Friday, 25 February 2011

CEW Finds and Favourites - Jergens Cocoa Butter Body Moisturiser

I have waxed lyrical about my love for Jergens before so was pleased to see them entered into the awards this year.

Well my old favourite Age Defying with Green Tea has, I'm afraid, been replaced with this little gem:

Jergens Cocoa Butter is wonderfully moisturing without being sticky or tacky, keeps the skin hydrated all day, is 96% naturally derived - and smells DIVINE. One of my (many) favourite things is the smell of coconut/cocoa butter. I was raised in Mississippi with holidays in the Deep South and the smell takes me straight back to those days - and frankly in this weather gives me a reminder of sunny times ahead!
The Jergens scent is subtle and very pleasant. It is not at all overpowering like some coconut products can be and sits very softly on the skin.

If you haven't tried Jergens before or indeed if you are simply a fan of the smell of coconut - give it a go. Lush.

Jergens is available in all major chemists and some supermarkets and is an astonishingly bargainous £4.99.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

CEW Beauty Award Finds and Favourites

On Monday evening I attended the CEW Demo Evening - an opportunity for the members of CEW to try a variety of products by brands that have entered their Beauty Awards. The CEW is Cosmetic Executive Women and is an organisation founded in the USA in 1954 and the UK in 1992 and is a trade organisation for executive women in the cosmetic, fragrance and hairdressing industries. I have been a member for a number of years and it is always a highlight in my work calendar - the opportunity to try new products and meet up with a lot of friends.

This year there are 24 categories mixed across mass and prestige and I thought it was a good opportunity to step out of my usual comfort zone and post about things that I have discovered through the event that maybe wouldn't have come to my attention otherwise.

First up is Aveda - a brand close to my heart as it was my first job in the industry a long time ago. No really. I mean a long time ago. They say you never forget your first love and this is certainly true for me. I still love the ethos and products from Aveda - they were ahead of their time when I worked for them and that hasn't changed today.

Aveda's Control Force Firm Hold Hair Spray is an entry this year and so far I have to say I am very impressed.

I have long hair that is coloured within an inch of its life and is that marvellous (sigh) mixture of being fairly fine, but with a lot of it to contend with. Which basically means I am frizz city. If you are aware of Worzel Gummidge, picture him and you have idea of how my hair behaves when left to its own devices. It also means I know a thing or two about hair spray.

Those of you that know me in 'real life' will know of my partiality to a nice bun. Oh how I do like to rock a bun. And now you know why.

Control Force has so far worked when my hair is blow-dryed or tied back and wet or dry. Although it is the firmest hold that Aveda make, the hair is still pliable and it brushes out like a dream. Most importantly for my hair, it has a 24 humidity defence which in my case means it keeps my frizz under control. It also smells divine. I sense that this has replaced Firmata - which was the strongest hair spray Aveda made 'back in the day' - this is far superior.

Being Aveda it has the added bonus of having a net zero climate impact, which basically means that Aveda offset the carbon emissions associated with the manufacture, transportation and use of every Aveda aerosol sold globally - no mean feat. It is made from a recyclable aluminium container and the essential oils it contains are sourced sustainably and can be traced from field to bottle.

If you haven't tried Aveda but have always been tempted - this is a great place to start - they also have the best selection of travel sizes available in the industry so if you want to try before you commit there's no excuse!

Control Force Firm Hold Hair Spray is £17.50 for 300ml

Friday, 4 February 2011

Current Skincare Routine - January/February

I posted on Wednesday about the changes I have consciously made to my lifestyle, diet and skincare routine.

The upshot of it for me is that organic/natural has had to take a backstep. I still love my balms and oils but as treats. For day-to-day maintenance this is my current routine:

I'm starting with the evening because that is the most important stage to me:

Start with dry skin!
1st cleanse with my staple: Emma Hardie
2nd cleanse with Perricone's Nutritive Cleanser.
This is new to me and I am LOVING it. Firstly, it smells of Johnson's Baby Powder (score!) and it feels really, really luxurious. This has helped my skin tremendously and I would like it on tap in my bathroom please. A little goes a long way.
I alternate this with Alpha-H's Balancing Cleanser - another recent find.

This leaves the skin really soft yet definitely cleansed...

Toner/tonic stage
Depending on the day I do one of two things:
Day One: I wipe over the skin with Alpha-H's Liquid Gold and then leave the skin bare for the night as directed.

Hard for me as I am ingrained with covering the skin with something afterwards but no! I am doing as I'm told! This is some serious stuff and has made a clear, definite difference to my skin.
Day Two: Either P50 or a standard toner depending on whether I feel dry or am flaring up.

Eye Cream - currently Alpha-H's Absolute Eye Complex 

On days I am not using Liquid Gold I apply toner and then go straight in with Perricone's Cold Plasma

 followed by their Face Finishing Moisturiser.
    Again start with dry skin.
    Cleanse either with Nutritive Cleanser or Balancing Cleanser and a fresh hot cloth
    Tone with a toner that suits my skin on the day. Can be anything from Guinot to Dr. Lewinns
    Apply Cold Plasma
    Apply Perricone's Face Firming Activiator
    Again - new addition to my regime but loving it so far...
    Apply Face Finishing Moisturiser on top.
    Note the above 3 products are used in small quantities and leave the skin feeling soft and hydrated, not greasy and heavy.

    Added extras: Vitamin E Serum from Alpha-H, Darphin Purifying Balm, Payot Speciale 5 Drying and Purifying Gel are all in rotation and I use them like a buffet - as and when I need them...
      That's it. As you can see it's two things:
      • hardcore - there is nothing organic/natural about my current routine - I still use all the natural products I have at home on my teenagers but for me, at the moment, bring on the chemicals...
      • expensive - some of these products are not cheap. In fact they're borderline mortgage payments. But I'm telling you if they keep working the way they are at the moment it's worth it to me. I'll have to do without something else. Some people buy designer shoes/handbags/clothes, not me - skincare is my crack. And I can't just throw any old cream on my skin anymore and get away with it...
      Other things that have helped me:
      • keeping my skin hydrated with spray toners. Treating acne rosacea in any form is incredibly drying when you are used to big fat moisturisers and I have a decanted spray toner on my desk and two at home. It calms my redness. Soon as I feel that telltale 'heat' coming I spritz myself. Bliss.
      • Going in with a second round of moisturiser after the first has absorbed. I make sure my face feels comfortable all the time.
      • Cut down the spicy foods - sad but true. Jalapenos are a distant memory for me at the moment...
      If you do have acne and/or rosacea and you want to just start with one thing? Go for the Liquid Gold. That has given me the biggest, quickest, noticable difference. And its not extortionate. You can currently get a supersize on QVC for around £33 which I will be ordering...
          If anyone has any suggestions for anything that has really worked for them I would love to hear about them.

          Will keep you posted on my progress.... Here's hoping...

          Small print: I received the Perricone and Alpha-H products mentioned in goody bags at recent events. But I wouldn't recommend them if I didn't love them. And I will be purchasing off my own back when they run out. If I recommend something on this site it's because I recommend it - not because I've been paid to.

          Wednesday, 2 February 2011

          Acne Rosacea. No more?

          Those of you that know me personally will know that for my 40th birthday I was given acne rosacea. Literally. I've had better gifts.

          Overnight I started developing angry red spots that wouldn't go anywhere no matter what I threw at them. My targeted areas seemed to be the sides of my face from my cheekbones down and rather irritatingly along the base of my hairline on my neck.  If you have/have had any kind of rosacea and acne you have my utmost sympathy. It's sore, frustrating, embarrassing and from what I hear - more and more common in women 35+. Stress? Hormones? Diet? No-one really knows what causes it but it's a problem that is not going anywhere anytime soon.

          I finally decided to stop acting like a twenty something - or even worse, a teenager, when it came to my body and am trying now to respect it for the age it is and refuel the tank in a more appropriate manner!

          Since Christmas I have made quite a few changes to my routine and diet and am starting to see results so thought I would share what is currently working for me.
          1. Firstly I stopped taking all prescribed medications. Oxytetracycline was prescribed to me about 5 months ago and I did initially have a little success with it but after hearing about and experiencing some of the side effects I decided they weren't for me. If you are on them I would urge you to read the fine print and talk not to your GP, but to friends who have taken them.
          2. I also made a concerted effort to stop eating rubbish. It's a work in progress but I'm getting there. For me this means sugar and anything synthetically white. So I eat spuds (obviously!), but have massively cut down on pasta and rice and have cut white bread out altogether. I eat seeded multi-grain now and cannot imagine otherwise. It's really hard when you have four children to just eat what they eat, but I can't do it anymore.
          3. Water. I always drank it but sporadically. Now I have a constant pint of cold tap water to hand. No fizzy drinks. No drinks containing sweetener. Cutting these out I KNOW has made a huge difference.
          4. Milk. I try to only drink milk in tea. No cereal, no glasses of milk - and that has definitely helped also. I don't like soy/goats/monkey/lamb's milk so that is it for me.
          5. Supplements. I've always taken supplements and have posted about them previously here. Now I am taking them seriously. Folic acid and iron for health reasons - and I am back on these. The Murad regime worked brilliantly for me last time and then they ran out and I moved on to something else. No more. These work. I'm sleeping better, getting up easier and these are partly the reason. I highly recommend.
          6. Wine. I love red wine. It is the only alcohol I drink. But now I only indulge at weekends - and then it's a good wine. I can tell from one sip if a red wine is going to affect my skin or not. If I sense it is, I don't drink it. Previously I would think 'Sod it, it'll be fine'. It won't be fine. I'll wake up looking like a spotty teenager.
          7. I changed my skincare routine. I chop and change everything all the time. No more. If I am sent products for testing they go in a queue and if I know they are unsuitable for me they go to reliable therapist friends with the suitable skintype who can give me feedback.
          The upshot of this is that my skin has improved remarkably. It's no miracle fix but it's much better. As an added bonus I have not experienced any symptoms of previously diagnosed IBS in months. And I have so far lost 8lbs. I'm not sure from where exactly but that's what the scales say so who am I to argue..?!?
          And I am NOT trying to diet. Far from it.

          I'm just growing up. Finally...

          Next up:  The skincare that has helped me the most.

          QVC Beauty Bash

          Last Thursday and Friday saw the Annual QVC Beauty Bash take place at the Business Design Centre in Islington.  The Beauty Bash gives QVC's customers the chance to meet the presenters of their favourite brands and to experience some of the products that they may not yet have tried...

          This year the Bash was expanded and moved to bigger premises to accommodate the huge demand from viewers. I attended in my capacity as QVC Brand Ambassador for all for eve .

          Wow. What a couple of days. Four sessions of 400 of QVC's biggest fans. And I mean fans. What these people do not know about QVC is not worth knowing. This is the land of the TSV, the OTO and the Hot Pick. The land where Alison Young is Queen, her word golden and her status that of rock star. And it's not just Ali Young, brand presenters on QVC are all known by their first name: Keeley, Tom, Leighton, Lee and Sasha, Paul, Lori and Will, Caroline (not ME - Liz Earle's!), Alexis, Andrew and Margaret to name a few that were there.

          We had a spot next to the fabulous Tom and Michelle from Alpha-H and it was a wonderful opportunity  to spread the word of all for eve and the phenomonal work of The Eve Appeal.

          We had amazing feedback from customers who had purchased our TSV in December and not only liked the value but loved the products.

          Personally, the most important part of the day for me was sharing stories with people who had lost someone to a gynaecological cancer, or had experienced it themselves. The support shown for all for eve from QVC viewers was humbling, encouraging and terribly moving.

          So for those of you who stopped by to share stories, jumped in to say 'BEST shower gel I EVER used' or even gave me my own 'moment' when I was 'spotted' in the queue for the loo - a massive Thank You! We are thrilled to know we are succeeding in spreading the word and hopefully doing our bit in some small way to raise awareness of these life-shattering cancers.

          Thank you for having us QVC!

          Setting up

          Rebecca and Clare from balance me

          Lee from BE

          Tom and Michelle doing their thing!

          Emma Hardie

          Perricone team