Beauty Review: Insta Natural Retinol Moisturiser

You only have to listen to skincare adverts on the telly or flip through a magazine to come across ‘retinol’ these days, but what is it? Put simply it’s a form of vitamin A which is essential for healthy skin. It reduces pore size, helps with acne and makes skin appear more youthful by supporting cell structure and evening out dark patches. This is why it’s so widely recommended by dermatologists. So when Insta Natural asked me to test their Advanced Action Retinol Moisturiser ( $24.75 or £19.95 for 100ml) I jumped at the chance.

Retinol moisturiser


Key ingredients

2.5% Retinol (supports the skin)
Vitamin C (supports the skin and adds radiance)
Hyaluronic Acid (draws moisture to the skin)
Jojoba Oil (moisturises)
Shea Butter (moisturises)
Green Tea (sooths)


Dermatologists advise people to always use sunscreen along with products containing retinol. People with sensitive skin should only use this product at night. The skin repairs it’s self mostly at night anyway, so I’ve been using this as my night cream. Only a pea sized amount patted onto skin is needed.

All ingrediants:

Organic Aloe Vera, Organic Sunflower Oil, Retinol, Palm Oil, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate), Botanical Hyaluronic Acid, Organic Jojoba Oil, Kosher Vegetable Glycerin, Shea Butter, Wildcrafted Green Tea, Wildcrafted Propolis, Vitamin E (d-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate), Vitamin B5 (Panthenol), Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexyl Glycerin, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid

First impressions

Retinol is sensitive to light and air so I was pleased to see the packaging is dense plastic with a pump, which delivers the perfect amount with each press. As this moisturiser contains Jojoba Oil and Shea Butter I was expecting it to be really thick and oily but my skin drank it up immediately. I was able to apply my usual foundation over the top (along with a light sunscreen on a bright winters day) and it stayed put without looking cakey or sliding off throughout the day.

My skin type

Combination: Oily, blemished, redness on Tzone but dull and slightly dry on cheeks and chin.

Long term effects

I can’t comment on the effect this product has on fine lines as I don’t have any, just deep expression, er furrows. I’ve been using this product every night for 9 days but already the surface of my skin looks more even (ha, take that acne scarring!), my nose and cheeks don’t look as flushed in the mornings and I haven’t had my usual evening oilyness on my Tzone, so no spots appearing overnight. My skin looks so healthy, I’ve not used any foundation for six days. This is the perfect night cream I’ve been searching for, for many months! If you have dry skin however, I’m not sure if this would be moisturising enough to use in the evening.

Dries out oil while moisturising the skin perfectly. Evens skin tone. Boosts radiance.

Note: Applying large amounts of creams containing retinol to the body (to reduce stretch marks etc) is not recommended for pregnant or breast feeding women by Dr’s.

This product was sent to me free for review purposes. This does not affect my opinion of the product.

Chrissie xx

My #Shelfie


Always nice to have a little nosey at other peoples things, when you are bored, right? These are the shelves where nice things go that don’t fit anywhere else, including a lot of books!



Fossils, semi precious stones, rocks and shells. I also love all things, sparkly that the light will shine through. Oh, and a Peruvian clay pipe.



My cyber punk troll doll who’s been my lucky mascot since I was 13, vintage ‘toy’ car collection from the 60’s & 70’s, Marv from Sin City figure, Subaru Impreza, Jack Daniels Miniature, biker chick Bratz Doll. I need to buy The Crow and Loki to keep her company as Marv seems a bit hostile.



I’ve been a huge reader ever since I was a toddler when my Mum used to take me to the local library every week. Just before I hit my teens I was a huge fan of the Point Horror and Sweet Valley High pulp fiction books, along with every other girl aged 11-13 in my high school. In my teens I read a lot of chick-lit as I think that’s all my attention span would allow! In my twenties I read a lot of fantasy fiction like LOTR and Harry Potter and cool musicians biographies, then anything a little different in my 30’s. Little Big, The Time Travellers Wife, The Miniaturist and The Night Circus being my faves for their mysterious hints of fantasy. I love films inspired by science fiction writer Philip K Dick (Blade Runner, Total Recall, The Adjustment Bureau) so I’m rather ashamed I don’t have an anthology of his short stories or any novels.

True Blood series by Charlaine Harris (novel), Devil In A Blue Dress by Walter Mosley (novel), Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (novel), The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffenger (novel), A Girl Called Madonna (cartoon), Fruits (Japanese Alt Fashion), The Hungry Student Cook Book by Charlotte Pike, The Higher Taste veggie Buddhism cook book, A Breif History Of Album Covers by Jason Draper, Jimi Hendrix Talking, Scar Tissue Anthony Kiedis autobiography with Larry Sloman, Eric Clapton autobiography, Jimi Hendrix The Man, The Magic, The Truth by Sharon Lawrence, Empire Film Guide, Film Noir  by Alain Silver, James Ursini and Paul Duncan, Cinema 1894 – 2002, Festival Annual 11 (in which one of my photographs of a giant wicker fox band from The Beat Herder Festival is featured), Mythology by Arthur Cotterell, Wonders Of The Solar System, The Crow (graphic novel) by J. O’Barr, The Far Side Gallery by Garry Larson (one panel cartoons), The Prehistory Of The Far Side by Garry Larson, Sin City official film book.

Infinitely more interesting than three selfies of me, in my opinion ^_^

What’s on your shelfie lovelies?

Chrissie xx

10 Reasons Why Manchester Is Ace!

I’m a proud Mancunian, I have a Manc accent and I’ve lived in Manchester all of my life. I have travelled to other fantastic places in the UK but I’m always happy to return to Manchester, my home.

1. The spirit of the people. Mancunian’s are pretty friendly in general. OK, maybe not in the midst of rush hour but we do chat to each other, even strangers chat to each other. This is perfectly normal.

2. It’s layout. People think of Manchester as having mundane rows of terrace houses and although this is true for many parts, there are plenty of winding narrow streets, tunnels, pretty squares and street-art to discover. As I said, I’ve lived here all of my life and I’m still finding hidden parts of the city, even right in the centre!

3. You never get bored. From the tranquility of Manchester’s parks to busy weekly markets. From well known high-street brands to independant quirky shops. From food wholesalers open to the public to little vegetarian deli’s. From cozy pubs with real open fires to trendy bars creating the most unusual cocktails. Many kinds of theatre productions, galleries and the vast Manchester museum – complete with Egyptian mummies, there is something to suit everyone.

4. It’s so culturally diverse. With Southern and Northern Asian, African, Jamaican and Polish influences. Worldwide food and fashion is only a bus ride away, at most.

5. The weather. It’s not grim. We have seasons, this is a good thing, a thing to be looked forward to! You literally never know what the days weather is going to be like, from one hour to the next sometimes. Okay, this can mean a well planned outfit is now totally inappropriate to someone unaccustomed but to a Manc this is an opportunity for layering and accessorising!


6. Us Manc women really know how to make a night of it. It’s Saturday, you’ve gone shopping for something to wear, most likely with a mate and made a day of it. You are meeting up with friends – not in a bar but around at one of your houses. There is drinking to be done, outfits to be created, hair to be styled, taxis to be booked all to the sound of your ‘girls night out’ playlist. I love how this is a little pre-party ritual all of it’s own. The night out usually starts in that bar or pub that everyone is familiar with, then the other bars, then the club or big bar where there is a dance floor, wether you are actually planning on dancing or not. Lastly the takeaway. I love how in Manchester thirty minute friends are made over pizza and kebabs.

7. The traditional charm of the city is always evident. Where I live there are cobbled streets with old fashioned street lamps (the kind you could tie a skipping rope to the cross bar a swing around) and in the centre there are beautiful listed buildings which have been respectfully re-purposed. Ginnels  (walk throughs) with their original names artistically displayed in iron are still frequently used and old railway arches are home to various bars, galleries and shops.

8. The transport system. I know this isn’t necessarily going to be a popular one, what with trains getting delayed for up to 60 minutes and the same buses being late and then all arriving at once but there are four  different options of transport: Trams, trains, buses and free city centre bus shuttles. Being a non driver I’m glad the bus routes branch out across the city in a spider web pattern and turn up around every twenty minutes, rather than one every hour (apart from little shopper buses) or one a day.

9. Everything is on hand, all of the time. Have a craving for a curry at 1.00am? Then walk down The Curry Mile. Fancy going to a late night showing of a newly released film when there’s no que and freedom to choose your seats? You have a huge choice of cinemas. Need to do some last minute shopping after working over time? Then head to the Arndale or The trafford Centre. Fancy meeting friends for some food and late night bowling? You can visit Dogbowl.

10.  The cities history of famous people is seriously impressive.

Notable people in society from Manchester include:

Alan Turing invented the computer and then went on to create the code breaking machines used in World War 2.

Emmeline Pankhurst (from Whalley Range) was a political activist and leader of the Suffragette movement, which secured women the right to vote.

James Prescott Joule ran a laboratory at his father’s home, in Whalley Range. He formulated a theory of heat dynamics – that heat is produced when force is applied. He identified constants which were scientifically immutable and dependable, and determining the unit of energy, which is now named after him – the “joule” (excerpt from

George Stephenson an English civil engineer and mechanical engineer who built the first public inter-city railway line in the world to use steam locomotives, the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

Notable bands from Manchester include:

The Stone Roses, The Charlatans, The Happy Monday’s, Joy Division, New Order, James and The Smiths.

Any reasons why you think Manchester is ace, that I’ve missed?

Chrissie xx







Well, Aloe There!

Forever Living is a company which gets the best out of Aloe Vera gel in so many ways – including fitness, beauty, home and pet care products – it would take me a very long time to sample them all. For this reason, I’ve chosen to stick with the skin care and wellness side.

Forever Bright Tooth Gel

Cruelty free toothpaste

You’ve cleaned your teeth and soon after you take a welcome swig from your first brew of the morning – which tastes of toothpaste – urgh! I hate it when this happens so I’ve been trying to find a solution for a while. I’ve tried fennel toothpaste and hated the taste but the natural spearmint and peppermint flavour here is so subtle I barley noticed it. It foamed up like a regular tooth paste and made my breath fresh and my teeth looked brighter. My following cuppa tea tasted great as well.

Aloe Moisturising Lotion

Aloe Moisturiser

I’ve known for a while that the best thing to apply to sensitive or combination skin is aloe moisturiser. This version is light, hydrating, soothing and contains collagen and elastin to smooth and balance the skins PH levels. As this works well under makeup, it’s the perfect everyday moisturiser.

Aloe Propolis Cream

Aloe and Propolis moisturiser

Propolis is the sticky glue that bees use to fill any gaps or broken parts of the hive. It also happens to have incredible healing properties when applied to the skin, which means it’s used to treat skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis and even burns. The first thing I noticed about the cream was it’s sweet pleasant scent and the second was how thick it is. I’ve been suffering from chilblains which have left the skin on my fingers sore, damaged and dry. I applied a pea sized amount of the cream to my fingers twice a day for five days and my skin is now back to normal.

Aloe – Jojoba Shampoo

Aloe shampoo

I’ll admit I was sceptical about how effective this would be on my dry coarse hair but I needn’t have worried. A small amount of this shampoo was even more moisturising than my usual coconut shampoo, making my hair soft and manageable. I need to get more of this, quickly!

Aloe – Jojoba Conditioning Rinse

Aloe Hair Conditioner

Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know my hair needs a lot of conditioning, so as I only had a sample sized amount of conditioner, I tested it on the driest part of my hair, the front. I took my regular conditioner into the shower incase but this did the job perfectly. Apparently this conditioner ‘removes build up of electrostatic charges’ and ‘protects the hair from the effects of excessive blow-drying’. I honestly have to say my hair behaved in a calmer, more manageable manner after I’d used the hairdryer on my roots.

Aloe Heat Lotion

Due to my nerves struggling to automatically control my muscles when I’m sitting and standing, I often get back and shoulder ache, as soon as I stop paying attention to my posture. Just call me Miss Slumpy. My electric blanket over my seat sorts this out when I’m at The Blokes but at my parents it’s another, rather achy matter. This works exactly like Deep Heat (even the scent is similar) but without all of the chemicals. This heats up upon application and stays warm for a long time. This was massaged into my skin but applied fairly quickly. I then wrapped myself up in an old sweatshirt and a scarf and was able to completely relax for the rest of the evening. Quite a relief! Due to the strong smell of this product, do not use this if you are going out later and always wear something that you can machine wash afterward.

Aloe Vera Jelly

Aloe Vera Gelly

Waxing, prickly heat, laser hair removal and sun burn. No problem if you have a tube of this handy! I used it on my freshly waxed legs which were hot and stinging as if someone had just given them a good slap. The relief to my skin was instant as the gelly soothed and cooled. This is one of those products that you should always have in your medicine cupboard or even in your handbag, come summer.

It appears that most of my skins requirements can be met with Aloe Vera! It’s so handy that there is one place where I can get pretty much everything I could need all at once, rather than schleping around lots of different shops and websites.

Which products do you like the sound of?

Chrissie xx

These samples were was sent to me for review purposes. This does not affect my opinion of the products.

Wheat & Dairy Free Snack Review: Geo Bars

Wether food intolerances are becoming more common or we’ve simply become more attuned to how our bodies react to certain foods, more and more of us are cutting out dairy and wheat/gluten. Even if we aren’t the greatest of cooks it’s far easier to create an evening meal than it is to quickly find a suitable snack, even in a massive supermarket. This is why I was pleased when I got asked to review Geo bars.

dairy wheat free from Geo bars

Geo bars (£2.60 for a 3 pack) are available in two types, Fruity and Trail (a natural energy bar) and are made from fruit, veg, gluten free oats (not suitable for people who are allergic to the protein avenin), nuts and soy protein. Each bar contains one fruit/veg of your five a day. All bars in the range are certified Fair Trade, which makes my conscience as well as my tummy very happy.

Banana and Walnut Trail

I know this is meant to be a trail bar but they are so tasty I ate one as desert after my evening meal. No wonder I was still full of energy at 10.00pm! The banana adds the perfect amount of softness with an added touch of crunch from the walnuts.

Cocoa Crunch Trail Bar

The cocoa flavour isn’t too sweet or too bitter either, which is perfect if you are grabbing this for a quick lunch or if you are flagging on a hike. The bar is so dense I wish it was more moist and not as dry. I found it a little hard going and had to drink a small glass of water with it.

Carrot and Stem Ginger

I found the stem ginger in this bar to be really strong which I thought overwhelmed the carrot but my mum thought it wasn’t strong enough. Okay then?! Even though this is classed as a fruit bar I found it to be as dense and dry as the trail bar, which I was a little disappointed with.

Cocoa and Beetroot

The beetroot adds a lovely sweetness to the cocoa but the predominant flavour is cocoa. I liked the texture of this bar and I’d definitely keep one in my bag for times when I feel my blood sugar is getting low and I need a quick free-from snack.

This product was sent to me for review purposes. This does not affect my opinion of the product.

Chrissie xx

Using Oil To Style Frizzy Or Curly Hair

For many years I, like many young women, flattened my thick frizzy hair with hair straighteners. Sometimes I would put the waves back in using barrel tongues, which meant I’d spend a whole two hours voluntarily touring my hair! Five hairdressers in a row taught me this craziness because they had no clue how to handle naturally wavy/curly hair.

I really think life is too short for us to be miserable with our natural hair type. Not to mention how much damage using chemical or heat straighteners can do. We should be proud of our natural hair type and work on defining it rather than changing it complettley.

Below is a guide but first, here are my four favourite types of oil to use on hair. I would only use olive oil on long, incredibly thick coarse hair (like mine) as it will be too heavy for other hair types.

Argan Dew Argan Oil


    Readers can get 20% by using the code: argandew at the checkout!


Neal’s Yard Remedies Jojoba Oil




Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Filippo Berio Organic Olive Oil

Moroccanoil Heat Protection


Step 1 Preperation

Before shampooing (depending on the length and thickness of your hair) rub a small amount of oil between your palms, making sure there is no excess. Smooth over hair including your roots. Work more oil into the ends of your hair until evenly but very lightly covered.

Step 2 Shampooing

Using a deeply moisturising shampoo. If you feel your hair turn really coarse or it gets incredibly tangled, you are either using a shampoo that is too strong or you are using too much shampoo. It can be better to fill a small cup with 1/3 shampoo and the rest warm water. It dilutes the shampoo and makes it much easier to spread through your hair. Rinse thoroughly.

Step 3 Conditioning

Apply a thick moisturising conditioner or hair mask (I recommend Argan Dew Replenishing Hair Mask which makes hair incredibly soft and easy to manage), then either wrap hair in a thick towel or wear an oh-so fetching shower cap for 5 minutes. A cellophane wrap can be difficult to manage if you have long hair and it doesn’t let your scalp breathe. If you can stand it, rinse with cool water (cold water really isn’t necessary) to close those cuticles, until the water runs clear. Don’t ‘leave a bit of extra conditioner on for good measure’ as this can dull hair, delay it’s drying time or even irritate your scalp.

Step 4 Pre Drying

Gently wring out your hair and wrap in a thin dry towel. Leave the towel turban on for a moment while applying moisturiser, plucking your brows or whatever. Don’t leave it too long though as you want your hair to still be really damp (but not dripping) when you take the towel off. Very gently tease out any knots using a wide tooth comb with dull ends.

Step 5 Oiling

Avoiding the roots rub and small amount (again depending on the length and thickness of your hair) of oil between palms and spread through your hair. Smooth the last little bit of oil on your palms over your roots. Always better to under oil your hair and then quickly add a little more if it’s starting to frizz as it’s drying. Remember the dryer your hair, the less oil you can get away with applying before it looks greasy. The aim is to replenish your hairs natural oils, not to add a excess product like you would with a cream or gel. Scrunch or twist curls/waves into shape. While your hair is still wet you can quickly get away with doing this, without it frizzing. The more your hair dries, the more you need to leave it alone!

Step 6 Styling

Holding a heat defence spray around 30 centimetres away from your head, mist your roots lightly. Turn your hair dryer to it’s lowest setting or press the fancy ‘cold’ button. Standing upright with your head tilted to one side use a diffuser and blast the roots underneath your hair for a short while. If your hair looks too big for your liking then use the narrow hairdryer head on the same cold setting for a short while to smooth down your roots. It’s really important to stop using the hairdryer while hair is still a little damp and let it air dry. Never. Ever Brush. It! If you want to separate the curls it’s best to do this carefully with your fingers or a big wide tooth comb to avoid frizz.

Now your hair should look beautifully shiny, healthy and naturally styled into either…







Since my mid twenties, I’ve only been washing my hair every ten days or so which has made it look a lot healthier  This isn’t during hot summer months or if I’ve been exercising though!

I hope styling your hair in this natural way makes it quicker, easier and more enjoyable for you.

Chrissie xx

Staying In Is The New Going Out

A common conversation

“Oh come on don’t be boring, it’ll be fun!”

“Yeah, I know it’s fun, it’s been fun the last 20 times I’ve gone clubbing with you in town but I’m not in the mood tonight.”

“We can drink wine at mine first to get us in the mood.”

“Actually me and the Bloke have got to a pivotal point in Scandal and…”

“But you bought that dress.”


“Well it’s a shame to waste it.”

“There will plenty of other times I’ll wear it.”

“We’ve not caught up for ages though.”

“I wouldn’t say ages but I’ll meet you tomorrow for at that little bar with the peanut butter cocktails, if you want?”

“Fine. I never thought you’d be the one to settle down and get all boring.”

I used to be the pushy annoying one in this conversation, desperate to go wild and determined to have The. Most. Fun. Ever! Now I’m the one that would rather stay in with a gorgeous homemade pizza, a really gripping box set, my mates and my awesome Bloke.



I haven’t settled for a snoozfest of a life. I haven’t ‘settled down’ either (what, like a hyperactive toddler exhausting their self and falling asleep?), I’m just a lot more relaxed and happy. It’s not that now I’ve found a partner I don’t need to go out on the pull anymore, as it was never (just) about that anyway. It’s more that I’ve slowed the pace down a little in my 30’s and it really suits me.

To put it simply: I can’t always be arsed!

I can’t always be arsed assembling clothes and accessories, taming my crazy hair and figuring out how to keep it like that for the rest of the night, doing my makeup and keeping it maintained for the rest of the night, queuing at a bar three people deep so I get the pleasure of paying over the odds for drink and running after a taxi flapping my arms at 2.00am.


I was also starting to think I’d developed social anxiety as I wasn’t keen on going to as many blogging events as I used to. As I’m supposed to? Then I realised I just don’t find it enjoyable trying to work a room full of strangers, whilst taking the perfect pictures and remembering everyone’s names and not putting my foot in it, in some astonishing but inevitable way. Some events I love, like the one’s with a clear point and something  particular to do, or the more casual one’s or the one’s where you can sit down and eat or get a treatment etc. Those can be awesome.

It might be due to my memory and co-ordination problems but I find going out in the evening to places where I HAVE TO enjoy myself and be charmingly social, whether I feel like it or not at that moment, to be quite exhausting – emotionally and physically.

So here’s to doing just enough exercise so that I don’t get fat, buying tinies round at the off-liscence, catching up with friends in a setting where everyone can hear each other and share music or You Tube vids, nipping into the kitchen to get more nibbles whenever I want, getting excited by characters stories that I really want to hear and dragging my tired arse to bed the moment that I feel like it.

Of course, I might change my mind when Spring/Summer come along ;o)

Chrissie xx



Sexy Rock and Electro Tunes

It’s all in the base and the riffs rather than explicit lyrics and booty shaking video’s with these. Great tunes for valentine’s day if you’re not into romantic ballads. Great songs to request from the DJ if you are going out on the town to find your brand new valentine ;o)

U R A Fever The Kills

Angel Massive Attack

Hot Ride The Prodigy

Spitfire The Prodigy

Are Friends Electric? (cover) Dead Weather

Dragula Rob Zombie (Matrix soundtrack)

Requiem For Anna Portishead

Glory Box Portishead

Sweet Dreams Marilyn Manson

Tainted Love Marilyn Manson

Superstition Stevie Wonder

Trampled Under Foot  Led Zeplin

Super Massive Black Hole Muse

Feeling Good (cover) Muse

You Wish You Were Red Trailer Trash Tracey’s

Push It Garbage

Six Underground Sneaker Pimps

Spin Spin Sugar Sneaker Pimps