My eyes popped out when I saw Everlasting Sprout's magical pastel knits in 2009, my introduction to the Japanese knitwear label now solely designed by Keiichi Muramatsu, and I've Read more...
STANDOUT STOOLS: MAKE THEM WORK IN YOUR SPACE
I've been thinking a lot about stools lately, you know, as you do! We looked at beautiful breakfast bars last week and saw a variety of great looking bar stools, and then I found myself in Harrogate drooling Read more...
WOWW...THAT'S MORE THAN A TEA TOWEL
Mae Engelgeer, you have made me covet a tea towel. Or two, or three. The Dutch textile designer has created the Woww, Fest and Bow collections of graphic fabrics, developed in small quantities at the Textile Museum Read more...
IDEAS FOR PASTEL HOME ACCENTS
It's been impossible not to notice that pastels are making a huge splash in everything from fashion to home decor this spring. The sorbet shades go far in brightening up a room and most Read more...
BUILDING THE PERFECT BREAKFAST BAR
We all love the idea of a big, spacious eat-in kitchen, but I don't think I'm alone in getting equally excited about a well-designed breakfast bar - and if you're really lucky with space you can have both! Read more...
ERDEM'S SPRING STUNNER
Just when I thought I was leaning toward more minimal designs in fashion (because my interior/decor tastes are definitely less fussy these days), I get a blast of sunshine Read more...
CHANEL FILM: BICOLOR, THE MAKING OF THE CARDIGAN
Leave it to Chanel to turn the making of a cardigan into something magical. From choosing the colour of the finest cashmere threads to the finishing of the piece with those intertwined C buttons Read more...
With impeccable timing, I was recently invited to review instantprint.co.uk, an online printing and design service for business cards and other marketing materials. I was offered a complimentary set of 250 business cards and asked to talk about my experience using the site. It so happened that I was in need of a redesign so I was excited to be offered the opportunity to come up with something new. But I hadn't given it any thought. I'm not usually one to go with a pre-designed template as I like to create my own layouts, but I decided to have a browse anyway. The templates are pretty good actually, they span a broad range of industries and they don't scream ' template!' and I was really surprised to find one that I loved, that captured a big part of what my blog is about right now (I found it under the 'retail, sales and fashion' category):
When using a template, you can edit it to include your branding, of course, and you also have the option to add your own images. This neat Midcentury kitchen (I LOVE Midcentury design) was perfect as-is and needed only 'The Swelle Life' plunked in. I didn't need to create a logo file, one of the fonts offered was so similar to mine I just chose my colour (I kept the red because it worked best) and keyed it in, saving me some time.
Next was the reverse side. I've gone with double-sided business cards as long as I've had a need for cards and wouldn't want to go back, so I was happy to be offered this option (you have the choice of either at instantprint). This is what the template looked like for the reverse of the card:
When using a template you still have the option to design a side yourself, but I decided to use the general layout of the contact details and add an image to the right side, as well as a snapshot of my blog banner plus the Houzz logo as I'm a regular contributor (and obviously proud of it!). Here's a tip if you're also designing a card by adding an image to a template that you want to span the outer edges: save your design, then contact instantprint and ask them to check it (they provide this service free of charge and it's always a good idea to use it). There's a bleed that doesn't show on the user end but they can see it on the backend, and they can make an adjustment to be sure your photo extends the full bleed so that when there's a millimetre difference in the cutting process, you won't see a sliver of the orignal design peeking out. This happened with some of my cards, it' just one of those technical things that can occur, and although I told them I could live with it, they corrected the bleed and reprinted the whole lot and sent it to me straight away. Mistakes do happen, but the fact they were keen to make it right so quickly and thoroughly really impressed me.
So as you saw in the header photo, my cards look great and what you can't see is that they feel great as well. I'm guessing they have been printed on 450gsm silk card stock which is the luxury option (400gsm silk is the standard which is very high quality for a default option), it's a super-thick stock and has a wonderful matte feel. I've always been particular about having impressive cards and I think these may be my favourite so far, and I hardly did any work to achieve the result. If you want to design your own artwork but aren't confident doing it yourself, they offer a professional creative service for hire so it's worth a chat if you need help with your concept and design.
The usual price of 250 double-sided business cards on 450gms silk stock with a laminate finish (they offer matte, gloss and velvet), which would include all of the luxury options is £23.99 (including VAT) plus £4.99 for next day delivery, but when checking this I found that they're offering a discount on these options and you can get these 250 cards for £16 right now. That is a really good price, I've paid a lot more than their regular price at other online printers for laminated cards on stock that wasn't quite as high quality.
The final verdict: Would I use instantprint.co.uk again? Yes. I'd gladly pay the full rate; the cards are the highest quality I've had, the online design system was straightforward and easy to use, the colour reproduction was excellent and they stand behind their product. And as I just mentioned, their regular price is far cheaper than what I'm used to paying, and for a better business card. A definite no-brainer!
Stylight is a dynamic online fashion community and shopping search engine that I've just had a go at playing around with after being invited to review the site. Fashion lovers have been connecting and sharing their new finds for four years in Germany, and just recently Stylight has launched in the UK. It's like window shopping with the bonus that you can engage with the items by 'hearting' and saving them to your fashion board as inspiration for yourself and other members. Your boards can be further customised with photos and text, and you can enhance your theme by adding a video or song - just put in the title or artist and Stylight will locate it for you. And if you find something that you absolutely must have beyond lusting for it on your monitor or phone screen, you can buy it from its originating shop.
Let me take you through it from the beginning so you can see how it works:
Go to www.stylight.co.uk (or www.stylight.com if you're elsewhere, you can select your country from the homepage). You can browse the site and check out member boards, shop from the Women and Men fashion categories - there are over 111,000 women's items to choose from! - or have a look through the Stylight magazine which has a good variety of current fashion stories, How Tos and interviews.
When you want to begin interacting, you'll need to register. It's a very simple and quick process, even if you use your email rather than Facebook to login. The Join button is at the top right of the menu on any page, or you can find it at the bottom of the homepage.
From here you can continue to browse the site for something that catches your eye - it may be a photo of a member showing off their unique personal style, a quote you like from their board, or a dress from the shop. Or, you can go straight into creating your own board using the big 'ADD' button that appears in the top menu once you've logged in.
I've created a board called 'Orla Daydreaming' (below) based on my love of Orla Kiely. There are lots of Orla pieces in the shop so I chose my favourite bags and dresses and added them to my board, along with a photo I took at Orla Kiely's SS12 presentation at London Fashion Week (it's important that any photos you upload to your board from your computer are your own). This adorable model was my favourite, all smiles of the genuine kind which is so rare! She really brought out the sunshine in the clothes and that inspired my quote. I finished off the board with a fittingly light and cheery song, Stereo Total's I Love You, Ono (apologies if it sticks in your brain, it'll do that!).
Once you're a member you can follow other members by hearting their boards, and their latest activity will show up in your feed. It's a great way to explore style options similar to your own, as well as expand your horizons by seeing how different styles look on other members which may work for you, too!
All in all, I like how the site flows - the layout is clean, the features are easy to navigate, and there's a lot to keep you engaged without being bombarded by visuals. In fact, you didn't really need my instructions, it's so simple there's not really anything to figure out! Have a go playing around, have some fun with the fashion, and if you've got some great style of your own share it with the Stylight community!
I'm a cider girl. I hadn't even tried cider, ever, before moving to the UK over seven years ago, but because of its prominence here - there's a renaissance happening and these days it's as popular as lager, thanks to Somerset's enduring commitment to the tradition of cider making - I was encouraged to give it a go.
As with wine and beer, not all ciders are created equal. There are some that could be served as apple juice and no one would know the difference. But I found my preferences fell somewhere between the super sweet and quite dry and I couldn't really find something my taste buds would stay loyal to. Not being a beer drinker (bar the odd framboise but does that really count?) and my tendency to become narcoleptic on literally a few sips of wine, never mind spirits (I'm fun, eh?), cider's appeal endured because it's crisp and fruity, and I've always liked bubbles.
Last week the family-run, Somerset-based cider producer Brothers sent me two of their new flavours to try: Festival Pear Cider, and Strawberry. The 500ml bottles arrived with their new spring/summer branding featuring vintage-style labels based on a drawing that the wife of one of the founding brothers made nearly 20 years ago. I was really up for trying them because a) as mentioned, cider is my go-to drink, and b) somehow I hadn't crossed paths with Brothers before and c) I love the berry ciders. Or at least I love the idea of them. My last favourite now just seems far too sweet so I found myself in cider limbo.
First, I opened the Festival Pear Cider which is a stronger concoction than their regular pear, and most other ciders, at 7%. I was pleasantly surprised to find after one crude swig straight out of the chilled bottle that its initial sweetness is cut with a drier finish. For me, this is the perfect balance. Next, and on a different day, I tried the Strawberry (4%) which is a pear cider with strawberry juice - Brothers specialty is Perry - and was almost in shock that this bright red liquid beaming from my glass wasn't overwhelmingly sweet. Yes it's sweet of course, you don't buy berry varieties expecting something else, but like the Festival Pear, it's nicely balanced. So thank you, Brothers, you're now my go-to cider. I can actually finish a whole bottle!
A little history on the company: Brothers Drinks Co. Limited was started in 1992 by the four Showering brothers whose family have been making Perry in Somerset since 1658, and whose grandparents were behind the successful Babycham from the 1950s! (I have some of their dainty vintage cocktail glasses with the adorable white deer on them.) Brothers began selling its cider exclusively at
Glastonbury back in 1992, and since then, its following has continued to grow, loved as ‘the company that introduced pear cider to the UK.’ (They found that most folks didn't know what perry was and responded more favourably when they were offered 'pear cider'.) For the next 10 years
the Brothers Bar became increasingly popular, so five years ago Brothers
Cider was launched into the on and off trade, by popular demand, for the first
time. Today they are the sixth largest cider company
in the UK Off Trade Multiple Grocers, and one of the fastest growing
cider brands in the market.
I think I've found a new snack obsession. The lovely people at Kallo sent me their latest products to try, the new Sweet Jumbo Rice & Corn Cakes in two flavours: Blueberry & Vanilla (£1.79 for 131g) and Caramel (£1.79 for 147g). I was excited to try them after hearing all of these great things about them: they are made from the finest wholegrain rice and corn with absolutely no artificial colours, preservatives, gluten containing ingredients or MSG, and contain just 0.2% fat, and only 36 calories for the Blueberry & Vanilla and 40 for the caramel flavour. But I was a little nervous that the flavouring was going be sickly sweet or artificial tasting, as is so often the downfall of both sweet and savoury store-bought snacks. Or that they would have that powdery texture that you have to be careful not to snort while trying to eat your treat!
I am so pleased to say after trying both that they have just the right amount of sweetness - even the caramel! They don't have that icky chemical taste thanks to a total absence of E numbers, and the flavour is nicely infused into the rice and corn. Even better is the texture which is exactly what you want - the rice and corn are chunky and give a good crunch that's very light. This is dangerous because it makes you want to devour the entire bag!
As you can see in the photos, I dressed up the Blueberry & Vanilla with some Greek-style yogurt, blueberries and mint, and although I've got a fork there I didn't use it - I just picked up the cake and went to town, and it wasn't messy at all thanks to the thickness of the yogurt (Greek and Baltic are my favourite for their thicker texture) and the fact that the cake does not crumble and fall apart when you bite into it. It's pretty satisfying as a dessert and is virtually guilt-free if you have it this way. They were also a hit with my daughter and I had to hide them so that I'd have some left to photograph!
I'll be buying more of these and will definitely be trying other products from the range, such as the savoury flavours and the snack size rice and corn cakes which are a healthier alternative to crisps and crackers.
Blueberry & Vanilla and Caramel Jumbo Rice & Corn Cakes launched in
Tesco stores nationwide in January 2013. Both flavours are suitable for vegetarians, and the Blueberry & Vanilla flavour is also suitable for vegans. Kallo
Blueberry & Vanilla Jumbo Rice & Corn Cakes do not contain nuts/traces
of nuts, but are made in a factory that handles sesame seeds, milk and soya. For
more information on Kallo’s whole range of rice cakes and cooking ingredients
please visit www.saykallo.com. You can follow
Kallo at www.facebook.com/saykallo
Regardless of how adventurous we may be, it's always a comfort to feel a connection to the city we're visiting and avoid feeling like an outsider - no one really likes to read as 'tourist'! The best way to feel at home when traveling is to live in one, and onefinestay understands this well. Through their website you are matched to everything you want and need for accommodation in two of the world's greatest cities, London and New York, then you are provided with a service that offers all the convenience and comfort of a hotel. While staying in a distinctive residential home while the owner is out of town, guests enjoy luxury amenities like 5 star hotel linens and toiletries from The White Company (in London) and Kiehl’s (in New York). Every guest is also lent an iPhone for the duration of their stay to use for free local calls, and to acquaint you with and make the most of your new neighbourhood, the phone comes stocked with local tips from the home’s owner.
In addition to their luxury personal service, onefinestay stands apart from other rental sites thanks to the tightly curated selection of residential homes they offer - every room is so gorgeously decorated and well-featured that you'll quickly find yourself daydreaming as you browse the photos on the site; it's like choosing your travel accommodations from the pages of Architectural Digest. And still, many of the 1000+ homes offered are welcoming to families with babies and toddlers, so there's no sacrificing style when traveling with your little ones.
Prices range from £150 a night for a comfortable one bedroom apartment to £1495 a night for a grand townhouse. If you're traveling on a budget it's still well worth considering the less expensive options as you'll have your own kitchen, and being able to cook your own meals can significantly offset your living expenses. Distinctive options on onefinestay include a palatial apartment in Knightsbridge and a converted sugar warehouse with views across the Hudson, alongside unique homes such as the ex-industrial lofts of Tribeca and mews houses in Notting Hill.
Have a browse of onefinestay and see for yourself what a difference one of their gorgeous homes can make to your next visit to one of your favourite cities.
by rave reviews from guests and hosts, onefinestay
has expanded from just 6 host members in 2010 to more than 1000 across London and New York today.
A bright and spacious eat-in kitchen in South Kensington
This Hampstead home boasts bespoke furniture and many coveted architectural details
A large master bedroom in Primrose Hill features a terrace and French doors
Many of the homes on onefinestay feature private outdoor spaces and gorgeous gardens
It's getting closer and closer but I wanted to share some of my favourite products that are perfect for getting ourselves ready for festive events and also for gift-giving. Each are personal must-haves that I can recommend as products you can rely on to be of excellent quality and do what they promise. This is hugely important to us these days as no one wants to waste money - and time - on things that disappoint!
ghd hairdryer I'd given up on buying professional hairdryers after two purchases, a few years apart, turned out to be no better - and in the case of one, not even as good - as the cheap models I owned. I didn't see the point in spending four or five times the money unless the results were extraordinary (duh, a no-brainer obviously). My faith was unexpectedly restored when I tried the ghd air™ (£99) which promises to be "quicker and quieter with smoother and shinier results" due to its 2100W motor, body shape and advanced ionic technology. Let's focus on those words 'advanced ionic technology'. I've heard about this for a few years and paid no attention, I thought these were just the next beauty trend buzz words to get people to buy more products that they didn't need. ghd tells us this technology will "lock in moisture for softer, shinier results that last for longer, with far less frizzing". Is this even possible in a product made for drying? Well, when I first tried this model a few weeks ago my hair was in need of a cut - my back layers were starting to take on that awesome pom-pom look which is always the point of no return, and the ends also needed a good trim thanks to the dry heat in the house we can't get away from in winter. The first time I used the ghd air™ I noticed it was really quiet (I'd gotten used to my old one sounding like a jet taking off in my ear) and it felt nicely balanced and streamlined, a good weight without being too heavy. And yes, it was powerful and dried my long hair quickly. But what I couldn't believe was that when I was finished, my back layers were defined again and not hanging in a frizzy mass; it looked like I'd just had a haircut. Let me be clear: no one is lazier than me when it comes to blowdrying, I don't even use a brush while I'm doing it. I send that hair flying all over in a wild frenzy and then brush it out when it's all dry and hope for the best. My results were all down to this hairdryer and I'm still in disbelief at how well it works. I was able to put off my haircut for another three weeks and could have gone longer if I wasn't travelling to Toronto (that was my Christmas haircut). My hairdresser comes to me - mobile is so the way to go! - and I told her about my new magic dryer. She said she'd also been looking at it and asked if she could try it out on me. I said of course she could, other hairdryers are no longer allowed around my hair! She loved it and said she was going to ask for one for Christmas, and she also commented on the good condition of my hair before she'd cut it, she wasn't used to seeing it without the frizz. It's also great as a gift, presented in a very pretty, stud-embellished box. I can't recommend this hairdryer enough. It delivers what it promises.
Pure + simple Skin Restoration MaskandEye Brightening Cream As you know from my recent post gushing all over Pure + simple, I've been a huge fan of their holistic approach to skincare and wellness and have been using their natural, organic products for over a decade. I tried the Skin Restoration Mask ($16.45) a few weeks ago and when I saw that it left my skin incredibly soft and glowing and as smooth as glass, as if I'd done something far more extreme than applying a treatment, I realised how ideal it would be to put on before you go out on a special day or evening, as the first part of your makeup routine - you just don't want to waste that face at home! It is literally a mask, a gauzy piece you place over your face that's full of soothing rejuvenating ingredients. Give yourself at least 30 minutes to relax with it on so you get the full benefit (your eyes aren't covered so you can still see). For the eyes I love Pure + simple's Eye Brightening Cream. It's lightweight and has a firming and toning effect which is essential for me as I'm prone to allergies which make your eyelids feel 'loose' - not a good look. It includes a peptide complex that also helps to improve lymphatic circulation and elasticity to reduce under eye bags and puffiness (which I used to call My Morning Look). And dark circles are minimized by a flavone extract from the blue passion flower. Ultimately, I love the way it feels when I first put it on, like a breath of fresh air for your eyes. As always, the Pure + simple products deliver more than you had even hoped.
Zalando.co.uk During the holidays we're expected to dress up a few times, but I'm realistic and I always go for equal measures of looks and comfort. I know I'll be eating, so anything too restrictive around the waist is out, and I like a bit of stretch. But I still like nice details. Thanks to Zalando's wide range of clothing (massive, really) you can find any dress you need or want at any price point, and I found mine in this Private School jumper dress (£85). It's a stretchy knit (comfort!) that is easy through the waist (food!) and the intarsia collar and placket create a neat trompe l'oeil effect (detail!). It fits on the small side so you have to order up a size, but the quality is fantastic - the intarsia was perfectly knitted - and the shape is very flattering on the body. The black is nice and saturated, and the 'trim' is simple enough that you can play around with textured tights or go straight school girl with basic opaques. If weather permits, it looks fantastic with a simple black court shoe (or a bright if you're more daring), but if it's icy out and a heel means you'll wind up on your back on the pavement, this dress will also look great with a knee high wedge boot. (And don't most people want you taking your shoes off at the door anyway? I once had trouble getting a party guest who arrived with a friend of mine to take off her high heeled boots after coming in with slush all over them, she didn't want anyone to know how short she was. We already knew. When I pressed it she hopped up on the kitchen counter and stayed there most of the night.) And as for accessories? Styling can be fun, but I love it when the outfit is enough and a simple pair of earrings is all you need to finish the look. This is that dress.
Shapewear.co.uk Ok, this is a bit weird because I am showing you my underwear, though that's not me in them (but you can think that if you want to). On the left is the greatest underwear ever, called Edgies (£9.99) due to their breathable Wonderful Edge® silicone finish at the legs that keeps them in place, and it really does, without any rubbing or irritation. In other words, you won't be dying to get them off at the end of the day. They're made of a microfibre that is so fine it's like wearing nothing, so they're invisible and totally comfortable. I go with the boy short style but they also come in other styles. In the middle is the Body Wrap Boy Short (£19.95) which is also invisible, seamless, light and comfortable. I go for these when I'm wearing a dress for a bit more smoothness through the hip. They come in a range of fashion colours and I love the Diva Dot in beige. Lastly, because I have a drawer full of bodyshapers that I just hate because they have weird seams that show through clothes in unfortunate places, and are not at all comfortable to wear (rhymes with 'Spranx'), I tried something different to wear under jersey dresses that hide no secrets. The Full Smoothing Bodyslip (£32.95) is by the same people that make the Edgies, so it's seamless and the hem doesn't ride up. And you don't need to wear a bra with it, it's got molded cups with adjustable straps and it does the trick for me (still feeling weird about telling you this). It's only a '1' for control (the lowest level) but it definitely holds you in. And there it is! If you're frustrated with your shapewear or even just your every day wear (Edgies are awesome for jeans and working out) I highly recommend giving these a try. And they're not expensive either. Win-win!
Pure + simple's Kristen Ma explains why natural skincare is important for our health as well as beauty
Ten years ago, I walked into a beauty shop and spa next door to my office building at Yonge & Eglinton in Toronto. I'd worked next to Pure + simple for quite a while, but until that day had hesitated to venture in. The name suggested natural skincare, and I'd come to mistrust those who claimed to sell natural skincare products because I knew that a hugely popular, global company that based their entire philosophy on the concept were not as they appeared, and there had been an exposé on some smaller producers of 'natural' products mostly sold in health stores, which made me believe there was really no such genuine thing being sold commercially. (At this time I had no reference for Pure + simple, unaware of their stellar reputation in the city and many awards. I was still kind of new in town.)
Do the Opposite
I finally walked through their door when I'd had enough of being greeted by the oil slick on my face in the washroom mirror at work. I'd never had oily skin before and didn't know what was going on. I bought blotting papers but they were a temporary measure. (One day my male director appeared around the corner of my cubicle and found me with one stuck to my forehead and each cheek, I'd just left them on for some reason. I said "Um, I've got a bit of an oil problem." Better to be honest because it certainly warranted an explanation, he thought I'd decorated my face with Post-its.) So I found myself standing in Pure + simple when a young woman, with skin so clear and fresh it reminded me of what skin is actually meant to look like, approached. I told her about my problem and she explained that my skin was dehydrated and was compensating by producing more oil, and that I needed a heavier moisturiser to rehydrate and balance it. The last thing I wanted to put on my visibly oily skin was cream, especially a heavy one, but nothing I was doing was helping so I thought that sounded crazy enough to work. (Ever since that Seinfeld episode I've believed there was something to the notion of doing the opposite of what you'd normally do if life isn't going so well - and I'm happily married because of it. I can't believe I have George Costanza to thank for that.) I bought the moisturiser she recommended and was really impressed that she was so confident about the principle behind what she was telling me, yet she was not at all pushy about it. I put it on that night and again in the morning. I remember the next day my face was hardly shiny at all and I couldn't believe how quickly it turned around, and the oil never returned. Needless to say, I went back. I wanted to know more.
Kristen Ma and Ayurveda
That vibrant young woman with the enviable complexion was Kristen Ma, co-owner of Pure + simple Inc., along with her mother Jean Eng. They created their first product range after finding nothing suitable on the market to address their skincare needs. I found out that there is a specific ideology behind their holistic spas that I wasn't familiar with - both are Ayurveda practitioners in addition to being highly skilled estheticians, and approach the attainment of beauty through health. Kristen explains it for us in her first book Beauty: Pure + Simple - a must-read for anyone frustrated with their skin despite having tried everything, or just not feeling generally well (the two go hand-in-hand). Ayurveda guides us to live in harmony and beauty, according to our individual constitutions, known as doshas, and our environment. Unlike western medicine which focuses on alleviating symptoms and conditions with drugs and surgery, Ayurveda searches for the root cause and treats ailments from this perspective. It specifically considers the characteristics of the individual, while understanding that our mind, body and environment are always changing. Makes good sense, eh? I've been on the other side of the Atlantic for the past seven years but I always come back to Pure + simple when I visit Toronto - they do the most heavenly facials which are second to none, I've got one booked just before Christmas - and their products and advice always straighten me out.
Although I've been a Pure + simple devotee for over a decade, somehow the only products I'd tried from their proprietary line were their organic hydrosols which I just love - I alternate between rose and lavender, the latter also being great for oily scalps and refreshing what I call 'plane face' after a long flight. All of my skin and body products had come from their shops but from other high quality natural and organic lines they carried. Well, recently I found out what I was missing and was also introduced to products from the new specialised Holistic Vanity lines for Damage Care and Rosacea Care, Kristen's brainchild. All are made locally in Toronto using undiluted and concentrated, organic, therapeutic ingredients harvested seasonally and are free from ALL of the harmful ingredients commonly found in commercial beauty products (you can see a list of the undesirables at the bottom of this page).
So what do I think? I love the completeness of the Damage Care line which offers a treatment for each sin you've put your skin through at one time or another resulting in cellular injury. I'm guilty of causing some: sun damage (when I was a teen they still sold suntan oil with no SPF!) which leaves you with hyperpigmentation that becomes more pronounced as you age, and the thing we all do even though we know we shouldn't - picking. Those little scars your mother warned you you'd cause if you didn't leave your spots alone but you'd escape to the bathroom to willingly annihilate your face in private? Got some. Add the effects of pollution, stress and free radical damage and pretty much anyone will have a skin issue that needs addressing.
These products gently yet effectively help improve specific damage symptoms:
Rejuvenating Rosewater Cleanser
- It all starts with proper cleansing. This milk formulation hydrates
depleted skin as it removes damaging surface impurities. My skin looks
so fresh afterward as it contains absolutely no stripping agents to
cleanse the skin.
Repairing Rosehip Skin Tonic - This tonic smells heavenly, thanks to water extracted from the
rosehip fruit. Rosehip has been found to be excellent in treating pigmentation and is
one of the only natural, non-bleaching ingredients to do this
effectively. It's a treat to put on your face.
Edit: I clued in this morning that I didn't give the Rosehip tonic enough credit! I use it twice a day after cleansing and the lightning fast, almost complete removal of the hyperpgimentation on the sides of my face is probably due more to the tonic than the lotion below. The lotion surely does the job, too, but I use different moisturising products from this list on different days, and the tonic is consistently applied twice a day so I think I owe it the credit for this small miracle of a transformation. Use it with the brightening lotion below and you'll be rid of that 'dirty face' look in days. Seriously. It's been three weeks for me and there's hardly anything there.
Brightening Hyaluronic Lotion - Something about the combination of seaweed extracts and the 15 percent hyaluronic acid - one of the best actives for increasing skin hydration and encouraging cellular repair - makes this hyperpigmentation fighting lotion work. I'd only used it a few times and wasn't even looking for any improvement as it was so early, when I noticed that the 'sandy' look on the sides of my face was reduced, looking a lot less blotchy and now barely noticeable. Amazing. And it achieves this without bleach. (Why would you put bleach on your face?!)
Regenerating Seabuckthorn Berry Oil - This is the healing one, helping to repair skin marks, weak tissue immunity and scarring. Loaded with nutrients, it's
great for undernourished skin types and it also provides topical protection as a shielding barrier for
damaged complexions. I still get a little surprised when I pump it and see its bright crimson colour from the Seabuckthorn Berry oil. But don't worry, the addition of evening primrose oil prevents it from staining your skin. I feel like I'm giving my skin a hug when I put on this soothing oil.
Restorative Raw Argan Oil - When my skin is angry (those hormonal times so enjoyed by my loved ones) I turn to this oil that repairs broken out, sun damaged, and inflamed complexions and helps to restore balance and increase tissue health. Made with raw argan, this oil is crafted with care by the artisans of an
all-female co-operative in western Morocco. Its entire
extraction process is done completely by hand and sustainably, employing
a zero-waste approach.
And I have one product from their excellent Rosacea Care line which is the Comforting Camellia Oil. I don't have rosacea but my skin can go red and blotchy for some reason at times, so I'm glad I have this on hand. It contains skin comforting Camellia (green tea oil) as well as the ancient
Ayurvedic anti-inflammatory Turmeric (also known as curcumin), and
permeates deeply to charge the skin with extra resilience.
Don't be afraid of using these oils on on your face - all Pure +
simple oil products are free of petrolatum and parabens and are
non-comedogenic, meaning they will not cause breakouts. I can attest to this!
We've had some face-stripping windy and bitter weather here by the sea recently, and if my skin isn't protected properly I come home looking looking like a fine leather glove left on the radiator to dry out (I know what this looks like because I stupidly did this once). So on those days I've been using Pure + simple's Nourishing Sunflower Cream with an oil on top of that, and not once have I come in from the cold resembling a wizzened leather good. And you can't forget the lips - their Organic Lip Oil in Lavender calms inflamed, sensitive lips (I use this when my lips are so weather beaten I could cry) while the Peppermint freshens and plumps as well as hydrates.
About the oils: Kristen recommends blotting your skin with a tissue if you look oily, but I've never needed to, it absorbs completely into my skin and you would never know I put oil on my face. I always rub the excess oil left on the palms of my hands onto the backs, and from just this tiny amount I have seen a major transformation in how old my hands look. (Has anyone else looked down only to be horrifed that your hands look 20 years older than your face?) I am now a total oil convert. As long as it's Pure + simple.
For more advice on how to find that healthy balance visit Kristen's blog Holistic Vanity, and see her fantastic YouTube channel for all kinds of insightful videos including collaborations with other Toronto experts on topics such as healthy digestion, anti-inflammatory diets and DIY all- natural styling and beauty products.
Pure + simple has three Toronto locations and one in Oakville, Ontario, and they offer their entire product range for sale through their online shop. And yes - they ship internationally!
Two Sundays ago I went down to Darlington to Bannatyne's Health Club to review their 2 For 1 Pamper Day for Virgin Experience Days (£75). Needless to say, I didn't need asking twice. (And if there was ever a time for destressing, this was it. I was this <-> close to doing the crazy dance down the street in the middle of the night, possibly without pants.) The package included a choice of a Swedish Back, Neck & Shoulder Massage or Bannatyne Pick me Up Facial, finished with a scalp massage, plus full use of the health club facilities. When I booked the appointments for myself and the friend I'd invited to join me, I chose the Swedish massage and also took advantage of a half price offer to add an extra half hour service at £15, and I went with the Elemis facial because I had a sinus infection and thought my face could use something nice beyond nasal sprays and tissues shoved into it. (That could have backfired - I'd forgotten that my left eyebrow hurt when touched!) I was so looking forward to this relaxing and fun girls' day, though I did wonder if anything could be capable of chilling me out completely - my homeostasis had become 'hot mess'.
Little did I know the calming powers of this lovely pamper day were going to be truly tested. The day got off to a rough start when something happened on my way down to Darlington and made me see red. I honestly didn't think I'd be able to enjoy it and feared the day was ruined before it began. When I got to Bannatyne's, I checked in and was offered the spa kit of a plush and comfy white robe, slippers and a bag for £3, the latter two you can keep. I took it. Beyond the desk was the cafe which had lots of couches and magazine racks for relaxing with your refreshments, and there were about eight women in their robes and slippers having coffee which I thought was kind of neat - I didn't have to get dressed to have lunch! (Yes, that is exciting to me.) The staff were very friendly and I was taken on a tour of the facilities, then left to do whatever I wanted for the next four hours, at which time I would start my spa appointments. My friend was joining me a little later so I went off to change.
I was already feeling optimistic. Some places meant for relaxation don't feel quite right, as if the spa has been shoehorned into a gym and there are two opposing vibes happening at once, but Bannatyne's has a warm calm that runs through the entire place, it seems everyone is there for the same reason and are respectful of others and so are very whispery. In the changeroom, which is large and spacious with a flat screen TV and wood lockers and benches which made it feel very homey, I noticed straight away how new looking and clean everything is, and very well-attended. Staff were always around taking care of things - no Sunday skeleton crew here. This was consistent throughout the entire complex, and I realised how rare that is these days now that doing the bare minimum seems to be the norm.
I decided I would start with the tough stuff and went up to the first level of the gym. I chose to really challenge myself with a brisk walk on the treadmill. (Ok, I've had a torn meniscus, running and me do not mix. But I did raise the incline!) Then I went up to the floor above for a change of scenery and proceeded to do every single weight machine. I know you're supposed to only work out two or so muscle groups at once but who knew when I was going to have access to a gym again, so I really went for it. I loved the machines - they were more innovative than what I've previously seen despite being in some very modern gyms in the past, working out the muscles in new ways. (I was careful not to load too much weight so that I could move the next day, and I'm glad to say that I did not wake up decrepit and unable to dress myself.)
Once the sweaty stuff was over it seemed logical that I go for a swim and sauna. The pool area, like the rest of the club, looked brand new. For me, and likely every other human being, I can't enjoy swimming if the area is even slightly grungy so I was thrilled at how shiny and perfectly clean it all was. I went into the pool and took the slow lane. I attempted to swim and realised my arms were too tired from doing so many weight machines - big surprise - so I did a kind of slow-motion sprint in the water for several laps and tried to convince myself that it looked totally normal to be doing this. After that I thought I'd have a first-time go at the steam room. I'm not really good with breathing in saunas and therefore had never tried a steam, but I wanted to so I opened the door, couldn't breathe while still standing outside it and said to the woman sitting in there 'Uh, I can't do this!' and closed the door. I'm sure she appreciated that. I wasn't totally giving up and so I went into the sauna next to it. There was a young couple in there and we chatted a bit which kept me in there for a lot longer than I thought I'd be able to do. And then the magic happened. When I walked out, I felt something I'm not sure I've ever felt before: true relaxation - it does exist! That thing that had me so vexed earlier was now like a baby deer prancing around on candy floss in my head, it was all good. And it was going to get better. I got out of the wet stuff and after a huge tuna and veg salad in the cafe - in my robe! - I went up to the relaxation room and decided immediatey that I would like to live in this room. It had those spa loungers that are made of heated tiles, and two waterbeds covered with thick velour blankets, and I wish I had a room at home with one of each. (Lottery tickets.) There was a table that was being replenished of pitchers of ice water and platters of fresh fruit - see, well-attended! - and so I poured a glass, took a banana and a magazine and luckily got a heated ounger after a few minutes. Heaven. My friend joined me a few minutes later and we hung around until it was time to go down to the spa for our appointments.
It says a lot about a place when you're completely at ease before you've even had your services! I had to ask for an upgrade to my massage because my back, well my everything really, is one huge monkey fist and a gentle Swedish massage was going to be like trying to move a ton of concrete with a feather. So I had the bamboo massage for an extra £5 and it was a good compromise between a deep tissue which would have left me really sore, and the Swedish. It was nice, loosened me up without killing me, and then we went straight into the facial. My aesthetician, Gemma, was lovely and gave me the heavenly scalp massage while one of the masks was doing its magic. Afterward, we wanted to let the feeling linger a little longer (forever) and so we went back up to the relaxation room which we now had all to ourselves. I took the waterbed and felt so relaxed that I wished I could somehow ride that bed home all the way home, get it through the front door and stay on it until morning.
Needless to say, my Pamper Day at Bannatyne's was a resounding success - I highly recommend going yourself to your local or buying a voucher as a gift for friends or family. I only wish we had one in Newcastle. But I'll be going back. I've got a steam room to conquer.
Recently I was asked by Zalando.co.uk to review something from their site, and after spending hours contemplating a wishlist I'd whittled down from thousands of items (and that was just the dresses and shoes!), I decided on the 'Amy' printed dress by Komodo, £40. My criteria was simple: it had to be light, comfortable and not waist-centric (something belted at this moment would be like putting a rubber band around a telephone pole), yet it should be flattering, of course. Always a sucker for blue, I was instantly attracted to the petrol floral and leaf print dress I found when I searched the 'jersey' options.
I needed something light to take with me to Toronto when we go for our annual visit in July. Ontario in summer is a place where leather and vinyl seats are not your friend and will try to become one with you against your will. Walking out of Pearson Airport to what might as well be the surface of the sun, you need to be wearing as little clothes as possible, yet still maintain your dignity. And lord help you if you don't like your arms or legs because sleeves and long pants in 46° C with the Humidex will microwave you where you stand.
When I received the dress - all orders are delivered free - I could immediately tell that the cotton was organic which is one of the fabrics Kimodo is known for, the other two being hemp and soy. It is super-soft and has that lovely raw, natural colour, and the print was pretty and nicely saturated, as I'd expected. The fit was quite snug for a dress in a size I normally take which was medium, and I was going to exchange it - returns are free within 30 days via the Yodel Collect+ service in your area - but I kept putting it off, and funny enough I lost a few pounds in the meantime (thank you, pink bicycle!), and now it looks pretty good! It's super-comfy, and when it inevitably clings to me when I dare venture out of the comfort of air-con, that won't be such a bad thing.
I remember the rollers that my mum would put in my hair when I was little, they were similar to these Sleep-in Rollers (above) in that they were pink and foam, but they had a built-in plastic clip that locked them in which didn't feel too good while sleeping. It made me have dreams that my head was caught in a chicken-wire fence. And then when I was a bit older, my hair was curled with these hard plastic steam rollers that had notches on them, they were really heavy and poked your scalp, and I'm pretty sure they were a torture device modified into a beauty product. As a teen I tried the cut-up rag method. I twisted each tiny section super-tight, just to be sure, and tied a strip of torn pillow case around each one. When I undid them in the morning - and I'm not exaggerating even slightly - the sides of my hair were parallel with the top of my head. I looked like Roseanne Roseannadanna. I tried to put a hat on to flatten it and looked like this.
Curling irons, no matter the size of the barrel, also proved disastrous. Some pieces wouldn't curl at all, and the ones that did looked like transplants from the head of a 1980s cheerleader. It's been years and years since I gave up the notion of big, bouncy hair. But I'd been thinking about trying again, I have long brown hair that reminds me daily that I only have one trick: the blow-out. So when I received an email about Sleep-in Rollers recently, a nice and simple foam roller just like the originals and covered with Velcro, I asked if I could review a set. Lovely Loti sent me two packs of 10 rollers each and a pink storage bag, which is what you get when you buy a set (currently priced at £16.50) plus a pouch of Kirby hair grips which you can purchase separately (£3.50), or use your own if you already have them. (The rollers stay put on their own but the grips will keep them snug so you get the most out of your curl.)
So the other night I went for it. I followed the recommendation that they work best on clean, dry hair. Because I take three times as long to do anything (my husband will eagerly confirm this), and I've never been good at doing my own hair, I was expecting I'd be at the bathroom mirror until my eyes were about to fall out. To my delight, I had my hair rolled in 10 minutes and they were so light I kept forgetting I had a head that had doubled in circumference. And despite the length of my hair I had three rollers left over, so the set should be enough for mostly everyone.
Time for the real test: could I have a good night's sleep in them? The foam core is meant to flatten when you lie down. So I put my head on the pillow. At first it felt like I had two pillows under my head. I could feel the Velcro touching my scalp, but it didn't hurt or itch. It couldn't have been bad because I was soon asleep and slept through the night. I think once you settled into the pillow, the rollers slowly collapse so they become more comfortable a few minutes on. In the morning I couldn't feel the same sensation I felt when I first put my head down.
And the final test: did my hair curl? I took them out and had noticeably bouncy hair with a lot of body, which was exactly what I was going for. I didn't use heat or any product, not even hairspray, and I've still got volume the next morning.
Final verdict: I will use my Sleep-in Rollers again, and that's saying a lot coming from someone who has no patience for fussy or time-consuming grooming rituals and is totally inept at hair styling.
If you want to have a go yourself, you can buy Sleep-in Rollers here, and you'll also find tips for how to use them if, like me, you need some styling tutelage!
The books I loved most as a little girl had two elements in common: lovely and colourful pictures, and enchanting stories. The stuff of wonderful daydreams that made childhood magical. As the years have passed, I've found that through their vivid imagery and words, these affections have remained firmly embedded in the mind and in the heart.
So what a treat is to continue the tradition, thanks to Birds of a Feather Shop Together, a gorgeous and witty book of 'Aesop's Fables for the Fashionable Set', adapted by author Sandra Bark who serves up life lessons with delicious fashion savvy. Bil Donovan masterfully brings the fables to life with his vibrant watercolour and ink illustrations, taking the anthology from bookshelf to proud display.
It's such a joy to read; a fashion and beauty indulgence that feels a bit of a guilty pleasure until you reach the end of the tale and see that fashion and morals can indeed coexist! The original stories are found at the back of the book, though once you've read Bark's there's no going back.
This book has become one of my daughter's favourites, and when I have to put it down because it's bedtime, she invariably reaches over and opens it back up to have a longer look at Bil's illustration for that story. I love that this book is one she'll remember for the rest of her life.
Birds of a Feather Shop Together is a hardcover book (the cover has a gorgeous texture with brilliant colour saturation) published by Harper Collins and includes 17 illustrated stories plus their originals. It is available to buy for £12.95.
Huge thanks to Bil Donovan for introducing me to this beautiful book and to Harper Collins for providing the copy. It is much loved.
About the author and illustrator:
Sandra Bark is a New York Times bestselling author who collaborates on books with notable figures. The founder and curator of the street art blog the Scenic Sidewalk, Sandra lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Bil Donovan is a fashion illustrator whose work has appeared in various publications and advertising campaigns worldwide. A brand ambassador for Christian Dior Beauty, he teaches fashion illustration at the Fashion Institute of Technology and is the author of Advanced Fashion Drawing: Lifestyle Illustration and illustrator of The Dress Doctor. He lives in New York City.
To read about Bil on The Swelle Life, including our interview, browse the Bil Donovan category here.
Here's a look at some the book's stunning story illustrations, by Bil Donovan:
'Birds of a Feather' - the level of detail is just incredible!
My new Lacoste Chantemars from Zalando.co.uk having a moment in the garden
I know, they're not terribly exciting. I have some very exciting shoes in my closet - hot pink patent Sergio Rossi glads, Fendi braided platforms, Proenza Schouler peep-toe studded heels. But how often do I get to wear them? Hardly ever, and when I do I am in the kind of pain where I would eagerly trade them for giant clown shoes if they gave me some relief. So I don't need any more sexy-pain shoes. I need foot-friendly shoes I can slip on, every day comfy ones that would go with just about anything but still look put together. Flats and plimsolls are out because they have no arch support, a heel makes no sense for me even if tiny, and I can't walk on wood - no clogs! - so the obvious choice is a wedge.
Zalando.co.uk gave me £40 to spend on any item from their site, and I had to go with a shoe option as I was desperate for something seasonal to replace the MBT boots I've been wearing mercilessly since September.
I saw the Lacoste Chantemar leather raffia wedges, and since I do like the classic style of a slingback and the height was a sensible 2" that would allow me to dash to the metro without breaking my leg if I was running late (which is always), I ordered them in navy at £65. I had read customer reviews and the consensus seemed to be that Lacoste shoes fit a bit large, so I went down half a size and they were the perfect length. They're comfortable (I've been wearing them around the house like slippers), they look good and they appear to be made with solid construction (an absolute must!). And I like that the cover sole is textile as is the interior of the upper, so I'll avoid getting sweaty and slippy-slidey while walking around on a hot day. Just one thing to note - the back strap fits a tiny bit loose. I do have a very narrow foot, but I've never had a problem with the strap fitting. It's not so loose that I can't walk in them, and feet do hot up quickly and swell when you hit the pavement, so I'm keeping them, considering all other boxes were ticked. Also, I think the elastic bit could be tightened by a shoemaker if it was crucial.
Now, I just need some proper spring weather so I can take my lovely new shoes for a stroll!
(Fun fact: Daniel Day-Lewis left acting for a time after making The Boxer to apprentice as a shoemaker in Florence, Italy!)
I was given a £40 voucher by Zalando.co.uk to spend on anything in the shop and I chose the Nümph Amalie dress. I know what you're thinking - with all of the pretty dresses out there, why something so plain? Well, here's why. Jersey is comfortable, grey is easy and classic, and the skater style accommodates holiday gluttony very well. (That is an essential at the moment). It can be accessorised with just about anything you've got in your drawer and you can wear it over and over without getting sick of it. (I have and it washes very well, no pilling!)
I also had my eye on some maxi dresses at Zalando but those will have to wait until my life is a bit more glamorous. (I have May 17 marked in my diary as the big day where everything turns sparkly, we'll see if it pans out.)
Does this dress, and the idea of wearing it over and over, remind anyone else of that Seinfeld episode where the girl Jerry's dating wears the same black and white skater dress every time he sees her? He's intrigued as to whether it's the same dress or she has a whole wardrobe of them, or that he just keeps seeing her when she's done laundry, like it's the first outfit in the rotation. (You can always tell when a (straight) man writes about women's things, like we have set days for certain clothes. "Yay! It's cranberry tunic with skinny jeans Monday!")
So they go back to hers so she can change, and while she's in her room Jerry can't resist the urge to peak in her closets and gets caught. She tells him the night is over and later he calls to see her again (so he can decipher the mystery, of course) and here's what happens:
I wanted something easy and cool for the oppressively hot and humid Toronto weather I was about to be dealing with - it's brutal! - but something that still covered and had some shape. I liked the crochet edging all over the dress and thought the band on the loose waist would nicely accommodate my plans to shamelessly indulge in Toronto's fantastic food - so far so good! The crepe is nice and light and a lovely deep pewter colour. For those who don't love their arms (me at the moment), the short drop sleeves are the perfect style for coolness and coverage, and the wide crochet in lieu of a seam acts like little vents.
The dress has side slits edged in crochet which were a surprise as they weren't shown or mentioned on the product page, and at first I was worried they would make the dress a bit more 'leggy' than I'd like, but they are on the shorter side and aren't particularly revealing. All modesty remains intact and they're a cute feature.
I should also mention this dress is very comfortable, so much so that I slept in it last night! I'd like to blame lingering jet lag for my laziness, please.
Zalando.co.uk offers shoes, clothing and accessories for women, men and children as well as beauty products and even sports gear. Delivery is always free in the UK as is return shipping - very nice!
This post is sponsored; however, the content is original (obviously)
Admittedly, I am well past the hoodie phase of dressing. But I do remember the days, during my raver era (not the candy kind, I never had fun fur pants) when a hoodie was essential kit for comfort when leaving a club at 8am. The hood and its accomplice, big dark sunglasses, were the perfect cover when I needed to walk the streets home, incognito, amongst the productive, early risers who were on their way to work on a sunny Sunday morning. It felt conspicuous and awkward to be caught out being nocturnal, and it was then I realised I would never succeed at being a vampire.
Looking at BANK Fashions Women's Hoodies I see a few styles that have nice details beyond the standard issue. Ribbon ties add a soft touch, duffle fastenings are neat and remind me of Paddington Bear which is always a good thing, and the red military style makes me want to grab some xylophone sticks and play some notes on its sequined frogging. Very cute.
I cannot end a post about hoodies without mentioning what just may be (let's hope) the craziest hoody ever conceived of. Our Judith of Frankly Frankland is a huge Tupac fan. She could not resist snapping up a most ridiculous piece of memorabilia. It's a huge, hooded, white sweatshirt with Tupac's image on the front. He's wearing his blue gangsta bandana on his head - a real one! - and a big gold chain around his neck - a real one! - with a diamonte cross hanging from it. It's like thug découpage. Note to self: photograph Judith wearing that awesome mess very soon.
This review is sponsored; however, the content is 100% original and reflects my personal views of the company and their products
I'd always dreamed of visiting Paris before finally taking my first unforgettable trip in 2008. Before then, whenever I wanted to feel close to France I would buy something from L'Occitane. A simple bar of their lovely lavender soap would bring a bit of that beautiful calm I'd always associated with the French countryside.
I was thrilled to discover that behind the Provençal charm of the boutique and its products is a history of traditional technniques used to procure high quality, natural ingredients. L'Occitane founder Olivier Baussan took inspiration from his childhood in Provençe and began his business in well-being by producing pure Rosemary essential oil, using an old steam distiller. The villagers loved it and L'Occitane was born.
These traditions are alive and well today, and make their sensitive skincare products especially effective for the most sensitive of skins. Shea and organic cotton-based, the range is free of perfumes, colourants, alcohol or preservatives to minimise the risk of allergic reaction. In fact, L'Occitane is known for its shea, they've been producing shea butter products for 20 years. Its protective properties are very nourishing for skin and hair and there is also a regenerative quality to the rich butter of this wonderful African nut.
Enhancing the Provençal experience is L'Occitane's delicious selection of Eau de Toilette fragrances. I am absolutely in love with their Cherry Blossom scent. It's like spring in a bottle and its fresh and delicate sweetness is instantly uplifting and perfect for daily wear. I hadn't used a perfume in years but this scent changed my mind about wearing a fragrance, instantly. Très joli!
Can you ever have enough tea dresses? Recently I was offered the opportunity to review an item of my choice under £50 from JoeBrowns.co.uk. Staying true to type I immediately went searching for a pretty frock and found an extensive selection of women's dresses. While there's a range of styles to suit most occasions, the common link was ease and comfort - perfect as I was hoping my choice would take me through long days of walking around Paris next week in warm spring weather.
In the end, my love of 40s styling, florals and pale blue won me over and so I went with the Flippy Tea Dress, priced at £29.95. It fits on the larger side so I had to go down a size (which I certainly didn't mind) and it's very open in the front, so you need to wear a little camisole under it and expect that you will see a lot of it as the ruffle will flip out unless you pin it down. (That just reminded me I have two 1930s silk and crochet camisoles that would be a pretty complement to the ruffle neckline.) The waist is high and elasticated - much appreciated during a week of gorging on French pastries - which is covered by a tie belt. My favourite detail is the little front fabric covered, loop-fastened buttons.
The fabric is a gorgeous pale blue with rose and cherry coloured flowers and little white dots all over, in a very soft viscose. The easy style and softness of the fabric make it extremely comfortable, so much that I considered sleeping in it! I didn't want to take it off.
I'd recommend this dress for pretty and super-comfy daily wear - just remember to have that camisole on hand and you'll have a lovely 40s style outfit.
Get in the suitcase Flippy Tea Dress, you're coming to Paris!
A while back I was asked by Misikko.com to review two hair products, Hana Shine Shield and CHI Silk Infusion. I'm a pretty good candidate for trialing any product that is meant to make hair more manageable and healthy looking as I've got long hair, about six inches from my waist. There's a lot of it but it's fine and can puff out if I've got even very long layers in the back, which I do right now. No one likes a bunch of pom-poms hanging from their head! I don't have the time or patience to section all of that hair so it all lies flat when I blow-dry it; I'm more the type to fire up the dryer, blow my hair all around on high speed, high heat, making a half-hearted attempt to brush it as I'm doing so. Whatever it looks llike after five minutes is what it looks like and that's how I go out of the house(at least I can't be accused of being vain!). It usually works fine but it really does bug me when the back puffs out, and I'm not going to use a straight-iron on it just to do the school run and work from home!
I was curious to see if these two products made my hair sleek enough to combat the problem, and most importantly, could they do it without weighing down my fine hair and making me look like I hadn't showered in a week? I hadn't found a product yet that delivered on this promise and I had given up buying any more. Hana Shine Shield ($29.99 for 6oz) is a thermal serum that promises lightweight, 'never greasy' conditioning that restores both hair and scalp from environmental and styling stress, with 'unparalled shine'. CHI Silk Infusion ($12.99 for 2oz) is an alcohol-free restructuring complex formulated for thermal styling and hair repair and also promises silky shine.
So, I tried them. I applied them to towel-dried clean hair and then blow-dried as I usually do. I can't tell the difference between the two products, they both give me the same results and they're good: my hair was sleeker and softer - no puffballs! - and you couldn't see the product at all, there was no greasiness even when I used it close to the roots in the front. And if I added more product I still couldn't see it, you still won't get a greasy look even if you use a generous amount, even on fine hair. As for the shine, I only colour my hair about once a year just to boost my natural colour so it's pretty shiny already after I wash and condition, but I think it does add some extra shimmer.
But the real test is whether you continue to use the product and will you miss it when it's gone? I've now been using them for months (I wanted to give a very honest and accurate review) and I don't blow-dry without them. And I will replace at least one of them when they're gone and I'm not sure which as they both do the job.
So I highly recommend either of these products. Who knew after years of wasting money that something would actually work?
Now, I must admit I wouldn't normally think of G-Star when it comes to choosing jeans for myself, a situation which presented itself recently when I was asked to review an item of my choice from www.box-clothing.co.uk. As you may have guessed, I'm not really the typical G-Star girl, I like things that are more understated that quietly hope for attention. Clothes with good manners that invite polite conversation. G-Star, or G-Star RAW I believe is their proper name, from what I gather from what I see around town, are a bolder, darker, raw and youthful brand, though they seem to be leaning toward refinement in the finishes and cuts of their New York Fashion Week showpieces.
I really needed jeans but wasn't sure I'd find something that would suit me. It's tough with jeans, you know how it is. You don't see anything you like after unfolding at least two dozen pairs, or you see a pair that looks appealing, you get them on and suddenly your bum has been transformed into something that resembles a dehydrated apple (actually, that image is from observing Mr. Swelle trying on jeans a few months ago - it's no easier for guys. My 'apple' would be the opposite of dehydrated.)
My criteria for a potentially viable pair included the following: not too light in colour or weight, not overly 'whiskered', pockets not too long, pockets not too small (we've all seen that, tiny pockets that looked lost in the middle of each seemingly disproportionate cheek and I must ask 'Why?'), a good wash without being overly done (I've seen jeans that I swear were meant to look like a flock of pigeons splattered all over them), and very important - good stretch.
And I found them! There was one pair from G-Star RAW, their Ocean Slim Fit Track Wash that looked like a winner, the wash was exactly what I like, the pockets were proportionate and they have a neat zipper on them. When I received them they were just as they looked on the site - the photos here are mine - and the jeans have really good stretch which you want and need in a skinny.
Now here's the rub. They're too small. That's because I ordered a bit smaller than my regular size. Why? Because there was no way I was wasting a new pair of jeans on my 'temporary body'. Temporary because I'm trying to shed the weight I gained unwittingly while on a medication and I don't plan for it to stay this way for much longer. I know you're laughing and shaking your head. 'You silly, silly girl', you say. Well, maybe. But we all need something to shoot for.
Based on appearances, I think they're good value at £109 considering you can spend double or triple that on a pair that uses cheaper denim, doesn't 'give' or looks weird. You can see more of the range here.
So when my new jeans fit - and they will! - I'll be back with an outfit post. Accessorised with a giant smile.
My bum will be filling these out one day. Soon I hope.