Beach Body Blitz Part 3 - Neon Holiday Nails!

My nailpolish habits are usually quite predictable...

Winter - chocolate brown, burgundy, red
Summer - coral, tangerine, pink
Anytime - nude, pink or taupe

I love nail polish, always have done. Even as a child I'd colour my nails with felt tips as I wasn't allowed polish. I've just never been wildly experimental with it!

So for this year's summer hols, I wanted something a bit different and was slightly giddy to discover Orly's neon pink 'Oh Cabana Boy'.  I've never had a neon anything in my life, but I'm in love and just can't stop staring at my nails!

Application - This is the first time I've tried an Orly polish and it won't be the last... the silky smooth, richly pigmented formula gave full coverage in two coats. You could probably get away with one - and I always quite like the subtlety of a single coat - but two looks more finished and gives a more in-your-face fluro effect! The rubberised handle helps control the application too.
Orly 'Oh Cabana Boy'
Colour - I found it difficult to capture the full fluro effect in these images. The neon pink has a very subtle electric purpley blue shimmery undertone in certain lights, which I just love.  It's a bit 80s Spandex meets Barbie and while I wouldn't wear it on my hands everyday, I reckon it's perfect for holidays and will look great with a tan!
semi matte finish
Finish - I'm surprised how much I love the semi matte finish, though I know not everyone would. I applied Orly Top 2 Bottom base and top coat on my left hand, so that you can see the effect both with and without. I must admit a couple of days later the nails on my glossy topcoat hand were still immaculate, whereas the others had started to chip a bit, so I'd probably succumb to the glossiness for this reason!

Glossy finish - you can see the purple shimmer here
With glossy topcoat, Orly Top 2 Bottom
I was using a mini sized bottle (5.3ml) but you can purchase the full size (18ml) at Beauty Bay for £6.95, which I think is a great price!

Beach Body Blitz Part 2 - The most effective anti-ageing cream on the planet

A pretty big claim to make, but I believe it.  Spend hundreds on all the fancy serums and potions you like. At the end of the day prevention is better than cure and if I can convince one of you to believe that and not make the mistakes I did, I'll be happy.

(I'd be way happier if you all acted on it of course, but you get my drift!)

You guessed it... I'm talking about sunscreen.  A couple of years ago a dermatologist told me that using the correct high factor spf on my face 365 days a year will prevent a huge percentage of the ageing process by slowing the breakdown of collagen (the stuff that keeps our faces looking fleshy and youthful, rather than wizened and droopy).  I really sat up and took notice when he said the same amount of skin damage via UVA light (the ageing rays) occurs on a cloudy day in the UK as on a Mediterranean beach in high summer! This is why we need sunscreen 365 days a year.

As a child I was ordered outdoors in sunny weather.  I literally was.not.allowed indoors.  There was only so much a kid could do outdoors, so I sunbathed. I spent all day on a sun lounger, turning every half hour, slathered in factor........ 4.  How ridiculous that sounds, but it's the truth. If I went on holiday (talking mid teens by this stage) I'd go crazy and use factor 6 or 8, for the first few days only, then straight down to factor 2, or oil, or nada. It sounds so utterly absurd to me now - and thank God a lot of people's attitudes have changed over the last 20 odd years, but in many, many cases, not enough.

I love a suntan as much as the next person, but I'm living with the damage I did to my skin when I was younger - and no, it's really not worth it. I have lines where I don't want to have lines, thin, sensitive skin where I've been repeatedly burnt and pigmentation marks. Nice, huh? It's taken me a loooong time to learn this lesson and it'd be beyond cool if some of you learnt it sooner.

*climbs off soapbox* ;-)

My face, neck, decolletage and hands are the main areas I focus on protecting, as they are the most exposed areas and the ones that show signs of ageing the earliest. For several months I've been using Ultrasun spf30 anti-ageing formula for face.

 I was first drawn to this range because of my children, especially my son who suffers from eczema. Ultrasun products are suitable for very sensitive skins, contain no nasties and best of all, only need to be applied once a day. For real! We used Ultrasun spf 30 on the whole family in a scorching hot summer in France last year and none of us burnt, at all, including my then 2 and 5yr olds.  You can read the full list of ingredients if you click on the next picture to enlarge it.
Ultrasun ingredients - click to enlarge

The formula is light, non greasy and easily absorbed.  The non aerosol bottles are light too and work in a pump motion, by pressing down the top (see pic). Plus the formula stays good for 24 months, a bonus if you don't use it all up (most should be dumped after one year).

I've tried to show in these pics that it doesn't leave that awful white/blue tinge on the skin. The facial lotion in particular is very quickly absorbed and moisturising, suitable for use under make up.

Ultrasun is not cheap, working out at around £15 per 100ml bottle, but the fact that it only needs one daily application makes it work out rather economical in my opinion. I bought the facial one from (click link to see the full range) and you can often get good deals on QVC or Amazon.  

Despite my love of Ultrasun (and I'll probably stock up on the body range for our hols) I'm always on the lookout for other great products, which led me to La Roche Posay.  This company creates a huge array of products for numerous skintypes, so I was very appreciative when a representative took the time to advise me exactly which one to choose.  

La Roche Posay Anthelios XL SPF50+
 I wanted a product that would be easily absorbed, moisturising and suitable for wearing under make-up. Anthelios XL SPF50+ Fluide Extreme Face was exactly what I was looking for - and I'm loving it (yes I even get excited about sunscreens - they are skincare in my eyes!). 

La Roche Posay ingredients - click to enlarge
 This really light lotion pours easily from a fine nozzle, allowing you to use just the amount you need. It's easily absorbed, and while I usually apply before brushing my teeth or something that takes a couple of minutes to allow absorption, I reckon make-up could be used immediately after. At the moment I'm using this over a serum, no moisturiser and my normal to dry skin feels absolutely fine. Again I've tried to show how it doesn't leave any white mask effect on the skin in the following pics. 

La Roche Posay Anthelios XL SPF50+ Fluide Extreme Face is available from for £16.50 - you can see the full range of products here. Oh I almost forgot to add that this also comes in a tinted version, which I'd also love to try! And since I'm now using sunscreen daily, no doubt I'll get around to it! :)

As most of you already know, I'm a huge fan of self tan - perhaps some of the above explains why.... I'll be telling you about some of my current favourites later this week. 

Which sunscreen are you using this summer? The other one I'd love to try (after recommendations on Twitter) is Alpha-H spf50 - has anyone tried this?  Please tell me your thoughts in the comment box below and stay safe! :) 

'Excuse me madam, may I have a sample?'

beauty counter
I honestly wouldn’t consider purchasing foundation, skincare or perfume without first trying a sample, so it always surprises me when people say they are reluctant to ask for them, yet so many people feel this way.
I know some beauty advisors can come across as a little intimidating, but daft as it sounds, they’re just ordinary people doing their job - to inform you of the best products for you and convince you to buy them – so don’t be afraid to ask!

Most beauty products sold at these counters come at a hefty price – and personally I can’t afford to make mistakes, so I want to be very sure that I’m making the right choice first time.  I wouldn’t dream of buying foundation that I’ve just tried on my wrist or only seen in harsh department store lighting.  I like to be sure that my skin won’t react badly to skincare, and that perfume wears nicely on my skin, that I don’t go off the scent after a few days, etc, etc.

makeup counter beauty budget
Here’s my guide to blagging requesting samples…

Look smart and well groomed – yes I know it shouldn’t matter but it does. If you fall out of bed with a hangover and rock up at Dior in skanky gear with greasy hair and no make up, the beauty advisor will assume that you don’t care about your appearance and therefore will not want to spend money at his or her counter.

Express an interest in the product – don’t just walk up to the Chanel counter and ask for a sample of foundation or moisturiser. Request information and advice, ask if the advisor will try the product on your skin. Tell them what qualities you’re looking for in the product.  All of this implies that you are seriously considering a purchase and will encourage the advisor to offer you a sample.

Just ask – you’ve spent some time talking about the product and nodding enthusiastically, so it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a sample.  Say you’d like to see how it lasts on your skin/ looks in different lights/ how your skin reacts to it, etc.  If they have no samples left (and often they genuinely don’t), don’t sigh and roll your eyes. Just ask if they have any little containers they could put some in.  If not, magically produce one from your bag/pocket – or pop into Boots and buy one! (I keep old sample/travel pots for this very purpose).

Ask for written details – if info such as the advisor’s name and product details haven’t already been offered (and they should be in my opinion), ask for a note of them so that you know who and what to ask for when you return to make a purchase, assuming you’ll love your sample of course.  This keeps the advisor on your side, helps build a rapport and will encourage them to take you seriously if and when you return. So the whole thing should be a doddle next time!

Are you uncomfortable about asking for samples – and if so, have you made any expensive mistake as a result?  Any beauty advisors wish to offer further tips?  Please tell me your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below - thanks for reading! x

Beach Body Blitz Part 1 - Holiday Skin

Whether you prefer a real tan or faking it, it's worth investing a little time and effort to prepare your skin for sun exposure.  Regular exfoliating and moisturising will help slough off dead skin and get your skin in prime condition for tanning and ensure it looks gleaming and smooth, which can only be a good thing for those of us who will be exposing a lot more of it than usual. It's important to pay particular attention to particularly dry areas such as elbows, knees and ankles, where self tan can tend to 'catch'.  Removing dead skin cells on the surface will allow your moisturiser, self tanner and sunscreen to work more effectively.

It really doesn't have to cost a lot of money or effort - I'm sure most of us can fit 5 mins extra into our day, 2 or 3 times a week.  I'll talk you through some of the products I've been using recently, but you can do it for even less with an exfoliating glove from Boots or Body Shop (I find these a bit too abrasive, but lots of people love them) or even a good old fashioned flannel.  And a Google search will bring up numerous recipes for home made body scrubs and moisturisers made from products such as olive oil, sugar and salt.

The Body Shop Sweet Lemon Sugar Scrub, Coconut Body Butter, Shea Body Butter
I've revisited my teens recently with a new found love for the Body Shop.  I don't know if formulas are improved since then, but I've been seriously impressed.  The three I've been loving most are Sweet Lemon Sugar Scrub and the Coconut and Shea Body Butters.

Sweet Lemon is gritty and almost gel like in texture. The sugar particles dissolve as you massage it into the skin in a warm shower, meaning it isn't too harsh or scratchy. It's not the most amazing exfoliator I've ever used, but it's very nice and the smell is divine (I have the matching shower gel - a great wake up call!).  

Coconut Body Butter is like Summer in a big fat tub (which I got half price) - the texture is quite rich and stiff, so works best if you soften it between your palms before massaging in.  I find that I need quite a lot of it and seem to be getting through the tub at an alarming rate.  I also have a shimmer version of this, which does what it says on the tub.

Shea Body Butter is my fave of these three products - it feels extra rich and luxurious and leaves a lovely sheen on my skin, which I've tried to capture in the pic below, probably not very well.

The Body Shop Shea Body Butter leaves a lovely sheen on the skin, difficult to capture in a pic
I'm not sure why, but the Body Shop has been running a lot of promotions lately, so if you fancy trying any of these, pop into one of their shops or subscribe online and you'll receive regular email updates.  I've just noticed they have started a sale with 50% off some body butters, which are £6 instead of £12.  Body scrubs are £12.50 for 200ml, but you can try a smaller tub for £5.

He-Shi Exfoliating Body Wash and Souffle Body Moisturiser
Alternatively you might like to try some of the skincare products affiliated with  tanning companies, such as He-Shi, whose self tan I'll be reviewing as part of this Body Blitz series. Lots of other companies such as St Tropez are now offering ranges like this. He-Shi's exfoliating body wash and souffle moisturiser are two unisex products designed to help buff and moisturise the skin pre-tanning.  I assumed these would be more expensive, but they actually work out the same price as Body Shop products, at £12 and £12.50 each - you can see the full range of prices here.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

A sophisticated ingredients list includes fruit AHAs, micro-dermabrasion crystals, aloe vera and antioxidants, but the quality I noticed the most was that they smell of strawberries, especially the exfoliator.  My husband (who is almost as big a product fan as me) felt this was a bit girly for him, so I'm not so sure about the 'for him and her' bit, but that's fine, because it's mine!  

He-Shi Exfoliating Body Wash
I've always liked very fine grained exfoliators. If you think about it, a handful of very fine grains will be much more gentle and effective than large, coarse ones, as they will cover the entire surface of your skin.  I'm very careful not to over-exfoliate (2-3 times per week is about right) and never use harsh or coarse products on my face, neck or decollete.  This product is fine enough to use all over, including the face, which reminds me I forgot to photograph the facial exfoliator that I would normally use, which is by Nuxe.

He-Shi Souffle Moisturiser
The Souffle Moisturiser is really rich and smells lovely and fresh.  It takes a fair bit of rubbing in, which is fine by me because I love the richness and this really feels like it's nourishing my skin.  It doesn't leave the same sheen as the Body Shop butters, which I guess is partly to do with the 'for him and her' element as most men prefer to be discreet about skincare.  He-Shi advise not to use this immediately before self tanning, so I'd suggest using it in the days running up to tanning, or even a couple of hours beforehand.

Have you tried any of these products and have you been preparing your skin for baring the flesh?!  If you have any other Body Shop recs or know of any current offers, feel free to mention them in the comments box below.  I'm always up for trying something new!

Thanks for reading and please click on the links at the top of this page to subscribe for updates by Google Friend Connect, email or Bloglovin' if you aren't doing so already. X

Beach body blitz

Time is rapidly running out... it's almost 'dare to bare' time on the beach! Over the next couple of weeks I'll be blitzing my body into holiday mode and sharing my progress with my lovely readers (well, most of it anyway!)

I'll be focusing on...

Skin – prepping skin for sun exposure, self tanning, selecting sunscreen & lipbalm
Hair – deep conditioning, UV protection and styling ideas
Hands & feet – mani and pedi - preparing the talons for neon brights
Packing - product essentials - looking good with minimal effort!

Healthy Eating
I'll also be talking about getting my body well hydrated and eating as healthily as possible as I'm quite sure losing a few pounds would help a lot (even if I do put them back on when I get there!). Those who follow me on Twitter will know I have a sweet tooth and love my food & wine, but I'm becoming more and more aware of the fact that beauty really does begin on the inside and it's time I started treating my body like a temple! 

I think I made a pretty good start today with the following:
breakfast - wholemeal toast & tea (I do love my toast!)
lunch - open salad on one slice of wholegrain
dinner - lemon chicken (baked in juice & zest) with large salad

I did have a couple of chocolate biscuits with coffee and a glass of wine with dinner, but less than normal - and I've been getting into the habit of drinking more water.  Not perfect I know, but a start! 

So far my holiday preparation has been all about the clothes (my other passion!), waiting patiently in my wardrobe, unworn and praying for sunshine...

Outfit One - dress & wedges
Drape jersey Impressionist dress, Gap
Tan leather wedges, Rocha by John Rocha, Debenhams

Outfit two - cobalt bandeau & gold flats 
Cobalt bandeau dress, New Look
Gold shell sandals, Melissa Odabash, Debenhams

And the obligatory...
Swimsuit in black, M&S

I'd also like to get a few tops, a maxi dress and a short, floaty dress.

Is anyone else feeling the pre-beach-panic and are there any treatments I've missed, or topics you'd like me to include?  Please leave a comment below with your thoughts! x


Two Pretty

I'd like to share two very lovely Laura Mercier products I've tried recently. This is mostly about the first one really, but the second is rather lovely too, and as the title suggests, they are very pretty two-gether!

Pink & Gold
Probably my favourite colour combination of all time. I remember lusting after a friend's pink & gold two-tone nailpolish as a child (if you've seen one, let me know!) and I think that's where it started.  Or it could be my love of pink & gold skies at sunset.  And Bourjois Rose D'Or - the prettiest blusher I've come across to date - pink with a subtle gold shimmer. 

Falling in love with Laura Mercier's new pink & gold highlighter cream was a given.  'Sheer Creme Glow' comes in a generously sized palette and is designed as a highlighter for cheekbones and brow-bones, but really, it looks pretty wherever you want to put it. It works as an eyeshadow, dotted in the centre of your lower lip to add shimmer to a gloss or blended with other products.  

Laura Mercier Sheer Creme Glow in Golden Pink
It comes in just one shade, Golden Pink and is part of the Portofino Collection. Described as an 'ultra-sheer, blendable face colour highlighter', it was inspired by Laura's work with celebrity clients, who wanted a product to 'wake up' their skin and give them an immediate healthy glow (don't we all?!).  It definitely achieves this in my opinion. I'm not a fan of anything overly glittery for daywear and this seems to strike the perfect balance.
Applied in thick layer at the top and partly blended below
I hope you can see how beautiful it is on the skin in the above pic and how it blends to quite a sheer glow. It can actually be applied and blended much more 'sheerly' than this, but I wanted to make sure you could see it!  The next pic shows it fully blended - a little goes a looooong way, so despite a hefty price tag of around £29 at Space NK (and all the usual outlets), I can see this lasting me for years! 

Fully blended to leave a subtle glow
The second item is in stark contrast, but in my opinion works beautifully with the highlighter.  It's a Luster eyeshadow in Celestial - a shimmering dark slate grey with deep blueish undertones.  I'm a huge fan of Laura Mercier eyeshadows as the highly pigmented colours are stunning, last well on the skin and are crease resistant.  At £18.50 a pop I have to say I do think they are overpriced, but to be honest I'd rather have a small number of beautiful products than lots of ok ones, so that's exactly what I do! And they're so lovely I really never get bored of them.

Laura Mercier Luster eyeshadow in Celestial

Celestial, blended
OK so I realise you're all probably thinking ok so it's a grey eyeshadow, what's the big deal, but just look how pretty these two products are together!  They can be used side by side as eyeshadows, or in more subtle contrast in their original 'roles'. The gold is also gorgeous blended with the grey.

Celestial eyeshadow & Golden Pink Sheer Creme Glow

Blended in the central stripe
I'll put a lid on it now!
I get a little excited when I really love a product!  Have any of you tried this highlighter and do you like the look of it? Both products are available in all the usual department stores as well as online.

Please leave a comment below and if you'd like to be kept up to date with new posts, you can subscribe by Google Friend Connect, email, or Bloglovin' at the top of this page.  To those who are already 'following' my blog, thank you so much - it means a lot to me. X

Oh Lola!

I've always loved the idea of having a signature scent.  I remember my big sister dotting Chanel No5 behind my ears from a tiny sample bottle when I was going on my first date (yeah so I started late, ok?) and telling me it was "the kind of smell men love."  I'm sure not many teenage girls would wear No.5 these days with so many 'younger' perfumes aimed directly at them, but at the time I wanted it to be all mine, forever.  

I soon found out that I get bored of wearing the same fragrance all the time, so while I've never had a signature scent, I've always been a one-bottle-at-a-time kinda girl.  Sometimes I don't even make it the whole way through a bottle. Fickle, moi?

My current spritz is not a new one... Marc Jacobs Lola.  And I have a confession. The first time I smelt this (full of anticipation and totally in lust with the bottle design) I was completely gutted - I hated it.  Couldn't get home fast enough to wash it off my wrist.  One year on, I adore it. I assume nothing has changed, but my sense of smell clearly has! 

Lola by Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs Lola

Top Notes: pink peppercorn, pear d'anjou, ruby red grapefruit
Middle: fuschia peony, rose, geranium
base: vanilla, tonka bean, creamy musk.

I think the first time I smelt this I didn't get past the top notes. The florals in the heart are pretty without being overpowering (I can't stand sickly sweet perfumes) and the warm base notes are very much my kind of smell. 

This fragrance is warm, fresh and feminine all at once - not an easy combination to achieve in my experience. I can smell it on my skin and it seems to have good lasting power - I'm told that it's one of the few fragrances I've worn which others can smell on me throughout the day.

Lola's younger sister fragrance, 'Oh Lola' has just been unveiled and is expected to go on sale internationally in late July.  This refreshing scent for hot summer days is described as 'lively, playful, irresistible, stylish and cheerful.'  I'm loving the light pink bottle - which will be available in 30, 50 and 100ml eau de toilette - hopefully coming soon to a dressing table near me! 
Oh Lola 50ml bottle
'Oh Lola' has been described as reminiscent of the original Lola, but lighter and fresher.  Signed by Ann Gottlieb, it is blended from fresh and sweet fruity tones, along with peony florals and a velvety background of vanilla. 

Top notes: wild strawberry, raspberry, pear
Middle: peony
Base: sandalwood, vanilla

Don't know about you but I am LOVING the sound of this and can't wait to try it out!
17yr old actress, Dakota Fanning, is the face of the 'Oh Lola' campaign and embodies its soft youthful glow (I adore her pretty polka dot Marc Jacobs dress almost as much as the perfume bottle!).  The collection will be available nationwide from 27 July 2011 (online at and all the usual outlets) and includes:

Eau de Toilette Spray:
1.0 OZ/30 ML   £37
1.7 OZ/50 ML   £47
3.4 OZ/100 ML £63
Sheer body lotion 5.1 OZ/150 ML £26
Fresh shower gel 5.1 OZ/150 ML £23

I've never owned a full collection of any fragrance but imagine it must be amazing to layer the scent like this... a girl can dream! 

I do seem to be a fan of the Marc Jacobs fragrance house in general and can't think of any I've disliked. Even my husband wears the Bang aftershave and I also love the huge bottles of splash on perfume. 

My previous 'single bottle' was Marc Jacobs Daisy, which is very sweet and pretty - and while I loved it at the time I find its newer sister fragrance, Daisy Eau So Fraiche much more appealing in a 'just want to inhale it'  kind of way.

Marc Jacobs Essence is a stand out fragrance memory for me - my husband bought it for me as a birthday present early in our relationship, despite it resulting in a beans & toast week! I love the old fashioned style lemon bottle with a little bow - very Audrey Hepburn and reminds me of old black & white movies.

Are you a fan of Marc Jacobs fragrances and do you like the sound of Oh Lola?  I have several perfumes on my wish list at the moment, but I'll save those for another day! 

Butterfly Blog Award

I was so chuffed to receive the Butterfly Award for blogging from the very lovely Andrea at Artdonatella, who has been extremely kind and supportive to me since I started blogging.

Award Rules
  • Write a random fact about yourself
  • Pass the award on
  • Notify the bloggers you nominate

Random Fact
I love to paint. It's not something I get the opportunity to do very often these days, but I really do love it and am keen to take it up again.  I  enjoy working with oils, acrylics and watercolours and have exhibited in the past.  The most recent piece I did was a mural at a soft play area, though I usually prefer to work on a smaller scale! 

Choosing who to pass this award onto hasn't been easy, as there are so many amazing blogs out there, but I've narrowed it down to three...
First up is Pretty Diamond Solitaire who I'd like to congratulate for reaching 500 followers today!  Zoe has the biggest nailpolish collection I've ever come across and her gorgeous blog is filled with the most beautiful swatches, reviews and hauls.
Secondly, Super Gorgeous, whose name sums her and her blog up perfectly! Alice is a professional photographer as well as a beauty blogger and it shows in her pics. I'm always envious of her impeccable nails and in addition to product reviews and swatches she is an extremely entertaining vlogger!
Thirdly, Lou Lou Muses, a fellow new beauty blogger who loves nothing more than to chat about beauty, style and random loveliness.  Please go check out her blog and look out for her on Twitter!

Please take a moment to look at these lovely blogs and follow them!
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