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Monday, 31 January 2011

AD Skin Synergy Essential Cleansing Balm Review

AD Skin Synergy aim to provide skincase using the finest natural and organic ingredients. The thing I like about facial balms are that they are suitable for every skin type and condition. The skin takes what it needs whether it is oilier or drier.

The products are free from petrochemicals, artificial perfumes, parabens and colourants. The range is also cruelty free.

I was provided with a tub of the Essential Cleansing Balm and muslin cloth for my review. The two are used together for best results.

The list of ingredients is very long but the balm is basically a mixture of essential oils, beeswax and plant oils such as rose flower, jasmine (yay!), lavender, coconut, jojoba and chamomile to name a few. The balm is a very pale yellow colour and melts on the fingers in to a fragrant cleansing oil.

The best way to use it is to take a small amount and massage it gently over the face and neck. I let it sit for a few moments as it needs a little time to thoroughly dissolve oils and waxes from your make up and any dirt.
Wet the muslin cloth with warm water and work down and outwards from the forehead, over the eyes gently, paying attention round the nose and down the neck. If you need to repeat do so with a rinsed cloth.

My skin was left feeling cleansed (I checked with a toner soaked cotton wool pad for any residue of make up of which there was none), soft, not greasy but not dry either. This has been a real hit as it takes everything off in one go without having to use too much. I can also use it to massage and tone my face.

My initial fear was that as the tub is small it wasn't going to last very long. I have since learned to use it more sparingly as a little goes a long way.

At £26 for 45ml tub from AD Skin Synergy website (UK postage is free). It is more expensive than other cleansing balms I have tried but I feel that it is highly effective, it doesn't irritate my sensitive skin and it is full of great quality ingredients. It is suitable for all types and ages of skin too.

The other non-skin related reason I warmed to this brand straightaway and feel that it's not actually too expensive is that AD Skin Synergy has taken on board several ethical considerations to its business. I didn't expect this when I opened the sleek silver packaging, which resembles Lancome to some extent.

The roses used in the essential oil are organic and ethically traded, but they are also grown in a community enterprise made up of more than 500 separate farms. These people work together and are rewarded at a fair rate for their long hours and intensive manual labour.

All of the orders packed in the warehouse are done so in partnership with a social enterprise, giving training, motivation, and jobs to those with disabilities. All of the profits from this social enterprise are reinvested to provide further training and jobs. This is excellent, I am so delighted with this. I firmly believe that it is possible to make money and run a sustainable, smart and ethical business.

In my opinion, a good balm is a must have essential skin care product, even better from a socially and environmentally sustainable business like AD Skin Synergy.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Have you heard the "Good News" - The Food Bible.

In defence of diets, some people really benefit from a regime, you might say that it makes life easy. Sadly I am not one of those people. I have an insatiable need to understand the rationale of a diet and most of them just fall flat for me. I also enjoy food and cooking, so I don't want low fat prepared meals or God forbid reconstituted shakes or soups. I would just rather die.

If you too are like me then I can whole-heartedly recommend this book, The Food Bible by Judith Wills. You can find it on Amazon in several editions. I bought this book after borrowing it from the library to find out more about nutrition. This was five years ago. It was such a great book I didn't want to give it back and decided to buy my first and only* "diet" book! *I did once try the Food Doctor and was very ill with migraines and sickness. I also found the recipes were disgustingly unappetising and unsatisfying. I am not that extreme and feeling like that is not worth it for some weight loss.

I can only say that when I am following Judith's sage advice, I have had better sleep, periods, weight control, skin and blood pressure. The first time I tried the plan in the book, I dropped 2 dress sizes without effort. There was no need to shred or go mad in the gym. You can comfortably lose 2lbs of real weight a week following the simple guidance in this book.

This book is about breaking and making new habits for life, it is a daily reference manual for me about what to eat at stages in my life and how to tackle health issues with nutrition and medication. If you want to find out how to kick sugar, fats and salt, and enjoy healthy appetising and satisfying food this is THE book for you too.

I enjoy cooking all of the recipes in the book, however dubious they sound, they turn out beautifully, they taste amazing and even Mr OJ is happy. I do still eat chocolate and bake cakes, but I don't rely on them for comfort.

After about two months of dedication, steady weight loss and happiness I tend to stray and then come back to this book consistently. It is always on the recipe book stand in the kitchen, open to the 1500 calories a day, 7 day eating plan or a recipe I want to make later on.

So for all those weight watchers, slim fasters and shredders out there, are you setting yourself up to fail with short termism? You really need to change the link between emotions and food as well as your lifestyle and not just for a few months but forever. Only then will you truly break free of it's grip.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

No one escapes the make over chair!

It's true, no one escapes the make over chair, mwuaahahahahaha!

Kemba is no exception. Our husbands are good friends but we had never met before, but I feel now that we have bonded over make up. She probably still thinks I am quite mad though.
Kemba tells me that before she moved to the UK and got married she was a fervent wearer of make up. Now when she goes for a visit she feels completely under dressed make up wise as her friends still love to wear bright and striking make up.
Barefaced apart from a light buff of mineral foundation by Obsessed Minerals.

To remedy this, Kemba and I decided to create a carnival inspired look using gold, a hint of orange and charcoal with a light dusting of irridescent sparkle for that Rio de Janeiro show girl look!

The show stopping look.

Products used:
Urban Decay Primer Potion
Sugar Pill Chromalust loose eye shadow in Gold
Coastal Scents Smokey Palette (36 shades)
Bourjois Ultra Care Mascara
NYX Eye liner in Black
e.l.f Healthy Glow Bronzing Powder in Luminance
Obsessed Minerals Lip gloss in Hot Child

Next up was a more wearable smoky eye look with a hint of colour.

I didn't like the lipstick although it's a wonderful everyday colour for Kemba, it doesn't go with a smoky eye! I did put on a bright fuchsia but Kemba was scared witless by it!
Personally I think it was awesome.

So we switched back to the Hot Child lipgloss by Obsessed Minerals.

Products used in this look:
NYX jumbo pencil in black bean
Coastal Scents Smokey eye palette of 36 colours.
Bourjois Ultra Care Volume mascara
Sleek Blusher
Lumiere Cosmetics Loose Corrector setting powder in Sunflower.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

O2 Intraceuticals Infusion Facial with Julia Hart

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to be invited to Julia Hart's Treatment Rooms at the Hale Clinic in West London for a O2 Intraceuticals Infusion Facial.

Julia is a leading holistic skin therapist who combines high technology treatments and skincare with an in depth knowledge of nutrition and natural therapies. Julia offers tailor made treatments and is very choosy about the products she recommends for both treatments and at home for her clients.

After an introductory discussion about my skin and sensitivities, I was soon relaxing under a blanket preparing for the facial. A pre cleanse and massage was refreshing and relaxing. I didn't much like the professional Clarisonic as combined with steam it stung a little on my sensitive skin. I am such a wimp when it comes to scrubbing my face, I am a lover not a fighter and prefer peaceful resolution! Although not painful, I didn't find it a pleasant sensation.

I didn't really know what to expect from Hollywood's best kept secret, Madonna being a top fan of this treatment. I can honestly see why she loves it as I did too and I will go on to explain.

Julia takes an airbrush with a high pressure compressor attached. The hyperbaric O2 (higher concentration of oxygen) is used to carry the O2 rejuvenating serum deep in to the skin. Deeper than you can go with conventional non invasive (needle) treatments. The serum contains plenty of hyaluronic acid and antioxidants that are great for plumping, smoothing and nourishment.

After the treatment, which is stimulating but comfortable as the air tickles my nose, my skin felt soft and radiant. I can say that I was more wrinkle free than I have been in a decade. I noted in particular that around the eyes and between my eye brows, I was line free. All wrinkles were reduced and flattened out.

This is not a permanent effect alas, this treatment only lasts up to 7 days at most. I would thoroughly recommend it for a pre wedding or special occasion treatment if you have fine lines and want some radiance and plumping for your special day. If you have been unwell and have dehydrated or congested skin, which I had, then this is the perfect treatment for you. It is a little more expensive than a standard facial treatment but the effects last longer and are visibly impressive.

Thank you Julia for introducing me to this fantastic treatment, I am already scanning my diary for an excuse to come again.

Treatments start from £120 each, find out more from

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Second chance Sunday - UNE Soft Minerals Powder Foundation

Over the years I've been given second chances by lots of people and in turn it's only fair to give some in return.

I have an apology to make to a certain product. Every time I looked at it, I shook my head disappointedly. Well not today amigo! Today is Second Chance Sunday, and I have chosen the pressed mineral foundation by UNE.

When I first tried it over the summer I simply hated it. It made my skin look like it was peeling as it clung to dry bits and dried out my skin to give me wrinkly baggy bits that I like to believe weren't there to begin with (but cannot be too sure).

So as a summer product it is not for me, however in winter it fares much better. Perhaps my skin is oilier or it interacts better with my winter skin care regime? Who knows?

But there was something very good about the colour range, it suited me perfectly. It made my skin look radiant and clear. I had to do a double take past a mirror as it was such a surprise.

UNE as a brand has been a real slow grower for me. The whole range is nearly entirely organic and I love that it is accessibly priced. It is not cheap but it isn't overly expensive either. The range is easy to buy as you can pick your shades and you will find corresponding shades across the rest of the range (say I am M08 in Foundation, I will find a corresponding concealer and powder) So it's not difficult to pick up an entire natural make up capsule from this range.

It just looks so boring! I understand it is minimal and recyclable but in an aisle of Boots it just does not shine amongst the gaudy packaging of other brands which entice and enthuse. The colours all look the same, so the subtle differences and complementary nature don't shine through in the 2 second glance it is given. Unless you know it's good, I guarantee you won't give it a second glance. I fear for the brand; it will not last long on the high turnover premium space in Boots. So get to know it whilst it's there!

One hugely important piece of advice with this brand is to use primers on the eyes and face! The products do not last or stay put without them. But if you are looking for a range of natural, beautiful tones which will suit your skin tone (i.e are not to pink or yellow) then this might be for you.

So UNE, I've given you a second chance and I'm so glad I did.

Do you have any products which deserve a second chance?

Friday, 21 January 2011

Contest Time!

Follow and subscribe to enter, then follow the instructions on the video!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Friendly Flick Tutorial

The rationale behind this Friendly Flick is that I feel that sales assistants should take note. Flamboyant and visually stunning make up may make you look amazing but to a customer it just looks intimidating. 99% of women (and that is a made up statistic but in my anecdotal evidence seems correct) don't want to look like a make up sales assistant. Customers want help with foundation/concealer colours and formulations and eye and lip colours that suit them, you know the ordinary make up that makes them feel human! It also has to be easy as the average person hasn't got the time and patience for something complicated requiring many brushes and tools!

I would thoroughly recommend Pixi (off Carnaby Street) and The Make Up Store as their assistants were friendly, helpful and not too made up. They looked like regular people with lovely make up!

Anyway, enough of my wisdom (read rant). Enjoy the friendly flick tutorial and let me know how you get on!

Monday, 17 January 2011

11 essential brushes for 2011

Make up brushes are big business, there is one to suit every possible application technique and formulation. Here are my essential eleven for 2011.

Do you have any favourite brushes, please tell me in a comment.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Mend your brushes!

I came across this method whilst I was drying some brushes. I had just finished my sister in laws make up and needed to then do mine, I quickly washed the brushes and left them to dry on a hot plate of my hair crimper.

It got very hot and loosened the glue. After an initial, uhoh, I left it to cool and it reset with no problems. It didn't take a genius to work out that I could take a separated brush head with glue still inside and handle and use heat to mend them together again! You are very welcome to call me a genius but I am just glad that I can save brushes from landfill and give them a new lease of life.

A note about plastic brushes, these are not suitable for this type of mend, I advise you to use glue.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Contouring and Highlighting Basics.

I am often asked about highlighting and contouring. This video covers the very basics using liquids to sculpt and refine features. I have a round and flat face so I love contouring and highlighting to bring out features such as my eyes and cheeks, also to change the shape of my face to more of an appealing oval.

I use waterproof camouflage liquids (Varama) as they last a lot longer than powders and have a more natural/believable finish. This technique is great for photography and video - indoors, outdoors, colour or Black/White.

Whatever you decide to use, for a natural finish use matte products and add any shimmer sparingly afterwards. Pick and choose the aspects of your face you feel need this technique, not everyone needs more cheekbones, a smaller forehead or nose sculpting. You might be emphasising or de-emphasising features that don't need it or will unbalance the final look.

You may also find that you wish to tone down the effect by using shades which are nearer your skin tone, until you get used to blending down. A perfect use for foundations and concealers which you have bought and are too light or too dark.

I apologise in advance if this video seems rushed, there's so much to say and do in a short video!

Monday, 3 January 2011

New Year's Resolutions, no thanks!

Welcome to 2011! Enjoying it so far? At this time of year I have trouble getting enthusiastic about cold weather, dark evenings and trying to keep warm! January is such a bad time to make resolutions! However, I'm very good at making resolutions and keeping to them, I don't need a New Year though. I started my resolutions before Christmas and so far they are going quite well.

Keeping fit, this hasn't suffered as much as I feared due to the snow. I couldn't get out to have a run but I did use our exercise bike at least 3 times a week. In addition to running 3 times a week my fitness levels haven't suffered too much. I recommend a plan that is published on the NHS website which eases you in to running over a 9 week plan. I used something similar which involved being patient with yourself and not expecting too much. Start jogging, stop when you need to, walk through the breathlessness or heart rate rise and then begin again. Keep going until you can't do any more. If you do this several times a week it won't seem like a punishment and the buzz you get for reaching a goal (i.e leaving the house in the cold) is worth it. Don't expect to run miles after a few weeks, but do push yourself a bit every run. Don't forget to stretch before and after and stop if you feel any pain.

Cooking. I started trying out a few new recipes before Christmas, some classics like lasagne (from Gordon Ramsay's recipe), healthy casseroles that my husband loves and easy fresh desserts. I only have one rule of healthy eating and it works for me; never eat junk food during the day. But eat a lot to keep up your energy and motivation not to snack. Don't skimp or go without breakfast and lunch, I find I have more energy and better concentration if I have about 3 meals and 2 sizeable snacks a day. This is not a diet, this is a lifestyle choice and habit I have built for the rest of my life. There's no need in my opinion to diet, if you eat a balanced diet, don't deny yourself some of life's pleasurable eating experiences. Eating in this way has given me a healthy dislike of toxic food like fried food and processed food. If you can't make it yourself from fresh and healthy ingredients, it's not worth eating.

I don't live in denial either, I do like a good dessert though but I only eat desserts I have made myself or if eating out, there is no hiding from the sugar, chocolate and butter included if you make it yourself and take responsibility for those calories and fat. Remember that dessert is not a treat, if you classify it as one you will never break your cycle of rewarding good behaviour with something bad. You find that you will eat less if you have to make it yourself as well and instead might go for a satsuma, yoghurt, hot chocolate or fruit pieces in jelly which is much easier to prepare! One of my favourite desserts at the moment is frozen berries with a pot of melted chocolate, just a small portion of chocolate, less than a single bar but it's a great way to get your vitamins, fresh fruit and a bit of a chocolate hit.

Moving house, yes again but this time we are giving up the free wheeling rental lifestyle in favour for becoming home owners. I personally hate house hunting and I am not interested in a property that needs renovation either. So it makes our choice fairly easy and now I have fingers crossed that we have a few to choose from.

Work. Work is going well, I feel strange calling it work as it doesn't feel that way. As New Business Manager, my role is pretty good fun and I enjoy the hard work. Things are going to be getting busy with opportunities going forward in 2011.

Relaxing. My other resolution is to make sure I take regular breaks and plan for those well in advance. Too many times last year did I forget to book time off and have to move my plans around for commitments beyond my control. I'd like to spend more time with my family and friends too, moving away from Oxford made it difficult to keep up with friends. Also going back to full time work and working from home make it harder to arrange casual meet ups over lunch and dinner.

Blogging and YouTube. My channels have never been part of the race for subscribers and income so I have no targets related to that. Instead I shall be concentrating on quality. I am investing in new software to improve the quality of videos as I have a great camera but the software and YouTube seem hell bent on making them look rubbish! Life as it is will mean that I won't have as much time as I have in the past to post but I do intend to produce high quality and informative videos. I think I will probably concentrate more on skin care tutorials and natural make up as I like making those videos. If it doesn't work for me or I can't wear it out, then I'm not interested in sharing the review of the products, tips for techniques and final looks. I know my audience and you're all like I was; confused about which make up and looks to wear that will look natural and flattering. 99% of women I meet don't want to look like they are wearing make up! I may occasionally give you a little more challenging looks to stretch and flex my make up muscles and skills but generally I shall leave the more extreme and celebrity looks to those with more time and accomplishment to do those.

So those are my not quite New Year Resolutions! Do you have any?
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