Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Two month trial | La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo

Recently I've been getting more and more into skincare. During November and into December my face HATED me. It was red, angry and nothing I was doing was helping, so I thought it was time to bring in the reinforcements. Enter La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo. I'd heard of this before, a few friends had used it in the past, but I didn't know exactly what it was what it was meant to do. I've trialled it for two months (and finished my first tube) and here's how I got on with it.

When I started to use it, I applied it after my eye cream and before my moisturiser day and night, like a serum. At first I think I applied way too much, to the point where I was making my skin really oily and worse than before. But over time I worked out how much to use for a thin layer to keep the oil at bay but not starve my skin of moisture. To be honest, during the first month I wasn't convinced this product was for me. My skin wasn't improving at all and I thought it may be making it a bit worse. So instead of using it twice a day I dropped it down to once in the morning, mixed with my Dr Botanicals serum in the evening. This was a game changer.

I'm not saying it worked some kind of miracle and overnight my skin was suddenly clear but over time I have seen improvement in the amount of breakouts I've had and the level of redness on my face.

Would I recommend this product? I seriously would but I'd also say patience is key. on the box it says you'll start to notice some results but I'd say if your anything like me it'll be a month before there's any difference to your skin. Not a bad price at £12 a tube and although I used up this first one in two months, cutting back to only using it once a day my next one will last me four. I've already repurchased this along with a tinted version in the hope I can use it day to day instead of foundation- I'll let you know how it goes.

What are your skincare saviours?

Friday, 19 January 2018

Top five picks from Look Fantastic advent calendar

Last year I thought I'd treat myself to another beauty advert calendar. With my Body Shop calendar impressing me back in 2016 I wanted to take it to another level. After lots of research (without spoilers) I went for the Look Fantastic calendar - a steal at £67 (thank you Black Friday) and products inside adding up to £300, this definitely didn't disappoint. Every day was a new exciting product to try with a great mix of makeup and skincare and because I loved the products so much I thought I would pick my favourites from the 25 days.

I'll start with the only makeup product in my top picks, the HD Eyeshadow Palette in Foxy. I was so surprised to see a palette in this calendar (I mean seriously - the biggest bargain) and it's such a good one for everyday. What I like about this palette is that I could take it on a weekend away and make it work for day and night. The shadows aren't the most pigmented in the world but with a bit of work you can build them up. The shimmers work well and with just five shades there pretty much all you could need - except maybe a black but the darkest shade does the job at a bit of lashline smudge anyway. The centre matte brown is also great on my eyebrows. I've tried it with the small angled brush that comes in the palette (side note: great angled brush) and it gives a fluffy, natural-ish brow which I'm totally into.

Onto skincare. I never thought that I would be so pleased to receive moisturisers in a calendar and here I am with two in my top picks. I've heard so much about Caudalie and was buzzing (urgh who am I) to give this one a go. The name 'moisturising sorbet' put me off a little as I thought it was going to be really light with a silicone type feel, a bit like the Body Shop Sorbets which I love for my body but wasn't feeling good about that texture on my face. But I was wrong and it's a really good face moisturiser that my skin laps up. Doesn't feel greasy and is an all-round good product. The Korres Wild Rose moituriser is what my skin has been NEEDING. After about 12 months of thinking 'I don't need a night moisturiser, my skin is fine', I've realised that at night all my face wants is to be smothered in a thick cream so it can be hydrated and plumped up.This is so thick but in a good way and is like a mask but moisturiser in one. I have to be careful not to apply too much but when I get the balance right I wake up feeling ready to go.

I have heard so much about the Queen of Hungary Mist that when I opened the box to see this falling out I squealed to the point where it was embarrassing. Like ,come on Abz, it's basically water in a glass bottle. But it does such magical things! I've never understood what people said when they talked about a 'fine mist'. Surely all sprays are the same, but oh no. This is like a little puff of goodness on your face. I can't say I've seen a major difference in my skin since using this but do I love it? Yeah I do!

Last but not least is what I think has saved my skin, a Dr Botanicals serum. Now I don't know this as a fact but since using this little bottle of joy my face hasn't looked as angry and red. Don't get me wrong I'm still having a few issues but during December things weren't looking good. A very watery consistency, I put three or four drops onto my hands, rub them together and dab it on my face, simple. I'm in two minds as to whether I repurchase this or look for something similar but I'm going to enjoy the few applications I have left.

Honourable mention: Oskia renaissance mask. I never thought a more hydrating mask would be up my street but I have fallen in LOVE. From the 10ml sample I've had about six applications so far with a couple left to go and my skin seems to be really enjoying it! The only thing that kept it out of my original line-up was the full price - it's £50 for 50ml, I don't think I'm at the point in my life yet where I can justify that, maybe one day!

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

One year of Q&A a day

I'm back baby! Nearly three months of laptop problems and the festive season has led to things being a bit quiet over here but I'm back and ready for some new posts. I thought I'd start off my first post of the New Year with a look back on 2017 and what I've learnt doing Q&A a day. I got this the Christmas before last (2016) and I'm pretty impressed that I managed to stick it out for 12 months - I'm notorious for starting diaries in January and never getting past the 10th. I think the fact that there're questions to answer makes it more interesting than a 'traditional' diary as it doesn't matter if nothing has happened that day or not, there's still something to write down. But if something exciting has happened I try and work it in.

So, what did I learn? Well, I discovered that I was quite negative in January - everything was an effort and reading some of my answers back it was just a bit like 'pull yourself together'! Things seemed to be going great in the middle of the year around June or July time. Lots was going on, I went on holiday, went to Ascot and it was just a generally fun time and you can really tell I was upbeat most of the time. Other than that my mood was pretty average throughout the rest of the year and I found that writing something down every night was a good way to quick look back on the day but without being like 'okay what happened step by step, minute by minute'.

As we're a bit into the month already I've started answering the year two questions and seeing what I was writing last year. Safe to say the answers are pretty much identical (I mean it's only been a year) and in some cases I'm writing the exact same thing without realising. I try not to look at last year's answers before going into my current thoughts because I don't want past me to influence present me.

I'm looking forward to continuing to write in this throughout 2018 and I'm really intrigued to see where I am in life when I finish the book in 2021!

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Is it worth the hype | Glossier impressions

I thought that today I'd give an update on the Glossier products I picked up a couple of weeks ago. My initial impressions on the products were really positive and *spoiler alert* I'm still in love with them now. Let's start with the Milky Jelly Cleanser. My skin has been seriously awful lately, I have so many spots and nothing seems to be working and although this product hasn't been an absolute miracle and cleared up all of my problems it has been nice to use it in the morning and at the end of the day. I've got used to the smell now (is it just me that thinks it's a little bit strange and floral?) and the thick consistency feels like it's doing my skin some serious good. It's not broken me out and I'm hoping that if I keep up using this in the morning, adding it in as a double cleanse in the evening and use it along with some other products my skin issues will get better soon...please?

Now the balm dot coms were products that I was desperate to get my hands on and am I glad that I did! The coconut one is what I use during my skincare routines in the morning and evening and I love the scent - really nutty (duh it's coconut). My favourite of the two is definitely the birthday one, I mean, who doesn't love glitter! I keep it in my bag and I use it at work when whatever lip product I put on in the morning has worn off which usually happens at about 10am because lipsticks never stay on my face (I must eat it without knowing!). The scent is literally like a dream, sweet sweet cake, and the longer it's been in my bag, the warmer it is which I prefer because I sometimes find the coconut balm dot com a little bit stiff.

So what will I be trying next? Boy brow is definitely on my list, I'm running out of my Eylure Fleur de Force Brow Gel so now would probably be the perfect time to test it out. I would like to try the concealer but I don't know if it would be a bit slippy make my skin too greasy (any advice would be great). Also the Generation G's are something I'd like to have a little test of. Basically what I'm saying is I just need all of the products right here right now okay thanks!

What's your favourite beauty product you're using right now?

Friday, 10 November 2017

Exploring Edinburgh | The most amazing afternoon tea

Just look at this. Pictures speak louder than words so here it is - afternoon tea at The Signet Library in  The Colonnades in Edinburgh.
*scroll to the bottom to see my thoughts*

This was one of the best afternoon teas I've ever had, seriously stunning. Even starting with the setting, you're sat in a library under a very high ceiling surrounded by stacks and stacks of books. It's really cool. The table was like a mirror and pretty much everything else was also reflective and looked really sleek. There were loads of different teas and coffees to choose from so whatever floats your boat, they have something for you! I went for earl grey and it was goooood.

We started with an amuse bouche of parsnip soup, a nice surprise and really tasty. Then it was onto the main event. I don't want to go into too much detail so I'll give you the highlights. The mini game pie was to die for, just a bite of delicious pastry goodness and the mini fish burger (I should stop saying mini because let's face it everything is mini) was very tasty. The bizarre star of the savoury section was the red pepper cheesecake...yeah, that's right. It sounds really weird but it worked, buttery base with a red pepper filling and a crispy pepper bit on top. Might be one to recreate at home! 

Scones were delicious - one criticism was that we could have done with a bit more clotted cream and jam but I'm sure we could have asked for more. I'm usually a little let down when it comes to puddings on afternoon teas because 1. in general there's a lot of cake and 2. I'm too stuffed from the savoury section to even think about anything else. But well-thought out selection of mini pastries was amazing. Again, the highlights were the treacle tart, like a sticky bonfire toffee in pastry and the gin and apple jelly, a nice way to end off the meal. I was also a big fan of the pumpkin spiced macaroon. I'm normally not the biggest macaroon fan but this was filled with white chocolate and it was so tasty I could have had about 17 (obviously not right then and there - I was literally stuffed to burst).

There's a general theme with my Edinburgh posts of "if you're ever in Edinburgh you need to visit insert name of establishment here" but I really mean it with this one. Such a great experience, I wouldn't hesitate about going back!

Where else shall I try for afternoon tea?

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

It's the little things | What makes me feel good

I have to say I was a little bit late in deciding what to write for today's post (note to self: take pictures in bulk). The nights are closing in and my motivation is on a downhill slope before Christmas BUT as I'm determined to share my infinite wisdom with the world (ha) I thought now would be a good time to share the little things that make me happy. 

Just a disclaimer before we begin: I'm very easily pleased.

I can't remember if I've mentioned this before but a couple of months ago my dad made me a bath bar and yes it is as amazing as it sounds. Basically a plank of wood that sits on the bath, it has changed the game and I can now relax with a glass of prosecco whilst watching something on my laptop without ending up with a twisted back from my old 'chair by the bath' set up. There's a slot for my laptop, a cut out for a glass of prosecco to fit snugly and a pint glass spot. It's probably one of my most loved items and it makes getting in the bath even better (it's also added an extra half an hour to my already hour long efforts - oops.)

Winter scents bring me great joy. As much as I like a fruity candle there's nothing better than a reed diffuser that smalls like a Christmas tree or body butters that make me feel like Santa's going to spring into action any minute. I've been having the debate with myself about when its acceptable to start filling my room with festive scents and I decided on Sunday that it was time. It's lifted my mood three million per cent and I can't wait to continue smelling like a bag of tinsel for the next couple of months. Personal favourite scents are Red Apple Wreath by Yankee Candle, Vanilla Chai by The Body Shop and Peppermint Snowflake by Partylite.

I love soup. It makes a huge difference to my day if I'm having soup instead of salad. I'm not the biggest fan of veg (when I say that I mean I wouldn't pile it high on my plate if I was at Toby Carvery) but when it's blended together with delicious spices I'm all over it. Butternut squash is a personal favourite of mine but tomato soup will always hold a special place in my heart. Anyone with Madeline Shaw's A Season of Beautiful Eating should definitely try the sweetcorn and squash soup. The prep takes a bit of work but it is really easy to make and tastes amazing!

An amazing TV drama is probably top of my list. I'll keep it brief because I've expressed my love for a number of shows on this blog (*cough* Happy Valley, Granchester, Endeavour *cough*). Becoming invested in a programme to the point of obsession is something I live for. Like now even thinking about Happy Valley makes me feel excited! 
Side note: Visiting TV filming locations makes me ridiculously happy.

What makes you feel happy?

Friday, 3 November 2017

Exploring Edinburgh | Food

When we went to Edinburgh we were greeted with so many options for places to eat. It was like a foodie haven and I was totally ready for it. As with finding places to visit, there was a lot of research on trip advisor, top ten lists and word of mouth before we had a list of places we wanted to try out. We didn’t over do it with eating out but we managed to sample some amazing places! I’m going to split them into meals and hopefully give you a few ideas of where to eat should you find yourself in the Scottish capital.

Why not start with the best pancakes I’ve ever eaten. Ever. 
I’m a huge pancake fan, they’re my thing at the moment and I was determined to find an amazing brunch spot for one of the days. There were plenty to choose from (like seriously so many) but we settled on Loudons . With so much delicious sounding to choose from in a light and airy atmosphere this place was insane. It was a little bit pricy (just under £10 for pancakes) but the portion sizes are huge and really sets you up for the day. I went for the American Style pancakes with bacon, baked banana and topped with syrup and cocoa powder and an earl grey tea. There was plenty of sauce which was delicious and sweet, the banana was tasty and the actual pancakes were pillowy and soft. Also the bacon was crispy which I’m all about.

I wouldn’t even hesitate in going back here again, it was to die for. I truly memorable experience.

Tea (dinner/evening meal)
This meal was both amazing and bizarre. I think my mum and dad heard about Locanda De Gusti from a friend so off we went one night. Two buses and a short walk later we were stood in front of this small space filled to the brim with people in what I’d describe yas someone’s lounge. But in this random room on a random street was a totally delicious and memorable meal. An Italian restaurant with no pizza in sight it’s definitely an experience but one that’s worth having. I went for a seafood starter with mussels, scallops, prawns, squid and probably other things that I’m forgotten. Cooked to perfection it came with a chunk of bread to mop up the juices - not going to lie I was totally sold on the starter for the bread alone. As it was such a meaty starter I went for simple ravioli for main. The buttery was nice and buttery (duh) and the ravioli was delicious. Simple but not boring, and I’m usually someone who gets bored of pasta dishes if they are a little same-y. I was totally stuffed but I also really wanted a pudding so I went for a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso. It was just like coffee ice cream and it was the perfect way to end an amazing meal.
Please, if you’re wanting something a little bit different with delicious food then pay Locanda De Gusti a visit, you won’t regret it.

Afternoon tea
Two words: the best. Stay tuned for next week’s post when I’ll go into more detail. Trust me it’ll be worth the wait!

What is your favourite thing to eat for brunch?

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