Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Ten Time Saving Beauty Buys

It occurred to me recently that everything I use in my beauty routine, whether it's for the face, body or hair has some sort of time saving element to it. I guess that, since becoming a mum, I've subconsciously gone for faster working products because like everything in my life right now, (think eating, cleaning, traveling, working) I am constantly in a hurry.  Even taking a shower needs to be done with a certain degree of speed. And to be honest, I love all of these products. I love that taking off my nail polish now takes five minutes, when it used to take fifteen and I love that I've found a lip colour that's so fool-proof, I can put it on without even looking in a mirror. Seriously, these products are genius. And whether you're a mum or not, I think you'll love them too.

1. Bioderma Sensibio H20, £10 (www.lloydspharmacy.com)
A cleansing water and make-up remover in one. This takes off everything incredibly fast (waterproof stuff too) and soothes any irritation and redness. Brilliant.

2. Clinique Chubby Stick Baby Tint Moisturising Lip Colour Balm, £17 (www.clinique.co.uk)
I can't stress how amazing these are. Think Crayola-thick sticks that go on like a dream, leave your lips with a subtle slick of colour and feeling lovely and soft too.

3. Tangle Teezer, £10.60 (www.tangleteezer.com)
I've raved about this so much but my fine hair genuinely couldn't be without it. I can brush my hair straight after showering with this and it will be completely tangle and tear-free.

4. Bourjois Magic Nail Polish Remover Hands & Feet, £5.99 (www.feelunique.com)
Happy, happy dance. I am so overjoyed that they now do this for hands and feet. Buy this and trust me, you will never buy another nail polish remover again. It's that good.
5. Lancome Flash Bronzer Self-Tanning Mousse, £24 (www.boots.com
As a beauty editor, I have tried so many self-tans and though this isn't a newbie, it's still one of my favourites. It blends easily, works immediately and gives the most natural looking colour.

6. Garnier BB Cream Original, £6.66 (www.boots.com)
I think this was the first BB cream to hit the UK and though I've tried loads of others I still think this is the best. It's so easy to wear and the best thing for transforming tired looking skin.

7. Nivea In-Shower Body Moisturiser, £2.37 (www.boots.com)
I'm rubbish at applying body lotions post-shower so this feels like it was made for me. Just shower as normal, apply onto wet skin and dry off. No need for moisturising afterwards. Whoop!

8. Philip Kingsley One More Day Dry Shampoo, £13.50 (www.feelunique.com)
I love dry shampoos but this one really does stand out. It's packed with soothing ingredients so won't irritate the scalp and it's brilliant at absorbing oil when you haven't had time to shampoo.

9. Clinique High Impact Extreme Volume Mascara, £18 (www.clinique.co.uk)
Clinique call this a 'does-it-all' mascara and it's easy to see why. It lengthens, adds stacks of volume, curls a little and gives the glossiest black finish. Love.

10. Percy & Reed Lovingly Light Foaming Treatment Mask, £20 (www.percyandreed.com)
This is great. Most hair masks invariably leave my fine hair feeling weighed down but I use this just once a week (it takes two minutes) and it's healthier, softer and shinier looking immediately.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Better You MultiVit Oral Spray

Lately, I seem to have been dealing with one cold/infection/bug after another and so I've made a little pact with myself to try and get a bit more healthy. In general my diet is pretty good I think but like most people, I'm guilty of eating way too much sugar and caffeine to up my energy levels morning, mid-afternoon and, erm, evening. And it can't be good for me. Anyway. The first thing I really wanted to do was to find some good multi-vitamins and to actually start taking them. Regularly. Not just every few days when I'm feeling really knackered and think it might do me some good. Vitamins don't come cheap and really, what's the point if I'm not going to take them every day.
This is why I love BetterYou MultiVit Oral Spray, £9.95. It's brilliantly good because it pretty much does the job for you. No need to spend precious minutes grabbing a glass of water and prizing open one of those child-proof boxes of pills. Nope. You literally spray this directly under your tongue, four times a day and you're done. Aside from ease, this is also a good thing because the spray delivers the 14 active ingredients directly into the blood vessels under the tongue, which apparently enhances their absorption. And if you're wondering about the flavour? It's described as 'delicious' sour grape, which, in all honesty, isn't quite how I'd describe it but no matter; this ticks so many of my boxes I can stand a little sourness. 
You can buy BetterYou MultiVit Oral Spray here at Victoria Health.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The best book about being a mum

When I had my first child, Max, I was genuinely surprised at how hard I found the whole experience. I really couldn't fathom how I was meant to look after a baby, whilst getting the weekly shop sorted, keeping the flat tidy, ensuring we all had clean (and dry) clothes and getting myself showered and dressed. And all on about five hours of sleep. What made it even more difficult was that everyone around me seemed to be coping just fine with their new arrivals. At the weekly catch-ups with my NCT group, I'd flap about, trying to get through my coffee without revealing a boob or dropping it on the floor (the coffee, not the boob) whilst they ordered a second cappuccino and lunch and a glass of wine. One girl said she had expressed so much, she had enough to fill the top compartment of her freezer. At times, I felt like I was a complete failure.

And then I read this book. 'What Mothers Do' is unlike any other parenting book you might read. It doesn't tell you what to do, how you should be feeling or what you're probably doing wrong. Instead, it's just a completely reassuring, honest and truthful account of what you and thousands of other real mums are feeling and doing - even when it looks like you're doing not very much at all. The author, psychotherapist Naomi Stadlen, bases the book on a weekly discussion group she held with mothers for over twelve years and it's full of real conversations with some of them, dotted within chapters such as 'Nothing prepares you,' 'The power of comfort' and 'I get nothing done all day.' It's not at all negative; in fact, I'd say it's such a positive, rewarding read purely because it makes you feel like you're not alone and that, yes, you can do it. And you are. Brilliantly. And that woman with the beautifully braided hair, pushing a pram with one hand and firmly holding her flat white in the other? She's finding it tough too. She's just good at braiding hair.

(You can buy What Mothers Do here http://www.amazon.co.uk/What-Mothers-Do-especially-nothing/dp/0749926201).

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Astoundingly easy oatcakes

How great are oatcakes?! I mean, kids love them, adults love them, dogs love them (well, I'm not sure about that one but they probably do). And they are just so healthy. Honestly, I love that, when Max, my four-year-old is peckish, I can whip out a little packet of these without feeling a smidgen of guilt and he genuinely loves them. I don't have to do any bribing at all to get him to eat them. And we all know oats are slow release carbs so won't give him any freakish highs come snack time and make him jump all over the sofa.
So as I was doing my last online shop and ordering another two or three boxes of the stuff, I thought about maybe trying to make some instead ( I KNOW, right?) and I mixed and mashed a few recipes together and I did it! And you know what? They're pretty great. So I thought I would share this with all you mums out there who always have an opened packet of oatcakes crumpled up at the bottom of your changing bag. Have a look, I bet you do. These are easy, won't take more than 15 minutes to get together and honestly, they taste really good. Even my husband thought so. These are cheese ones but obviously, you could leave the cheese out or, I'm even thinking of adding a few dark chocolate chips next time for super healthy sweet treats. Oh Gwyneth would be proud.

225g medium oatmeal
1 tbsp plain flour
80g cheddar cheese, finely grated
100ml warm water
1 tbsp olive oil

1. Preheat your oven to 200c.
2. Mix your oats and flour together and stir in the cheese really well - you don't want any clumpy bits.
3. Drizzle over the oil and add the water then mix it all together until you get a sticky dough.
4. Sprinkle some plain flour onto a table and roll out your dough so it's about 5mm thick.
5. Cut out your shapes with a round pastry cutter and place on a greased baking tray.
6. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until lightly golden.
7. Leave to cool, enjoy and store any left overs in an airtight container.


Monday, 23 June 2014

Clinique Chubby Stick Cheek Colour Balm

I have a confession to make. Though I'm a beauty editor and sometimes, quite literally, haven't been able to see my desk due to the amount of new lipsticks, mascaras and foundations that have found themselves there, I don't actually wear much of it. It's not that I don't wear any at all. More that, like most beauty editors I know, you are sent just so much stuff, that it's almost overwhelming. And also, after years of industry experience, you come to realise that the best look for most of us is the simplest one (i.e dewy skin, rosebud lips, long lashes and good eyebrows) and doesn't require 20 different products to get it.
Which brings me to Clinique Chubby Stick Cheek Colour Balm. I really don't know what is going on at Clinique but over the last five years or so they have been knocking it out of the park in a big way when it comes to new launches. Of course, their original Chubby Stick Moisturising Lip colour Balm was just brilliant (and has scooped up something like a billion beauty awards). But then there was the Chubby Shadow Tint for Eyes (genius) and then, Moisture Surge CC Cream (again, amazing) and their more recently launched (and gorgeous) Soft Matte Lipsticks. And now, they've gone and done it again with their Chubby Stick Cheek Colour Balm.
What I love about CSCCB is what I love about all of these products. It is so easy. No brushes, no fiddly applicators and no danger of over doing it. In short, totally foolproof. You simply twist up the colour stick, dab on to your cheeks and smudge in with your fingers and the heat from your skin will help it blend in effortlessly - and leave you with the aforementioned 'dewy' glow you're after. And, once it's settled, it's non-drying, humidity-resistant and long lasting too, so won't have disappeared by the time you've packed up your horse cart buggy for that picnic in the park. Buy one. You won't regret it.

Clinique Chubby Stick Cheek Colour Balm, £19, is available in four shades. Buy it exclusively at www.clinique.co.uk from 18th July or nationwide from 1st August.

Monday, 16 June 2014

The perfect Cornish retreat

The Emerald's stunning gardens
I have meant to write a little post about the amazing place we stayed in to celebrate my brother-in-law's 40th birthday recently. Not purely just to brag but because I genuinely think it's a real find and somewhere that anyone would love - whether you've got kiddies or not. (Though it is brilliant for kids). After somewhere to relax? Love a landscaped garden? Swimming pool a must? Fancy a tennis court five minutes from your door? And the kind of decor you'd get in a boutique hotel? This place ticks all of those boxes. And then some.
The Emerald is a glorious retreat tucked away in the Cornish countryside which houses five properties, all completely different, all completely beautiful, dotted around five acres of gardens. You can rent each one out separately but there were 22 of us (including 10 children), so we had the whole place to ourselves (whoop!) and each family or couple had their own unique private space. We stayed in The Gatehouse, which sleeps four to six and is a little bit more rustic than the others (think very fancy farmhouse) but still comes with the same mod cons - smart televisions, coffee machines, underfloor heating. If you're after something a bit bigger, there's also Drift and Coast, which each sleep six and come complete with glass fronted balconies, outdoor hot tubs and even little 'snugs' where the kids loved sneaking off to watch television. And for two, Fern or Cedar come with private decked terraces and hot tubs. Cosy.
Aside from the amazing accommodation, what The Emerald really has going for it is that there is so much to do. It's the best place for kids. We all know the great British summer can be, well, not so great but you'd seriously have no qualms about booking this place because there's the indoor swimming pool (open all hours and mood lit if you fancy a bit of night swimming), the gym and smart TV's or, when it brightens up a bit, there's the tennis courts, table tennis and play area. And the kids loved the gardens; the winding pathways, huge trees and little lake provided the best hideouts for playing (and an Easter egg hunt). If you do ever want to leave, of course there's also the Cornish coast to explore. We loved taking a trip on the King Harry Ferry in Trelissick, lunch at The Pandora Inn in the stunning surroundings of Restronguet Creek and dinner at Rick Stein's in Falmouth. I'd never really explored Cornwall before but in all honesty, I think all of us were a little bit amazed at just how beautiful it is.
Balcony view
So really, this is just my very own shout out to The Emerald to say just how great it was and how everyone should just go. The warm and ever-obliging owners, Tim and Brigitte have created an amazing place, that's not only beautiful but zero carbon too - it's the UK's first ever zero carbon holiday accommodation - and I can't imagine the amount of work that must have gone into it but there's a lot of love in it too. And it really shows. My advice? Book it soon because this place is going to be busy.

(Find out more about The Emerald here www.emeraldcornwall.co.uk).

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Swimwear Part 2: How to wear it well

Boden's gorgeous Sorrento Swimsuit, £59
As a follow-up to this week's post on some of my favourite swimsuits about at the moment, I thought it might be worth getting together a few little tips on wearing them well - for those of you who feel it's helpful! But fear not, I'm not professing my own tips and tricks (of which I have none). Nope, instead, I've asked a proper stylist and friend of mine, Anna Woodham to divulge some of her secrets. Anna has worked with the likes of Holly Willoughby, Alesha Dixon and The Saturdays (check out www.annawoodham.com) so knows a thing or too about what works and what doesn't. Here's what she had to say... oh and isn't this swimsuit from Boden absolutely amazing?! It comes in loads of colours and even has hidden control panels and detachable straps. Ticks every box, right?

1. Look for ruched or frill details if you want to flatter your tummy and hide any post-baby weight.

2. Styles with control panels, illusion lines or dark panels down the sides will take inches off!

3. Frill straps or shoulder details will take any unwanted attention from your tummy, drawing eyes up.

4. Don't be afraid of colour; if you have a tan, corals and even reds can look amazing.

5. Moulded cups give great shape if you feel you're lacking in that department so don't overlook them.

6. If you're still stuck, you can't go wrong with a classic, black swimsuit. It works on everyone.