It’s not because I’m stressed that I can’t sleep sometimes, it’s that my mind won’t shut up! It has totally random thoughts flying around it all day and then creates really busy detailed dreams for me all night, you’d think there would be a period in between where it would slow down so I can actually get to sleep but no. You can see why I tried both of these now, right?
I have a little ritual in the evening which involves changing into my jammy’s, making the bed, filling a bottle with filtered water to take to bed, removing my makeup and then massaging in moisturiser. I have to do all of this before I’m tired or I will just drop, spill and miss-place everything.
Tisserand Remedy (Sweet Dreams) Roller Ball $12.73 for 10ml
I put a little bit of this behind my ears and a big streak across my pillow around an hour before going to bed. It took this huge amount of time for me to forget that I’d applied it to my pillow, so when I lay down I started to wonder what the lovely flowery fresh scent was which me feel calm and happy. Every time my thoughts wandered I brought them back to the scent and my breathing. I drifted off to sleep fairly quickly and had some really lovely creative dreams. I don’t think I’ll use this every night as I’ll get too used to the scent and stop recognising it. I’ll save it for those nights when my body is really tired and I have to get up early in the morning but my mind isn’t as convinced. I’ll also take it with me if I’m staying over at friends or when I’m on holiday and I’m sleeping in a bed I’m not used to.
Badger Sleep Balm $5.99 for .75oz
How adorable is this fat little tin! The Bloke asked “Can I have that tin when you’re done for screws and stuff” “No I have to keep it.” “Why?” “Because it has a cute sleepy badger on it” Duh!
This balm has a much subtler scent of lavender and bergamot than I was expecting. My sense of smell isn’t the best I’ll admit but it was barley detectable, which is possibly a good thing if you are sharing a bed with someone who (rather annoyingly) has a super sense of smell. I applied a little bit of balm behind my ears, to the nape of my neck and to the middle of my collar bone about 20 minutes before going to bed. I did have quite a few things on my mind such as upcoming appointments and unresolved issues but I was quite surprised at how relaxed my body felt. I wasn’t wriggling around and I felt perfectly comfy, so I did fall asleep quicker than I normally would when my mind is busy.
In my opinion if a persons mind is really stressed and their muscles are tense I think it will take more than aromatherapy to knock them out. An Indian head massage maybe, seeing as we’re being holistic here. However, if you simply need a little help relaxing and getting into sleep mode then I recommend both of these.
I’m a frequent user of moisturiser, pore refining fluid and beauty oils but serums? Not so much. So when Insta Naturals invited me to trial three of their serums I enthusiastically agreed because it’s always a leap of faith to buy a new product – that will hopefully become part of your skin care regime – without knowing if it will work.
Age-defying Skin Clearing Serum
I’m in my early thirties, that age where skin gets rather confused. Yes, it’s starting to show signs of ageing such as uneven texture but it’s still prone to some spots and an oily T-zone. C’mon face, make up your mind already!
20% Vitamin C, 3.5%Niacinamide, 2.5% Retinol, 2%Salicylic Acid
As recommended I’ve been using this serum in the morning (using a sun cream if leaving the house because retinol can make skin sun sensitive) and at night (only once a day for sensitive skin), before applying my usual basic moisturiser. I used the handy pipette to disperse a very small amount onto my palms and fingers and gently pressed the serum onto my face as it’s difficult to massage serum into skin.
I’ve only been using this product for 7 days but my skin has CLEARED UP COMPLETELY! My skin is balanced, no more oily T-zone. My skin appears a little plumper but it doesn’t look particularly radiant. If I hadn’t have used plenty of my daily moisturiser over the top of the serum my skin would have become very dry and applying foundation would have been pretty impossible. However, all serums are meant to be used in conjunction with moisturiser so this didn’t surprise me.
Youth Express Eye Serum
Vitamin C, Plant stem cells, Astaxanthin, Kojic Acid, Passionflower, Caffeine, Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide
I used a small amount around my eyes morning and night. I put a small drop onto my ring finger and gently patted around my eye area. This is the best finger to use as it applies the least pressure but with good accuracy. Don’t let the unusual orange colour put you off!
I used to have permanent bags, which were so big they came down to the top of my cheekbones and they were really puffy but now they are ALMOST GONE, after using this for a mere 7 days! Wow! In the past I’ve tried cutting down on salt, different eye creams and gels, drinking green tea and plenty of water with zero results. This product is amazing! Ok so the gentle tapping helped morning and night but I had tried this before with other products, with only minimal results.
After incorporating these two serums into my skincare regime, it looks like I won’t be using the ‘retouch’ function on my photo editor much anymore ^_^
Age-defying Retinol Serum
Three serums is a lot to try in the space of two weeks and a lot to ask from someone’s skin to adapt to different products, so I passed this one on to my Mum who’s in her early 70’s to test instead.
20% Vitamin C
10% Hyaluronic Acid
Fruit & Plant Acids
A small amount of this serum should be applied to skin night and day (using sun cream as retinol can make skin sun sensitive) but only once per day for sensitive skin.
After two weeks of applying the serum I asked Mum if she had seen any difference. “It makes my skin appear slightly plumper and tighter. My face feels too tight though, which I’m not a fan of. I feel like I need to use a much thicker moisturiser than my normal one, afterwards. It does have a slight superficial temporary effect, so If I was one of these women that’s so desperate to look young they get covered in mud then wrapped in cling film so they can be a few centimetres slimmer for an evening, then I might be impressed with it. Anyway a fortnight is too short amount of time to test if there are any long lasting results, to be fair.” Gotta love my Mum!
Above products gifted to me for review purposes. This does not bias my opinion of them in anyway
I was invited to the re-opening of Avalanche, the contemporary Italian restaurant and bar recently so I brought The Bloke as my plus1 for a treat. The decor has some modern features especially the lighting design but the art has much more of a classic feel. I hate restaurants where you are crammed in like cattle but here the tables are widely spaced and the chairs are incredibly comfortable. The restaurant has three bars in total so it’s a place where people can pop into for lunch and drinks a well as a meal in the evening.
As soon as we arrived someone offered to take my coat (amazing how many restaurants don’t do this) and we were asked if we had any allergies or specific food requirements. That was the first time we stated we are vegetarian. We were given a bottle of Prosecco and a chiller for the table and our glasses were topped up by the wait staff frequently. We were told our food would arrive shortly and I asked “Just checking, you know we are both vegetarian don’t you?”. Somehow this hadn’t been convayed but I was told it would be sorted out. Another waiter came over to us in due course and asked “You are the vegetarians?” At this point we were starting to feel like an alien species, only recently discovered by mankind. After a long wait and being presented with a dirty serving plate which was immediately returned to the waiter, our food arrived. I’m actually glad there was a prawn staring up at The Bloke. If it hadn’t have been so evident he would have enthusiastically tucked in, only to be disgusted that he was eating flesh after being veggie for 17 years. According to the press release we were expecting a main course each and desert each so it was a nice surprise we got to sample a starter of tasty vegetarian bruschetta between us.
Avalanche are bucking the tradition of only stocking Italian wine and instead offer a selection of the best wines from around Europe. I was asked which type of wine I like and I asked to sample an Italian red which had rich and spicy (rather than fruity) characteristics. I was poured several glasses of wine which I really enjoyed (unfortunately I can’t find the wine on their menu and I only know how to pronounce it, rather than spell it).
When the main arrived I had such an appetite I dived straight in and forgot to take a photograph! Bad blogger! We had a dish of ale dente vegetables with thinly sliced perfectly cooked potatoes to share and a dish of roasted aubergine topped with mozzarella each, served in hot bowls on little smooth wooden palettes. The mozzarella was really baked and rather chewy, which is how I prefer cheese to be cooked (some might say means it’s actually over done). The aubergines were baked so that they were soft in the middle but still had a bit of crunch on the outside, again exactly the way that I prefer my food.
For desert we were given a selection of three mini deserts to share between us. Cheese cake which was perfectly balanced, tiramisu which was luxuriously rich and creamy and chocolate cake which I found to be quite dry. As I was still a little hungry at this point (it was late in the evening and I’d not eaten since lunch) I rather cheekily asked if I could have a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Both of us were served with two big scoops of ice cream each!
The atmosphere on the night was very relaxed with a blues singer performing classics such as ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’ and more contemporary Amy Winehouse songs (live performances are every Friday) and the lighting was low creating an intimate atmosphere. We’ve been to quite a few restaurants over the years but it’s been a long while since we’ve been to one with a classic romantic feel. I’d really like to give Avalanche the benefit of the doubt and assume that on a normal night – possibly with less wait staff and less people all arriving at once – there wouldn’t be so many communication problems and misunderstandings. Having looked at the menu on Avalanche’s website I am really impressed with the amount and the quality of the vegetarian options which they offer.
I was invited to this event as a guest and was not charged for food or drink.
Popcorn Lip Scrub
I said to the bloke in the shop “I better not get the bubble gum flavour as I’ll really want to eat that one.” to which he replied “Well they are edible, if you have to.” Hahaa! I still chose the (only slightly) less more-ish flavour of popcorn. The scruby bits are really fine but effective. The oils in the scrub make it a pleasant experience, without it feeling scratchy. I had a LOT of dry skin on my lips but non of it was peeling, it was just sat there. This scrub got rid of the lot and left my lips smooth with a wonderful moisturised shine. Gorgeous product! £5.50 for 21g
Ingredients: Caster sugar, organic jojoba oil, fine sea salt, polenta, extra virgin coconut oil, popping candy, natural flavouring.
Vanishing Cream Face Moisturiser
If you require a really light moisturiser which will sink in quickly leaving your skin looking naturally radiant then this is the one for you. This cream also has the most beautiful fresh flower scent. Oil regulating creams, skin balancing serums and facial oils all have there place but if you are after a simple face cream which soothes and moisturises then this is the perfect one. It’s just a shame how expensive this is for such a small pot – bearing in mind most people will be using this as their daily moisturiser. £18.75 for 45g
Ingredients: Linseed infusion, water, rose water, lavender honey water, organic cold pressed grapeseed oil, honey, stearic acid, organic jojoba oil, witch hazel extract, fair traid shea butter, cetearyl alcohol, triethanolamine, camellia oil, lavender oil, neroli oil, geranium oil, glycerine, tincture of benzoin, geraniol, limonene, linalool, (natural) perfume, methylparaben, propylparaben.
‘We proudly hold firm to our founding beliefs that natural soap and skincare starts with the very best ingredients, good old fashioned methods and that it shouldn’t cost the earth in any respect! Pure Thoughts range now includes an indulgent collection of products, every one still made by us in our Derbyshire workshop.’ Pure Thoughts.
Here’s why I respect this little independent brand: No artificial colours or fragrances. No parabens or chemical preservatives. No SLS, SLES or harsh detergents. No synthetic additives or petroleum. 100% natural.
Tangerine & Jojoba Whipped Shea Body Butter
The texture of this is a lot more solid than the the term ‘whipped’ implies, in fact it’s more like a balm. I found it best to warm up the butter between my fingers and to apply it to damp skin to spread it more easily. This butter leaves skin with a slight sheen and a very subtle waxy feel, which I really like. I kept stroking my hands, like a weirdo! The scent is so energising and uplifting I started the day in a really positive mood. £11.95 for 85g (or 2 for £20 until 24/03/2015)
Ingredients: Shea butter, jojoba oil, tangerine oil, limonene.
Mint & Avocado Foot Repair Balm
This balm is very similar to a lip balm stick in texture and it gave the dry skin on my heels and the balls of my feet were given a new lease of life. I’d been on my feet all day and they were aching and a little swollen and a massage with this calmed them right down, so I could get on with my evening. It totally transformed the way my feet looked as well, so I will be using a lot of this throughout summer, before baring my feet in sandals. The peppermint scent is so strong I couldn’t detect any avocado but the fruits moisturising qualities are obviously there. £7.97 for 50g.
Ingredients: Olive oil, avocado butter, beeswax, castor oil, peppermint oil, Rosemary oil, limonene.
Rather than paying £5.00 a month and automatically getting little green boxes from Souk Souk and having a pile of beauty products mounting up in my bathroom, I’ve decided to treat myself to one-off boxes costing £20 every now and then. I had a choice of a bespoke box, compiled just for me or I could pick one of the five limited edition boxes Off To The Gym (yeah right!), Happy Mothers Day, Skin Introduction, Pamper Boutique and the Relax and Dream box that I chose. So, what products did I get in the Souk Souk beauty box?
I was really pleased that some of the products were actually layered on top of one another so that they could fit as much as possible into the box, instead of bulking it out with with masses of paper.
Looks intriguing doesn’t it! I will be reviewing most of the products in more detail when I’ve had a chance to use them properly but here’s a quick run through through.
Holy Lama travel mini’s: Yogi Soap, Conditioner, Shampoo and (a pleasant surprise) hair oil in a beautifully woven and sturdy case.
Orchard View Naturals Rose and Geranium Facial oil, Sranrom – Urban wellness – Sleep Tight Body Cream, Alva Handcream, Pure Thoughts Tangerine & Jojoba whipped Body Butter, Pure Thoughts Mint and Avocado Foot Repair Balm, The Green Balm Healing Balm.
Tisserand Aromatherapy Sweet Dreams Rollerball and Badger Balm Lavender and Bergamot Sleep Balm.
There was also an orange oil rollerball perfume. I found the inclusion of this strange as orange oil is known to be quite an invigorating rather than relaxing scent. I’m used to more complex perfumes and didn’t fancy walking around smelling like I’ve just eaten a tangerine! There was also Ruth Romano Lavender Soap, which I gave to a friend as I’m not a huge fan of the scent of lavender on it’s own but she was pleased with it.
Some of the products appear to be sample sized and others are just naturally small. I’d much rather have this great range of products than 3 or 4 larger sized ones though. I think this box is definitely worth the £20 if you are into discovering independent cruelty-free brands ^_^
Have you ordered a Souk Souk Beauty Box before? What did you think?
The Geek Girl series by Holly Smale has become so popular, All That Glitters is already the fourth book in the series, which only started a year ago with From Geek To Chic. Loosely based on the authors miss-adventures – the books follow the character of Harriet Manners as she tries to navigate modelling (accidentally) and being a teen geek.
All That Glitters catches up with Harriet a week after she returns from New York where she is looking forward to starting 6th Form college at her old school in the UK. She has to deal with making new friends, avoiding the old bullies and wondering why her old friends seem to be drifting away from her. Then there is her continuing heartbreak after the split with her adoring model boyfriend and a few rather unexpected add campaigns to deal with.
This is a book which you will fly through as it’s written in the first person so there is no lull in the story because you always want to know what the utterly adorable and witty protagonist is thinking. Harriet comes up with the most informative and funny smilies I’ve ever heard. The story is very original with some hilariously bizarre moments and characters but it’s also full of little awkward everyday moments which most people (not just geeks) will be will be able to relate to. Accidentally going into school as a kid on teacher training day? Yup!
There were a few things that didn’t sit well with me though. 1) It becomes clear very quickly that everything that can go wrong, will go wrong, which means it’s hard to get carried away with Harriets enthusiasm before any event, although it does compel you to read on with rather morbid fascination to see exactly how wrong it will go. 2) This means quite a bit of the book is really cringey because you are left in that uneasy place of feeling like you are meant to be laughing but mainly just wanting to reach into the pages to rescue Harriet and give her a big hug. 3) I do think there is a real difference between someone who’s awkward and quite geeky and someone who is painfully naive and unaware for their age. Harriet seems to have the intuition and judgment of a ten year who’s had the misfortune of being plonked into a group of (mostly) judgmental 16 year olds.
However, it’s these qualities, which mean we are in Harriets corner every clumsy step of the way, that and her unwavering humour in the face of adversity.
All That Glitters is hilarious, poignant, surprising and heartfelt all in equal measure and it’s that equation that makes it worth adding to your reading list immediately.
If you want to find out more about Geek Girl head over to the Facebook page here!
This is my first ever book review btw, so how did I do?
This book was sent to me free for review purposes. This does not affect my opinion of the book.
The Humane Society International are behind Be Cruelty Free Week (9-15 March) and #BlogForBunnies to get us all talking about what being cruelty free means to us, to share ideas and information or even our fave products!
Thanks to the amount of cruelty free beauty blogs out there, it’s a lot easier than it used to be to track down cruelty free products. It’s also easy to be really confused about the jargon in the small print on companies websites and what ‘cruelty free’ means to various countries. Here’s a really comprehensive but easy to read list of ‘cruelty free beauty’ facts courtesy of CF blog Mo’ adore and some of my own knowledge.
The UK outlawed the testing of cosmetics on animals in 1997.
Since March 2013, it has also been illegal to sell cosmetics products within the EU which have been, or which contain ingredients, newly tested on animals.
It’s the ingredients that get tested, not the finished product.
However a global brand can still test in other parts of the world, the tested products just can’t enter the EU (but the batch entering the USA for example can be).
If any brand wishes to enter China they are required to test on animals.
The recent ban on animal testing in China only refers to ‘ordinary cosmetics’ manufactured in China. All international brands have to give up samples.
A company can sell in the EU and China at the same time, but the batch coming into the EU can’t be tested but the batch going into China must be tested.
There’s a also a ban in Norway, Israel, India and most recently the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo.
There is currently draft legislation to ban cosmetic testing in Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea and the USA.
The species used in cosmetics testing are rabbits, rat, guinea pigs, mice and hamsters.
It takes longer to develop non-animal testing methods than it does to develop animal-testing methods, which is why so many companies support animal testing.
Marketers can get very sneaky with their wording. ‘We don’t believe in animal testing’ doesn’t mean they’ve checked their suppliers don’t. ‘Our finished products are not animal tested’ but what about the individual ingredients? ‘We never test any ingredients on animals and are committed to being cruelty free’ but is the parent company who owns that brand cruelty free? i.e. The Body Shop and Urban Decay are now owned by L’Oreal who aren’t cruelty free themselves.
When I send a company an e-mail I have them clarify if they test finished products or ingredients, if they sell in China (send straight to an individual or to a warehouse?), if they are a British company, if they sell outside EU borders and if they have a parent company.
BUAV’s The Leaping Bunny logo is the most trusted certification for cruelty-free products.
In the UK all medication has to be tested on animals but if you want to help support the development of non-animal methods you can check out the Dr Hadwens Trust.