Tuesday, 28 August 2012

NOTD: OPI Steady As She Rose

I haven't done one of these NOTD posts in a while, largely because my nails haven't been in the best of states (been bitten for the most part!), but recently i've been treating myself to manicures and have been trying to be nicer to my poor talons (although my cuticles are still HORRENDOUS).

Recently Fragrance Direct were advertising Essie nailpolishes for £1.99 (yes, you read right!) on their Twitter, so of course I went straight on to their website, and while I was there I noticed they also offer a HUGE selection of OPI nail polishes, often at less than half the price of their RRP.

I've only ever tried OPI polishes when i've had a manicure in a salon, so when I spotted these I decided to buy a couple to add to my ever-expending nail polish collection (along with some Essie polishes - I couldn't pass them up!).
After much debating I bought the infamous 'Skull & Glossbones' from the Pirates of the Caribbean collection, and this little beauty, 'Steady as she Rose' for £6.25 each.

A muted rose pink with a hint of lilac, this makes for quite an usual, yet still incredibly feminine and pretty shade.

As you can see from the photos below, in comparison to my filofax (which is quite a strong lilac) it appears more baby pink, but then when compared to my softer-lilac dressing gown (of all things!) the lilac/blue tone is more apparent.

It can appear quite streaky on initial application, and I applied two coats for opacity, but the streaks disappear once the polish dries.
The brush thankfully is fairly standard in size and makes for easy application - unlike the earlier Essie polishes that had THE most frustratingly small brush!

So far i've had this on for almost 3 days with no chips and am really liking it - i'm SO tempted to order more from Fragrance Direct!

Do you have any OPI favourites you think i'd like?

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Health and Fitness - The Melanie Method!

If you ever watch my Youtube channel you'll know this was covered in my latest video (and therefore look away now!), but for those of you who prefer to read rather than listen to me ramble on, I thought I would quickly go over what I've been doing recently to try and get myself healthy!

I feel like I should also do a quick disclaimer here to say that I am in no way a health, diet or fitness expert, and I am only doing this to give you a little insight into what I do to make myself feel better - as per the usual lectures you get before fitness DVDs etc, please check with a doctor/expert before embarking on any radical diets or fitness regimes!

As much as I would love to have a body like Megan Fox (pre pregnancy), recently I have been trying to exercise and eat healthily just to feel better about myself - i.e. doing more cardio than toning exercises.
From my recent (rather moany) Twitter updates you will know that I've been on a rather emotional rollercoaster recently, and I have found that exercise (which releases those feel-good endorphins!) has helped 'stabilise' and set me up for the day.

I try and do a little bit of exercise every day where possible, whether it's jogging using my app or just taking the dogs for a walk - it all helps!

At the moment i'm not doing so well healthy eating wise - chocolates, biscuits and sweeties are my downfall, and at dinner time I do tend to have naughty things like creamy mashed potato! - but I try my best, and on a daily basis, my typical 'diet' - which I try to record on my My Fitness Pal app (free from iTunes) to give me a rough idea of how good or bad i've been!  - is as follows:
  • Pre-exercise snack - glass of cranberry juice (sugar free) and a banana
  • Breakfast: Branflakes with a small handful of allbran mixed through and semi skimmed milk
  • Mid-morning snack: Another piece of fruit, such as satsumas, or some yoghurt. I also try and snack on brazil nuts and oatcakes if I get hungry.
  • Lunch - Soup (recently it has been cream of tomato, which isn't the best, but it is one your 5 a day!) and some buttered brown bread - got to have pleasure somewhere!
  • Mid-afternoon snack - apple slices and peanut putter. It's amazing - try it!
  • Dinner - usually somethng chicken based (as long as someone else prepares the chicken...!), such as chicken curry with onions,mushrooms, peppers, and wholewheat carbs such as brown rice.
I also drink a ton of tea (it is my weakness) and usually as my pre-dinner snack I have a bit of chocolate and a cup of tea (then wonder why I get heartburn!), but I also try to drink my recommended 2 litres of water a day - it really does help.
I LOVE carbs, and could never imagine my life without bread or pasta - it would literally be torture!

I would never class myself as one of those 'athletic' girls (I HATED PE at school), but I suppose looking back on my life I have always been fairly active, whether it be horse riding when I was in my teens (lugging water buckets and hay bales is great for your arms!), or even just walking everywhere and taking the stairs when I was a uni.

Nowadays, after a period of inactivity (maybe 6 months or so!) I have been trying to get into jogging.
If you want to try it, I strongly recommend (presuming you have an iPhone or smart phone!) you download an App like I did, such as the Get Running or Couch to 5K apps which are available for free.

These build you up week by week until you are able to run 5k (roughly 2.5 miles) without stopping to walk at all in between. Currently (despite doing it for a couple of months!) i'm on week 4, whereby you run for 3 minutes, walk for 1.5 mins, run for 5 mins, walk for 1.5 mins and repeat.
You can also listen to music at the same time which helps!

I am incredibly unfit, so I found it really tough in the beginning, but it's definitely getting easier, and it really spurs me on every time I manage to run that little bit further. I'm not quite Jessica Ennis but i'm getting there!
When i'm at home I also like to do workout DVDs (especially when it's horrible weather outside), and have quite a collection - i'm a sucker for the newest celebrity workout craze!

My favourites are the 30 Day Shred and also anything yoga based, such as the Total Yoga DVDs which I got in Poundland for (you guessed it!) £1 each!
I try to do my exercise first thing in the mornng, not only to get it over and done with (as i'm less likely to do it in the evening - so lazy!), but because it gives me energy and sets me up for the day.

A matter of personal preference really, but there have been some 'key items' that I have been wearing recently, not least a good sports bra!
I have a couple, but my favourite 'hold me in' one is actually from George at Asda and cost less than a tenner!

They do say that for running, the more natural the better (increased padding can lead to damaged knees), but I personally like to wear something quite sturdy, and invested in a pair of Reebok 'Runtone' trainers, from the Easytone range. I can't really vouch for the toning effect, but they're comfy, and if they help tone while I run then that's an added bonus!

In terms of workout clothes, I used to just wear an old cotton t-shirt and some jogging bottoms, but I always scour TKMaxx and Sports Direct for 'proper' discounted running or workout gear, and have bought a couple of Karrimor vest tops that help whick away sweat and moisture from the skin, making the whole process a bit more 'pleasant' (if that's possible!).
And as silly as it sounds, I am more inclined to feel more confident to go out jogging if I 'look the part' - I do like my little coordinated outfits nowadays!

As disgusting as sweating is, I actually like to get a good sweat on, as it shows i've had a proper workout, and wearing these sexy numbers under my jogging trousers, the Zaggora hotpants, have definitly helped!
Not unlike wearing a wetsuit (they make a strange rustling sound when you walk too!)

Soap and Glory 'Sit Tight' works in a similar fashion to the hotpants in that you rub the cream into your thighs/bum, and with the aid of your body temperature when you sit down, heats up and helps firm your skin and hopefully reduce cellulite!
It's what I would consider quite pricey for a cream at around £14 from Boots, but I believe it works, and really like it, and will continue to use it until I have a bum like a netball player!!

The final item may be considered cheating somewhat (please don't judge me!), but I have been taking Semtex from jstJodie (Jodie Marsh's brand of supplements etc) for the past month or so, as they are formulated to provide energy and aid weightloss by increasing your metabolism.
I haven't noticed any side effects, and to be honest I can't say i've noticed any difference in my energy levels, but a few people have remarked that i've lost weight - despite not eating the best!

When this tub runs out I am going to see how I get on for the next couple of weeks, and if I find I am struggling without them i'll reorder (very begrudgingly - they do cost around £30 for a month supply!)

Optional extra: Furry jogging companion

Do you have any diet or exercise advice or tips you could give me?

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Review: Lush Ayesha Face Mask

I do apologise if my recent posts have been rather Lush-heavy/focused, but I have completely fallen in love with their products and love everything they stand for as a company.

My skin has been going a bit haywire recently, and so last time I was in Lush having a nosy, I decided to pick up a face mask to see if it would help!

I'm not entirely sure what made me choose Ayesha in particular from the range available (an impatient other half is most likely), as from their website Lush appear to be targeting it at more mature skins (or for those times when you want to make a quick difference to your face, for a night out), but it is packed full of skin-saviour ingredients such as honey and witch hazel that I would assume would help any/most skin types.

Key ingredients include:
  • Elderflower Infusion and Elderflower vinegar - to balance out skin tone
  • Honey - to moisturise
  • Kiwi - provides vitamin C to brighten
  • Asparagus - the enzymes within help break down dead skin cells for removal
  • Fullers Earth and Witch Hazel - absorb grease and dirt whilst tightening the skin
  • Patchouli, rosemary and rose absolute - regenerative essential oils

As the masks are 'fresh' and contain no preservatives, they must be kept in a fridge and used up within a month (or whatever date is stated on the use-by stamp), although I finished mine about a week after the recommended date and it was still fine.

Ayesha costs £5.95 for 75g, which at first I did resent paying as the tubs look pretty small, but (with this mask in particular) a little goes a long way and the mask lasted me a surpringly long time - I think I managed to get about 6 masks (at least 4 on me and 2 on Lee!) out of this one tub, which is really good value for money when you consider you pay upwards of £1 for sachet masks.

Ayesha looks and smells DISGUSTING, like really herby seaweed or something - when I first put it on, I wondered if I could manage to handle the smell without having to remove it immediately! - but you do become accustomed to the 'scent' and it tends to fade away as the mask dries out.

The mask dries and hardens not dissimilar to a clay-based mask, and I would recommend using it with a warm, damp muslin or face cloth.

I used this mask maybe once or twice a week, and really noticed a difference, both immediately and the morning after use.
I wouldn't say this gives the 'face lift' effect that Lush proclaim (and I would be wary of confusing dryness with 'taughtness' - I did feel the need to apply a toner and moisturiser after using this 'just in case'), but it definitely had a gentle exfoliation and therefore brightening effect on my skin, and undoubtedly helped heal/clear any pesky spots that were around.

If you have dry or sensitive skin this might be too 'much' for you, but those with normal/oily/combination would probably like it.

I would definitely consider repurchasing,and can't wait to try some of the other Lush fresh facemasks - what do you recomend?

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Review: Lush Tea Tree Water

I used to wonder if the elusive 'Holy Grail' products really did exist (for me anyway), but I am going to put it out there and proclaim that I think this particular product has ticked the box in the toner category!

A couple of years ago I would never have bothered with a toner, but now I can never be without one and am a great advocate of the old 'cleanse, tone, moisturise' mantra.
I like the 'reassurance' of a toner after cleansing to ensure that I have removed all my makeup/general dirt and grime - which is really what a proper cleanser should do, but I have yet to fill the HG category for that one yet:  all suggestions on a postcard please (or just in the comments box..!).

I bought the Lush Tea Tree Water on a whim (I usually thoroughly research my products through blog reviews etc. before buying them!) choosing it from the range of 8 toners and 'facial steamers' available (others include 'Breath of Fresh Air', which is ideal for mature skin, for example).
I opted for the larger 250g (even though it's a liquid. Odd.) bottle at a cost of £7.25. It is also available in a smaller 100g size for £3.95, which would be good for travel or just to try out (I must have been feeling reckless when I went for the big bottle!).

Lush say it is a toner water that Comes to the aid of skin that has emergencies. Tea tree is a wonder antibacterial, antiseptic and antimicrobial ingredient fr anyone with oily or spot prone skin.

As with all Lush products, it is handmade using fresh ingredients and is vegan in this instance as it contains no animal by-products (and is of course not tested on animals):
  • Tea tree water - used for it's clarifying and antibacterial action.
  • Grapefruit water - used to enliven the senses and brings necessary minerals to the skin.
  • Juniperberry water - helps elimiate toxins and build up from the skin to revive your complexion.
  • Limonene - which apparently occurs naturally in essential oils
  • Perfume (I don't understand the need!)
  • Methylparaben - a preservative.
I wouldn't say I have acne-prone skin or suffer terribly from spots, but I do get quite a few round about 'that time of the month', or when i'm stressed, and I love how using this toner helps battle and remove pesky spots - usually the morning after use they have dried out and are much smaller.

Lush also say that it can be used as a quick facial refresher or to cool the skin, and recently, when it's been hot and humid outside or just after exercising, I have been spraying it directly onto my face for a bit of a refresher (when used as a toner I apply to a cotton wool pad first).
The spray dispenser is also something I really like - no danger of spilling/overdoing (and therefore wasting) any product here ladies!

This definitely gets a big thumbs up from me - it may be considered on the pricy side by some, but it works and I like it, and I love the fact that once it's finished I can take it back to Lush (with 4 other containers) to exchange for a free facemask!

Have you tried this? Or do you have a favourite toner you would recommend?

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Poundland Picks!

Poundland might not be the likliest of places to pick up 'decent' make-up/beauty bits - it really is very hit-and-miss! - but today I struck lucky.

As the name suggests, everything was a pound...

If like me you're on a budget, or you just like to grab a bargain, I would definitely recommend that you have a look next time you're passing your local Poundland/99p store because you never know what might turn up!

Melanie x