Saturday, March 12

Retinol, Vitamin C and Chemical Exfoliants; How to Combine these Powerhouse Ingredients

When you start shopping for ingredients and not products you'll really kick your skincare routine into overdrive!! Layering skincare is a great way to make sure your skin is getting all the ingredients it needs, but here I have 3 specific examples which are often misunderstood, misused and marketed poorly.

We’ve all seen those beautiful, prestigious beauty counters; a giant poster of a glamourous celebrity face,  a podium with a spotlight shining down onto a gorgeous bottle with a gleaming silver cap, and golden lettering – and we want it! But if we step back and see through all the nonsense to the actual product, we’ll not only save a heap of cash but build a great regime that fits our skin.

3 of the most mis-marketed and mis-used products are Vitamin C, Retinol and Chemical exfoliants, aka salicylic acid and glycolic acid. These 3 powerhouses of the skincare world are known for their retexturising, anti-wrinkle and anti-ageing properties. They’re great at reducing acne and brightening the skin but need to be used in a very specific way or you may as well throw your money down a toilet!

1. Vitamin C
Our skin absorbs vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid - this is the magic ingredient to look out for turn back time and brighten your face. There are other forms of vitamin C out there but if you can afford it, stick to ascorbic acid ftw.
Take a look at this post ; Why and How to use anti-oxidants

How to use: Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant which means; 

a. It needs to spend a long time on your skin to work
b. It is rendered useless and destroyed by sunlight

So a vitamin C facewash? Useless! Vitamin C day cream? Waste of money! Apply your vitamin C serum/toner/moisturiser at night time to reap the many benefits.

2. Retinol
Excellent for anti-aging and acne sufferers alike. Retinol is the cosmetic name for vitamin A and may also be called retinol, retinyl acetate, retinyl palmitate, or retinyl aldehyde. Again, it needs a long time on your skin to do its work!

How to use: Retinol is an anti-oxidant (not a chemical exfoliant) so also needs to be applied at night time to do its best. Vitamin C and Retinol can be used together and compliment each other beautifully in their different ways, (have a look at this article) but depending on the consistency of your particular products (as well as the size of your bank account!) you may wish to alternate them throughout the week - give them a go and see what suits your skin best.

3. Salicylic/Glycolic acid a.k.a Chemical Exfoliants a.k.a BHA and AHA 
Salicylic acid comes in very small concentrations; usually no more than 2% whereas glycolic can be bought in much higher concentrations from 1% up to 10% or even 50% for a salon chemical peel. For day to day skincare 1-10% is usual.

How to use: again, these ingredients need to sit on your skin for a long time to do their work so a glycolic facewash is a USELESS product, so is a salicylic face scrub – no matter what wonderful brand it is, it’s marketing nonsense rearing its ugly head again. Instead opt for a serum, toner, moisturiser or overnight mask.

For acne prone skin types, one daily application is all we need whereas other skin types may suit 1-4 times a week best. The great thing is chemical exfoliants are not affected by sunlight so simply apply the chemical exfoliant in the morning and the antioxidants in the evening.

Be aware: Chemical exfoliants and vitamin C will make your skin more sensitive to sunlight (don’t worry, this doesn’t get progressively worse over time) so make sure at least one of your skincare products contains sunscreen, for example, my moisturiser contains an SPF15 chemical sunscreen, my DD Cream contains SPF25 and my mineral make-up provides a physical SPF of up to SPF15 thanks to the titanium dioxide so I’m covered.

Don’t Shy Away from these Miracle Ingredients!

Antioxidants and chemical exfoliants are some of the most misunderstood and misused ingredients on our shelves, but they're also the most powerful; delivering dramatic results.

There are, of course, many more skincare ingredients which are used and abused by the beauty industry to sucker us into paying far too much for a fancy bottle under a spotlight, but if you're shopping for ingredients rather than products, you won't go wrong.

Find invaluable info in the Paula’s Choice ingredient dictionary – a comprehensive lowdown on all kinds of skincare ingredients.

Ciao for now

Wednesday, March 9

1 Hero Ingredient - Eye Cream, Hand Cream, Lip Balm & Facemask....

Perfect when you need a hard working multi-purpose, versatile product that does it all - save money, time and luggage space if you're travelling! Drum roll please.... Shea Butter!

My big block of Shea Butter of 100g costs only £2.99 from Naissance - compare that with a 150ml tube of L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream which costs around £19. My 100g goes on and on; here's how I've been LOVING it!

Eye Cream
My absolute favourite; apply a thick layer under the eyes, on the temples and the lids; when I wake up I'm a toddler! I have some very fine lines under my eyes which make themselves seen at the end of the day when my skin is drying; I have definitely seen a big improvement since using the Shea Butter.

You can also apply a very very thin, barely there layer under the eyes before make-up; it keeps my eyes moisturised, stops those dry little lines and doesn't interfere with my concealer/foundation.

My first choice is always Palmer's Cocoa Butter but Shea Butter is a great  2nd choice! I apply it thickly as an overnight conditioning treatment and it's absorbed by morning.

Legs and Body
I've written here and here about my ongoing battles with shaving irritation, however, Shea Butter is apparently antibacterial and anti fungal, so if your own irritation is caused by either of these two things, Shea butter might be a huge help!

Over the years, our decollate and neck tend to get the most unprotected sun exposure, mine in particular is very dry from the sunburn I suffered as an idiot 16 year old!! Our decollate has no layer of fat underneath so is similar to our elbows and knees in needing that bit of extra care. Shea Butter is wonderful for keeping this area touchably soft.

Not too thick, easily absorbed - concentrate it on the backs of the hands to avoid that greasy fingertip feel in the day. For a real treat, apply an indulgent amount and wear some moisturising/cotton gloves overnight.

Face Serum
A recent trend among bloggers and vloggers in the Autumn/Winter was to apply a touch of facial oil before makeup to keep the skin hydrated - well, as an acne prone girl this was not successful for me; at all. Although the oil cleansing method worked a miracle in clearing my skin, wearing it during the day resulted in blocked pores everywhere. Instead, I've started applying a very small amount of Shea Butter as a serum along my cheeks, temple and jaw before my moisturiser - this is still a new addition, but so far so good.

If I'm spending the day at home, I'll apply a thick layer of Shea Butter to really nourish my skin without blocking my pores; easy, quick and low maintenance. I have a list of other fantastic 1 ingredient facemasks here, just click for more!

Especially brilliant for travelling, a block of Shea butter will cut down on products and - bonus, it's a solid block so won't cut into your liquids allowance on the plane!

Are you a Shea
Butter fan? Let me know your tips below!

Ciao for now,

Wednesday, March 2

Yearning for Spring! - Instagram#8

It's a long dark journey from Autumn to Spring in the UK, but over the last couple of weeks we've been lucky enough to hold on to the sun's last rays until after we've braved the rush hour home. Spring is coming, it'll be here before you know it! In celebration of March, here are some cheery, spring time Instagram photos from my account, @PromisingYellow. . .

Are you also yearning for spring?

Last month was Valentine's Day and boyfriend followed my not so subtle hints to buy me this gorgeous bouquet of flowers. It makes such a difference to a room and they've brough so much colour and cheer to my kitchen. ^__^

...and in turn I baked boyfriend a d basket of goodies! Scones, shortbread, jam filled biscuits, oatie hearts and chocolate shortbread - delish!

A snap from the very end of last summer during doggie walking time. Beautiful white wild flowers in the sunshine.

RAINBOW!! - one of the few good things about dark, dreary, wet weather. I still get excited for rainbows!

If in doubt - wear the springtime on your nails. A W7 glitter over a peachy avon colour.

Last summer; a baking hot morning, sitting in the sunshine in my back garden, listening to a Ricky Gervais podcast from back in the day and enjoying breakfast. I see this photo and I'm back there, warm and relaxed.

Saturday, December 19

Dos and Don'ts of Gift Giving

Christmas is HERE and in the spirit of all things fun and festive here is a look at some of the Dos and Don't of gift giving!! Some of these are useful, some are tongue-in-cheek - do you have any Dos and Don'ts?

...And if you're having trouble finding those last minute gifts in time, check out this list of 17 Gifts When You're Stuck For Ideas.

Do give something they'll use up - check out this list for lots of great ideas - candles, hot chocolate, bath treats, baked goodies etc

Don't become their decorator - ornaments, paintings and nik naks are very personal matters of taste, don't buy unless you're sure!

Do choose easy pieces- the exceptions to the above rule are scented candles and photo frames - just don't make the frame too big! 

Don't try to 'change their mind' - if they're very vocal about something they dislike, don't think 'oh but they'll like this one!' they wont - case in point, someone once bought me furry boot toppers.... it's a no from me...

Do think of them as you buy - football tickets? Couples aromatherapy massage? His and Hers gym membership??? Are you sure you're not just buying something that you'd like? It's the thought that counts - so think of them

Don't make it too big - a giant friendship collage is very sweet but consider if they have the space for it and, do they want it?

Do use your skills - are you a whizz in the kitchen? Can you make jewellery? Can you use a pyrography tool? A great dressmaker? Use your skills to impress! Scan Pinterest and YouTube for ideas and check out these easy Christmas Treats - Chocolate Covered Brazils Nuts.

Don't buy perfume - unless you know for sure that they like it

Do make it look pretty and give in advance - part of the fun of receiving gifts is having it there under the tree, looking beautiful. If it's given late and you have to open it right away, you're missing out on the pleasure of anticipation.

Don't go too far down the novelty route - giant slippers that light up and sing will soon be slung to the back of a cupboard never to be seen again

Do wait until you're alone - if you've bought something suggestive for after dark, don't open it on Christmas morning with all the family watching, wait until you're alone together.

Don't use this opportunity to reveal your long-held Fifty Shades of Grey fantasies - a blind fold is one thing but have a discussion before you present a selection of whips, handcuffs and paddles!!

Do get a gift receipt! - so they can return it...

Don't get offended - if they do return what you buy; maybe it doesn't work for them, maybe it just isn't their taste, maybe they know they won't use it or maybe there's just something else they want more -- try not to take it personally, I've returned a lot of things over the years but I've always felt grateful and was touched by the thought.

 And finally, Do remember Christmas is much more about having fun, together, than what's wrapped under the tree, so eat, drink and be merry! 
Merry Christmas
Joyeaux Noel
Happy Holidays
Feliz Natal

Tuesday, December 15

Easy Christmas Treats - Chocolate Brazil Nuts

Chocolate and Brazil nuts - what could be easier. cheaper to make and yummier?! My family loves chocolate Brazils at Christmas time but for some reason they're pretty expensive these days. Luckily, home-made treats are always appreciated so grab your apron and let's create!

Don't forget to also check out my list of Christmas gift ideas - 17 Christmas gifts when you're stuck for ideas and improve your hot chocolate with this post;

 You will need...

 Chocolate, about 100g-150g depending on size - whatever kind you like, you don't need cooking chocolate and it doesn't need to be fancy, the European brands from Aldi and Lidl are good choices as they have a mild nutty flavour like Ritter's 'Alpine Chocolate'.

Brazil nuts - we like a whole brazil nut in the middle but you can usually buy "brazil nut halves" slightly cheaper if you prefer

A cake pop tray - or an ice cube tray or chocolate flower tray, basically any kind of tray with individual shapes but I like the half cake pop shape.
A saucepan and bowl or microwave (I finally have a microwave after 9 months going crazy without one!)

1.) Melt the chocolate - If melting in the microwave take out and stir every 20 seconds. If on the hob put about 2 - 3 inches of boiling water in a saucepan and your bowl on top; make sure the water doesn't touch the bowl or the chocolate will 'seize' (become stiff and gritty) and be unusable.

2.) Assemble your treats - Place a brazil nut in each little mold and spoon melted chocolate over the top - be as generous as you like but make sure the nut is covered.

Use anything you like for the topping but if you want crushed brazils like me just use the bottom of a pint glass and crush each nut; the best way I've found and really easy. You could also use white chocolate chips, honeycomb, smarties, sprinkles, marshmallows, crushed candy cane - anything you have tucked away in your baking drawer.

 Once they've hardened simply pop them out and decide how to package them!

I chose an ex-scented-candle jar (which has been thoroughly washed and aired out) and then it was a simple case of double sided tape and a cute paper label. Then I did what I always do when I need a touch of ribbon - I went through my wardrobe and snipped off some of those annoying little tags that are always attached to women's clothing. You could attach any kind of little Christmassy decoration you like; bells, pine cones, glittery prettiness.

Place under the tree and enjoy!

Totally yummy and super easy. Perfect if your present offerings are lacking a little, you can just pop round the off licence or cornershop and grab what you need, and a great addition to a Christmas hamper or giftbox.

Merry Christmas all, I'm currently enjoying gazing at the beautiful Ben Barnes in Narnia; Prince Caspian, a lovely afternoon!


Saturday, December 12

17 Christmas Gifts When You're Stuck for Ideas...

If you're buying Christmas gifts for someone you don't know too well or you're buying for a friend who always leaves you clueless, there are a few simple tips which will make your gift buying so much easier. From homemade treats to feeding the meerkats - here are 17 ideas/tips when you're doing your last minute Christmas shopping or just plain...stuck! 

***Buy Something They Can Use***
The first, and most important tip for me - give them something they can enjoy using and then dispose of;

1.) Scented candles - a winner with everyone, men and women, old and young. You can also theme it depending on their likes/dislikes; cappuccino for the coffee lovers, Christmas cookies for the sweetie lovers, chocolate for the chocaholics, fruity for the young and summertime lovers, spicy cinnamon or jasmine for the romantic couples or stay safe with a clean cotton, linen type scent.

2.) Fancy hot chocolate - We're talking Green & Blacks, some overpriced Whittards or look at the deluxe ranges in your local supermarket for flavours like creme brulee, white hot chocolate, toffee fudge or dark and mint. Go the extra mile and collect a few toppings together too; mini marshmallows, cinnamon, sprinkles and of course a couple of miniatures of Baileys or other liqeur are always welcome!

3.) Bathtime treats - go all out and spend spend spend on Lush bubble bars or take a trip to Asda and stock up on some delicious Dolly's Mixtures in scents like Candy Floss, Rhubarb and Custard and PinaColada - if you're lucky you'll find them on offer at just £1 each! The Treacle Moon range at Tesco is another great choice is scents like cinnamon, coconut, chocolate lime and ginger. Tie them with a ribbon, add a shower puff and voila; another great gift.

Dollys Mixtures BodySprays; New scents, New Products!
4.) Get cooking - if you're great in the kitchen, or even if you're not, there are loads of different types of biscuits, chocolates, fudge and sweet treats you can make and customise. If you're a beginner, go simple by melting chocolate and adding toppings, or if you're a dab hand, try fudge with flavours like whiskey, Baileys and white chocolate - just search for a recipe online. Try these Easy Christmas Treats - Chocolate Brazil Nuts

Chocolate Covered Brazils
5.) Alcohol - whiskey, amaretto, port, brandy, gin, Irish cream; find out what they like and buy them a good one.

6.) Coffee gifts - if you know they love coffee, you can now buy full sized syrups from some supermarkets, or buy a set of mini syrups from Costa Coffee. For something more impressive, go for a cafetiere (French press) and some fancy 'proper coffee'; add in a couple of whiskey/brandy miniatures and double cream to go with it too so they can make floater coffee!

7.) Tea Selection - Supermarkets have a huge range of tea bags now; pick out 3-4 boxes and present them in a lovely gift-box - the perfect alternative to seasonal over indulgence! Make it Earl Grey themed with some of the different variations out there, or a selection of fruity green teas. Of course Chai tea is my personal fave (tea bags, not the powdered stuff). If you feel like really splashing out, you could buy some vastly overpriced Teapigs or try Whittards.

8.) Make-up - nail polish, mini eyeshadow palettes and lipstick selections are always safe bets for girls who love beauty.

***Universal Gifts***
Not something to be used up per say, but pretty universal and useful to all

1.) Gift Voucher - not very imaginative but much appreciated, especially by those who have everything!

2.) Mug - yes, they probably have a house full, but get it personalised (our local indoor market has an artist who'll apply any design you like) or find a particularly special or novelty one - maybe they're a massive Disney fan and you've found an unusual Gaston decorated one!

Cute cat mug with room for biscuits from Avon last year (2014)
3.) Comfort gifts - fuzzy, fluffy socks and slippers are always a winner; don't go too far down the novelty route, stick to fluffy comfort rather than 3D sheep heads that light up and sing. Gloves and mittens are also good buys - buy something of good quality; lined and waterproof.

4.) Experience gifts - check Groupon, Wowcher, local zoos, spas and wellness centres for great deals on animal experiences, clay pigeon shooting, falconry, sports massage, beauty treatments and wine tasting classes - in Derbyshire there's even a company that will let you tear up the countryside in a tank --- a bloody tank!

5.) Books/DVDs - if there's something you really enjoyed and know your friend will too, why not get them a copy to enjoy? (The Holiday is my go to) Or download something they'll like from iTunes/Google Play/Amazon etc and fill up a memory stick - 2 gifts in one and easily sent through the post.

6.) Photo Frame and photo voucher - we take hundreds of photos and seldom display them, so give them a voucher for say 20 prints and a beautiful photo frame that'll work with their decor - not sure? Make sure the frame is thin and in a neutral wooden/gold/silver/mirrored design.

7.) Trivia Games - for a couple of pounds, our supermarkets have themed packets of trivia cards, full of questions on movies, TV and general knowledge that can be enjoyed after Christmas dinner - split the room into two teams, introduce prizes and forfeits and have at it! The ones below were part of a 3 for 2 offer from Marks & Spencer.

8.) Theatre/Cinema tickets - is there something special coming up soon that you know they'll enjoy? Pre-book tickets for them! Alternatively get them a gift voucher to cover the cost of the ticket/2 tickets.(A good way to get yourself a Christmas date too!)

9.) Gag gift - if all else fails, chocolate body paint, furry handcuffs, a Rudolph onesie, silly glasses or a weird wig will, at the very least, raise a giggle.

These are my go to gifts when I'm buying for someone who has everything, someone I don't know too well or when I'm just stuck for ideas. Personally, I'd be happy to receive any 1 or all of them under the tree on Christmas morning! 

Is there anything I've missed? Let me know below.

A Peaceful, Joyful and Merry Christmas to all!! 

Ciao for now