June Nailbox Subscription Review

Nailbox is a monthly subscription service similar to existing beauty boxes e.g. Glossybox but instead it focuses solely on new nail products which is perfect for people like me as I tend to change up my nail colour more than I have hot dinners!

I was sent the June nailbox to review (after regularly having my nails ‘shellaced’ for around the last six months) so I was looking forward to trying some new polishes on the market. When the box arrived I was also surprised to see, along with 4 polishes, I had been sent an Elegant Touch professional cuticle clipper as I was only expecting the box to contain polishes but every month you can also receive nail accessories which I didn’t realise at first.

The cuticle clipper is very useful to me, I will continue to use it as I tend to my nails at home with professional products (e.g. CND) and only go to the nail salon to have colour reapplied. Perhaps I should consider investing in a UV machine to set my own polish but I also like visiting the nail salon as it feels like a treat and I can have a coffee, chat and just relax!

However, I digress! So, I will use the cuticle clipper – it’s sharp, accurate and comes with a five year guarantee. As for the polishes, I was so excited to see both bright summer colours and a nude. I like bright colours but on a daily basis I like to wear quite neutral tones on my nails and was looking forward to first trying the Nails Inc polish in ‘Colville Mews’ – a gel effect polish that cures in natural daylight and the first polish I had tried of it’s kind.

I was so disappointed! The colour is much flatter on my nails than it looks in the bottle and the opacity was very poor. I had to do three very thin coats and I found it fairly hard to apply. It felt very flaky and didn’t even last two days before most of the polish had peeled off which was such a shame as I had such high hopes for this beautiful looking varnish!

Next up I tried the Essie nail lacquer in ‘Roarrrange’ – a jewel toned bright orange and it was beautiful to apply, the brush was slightly on the large side but the formula was so very easy to apply and gave a clear even coat in just one application. It lasted very well for just under a week and was easy to remove (a huge plus point for brighter colours), but did leave some residue on my fingers rather then the nail themselves. Either way this gets a huge thumbs up from me!

image

Also included in this month’s box was a classic red nail polish by Tanya Burr called ‘Mischief Managed’. I’d heard very good reviews about this polish including a recommendation from my nail technician herself so I was a little disappointed by the texture of the polish as it felt a bit of a budget polish, like a supermarket’s own brand. The colour was bright and fairly easy to apply as it had a smallish brush and overall I was happy with the colour but it did take three coats to get the even coverage I desired.

My box also contained a bottle of Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat which was very fast drying but wasn’t as hard wearing as I anticipated and flaked off within a few days. However as it’s just a clear polish I will continue to use it as I will still get a lot of use out if it.

Nailbox seems like a good idea – you get a mixture of products from premium nail brands and the subscription cost is between £13.50 and £15 a month – a bargain as the products contained within are valued at much much higher. Also I think it’s a great way to try new colours and stay on trend across the seasons. Unfortunately not all the nail polishes were for me (I don’t think I’ll be wearing the nails inc again unless I only want it to last a few hours!) but I’ll definitely be using all the other colours and the cuticle clippers.

You can also get a 15% discount at nailpolish.co.uk by entering “NAILBOX” at the checkout, if you want to order a colour that’s arrived within your box or the same nail polish but in another shade. Each Nailbox is set to be delivered on or around the 21st of each month.

Easter Treats 2014

If you’re after something a little different this Easter holiday here is my round-up of a few favourite alternative Easter treats (don’t worry, chocolate is still very much on the list!)

1. OK so call me crazy but I really like the sound of this Chocolate Paella recipe. It’s like a chocolatey rice pudding with hazelnuts, raspberries, chocolate (obvs) and white chocolate buttons. What’s not to love?!

chocolate raspberry hazelnut paella recipe easter

Paella de Chocolate: Chocolate, raspberry and hazelnut paella

Serves 6 – 8 people because it’s really chocolaty!!

Cooking time: 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

300g of Spanish paella rice such as bomba or calasparra

2 tsp granulated sugar

20 ml vanilla essence

10g of extra brute chocolate powder

25g white chocolate callets (mini buttons)

1 orange (for peel and zest)

160g of dark chocolate (I use 53% for this recipe)

25g raisins

25g chopped toasted hazelnuts

200g fresh raspberries

650 ml water

CROCKERY/KITCHENWARE

1 paella pan or a 30cm large heavy bottom frying pan

1 small saucepan

1 microplain or small box grater

METHOD:

Place the rice into a heavy based saucepan with the cocoa powder and half the vanilla essence.

Add in 500ml of water with the orange peel and give it a quick stir. Place the pan onto the stove and turn the heat up in the pan to a rolling boil and then down to simmer for 14 minutes, stirring a couple of times to make sure the rice doesn’t stick.

All you are looking to do here is infuse the rice with a little orange and vanilla, open up the pours, inject the cocoa rouge colour into the rice but you are not playing with the starches of the rice. After 14 minutes the rice should still be firm.

Remove the rice from the pan immediately and spoon it out onto a big plate, or tray or anything you can find to halt the cooking process. Spread it out really thin so it can cool almost instantly. Then remove the orange peel. I refer to the rice as ‘par-boiled’.

Place the paella pan onto the stove and add in the sugar, raisins and the rest of the vanilla extract and the remaining water then bring to the boil, turn down to a medium heat.

Taste it, this is your Caldo – your broth, and this has to be spot on… if you want to add a dash more vanilla, then now’s your chance… Get ready the next stage is full on and you cannot leave the stove!!

Quickly throw in the par-boiled paella rice.

Then give it a good stir through to spread the par cooked rice out evenly. Leave it to gently bubble away for about 4 minutes so the caldo can get to work with the rice, remember this is the first time the rice has had chance to absorb the sugar.

Then drop in the dark chocolate. And give it one more stir, just one swoop through the pan and then that’s it

From now on remember this rule…move the pan, do not stir the paella.

Turn the heat to low, let the rest of the broth be absorbed by the rice, this takes about 1 minute. Once the broth has totally disappeared, check that the rice is al dente – cooked but with a slight bite, then remove from the heat.

Bring the hot pan out of the kitchen and into your serving area, I like to get everyone involved at this point, all those little fingers going to work

As a family you can sprinkle over the white chocolate (you can either use callets as I have, or chips or you can even snap and shave off from a block. Just let it melt on the top.

Then add the hazlenuts and a good grating of orange zest, plus a little squeeze of a wedge or 2 for good measure!

A Rest is so important: about 2 or 3 minutes is my golden rule,

Well if you can stop the kids delving in….
(Recipe courtesy of Antony Bennett – www.latasca.co.uk).

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2. This caramel tea is super delicious. You know me, I love tea so I’m easily pleased! But this truly is so nice as a sweet treat or a posh Easter gift.

caramel tea east india company easter

Caramel Tea for Easter, £10.00
(Available at The East India Company flagship store on Conduit Street, or online at www.eicfinefoods.com)

This smooth blend of pure Ceylon black tea with rich notes of caramel offers a full-bodied decadent cup with a sweet aftertaste. With its distinct aroma of caramel, this tea is the perfect way to awaken the senses on Easter morning.

Brew time : 2g tea in 200ml water for 4 minutes

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3. For low (no) calorie easter treats, I love the range of Lush easter products. Typically I buy Fluffy Egg bath bombs this time of year (as all the easter products are limited edition) and it smells like sweet pink candyfloss and produces many many bubbles!

This year the new products include Golden Egg (I think they may have had this last year too?), Carrot Cone and Funny Bunny Knot Wrap – the latter two being full of lovely little bath and body treats, giving the perfect excuse to have a little pampering over the bank holiday weekend.

Golden Egg bath melt ballistic

A brand new invention… this egg is a bath bomb coated in bath melt mixture. It will unexpectedly sink to the bottom of the bathtub while the outer layer dissolves, popping to the surface as the fizzing centre is revealed.
Ingredients The outer bath melt mix is made using our beautiful fair trade, organic Colombian Peace Village cocoa butter and olive oil from a brand new permaculture project we’re working with in Palestine. Scented with the best selling Honey I Washed the Kids fragrance, it’s coated with PET free golden lustre.
Inspired by chocolate cream eggs, we reverse it and coat the hard bath bomb centre with a creamy bath melt shell. £3.50 each

Carrot!

Inside this carrot-shaped cone you’ll find a rabbit hidden within a slice of Carrot soap; a Bunch of Carrots for the rabbit to enjoy; and a Golden
Egg, a reward for the bunny for eating all of his carrots! You’ll discover the contents as a story, along with a maze game for the lucky recipient to play as they search for the Golden Egg! Vegan 
£16.95.

Funny Bunny

Tied up inside this organic cotton Knot-Wrap is a selection of limited edition Easter treats. The organic cotton Knot-Wrap is from re-wrap, a women’s co-operative in India. By choosing the Lush Knot-Wrap gift options, instead of traditional paper wrap, you are helping us save 11.6 tonnes of waste per year. Especially relevant at times like Easter when excess packaging is so prevalent.
CONTAINS: two Bunny bubble bars; A Bunch of Carrots reusable bubble bars and a Fluffy Egg bath bomb. Vegan
 £19.95.

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4. For a grown up Easter treat try this recipe for Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes by Eric Lanlard. They are a combination of chocolate and spicy ingredients, such as cinnamon and nutmeg. Omit the chilli and cayenne pepper for a result more akin to a chocolate hot cross bun!

eric lanlard mexican cupcakes

Makes: 12 Cupcakes
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients:
175g (6oz) plain flour
225g (7.5 oz)caster sugar
4 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract
1 tsp white wine vinegar
5 tsp sunflower oil
chili pepper cake decorations, to
decorate

For the Frosting:
100g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate, broken into
pieces
150g (5oz) unsalted butter
150g (5oz) icing sugar
¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Line a cupcake tin with paper cases. Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, bicarbonate
of soda, cinnamon and nutmeg into a bowl. In a large bowl, blend together the Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract,
vinegar, oil and 250 ml cold water. Mix the dry ingredients into this mixture until the batter is smooth.

2. Divide the mixture between the paper cases (it will be fairly liquid) and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a
skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

3. To make the frosting: melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of barely simmering water,
making sure the bowl does not touch the surface of the water. When melted leave to cool. Whisk the butter and
icing sugar together until pale and fluffy, then whisk in the cooled melted chocolate and the cayenne pepper. Pipe
the frosting onto the cooled cakes and top with chilli pepper cake decorations to finish.

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5. There’s still time to enter my Easter Fashion Competition which finishes on Easter Sunday! Follow the link and you could win yourself your favourite fashion item for spring summer.

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I hope you all have a lovely Easter weekend and enjoy the bank holiday (fingers crossed for good weather) and don’t eat all your chocolatey treats in one go!

My Make-up Collection and Storage

I love seeing blog posts and youtube videos about people’s make-up storage. And there’s nothing more satisfying than getting organised and having a make-up spring clean. I’ve needed to have a cull for SO long as I forget about products that I do truly love and it’s lovely to rediscover some old favourites. After a bit of searching online I found a storage system that works for me and to make things a little different today I filmed a video to give you a sneak peek into my make-up collection. Enjoy!

*Disclaimer: Yes, I own a lot of make-up. I’m the first to admit it’s a lot of products but to some people it might be loads or hardly anything by way of comparison. I do a lot of work with beauty brands so I get sent a fair few samples. Equally I buy a lot even though I don’t need them, it’s an entirely irrational want for pretty things! Anyhow I’m not trying to ‘show off’ how many products I’ve got or how much I may have spent *hangs head*, I just happen to like make-up products and thought this might be a nice way to show how I like to organise them as inspiration. I hope it is :D

Backstage Make Up Trends With Pat Mcgrath At Dolce&Gabbana: Milan Fashion Week

Take a sneak peek backstage at the Spring/Summer ’14 make up trends with Pat McGrath for DOLCE&GABBANA at Milan Fashion Week

At the Spring/Summer 2014 Ready to Wear show in Milan, Dolce&Gabbana presents a collection evoking traditional decorations and superior handcraftsmanship. Backstage, The Designers’ inspiration of an imaginary journey to rediscover ancient Sicily, where history and myth come together was brought to life by the brand Creative Advisor Pat McGrath using Dolce&Gabbana Make Up.

DGMU MFW SS14 BTS 2

To complement The Designers’ creative vision Pat created a make up look with a combination of warm golden tones alongside rich red accents. To achieve a flawless base Pat applied Perfect Luminous Liquid Foundation using the foundation brush. She started with a small amount of the foundation, applied to the forehead, nose, cheeks and chin and blended it from the central point of the face outward, until the product flowed seamlessly to the hairline and jaw. Perfect Luminous Concealer was then used to add extra coverage and achieve an illuminated look, especially under the eyes. Finally, Pat created a veil of perfection with a dusting of the pressed powder on the nose and chin. To complete the face, Pat blended the blush in Rosebud, Apricot and Peach, adding a light smudge of the eyeshadow duo in Fortune to the cheekbones and temples for a subtly sculpted finish.

dolce&gabbana pat mcgrath spring summer 2014 make up

Turning her attention to the eyes, Pat applied the lighter shades from the eyeshadow quad in Golds and Desert to create a deep, gilded look. Pat then applied the eyeliner in Chocolate and Nude to the upper and lower eye, adding a bronze flecked liquid liner on top of the lash line, for further definition. Finally, layers of Passioneyes Duo Mascara in Terra were applied for volumised and curled lashes, giving models a luxurious yet playful gaze. Pat then applied the brow liner in Soft Brown for a natural, tailored brow.

dolce&gabbana pat mcgrath spring summer 2014 make up

On the lips, Pat used Classic Cream Lipstick in two dynamic new shades, set to arrive at Dolce&Gabbana Make Up counters from Spring 2014. The new colours, Bellissima and Traviata, were mixed to add warm decadence to the look. The color was applied with greater intensity at the cupid’s bow for better definition and striking finish.

To complement the look Pat chose the nail lacquer in Pure Nude for a final touch of luxury.

dolce&gabbana pat mcgrath spring summer 2014 make up

Product list:

FOR THE FACE
the foundation
Perfect Luminous Liquid Foundation

the concealer
Perfect Luminous Concealer

the blush
Luminous Cheek Colour in Rosebud, Apricot and Peach

the powder
Perfection Veil Pressed Powder (available from Spring 2014)

FOR THE EYES
the mascara
Passioneyes Duo Mascara: Curl and Volume in Terra

the eyeshadow
Smooth Eye Colour Duo in Fortune
Smooth Eye Colour Quad in Golds and Desert

the eyeliner
Crayon Intense in Chocolate and Nude

the glam liner
Intense Liquid Eyeliner in Baroque Bronze

the browliner
Shaping Eyebrow Pencil in Soft Brown (available from January 2014)

FOR THE LIPS
the lipstick
Classic Cream Lipstick in Bellissima and Traviata (available from Spring 2014)

FOR THE NAILS
the nail lacquer
Intense Nail Lacquer in Pure Nude

Book Review: The Icing on the Cake by Juliet Stallwood (Decorating Baked Treats)

Book Review: The Icing on the Cake by Juliet Stallwood (Decorating Baked Treats)

Here at Tasty Gorgeous we were sent this fabulous book to review – The Icing on the Cake: Your Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Decorating Baked Treats by Juliet Stallwood. Those familiar with her work will know her as a proclaimed baker and cake decorator. She has a long history of innovative cake design and her own bakery business located in the village of Semley in Dorset. She makes and sells her products to a devoted following including Marco Pierre White and Atul Kochhar. She was also recently featured in Country Living Magazine and also runs classes teaching people how to decorate cakes and baked goods. She has now published ‘The Icing on the Cake: Your Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Decorating Baked Treats’ for home bakers also.

the icing on the cake juliet stallwood book review baking decorating

This as her first book, is a wonderful look into decorating many tempting treats such as cakes, cookies, meringues, whoopie pies, chocolates and brownies. Plus it has useful hints and tips for bakers no matter their level of expertise.

The book is divided into five sections, not alphabetised or by type of baked good as you might expect but describing situations when you might want to bake, for example the book begins with the chapter entitled ‘Decorate to Indulge’ is followed by both ‘Decorate to Love’ and ‘Decorate to Celebrate’ and ends with the more decadent chapter ‘Decorate to Impress’. The final chapter sees Stallwood describe her ‘Best-Kept Secrets’ including details of equipment, handling and covering cakes and a number of guides and templates to recreate her recipes with ease.

Many of the recipes and techniques given could be sourced elsewhere and don’t seem particularly distinct however both the language used is likeable and easy to understand and the designs shown throughout the book have been displayed in a fresh and unique style.

sugared rose petal cake juliet stallwood the icing on the cake recipe book review

Decorate to Indulge includes some wonderfully simple but effective ways to decorate a multitude of baked goodies with beautiful full colour page photographs, guides and illustrative drawings. Techniques covered include creating sugared rose petals, chocolate work and piping skills whereas recipes of whoopie pies, macaroons and biscuits are also presented.

Decorate to Love shows off Stallwoods signature style with some stunning corset biscuits, decorated and piped to perfection. This chapter also includes some useful recipe charts for chocolate and sponge cakes of different sizes which makes a great reference guide. She also tackles some more difficult techniques including stencilling and using royal icing efficiently.

corset biscuits juliet stallwood the icing on the cake recipe book review

The next chapter is Decorate to Celebrate which covers as you might expect cakes and baking ideas including occasions such as christenings, birthdays, christmas and weddings. This chapter concentrates mostly on using sugarpaste decorations and modelling featuring a fancy gingerbread house and a helpful fruit cake recipe chart. For those who enjoy figure modelling you’re sure to love the cute party penguins and adorable baby shower cupcakes.

Decorate to Impress is full of ideas that look visually stunning and although appear to be more difficult, the step by step guides are easy to follow. The recipes in this section are a little more challenging and include how to create a tiered wedding cake and make realistic looking sugar flowers.

chocolate mini cakes juliet stallwood the icing on the cake recipe book review

The Best-Kept Secrets chapter is a wonderful reference for new and experienced bakers alike including everything from an ideal list of baking equipment to lining a cake tin to covering, icing and stacking cakes. A limited suppliers list is also included.

In conclusion The Icing on the Cake: Your Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Decorating Baked Treats is an engaging book that covers a multitude of invaluable techniques and includes over 50 achievable recipes. Although it is more suited to a beginner or novice baker it is equally good for those with more experience as a reference guide, to refresh the mind on techniques or to read for a little inspiration.

The Icing on the Cake: Your Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Decorating Baked Treats by Juliet Stallwood is currently available, rrp £16.99.

Exploring my Tea Collection

Like most Brits I love tea but it wasn’t until recently that I discovered just how many types of tea I currently own. I like trying new flavours – anything from black tea to white tea, green tea, fruit tea, decaf, infusions and herbal blends.

tea collection

my enormous tea collection!

 

I enjoy making tea with real tea leaves and regularly take my time having a tea break (and quite often cake too!) and love the custom of it all but I equally love having a quick brew first thing in the morning to start my day. I’ll quickly mention here that I do also drink coffee (my tassimo machine is a firm friend!) but tea is my go-to beverage on most occasions so that’s why I’m sharing some of my favourites with you.

At the moment I have around 30 different kinds of tea. This may seem extreme but I love to have a choice and often when friends and family go abroad they bring me some tea back to try as they know I love it so much! I have mostly a collection of teabag teas widely available in the UK including some instant tea from Whittards and also several loose leaf teas from Hong Kong.

Twinings, Whittards, Clipper and Bellevue

Twinings, Whittards, Clipper and Bellevue to name a few

 

My favourite flavour of tea is green tea with lemon – I know some find it an acquired taste but I think it’s so delicious! I also love a good Earl Grey but I have to be in the right mood to drink one. The best Earl Grey tea I’ve tried so far is from Bellevue and has a really strong bergamot aroma and deep flavour.

a few teapigs teas

a few teapigs teas

 

I’ve tried some more unique tea flavours recently – namely from Teapigs – as they have different ranges or types of teas recommended for different moods. Some I’ve tried and liked include Chocolate Tea (best of both worlds there!), Tung Ting Oolong (not pictured but described as being somewhere between black and green tea which I think is amazing if like me you love green teas but crave the traditional black tea flavour), Rooibos Crème Caramel – which is delicious if you have a sweet tooth and Yerba Mate which is super similar to Whittards Gunpowder Tea – both smoky and full of antioxidants to give you a boost of energy.

whittard tea selection

whittard tea selection

 

The flavours I’ve hated from Teapigs are popcorn which I just found a bit weird and liquorice and mint tea which I found sickly sweet and not nice in the slightest. You might like it if you’ve got a very sweet tooth perhaps.

I also have this selection box of teas from Whittards and I think it’s such a great way to try new teas so you don’t need to buy a whole box of tea and then if you don’t like it, it goes to waste. My favourite flavour from this selection is actually the gunpowder tea which I drink without milk and which has a sweet and smoky flavour.

Let me know if there are any particular teas you would like reviewing in depth. Do you have a favourite flavour of tea? Perhaps you don’t drink it at all?

May Favourites 2013 And Beauty Giveaway!

It’s June again – it means it’s half way through the year, the summer is almost here and it’s my birthday month so there’s lots to be happy about :)

Throughout May I have been using a lot of new beauty products as the weather is crazy weird – one minute scorching hot meaning my make-up has been sliding off my face and the next minute so cloudy, cold and wintry I’ve been back wearing fluffy jumpers and curled up with a blanket and a hot cup of tea. I mention the weather as it seems to really affect my skin, let alone my mood, so on warm summery days I’ve been playing with more colourful eyeshadows and make-up items and on cooler days really making an effort with skincare and haircare instead.

This month I’ve been loving:
Michael van clarke 3 more inches pre-wash treatment
Michael Van Clarke 3 More Inches Pre-Wash Treatment

This has been a fabulous treatment to use when I’ve been out in the sun and has left my hair feeling much more manageable and in better condition after only a few uses. I can’t comment on whether I think it’s making my hair grow faster (which it claims to do) as I haven’t been using it long enough yet. I’m not keen on the fact it doesn’t really have a scent but my hair was left much smoother and softer after use.

carmex
Carmex Lip Balm

I’m normally a big advocate of vaseline but find my lips still dry out as I use it frequently and think my lips are used to the formulation so this little tube of mentholated balm is a treat. It’s very moisturising and I can feel it actually working (maybe that’s just me but I swear I can as it’s sinking in!) and it’s good for dry parched lips in the winter and dry, sun exposed lips in the summer.

IMG_2705
mac face and body foundation
I’m absolutely loving this at the moment as this gives a light creamy coverage and isn’t too heavy so when the weather is warmer it doesn’t slide or melt off too much! It’s buildable if you have any areas that need more coverage but I’m finding this to be just perfect for my skin at the moment and it gives me a really healthy natural complexion.

H and M Lipstick Dare to Bare
h&m lipstick
I’d love to hear if you’ve tried any H&M make-up, particularly the lipsticks. Dare to Bare is a neutral nude colour with a hint of golden shimmer. It’s a light, creamy formulation and swatches completely differently from the colour in the stick! It’s a really pretty colour and I think it’s such a good colour to wear in the summer. If you like the look of this lippy scroll down to see how you can win one of your own :)

It swatches like this:
H and M Dare to Bare Swatchhm lip swatch dare to bare

 

Re-Gen Cream
Re-Gen Cream

I have started using re-gen cream as I’d heard it is good for reducing scarring and for brightening the skin. I’ve been using this in conjunction with Alpha-H Liquid Gold and it has made a big difference to the look of my skin and I really notice a difference in the morning if I’ve applied this before bed. It’s quite a cheap product too so a good complexion booster for sallow or dull skin.

Tangle Teezer Pink
Tangle Teezer

Now I’ve got a tangle teezer I’ll never go back to brushing my hair with a regular hairbrush! It’s really gentle on my hair and I also use it on wet hair and it’s completely pain free to use. I have been using a lot of new and nourishing haircare products recently but I feel using this has really helped improve the texture and condition of my hair for the better.

I’ve also been loving this month –
Music: Flaws by Bastille, Liquid Lunch by Caro Emerald, La La La by Naughty Boy
TV and Film: The Aviator, Fresh Meat, Waking the Dead
Food and Drink: Rocky road, Cocoa Orange Nak’d Bars, Bellevue Teas

h&m lipstick comptition

How to win a lipstick!
If you fancy getting your hands on the gorgeous Dare to Bare lipstick send an email to
e.randell@gmail.com with the SubjectDare to Bare” along with your name, address and email address which we will use to notify you if you win.

Competition is open to UK residents only.
Competition closes on Sunday 23rd June at 10pm (my birthday!!!).
One entry per household only.

The Body Reset Diet – Phase I: Review And Results

If you know me, you’ll know I like ‘reviewing’ diets. Mostly because of my endless struggle with those few last pounds but also for my genuine interest in nutrition and how the food we take in affects our everyday lives – often more than we know. Recently I have been keeping up with the Kardashians or one Kardashian in particular – Kim. And no I’m not here to condone her *reasons* for being, ahem, “famous” or to discuss her recent pregnancy fashion faux pas (although seriously – what was she thinking with that highwaisted peplum skinnies and poloneck combo?!!) BUT oddly I feel I have more in common with Kim K than most other celebs as we share the same body type – curvy to the point if you put on so much as 3lbs you start to look chunky. So I started to keep tabs on her exercise habits and turn a new leaf by getting a bit more active.

Simultaneously I was looking for a new way to kickstart a bit of weightloss. Exercising was all well and good but I wasn’t even shifting a pound and was sticking 100% to a well known slimming group program. It was disheartening and I wasn’t seeing any difference no matter what I did. Then I got a lovely email asking if I’d heard of The Body Reset Diet by Harley Pasternak
(I hadn’t) and if I’d like to give it a try (why not!). So I got my hands on the book and then discovered Kim K follows this diet along with other celebs like Megan Fox and Hilary Duff. Not another Hollywood diet I thought and my heart sank. But as I read the book I realised it’s not just another ‘diet’ – it’s actually good sound nutritional advice and it promised the things I was looking for – weightloss that shows, weightloss that won’t leave you feeling hungry and that you’re going without plus a minimal exercise program.

IMG_2556Berrypina colada
smoothies l-r: cucumber lime, berry, pina colada

The diet is divided into three phases and in phase one you have three smoothies a day and two snacks plus it’s recommended you walk 10,000 steps a day. Each smoothie (recipes given in the book) is made up of all the nutritional requirements your body needs like fresh fruit, milk and salad greens. The emphasis of phase one is on speed (each smoothie or snack takes less than 5 minutes to prepare), nutrition (fresh or frozen ingredients are pulped to allow for easy digestion of vital nutrients) and cost (easy to find ingredients are included in all recipes and costs significantly less than meal replacement products and no more expensive than everyday meals).

chocolateIMG_2545pbj
smoothies l-r: chocolate, sweet spinach, pb&j

If you don’t like smoothies then this diet is not for you – as with any diet or eating plan there are pros and cons but this is a pretty big necessity if you intend on following the plan! I anjoy smoothies, I tend to have them fairly regularly anyway so this wasn’t such a huge leap for me. Harley promises you won’t feel hungry on the diet because there is protein to keep you feeling fuller for longer in every one of your 5 ‘meals’. I was hungry on days two and three late in the evenings but after that my hunger subsided and I got used to having less but I didn’t feel like I was going without. And I liked the smoothies – as you can see here they all look vibrant and appetising – and they all tasted very nice. Each day in phase one was one white, one red and one green smoothie to make sure you get all your nutritional needs and I found them quick and easy to prepare plus I found them appealing and wantedto drink them.

raspberry lemon dropmaxwell mochaapple pie
smoothies l-r: raspberry lemon drop, maxwell mocha, apple pie

Pros:
Nice tasting smoothies
Easy to find ingredients
Quick and convenient (you can make smoothies before work or going out and keep in a flask)
Suitable for people who are new to exercise or those who haven’t exercised in some time
Improved skin complexion and brighter eyes
More even energy levels
Walking is easy
Support is given for both diet and exercising effectively
I lost weight!

Cons:
Not suitable if you’re a fussy eater
Preferably you need a blender so an extra cost (I already had one so didn’t make any difference to me)
You still need willpower and motivation – it wasn’t easy making dinner for everyone else and having something different from them each evening

During the first phase (5 days) I stuck to the plan 100% and found it easy to stay motivated and not be tempted by foods not incorporated in the plan. During this time I lost 7lbs which is a fabulous start to the diet and exactly the motivation I needed to keep up with the rest of the plan. Reviews and results for phases 2 and 3 of The Body Reset Diet will be up soon!

The Body Reset Diet is available now and is published by Simon & Schuster UK, priced £12.99.

Current Beauty Favourites

In 2012 I had a spending ban on all beauty products and to instead use up my huge stash of make-up and skincare items and I did really well – I only bought things like deodorant and cotton buds etc that I needed but no new products (apart from 3 items from Rodial back in the sales – it had to be done) were bought! This year is a little different and I am buying a few new products each season but I’m not going overboard on new purchases like I used to. Progress has been made!

Obviously I am still using up my beauty products and now I have a few new items that I love too so here are a few beauty products that I am currently loving.

garnier bb cream

If you don’t know what a BB Cream is – it’s an all in one moisturiser with added vitamins and minerals, an spf, a hint of colour (somewhere between a tinted moisturiser and a foundation) and generally they smooth out and ‘blur’ skin imperfections. Garnier BB Cream is my life saver! I had tried a few BB cream samples and wasn’t too impressed – they made my skin patchy and really shiny but I went online and ordered the free samples from the garnier website and the first time I used it I was gutted I hadn’t found this product before! It is the perfect colour for me and smooths into my skin nicely, giving a light coverage. It gives a sheer and subtly glowing effect (not hideously sweaty looking!) and I love it for days when I want lighter coverage and weekends. I have had compliments on my skin EVERY time I’ve worn this so far and it smells really nice to boot. Needless to say when the sample ran out I bought the full size version. I have a guilty feeling for not using more Garnier products as a result.

boots extracts mango sugar scrub

This sugar scrub was part of a Christmas present and when I saw it was a set of mango products I was apprehensive of using them as I don’t like fake fruit smells in bath and body products but I was so surprised when I used this scrub – it smells sweet and sugary and naturally fruity plus it leaves my skin feeling very soft and moisturised from the ingredients of shea butter and mango. As it’s a sugar scrub the grains are fine and it really feels like my skins being scrubbed clean without any harsh abrasiveness. Big thumbs up for this scrub. I want to eat it. But I won’t.

alpha h liquid gold

This little beauty is Alpha-H Liquid Gold with Glycolic Acid and is for ageing or older skins but there is a huge group of younger women using this after discovering the wonderful effects it has on brightening dull or tired looking skin (which can happen to all skin types at any time of life) and reducing scarring – which was my predominant use for it to begin. My skin isn’t too bad but we all have problem areas and I wanted a product containing glycolic acid as I knew this was the best way to refresh and renew skin cells and reduce scarring and blemishes. But using this has done more than that for me – each time I use this on a night time, I wake up the next morning with glowing skin and I really notice the difference on days when I use this.

moroccan argan oil

Super amazing things happen when I use this Organix renewing moroccan argan oil intense moisturizing treatment hair mask. My hair gets all soft, sleek and shiny, it looks healthy and it smells incredible. I have been using this Organix product around twice a week and I see a huge difference in the condition of my hair every time I use it and it makes it much easier to style and manage. Everyone raves about argan oil as it has nourishing properties to restore and moisturise your hair so I think this is a pretty good inexpensive way to treat your hair on a budget.

Neutrogena makeup remover cleansing towelettes in night calming

Another product which makes my beauty regime a little bit easier are these Neutrogena makeup remover cleansing towelettes in night calming. They are super quick and easy to use after a long day if I don’t have the energy to do a full cleanse and polish ;) I tend to use two wipes which sufficiently cleans my skin of all make-up and they have a lovely relaxing scent which is nice before bedtime.

Soap & Glory's Hand Food

Another little favourite of mine is the 50ml version of Soap & Glory’s Hand Food which is perfect for chucking in your handbag and I use mine when out and about and then last thing at night. I love the fragrance and as with most soap and glory products it smells amazing, somewhere between floral and fruity, plus it’s thoroughly moisturising without being greasy.

samy fat hair thickening spray

I’ve been using this Samy Fat Hair 0 Calories Thickening Spray for some time on damp hair before blow drying to give some lift at the roots. But I hadn’t used it on dry hair until a couple of weeks ago when I discovered just how volumising it can be. (It does state on the bottle you can use it on dry hair – I was just in a routine of using it only on damp hair). Spraying it into the hair before and after drying is fantastic and I found using it even on dry hair alone was much more effective than just on damp hair. This has a yummy apple scent and is easy to apply in a spritz bottle.

So that’s the run-down on my most recent beauty product favourites – have you tried any of them and what are your thoughts? Share your current beauty favourites in the comments below – I’d love to see your recommendations!

Skincare Interview with Annet King – Director of Global Education for Dermalogica

On Monday I took part in an online interview with UK born Annet King from skincare brand Dermalogica. I was really looking forward to this as she is a massive skincare guru who has been with with brand for 15 years (and is now living in LA) so I was hoping for some good skincare tips and the interview did not disappoint!

About Dermalogica:

Dermalogica is currently available in 83 different countries, is 27 years old and owned by a husband and wife team, unlike many other beauty brands which are owned by conglomerates e.g. Procter & Gamble.

Dermalogica products promote the optimal health of the skin and combine science and nature within their ingredients and manufacturing.

Q & A to Annet King:

What are your must have products?

(for a lady in her 40‘s) The AGE smart line for treating ageing skin and skin resurfacing cleanser to use every other day.

Also c-12 concentrate – a serum to put under your moisturiser to reduce hyperpigmentation, pure light moisturiser with spf, pure night and the ChromaWhite TRx system.

Annet also recommends using an spf 30 and up (for all skin types)…and remember to reapply throughout the day!

What age should I start thinking about using skincare products?

You should start a skincare regimen as soon as you start wearing make-up, even if it’s just a gloss or mascara, you should learn how to take it off so anytime in your teens and tweens.

What products do you recommend for eczema?

A few are UltraCalming complex to calm and soothe and calming mist, which is also good for rosacea.

What mistakes do women make in their skincare routines?

Undercleansing and over moisturising! Double cleanse using a dual face cleanser or a light creamy gel for sensitive skin (twice a day so thats four cleanses a day!) Don’t use alcohol based toners after cleansing, they can lead to congestion in the skin and stripping the skin.

Using too much product – you need only a pea sized amount of foaming cleanser, a quarter size (the size of a 2p coin) for moisturiser, spritz toner of 3 spritzes and more sunscreen! Use a teaspoon for the face and shotglass for the body.

Good things about toners

– if you apply a toner before moisturising you use around 40% less moisturiser so you can save money. It is also the first layer of hydration – skincare is about layer moisturiser to seal it in. Toner is also good for moisturising your legs, the ends of the hair, used over your make-up and use on flights to stay hydrated on a plane.

Does Dermalogica have any cleansing wipes or intend to bring them out?

The cost price of cleansing wipes would be too expensive for the market but we have skin purifying wipes that help to control oil during the day that contains calming and soothing ingredients and that are anti bacterial.

What is the newest upcoming ingredient for anti-ageing?

Peptides which create chains of amino acids. They do have the ability to change the structure of the skin, increase collagen and elastin. And retinol which stimulates collagen and hyaluronic acid which helps to lighten pigmentation. And vitamin c, it helps pigmentation and stimulate collagen.

What do you recommend for a woman in her 20’s with combination skin who wants to get rid of spots and who is also concerned with anti-ageing?

Use a foaming cleanser, a toner, a treatment for spots and divide your face up into zones. Treat different areas differently – anti ageing eye cream, spot treatment, moisturiser and serum.

Annet is also supporting the campaign www.joinfite.org – putting 25,000 women into business around the world through opening or growing their own businesses.

You can follow both @AnnetKing and @Dermalogica on twitter.

*This interview is taken from a transcript from an online interview and therefore does not contain direct quotes*