My favourite shop, aside from one containing food, is one containing stunning interiors, soft furnishings and luxury bathing products. Imagine my excitement when I found Triangle which happily has them all in bucket loads.

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My Evening Beauty Routine

I know 99.9% of this blog is about food, but I thought it’d be fun to drop in a little curve ball in the form of a beauty post.

Now when I say routine, I may be exaggerating a little. It would admittedly be more accurate to describe it as an evening 5 minutes. I’m extremely impatient and lazy when it comes to beauty, so products need to be easy to use, not too numerous and hopefully kind to my purse.

As with my most girls, I get readily swayed by pretty packaging, but as we all know packaging in not always a fair reflection of what’s inside.

Case in point – Witch Hazel.

Every day I take my make up off with baby wipes. I can hear your gasps of horror, but I’m sticking with them. They’re cheap as chips and I never break out from using them; presumably this means that my skin is as tough as old boots. I should also add that baby wipes are one of my top 5 products of all time in the whole world, ever (This is mainly because I have a pathological fear of stickiness and a quick use of a baby wipe soon remedies this!) They’re also infinitely cheaper than the too small to be of any use, Wet Ones.

(Helpful tip – don’t use baby wipes as a specs cleaner, I managed to destroy a Prada pair of specs using them – it took the glaze right off.)

Anyhow, I digress. After a quick make up removal with my baby wipe (Huggies is my favourite, in case you were wondering), it’s onto the Witch Hazel. Witch Hazel is a natural astringent, meaning that you can physically feel it pulling your skin tighter. Applied with cotton wool pads, it also tones, cleanses and removes any stubborn make up that has been left behind. It really is a miracle worker and costs just £2 a bottle. It’s also available at any supermarket or drugs store. A small footnote – Witch Hazel has a pretty strange smell, but this disappears within a few seconds.

Step three is my face wash, which has to be Clearasil’s Daily Clear Vitamins & Extracts Wash and Mask. It retails for around £5, and is the best face wash I’ve ever used and the only one I’ve stuck with for more than 5 washes. If I’m feeling extravagant I’ll keep it on for a couple of minutes and use it as a face mask. Once I’ve rubbed it off using a clean flannel, it feels like my skin has been resurfaced – the smoothness of my cheeks is unreal.

The next step is when I get a little frivolous. I use the Body Shop’s Nutriganics Drops of Youth to almost seal in the tightness that the previous products have brought to my face. I know that sounds ridiculous, but honestly, I love this product. At £22 it’s a little bit on the expensive side of things, but you only need to apply a couple of drops each night. After just a few days your skin really does start to radiate and glow.

My second expensive purchase is also from the Body Shop and it’s part of the same Nutriganics range. This time the Eye Creampriced at £14. Now I’m in my twenties I’m conscious of the first signs of ageing, specifically fine lines around my eyes. I’m pretty convinced that this stuff works and even if it’s just a placebo effect, I’m sticking with it for the time being. It’s worth noting that the two Body Shop products may be bought far more cheaply if you sign up to their mailing list. They’ll regularly send you offers such as 50% off which makes both products far more affordable.

So that’s it – my evening routine, done and dusted. There’s only one more thing I want to add, and that’s a note on SPF. I wear SPF every single day, without fail. Nothing ages you more than the UVA and UVB rays on even the most cloudy of days. To combat this, I avoid facial sun cream and simply use a foundation that has it already included – therefore saving me even more time in the morning. For me, it has to be Benefit’s Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow, pricy at £26.50. With no horrible stickiness or residue, this foundation is extraordinarily light, covers all flaws and most importantly whacks a serious SPF 25 punch. Don’t bother with using products containing SPF less than 15 – they’re pretty pointless.

What are your favourite beauty products? 


Specs Saving with Bailey Nelson

Buying new glasses has always been a bit of an ordeal.

My eye sight is appalling. I’m extremely shortsighted and even have difficulty locating my glasses on the bed side table. It’s definitely more of a fumble hoping that I’ll bump into them. My glasses are the very first things I put on in the mornings and the last things I take off at night.

I’ve forayed into contact lenses but I really don’t like wearing them. I’ve tried lots of different types and am yet to find ones which I can’t feel in my eyes. I like wearing glasses and I think they suit my face so they’re definitely non negotiable.

The only real problem with having appalling eyesight is on the beach. Many a time on the Polzeath beach I have gone body boarding in the sea and then wandered back trying to locate my towel. No mean feat when you can’t see a foot in front of you. I’m sure I’ve got many strange looks peering at everyone lying on the towels, hoping to spot my own, but luckily I can’t see them well enough to notice!

Anyhow I digress… My glasses are such a large part of me that I when I need to buy a new pair – approximately every 2 years because I wear them to death – my heart sinks.

Firstly, because I have to go through the faff of wearing contact lenses so that when I try on new frames I can actually see what I look like in them. I once bought sunglasses without wearing contact lenses, based on M’s recommendation. Needless to say I haven’t worn them since.

Secondly, I find it’s practically impossible to find frames that suit me.

And finally, and most importantly, why are glasses so frickin’ expensive? By the time I’ve bought  a half reasonable pair of frames (I want them to look decent, after all they are a huge part of my overall look), paid for glazing, scratch resistance and bought the ultra ultra thin lenses (necessary to avoid glasses which look like milk bottle bottoms), I’m looking at over £500.

I’ve toyed with the idea of laser eye surgery, but I’m not really in the position to fork out £2000, and as I said before, I do really like glasses.

However, all this glasses related stress changed when I walked into Bailey Nelson a couple of weeks ago.

As far as I’m concerned Bailey Nelson have revolutionised glasses buying. Their shops are simply laid out, and contain only what I would call ‘fashionable’ frames, so no need to sort through all the horrendous ones. I hate feeling overwhelmed by too much choice.

Best of all every single frame is £98 inclusive of scratching resistance lenses. No extortionate price tag for buying Chanel or Prada. There are no frills or stupid packages like a free second pair (why would I want a second crap pair, just because they’re free, when will I ever wear them?). What you see really is what you get.

I should add that for people with over -4, they recommend you buy ultra thinned lenses at an extra £50. But even I can’t complain over that.

All you have to do is email across a photo of your current prescription and within 5 working days they’ll send you an email saying that your glasses are ready for collection.

I literally couldn’t believe it. The complete cost for my new pair of specs was £148. Sorry Vision Express, I know I’ve been a loyal customer for years, but times have changed and I won’t ever be spending £500 on a pair of glasses again.

M was so impressed that he splashed out on pair of prescription sunglasses for me for my birthday. I literally couldn’t be more thrilled. Yes, I can finally see in the sun!

The new glasses, what do you think??

PS This is not a sponsored post. I paid every last penny for my glasses; the enthusiasm is all mine. 

Beauty: free hair cuts

I love a good deal.

I am so not fussed about my hair. I have incredibly thick hair which, once cut, no one ever seems to notice, even if four inches have been cut off. This means that I don’t spend very much on my hair cuts, nor do I get it cut very frequently. Sometimes, it’s just a biannual occurrence. I’m also not fussed about always having the same hairdresser – I’ll happily go to anyone! I always figure that even if I get a bad cut, my ‘Harry Potter’ hair will return to normal in no time.

The only hair disaster I can remember was last year before I attended a wedding. I asked for a fringe trim. They a) cut it straight (I have a side fringe) and b) cut 2 inches from the length. It’s the only thing that can properly upset me re my hair!

awful fringe – far too short!
Anyhow, fringes aside, I was more than happy to go to Hob salon and get my hair cut for free in their training academy. There really aren’t any catches: the lady who cut my hair was fully qualified (she was doing a last couple of practise cuts before she was let loose in the salon.) Also, the hairdressers are fully supervised by expert teachers who don’t let them make a single snip until they’ve confirmed what they’re planning to do every step of the way. The only ‘catch’ is that don’t expect to be in and out within an hour – my cut took 3 hours. They also do colour for £15. Vidal Sassoon’s training academy runs a similar scheme, but they charge £12 for a cut. I had my hair cut here a few months ago and was very pleased with the cut too. Although, to be honest I preferred Hob as they really gave me a personal experience.
hair – before

I was so pleased with my cut – it’s the best cut I’ve ever had. My consultation was amazing. They spent at least 10 minutes examining every last bit of my hair to ensure that I got the best cut. Their discoveries/recommendations were:

a) I have a tricky, flat crown. This means that if I’m not careful – I get a ‘bald’ patch when I tie my hair up – something which I am acutely aware of. They combatted this by shifting my parting so it started off as a side parting and then tapered to the middle of the back of my head.
b) My hair is very thick – they decided to keep it long and narrow to stop it looking too heavy
c) I have a high hair line – a fringe is therefore essential
d) I have high cheek bones – framing around this part of my face is therefore important to show them off.
e) My hair is very low maintenance – I don’t brush or blow dry it.

hair – after

They really got to grips with my hair and it certainly wasn’t just another cut. They tried pinning my hair at different lengths to make sure that the long length I currently had was the best option.

After my hair wash, the cut began. The expert teacher would pop over every 10 minutes or so to make sure the cut was going according to plan. This also dispelled any nerves I might have had.

In terms of a blow dry, I was asked what I’d like by the hairdresser. The teacher then came over and said ‘hold on, how do you know she even wants one?’. He said ‘I look at what she’s wearing(!), and what she’s told me about her hair care previously, and I don’t think it’s really her thing.’ I then admitted that I usually wash my hair as soon as I get home because I hate how heavy it feels with all the hair products and I’m also keen to see what it will look like in my every day life. He laughed and said ‘Right, let’s just diffuse it dry and leave it to settle naturally.’

In the end, I received a hair cut that was totally ‘me’. I was so pleased.

back of hair – after

Since I was in Camden, Martin met me there after work and we popped to Chin Chin Labs. Chin Chin Labs possibly serves the best ice cream in London.

They use liquid nitrogen to make the ice cream from scratch and it serves to freeze the ice cream instantaneously resulting in the smoothest possible ice cream. The science behind it, is that the shorter the time the ice cream takes to freeze, the smaller the ice crystals and the smoother the end ice cream will be.

For £3.95 you get your chosen flavour with one topping/sauce.

I chose peanut butter popcorn flavoured ice cream topped with fresh raspberry coulis.

Martin chose valrhona chocolate ice cream with raspberry coulis also.

On the way back to the tube, we popped into Holland Barratt and bought some nut butters:

Where do you get your hair cut? Are you particular about using the same hair dressers again and again? What’s your favourite flavour of ice cream?

PS I needed an eye test which I didn’t want to pay for! So I used this voucher at Optical Express (valid until June 30th). Apparently my astigmatism is worse but my eye sight is slightly better -5.50 (I’m still practically blind!)

Beauty: L’Occitane Evening

L’Occitane Putney

My friend Julia has just finished her medicine degree. She found out she passed yesterday and is now a fully qualified doctor – congratulations Dr Hine! We thought it would be fun to go and celebrate by going along to a L’Occitane evening at her local store in Putney. It was advertised in the Stylist magazine which can be found free on the tube every Wednesday. Tickets were £10 but this included a goody bag worth £50.

The evening itself was great. It was two hours long and included unlimited prosecco and chocolates as well as demonstrations from the friendly L’Occitane staff. We had a hand scrub followed by a cuticle and nail treatment. The sugar hand scrub was especially brilliant and left my hands feeling super soft and supple. We then got shown a mini facial – complete with cleanser, toner and moisturiser.

Julia enjoying the unlimited prosecco

All in all, it was a fabulous evening  I would highly recommend any similar events you see advertised. The L’Occitane lady said that the often hold ladies’ evenings – I think it would make a great hen party. My favourite part was receiving my goody bag at the end of the evening – it was just like being a kid again with the best ever party bag! Check out its contents below. I was so pleased with it that I didn’t buy any other products which was definitely a bonus for my bank account.

Hmm – how do I rotate this??

Have you had any pampering lately? What’s your favourite skincare range?

Beauty: Coconut Oil

As part of my healthy eating plan, I decided to buy a bottle of coconut oil. To be honest, before I read about it on the keepinghealthygettingstylish blog, I didn’t even know that this product existed. Having looked in the oil section of the supermarket, I couldn’t spot coconut oil anywhere. Instead, I spotted a bottle in the cosmetics aisle. I was a little dubious about eating it because of its location. But having researched it fully online, I see that it is perfectly safe to consume. However, the first problem I am faced with is how on earth I get it out of its bottle?! Coconut oil is solid at room temperature. I’ve only managed to get it out of the neck of the bottle by using the end of a spoon. What will I do when I reach the end of the bottle? Am I going to have to soak the bottle in hot water every time I want to use it?

After all the faff with accessing the stuff, I want to know what all the fuss is about. The Internet is full of hugely detailed scientific explantations, but I’m going to list the uses which actually mean something to me.

– high smoke point – it is essential that you use an oil with a high smoke point for frying otherwise your pan with emit horrible smoky fumes. Coconut oil is perfect for stir fries and makes a much healthier, dairy free alternative to butter.

– helps lower levels of ‘bad cholesterol’. There are two types of cholesterol: High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) which is ‘good’ and Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) which is ‘bad’. High levels of LDL cause a narrowing of arteries and therefore contribute to strokes and heart disease. Coconut oil contains high levels of HDLs which act to decrease the amount of LDL in the body by transporting it to the liver where it can be removed.

– aids digestion by helping to prevent constipation

I’ve only used coconut oil to fry with so far, but I’m hoping to use it as a replacement in recipes which require generic vegetable oil such as in muffins. Coconut oil is completely odourless and tasteless so it shouldn’t alter the flavour of my favourite recipes too much.

To be honest with you, I’ve been using coconut oil far more for its cosmetic properties. It can be used as a non-scented facial oil (my skin is so soft and non-greasy after it’s applied), and it also makes a fantastic eye make up remover. Simply apply a dab to a cotton wool pad and rub the makeup gently away. There really isn’t anything that coconut oil can’t do; apparently it’s also great after sun (which I will more than likely need next week in Egypt!). One property I’m particularly interested in is its supposed ability to diminish scars. I had my appendix out 7 years ago, and I’m going to rub coconut oil on the scar. I know it’s hugely unlikely to do anything to such an old scar, but it can’t do any harm! In fact, my obsession with coconut oil is so ridiculous that Martin is getting hugely fed up of me pointing out blemishes and offering to put coconut oil on them as I’m convinced it will help!

Here are just a few other uses:

– mixed with sugar – a fantastic body scrub
– massage oil
– lip balm
– nappy cream
– low factor sun screen (SPF 4)
– hair conditioner

To be honest, I really need to put more effort into exploring coconut oil’s culinary uses rather than its skin benefits. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Finally, coconut oil is cheap. I got a bottle for just £1.30 at ASDA (link)

What do you use coconut oil for? Do you have any favourite recipes you like to use it in?

coconut oil

PS Since I wrote this post, I’ve melted down by coconut oil and transfered it to an empty cream pot. It’s much easier to use now!