauty products, few brands do it better than Balance Me. Their products may not be the cheapest but the quality of their natural formulations pound for pound is impressive.


Thursday 12 November 2015

Brow Talk with Billion Dollar Brows Founder Natalie Plain - Brand Launches at Boots

There’s a bit of an obsession going on right now with the heavily drawn on eyebrow look. I see it all over Instagram. Perhaps it’s something you totally love and copy? Personally, it’s not for me. Neither is it for Natalie Plain, the co-founder of Billion Dollar Brows - the US brows specialist whose range of products has just launched on the UK High Street at Boots.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

The Omniya Mediclinic, Cult Brand Sampling and the #30PlusBlogs Collective

If you’re deeply passionate about doing what you can to hold back the visible signs of skin ageing, then you may just want to head over to Knightsbridge the next time you find yourself in London.

Monday 9 November 2015

NEW: Floral and Fruity Natural Deodorant Sprays from Lavera - On Test

How do you shop for deodorant? Do you grab the first can you see from a recognisable brand whilst doing the weekly Sainsbury’s grocery shop? Or do you labour over every deodorant and anti-perspirant aisles in Boots, stealing sneaky squirts of every product until you find exactly what you’re looking for?

Friday 6 November 2015

Face Up Fitness: Hate the Gym? Hate Classes? Want to Get Fit? Read On…

In all my years of fitness training, I’ve never experienced anything quite like E-Fit.

I love training at a gym with a passion. The gym is my second home! I’d train everyday if it was good for me – it’s not (it’s just as important to rest muscles as it is to work them).

I’ve tried many different forms of exercise over the years – from competitive sports like badminton and squash, to classes including pilates, yoga, Zumba and spin. In the end nothing gets my enthusiasm up or my heart pumping quite like lifting weights and hitting the cardio kit.

Having said that, I’m always open to new ideas and forms of fitness, hence E-Fit.

Wednesday 4 November 2015

November’s Fave Freebies – Benefit They’re Real Tinted Eyelash Primer + Clinique Pop Lip Colour

I’ve taken a punt on my fave magazine beauty freebies this month. Glamour and Elle were the only two magazines with December issues on the racks at my local WH Smith on Tues, and it was a similar story at Sainsbury’s - it was the third day of the month too, so I really was expecting a wider selection!

Still, the giveaways on offer with the two aforementioned glossies more than made up for the lack of choice and were the ones that I’d have picked up anyway.

Monday 2 November 2015

Puressentiel – the Complete Muscles & Joints Range Reviewed

I’ve been waiting for the right time to crack open this little collection of muscle and joint products from Puressentiel, the natural health and wellness brand that I first reviewed here.

That time came a few weeks backs after a killer leg session with my personal trainer. I was doing dumbbell hamstring curls. They’re not something that I had attempted before – you lie face down on a bench, grip a dumbbell between your ankles and lift it up with a knee bend. It’s tricky and requires a lot of concentration – I kept thinking the dumbbell was going to slip out of my grip and go crashing to the floor!

Thursday 29 October 2015

October’s Empties – And Favourites

Just as I was writing up September’s empties, it suddenly dawned on me that we were in the final week of October - and I was already amassing quite of collection of used-ups for the next post in the series!

As I sat there tapping away at my keyboard, I took the decision to ditch September’s post completely and crack on with October’s instead. That made total sense, and so it is what I have done. One happy outcome of this 'sorry' state of affairs is that my latest empties post is on time for once – heaven forbid, it’s actually a little early!

Saturday 24 October 2015

Brush Cleaning: Cosmetic Brush Soap vs Bog Standard Baby Shampoo and Sponge

One of my New Year's resolutions was to clean my make-up brushes weekly. It’s fair to say that I’ve failed that challenge. I can’t remember exactly when the moment happened, but February had barely been and gone before I realised that old habits were proving hard to break – I reckon my brushes are still getting cleaned about only once every three weeks! Tut tut!

One thing I have been more successful at, though, is finding a better way of cleaning them. Is using a sponge and a bog standard baby shampoo just as effective as using a specially formulated soap or liquid? You’ll find lots of debate on the subject online.

Here, I’ve pitted the two methods against each other to find out for myself.

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Face Up Fitness: Why You Need More Protein In Your Diet + Pulsin Review

There’s a mini (understatement) revolution going on in the world of fitness right now: women are lifting!

Monday 19 October 2015

NEW: Palette London, MAC, Avene, Illamasqua

Advent calendars, pine scented candles and glittery eye shadow palettes… we can’t move for Christmas themed new product launches right now. But amongst them there’s been some lovely non seasonal unveils too. Here’s my pick of both from the past week: 


Thursday 15 October 2015

NEW: Foreo IRIS Illuminating Eye Massager – It's A Love Thing!

Every now and then a new gadget comes along that makes my heart skip a beat – yep, I’m that obsessed with beauty hardware!

I had one of those heart racing moments a few weeks back, the second I set eyes on the latest launch from Foreo, the Swedish brand behind the award-winning and much vaunted Luna sonic cleanser.

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Just Launched: You Beauty Advent Calendar 2015 – The Big One!

For the past few weeks my Bloglovin feed has been pretty chockablock with fellow blogger posts, previewing 2015 beauty advent calendars. I think we’re all in agreement that each year more and more brands are launching them.


Monday 12 October 2015

Face Up Fitness: Au Revoir LA Fitness… Coping With Change

‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’. Those lyrics from a 1964 anthemic protest song by Bob Dylan hold a certain resonance for me right now. Last Monday I said a sad farewell to my local LA Fitness in Tunbridge Wells, bringing to an end 15 happy years of fitness training at the club.

The last few months there have not been particularly jolly. I have witnessed more than a few little protests (verbal – this is Tunbridge Wells!) amongst members unhappy at the changes.

Friday 9 October 2015

NEW: Elemental Herbology Vital Cleanse and Vital Glow Overnight Resurfacing Cream

My first encounter with Elemental Herbology happened some years ago when I asked the manager of Space NK in Solihull to recommend a good face serum. He pointed to Elemental Herbology’s Cell Food and he couldn’t stop himself raving about it!

Cell Food is indeed a lovely radiance-boosting serum. It’s a brand best-seller too and a good place to start by way of introduction to Elemental Herbology, a British brand which uses a lot of naturals in its formulations including plant compounds, herbal extracts and botanical oils.

Cell Food is part of Elemental Herbology’s Radiance and Vitality range, but I’m not here to discuss it today. I’m here instead to talk about two brand new additions to the Radiance & Vitality ranks, Vital Cleanse and Vital Glow Overnight Resurfacing Cream.

Wednesday 7 October 2015

NEW: Naturisimo De-Stress and Unwind Discovery Box – Body (and Mind) Detox

Autumn: the season of calm before (and after) the storm. The excesses of Summer have been and gone, and the blow out of Winter has yet to come.

October is the perfect month for recharging our batteries and getting both body and mind ready for the mayhem that comes with Christmas – apologies to those who think it’s still too early to mention the ‘C’ word! To give a helping hand in the body refuelling department, Naturisimo today launches its latest discovery box, De-Stress and Unwind.

Monday 5 October 2015

Puressentiel: A Lovely Natural Health & Wellness Brand You May Not Have Heard Of

If you regularly browse the health and wellness shelves in Boots or Superdrug, you may recently have come across Puressentiel.

But if, like me, you don’t but you do have a growing interest in using 100% natural remedies for getting your engine ticking over again when it’s not feeling at its best, then you may just want to check them out.

Puressentiel is the number one natural health and wellness brand in its native France and in Belgium. It arrived on our shores last year, with a launch range of ten products to help with respiratory problems, muscle and joint pain, rest and relaxation and air purification. 

Saturday 3 October 2015

October’s Fave Freebies – L’Occitane and REN

Beauty brands and magazine publishers have really upped their game when it comes to the products being given away with the lifestyle press each month.

For the second consecutive month, I have chosen two rather than one favourite freebies, the competition being such. And once again it was Marie Claire and InStyle that I reached out for on the newsagent shelves (perhaps I should rewind and say that it is Marie Claire and InStyle who have upped their games?).

Thursday 1 October 2015

Inlight Under Eye Revive – My New Obsession!

Now we’re officially into Autumn, it’s time to start thinking about switching up the skincare routine. Warm sunny days make way for cooler, rainy and often windier ones. Central heating systems get switched to auto-pilot, and before we know it our skin starts to complain!

My skin tends to lose a fair bit of its natural moisture in Autumn (let’s not get started on Winter!), and so it’s about now, at the start of the season, that I begin to add more balms into my daily skincare routine.

The latest one to join the ranks is this eye balm from Inlight, Under Eye Revive. It’s a 100% natural, 100% organic waterless formula which, aside from the moisture-retention properties of all balms, contains added ingredients to minimise puffiness and brighten the look of dark circles.

Tuesday 29 September 2015

How to Tackle Uneven Skin Tone and a Stratum C Solution

I have been on a rollercoaster ride of emotions with my skin over the past three years. It all started with an outbreak of acne-like spots, which brought misery for about a year. I then developed Erythema (skin redness). That didn’t hang around quite as long, but I barely had time to enjoy my clear complexion before melasma struck - brown pigmentation marks triggered by the slightest bit of sun exposure.

Growing up I gave very little thought to skin problems. I looked after my skin and it behaved itself, by and large. But now when I look after it, it doesn’t always play ball – thank you female hormones! I empathise enormously with anyone suffering with skin problems - they can occupy your every thought and deal a massive knock to your self-confidence!

Friday 25 September 2015

Why I’ll Never Use Filtered Pics on My Blog… Here for Illustration Purposes Only!

You may have read about Bigorexia or “reverse anorexia” in the media this week. It’s an anxiety disorder where men see themselves as small, when in fact they are big and muscular. It is thought to be affecting a staggering one in ten men who regularly attend a gym in the UK – and it’s on the increase!

The cause isn’t known but some experts believe it could be due to genetics, or a chemical imbalance in the brain. That may be but I can’t help thinking that the growing selfie culture has a part to play too in this lack of body confidence and distorted sense of what we look like, in particular the growing use of filtered photos and Photoshopped Images on Instagram.

Tuesday 22 September 2015

NEW LAUNCH: Magnifibres Treatment Primer – Giving Lashes Some TLC

My eyelashes do get some stick. I clamp them into a pair of curlers, and coat them with two layers of mascara and one of mascara fix daily. Sometimes twice if I’ve been to the gym and reapplying my makeup after showering – sometimes three times if I’m then going out in the evening and reapplying my makeup yet again!

Saturday 19 September 2015

3 Fabulously Hydrating Concealers – To Suit All Budgets

Concealers can be our best friend, but they can also be our worst enemy. The right formula for our skin type applied correctly can do wonders to hide the tell-tale signs of too many late nights, or the shadowy blue veins under our eyes as skin thins (a common age-related problem).

But the wrong formula even if applied correctly can make dark circles and fine lines appear more prominent than they really are!

As we age, skin becomes thinner and drier. Mine certainly has and it’s why when choosing a concealer not only do I look for the right shade (a tone lighter than my natural skin colour) but also one that’s going to hydrate. A dry formula applied over dry skin? You get the picture?

I’ve struggled to find really good moisturising concealers, particularly ones at a low price point, but these three stand out for me, whatever your budget.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

StriVectin-AR Advanced Retinol Day Treatment SPF 30 and Advanced Retinol Night Treatment - Review

It’s rare that I’ll slap on a new face cream and go ‘whoa!’. Face creams are generally something I use to rehydrate my skin, to put back some lost moisture and relieve any dryness.

But ‘whoa’ was precisely what I uttered when I first tried the StriVectin-AR Advanced Retinol Day Treatment SPF 30. My wrinkles didn’t all suddenly disappear or my complexion lose 10 years (no topical can do that).

Sunday 13 September 2015

August Empties - And Favourites

I’m scoring two firsts with my August empties – it’s my smallest pile of ‘used-ups’ to date, and every single product has made it into my favourites hall of fame!

August empties number just six! That’s tiny by some measure against previous months. But then, I did spend most of August in Spain and I decided to throw out whatever I finished while I was there, rather than fly them back in my suitcase - imagine the looks from airport security if I’d done that!

All but one of my haul is a skincare product. So let’s go…

Thursday 10 September 2015

A Spa Day with Mum at Champneys Springs

A stroll down memory lane would be a fitting alternative title for this post.

Just before jetting off to Spain for my annual Summer holiday, I treated my mum to a spa day at Champneys Springs in Leicestershire, close to my ancestral home – I’m not that grand, so basically close to where I grew up and where my parents still live.

My mum has just reached a milestone birthday and to help celebrate I wanted to buy her a present that I knew she would not only really like, but also find nostalgic. So a day at Springs it was.

Sunday 6 September 2015

Naturisimo Launches Haircare Heroes Discovery Box – Post-Summer Hair Rehab!

Summer can be a trial for our hair. The sun can fade its colour, dry it out and leave it looking far from its healthy and glossy best.

If your Summer was sun soaked (no staycation for you then, unless you were lucky with when and where you went!), it’s time to undo the damage and give your locks a bit of TLC in preparation for the Season ahead (goodness, Autumn looms already!).

Natural and organic online beauty retailer Naturisimo today launches its latest discovery box and it’s a perfect starting point for hair in need of some extra love. Haircare Heroes is a collection of seven organic haircare minis and samples. It includes a cleanser (yes for hair), a shampoo, a couple of conditioners, a mask, as well as a styling cream and finishing treatment from brands including Tabitha James Kraan, Swell and Rahua.

Saturday 5 September 2015

Fave Freebies of the Month – Neal's Yard Remedies and Balance Me (Reviewed)

Choices, choices… It wasn’t as much the breadth of choice as the quality when it came to choosing one of the beauty products being bundled free with the lifestyle press this month.

In the one corner there was Instyle, with two Neal’s Yard Remedies body lotions to choose from, and in the other there was Marie Claire, with one of three Balance Me products. I couldn’t see much else covermounted on the October editions when I went looking on Thursday.

Hmm, decisions decisions. NYR and Balance Me are two of my favourite natural beauty brands - in the end I couldn’t choose between them and so decided to buy copies of both InStyle and Marie Claire! That just left the (rather big) decision of which products to get.
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