Friday, 28 February 2014

Breakouts!! Will I ever learn??!

Well after saying just last week how great my skin looks since cutting out sugar from my diet, my comment has come back to bite me on the bum!
Being in my 40's, I thought spots would be a thing of the last by now but alas not.
This week I have several spots on my chin and around my nose, one even on the end - oh joy!
The culprit? 
No, I am still eating well, the Harcombe way with no sugar.
So it has to be something in my skincare routine. Now here is where I am so mad at myself. I bought some new products a few weeks ago - cleanser, hydrating toner, serum and moisturiser.  
Now the sensible person would add these items to their routine ONE at a time but no, not me!  Like a bull in a china shop I went rushing in and starting using them all at the same time because I was so desperate to try them all.
For a week and a half all was well, no problems or allergic reactions.  
Well it was until this week, when the aforementioned breakouts occurred.
So now I have had to pare my skin care right back to basics with some old faithfuls - unscented cleanser, exfoliating toner, eye cream and moisturiser. No lovely serums, sigh.
Thankfully my skin is looking lots better already, although it does feel a little dry.
I now have the laborious task of reintroducing the new products ONE at a time so that I can find the culprit that caused my spots. (Please don't let it be the cleanser!)
Are you all sensible and gradually introduce products? Or do you take the try them all at the same time approach like me?
Believe me, it is a lesson learned, well until next time...

Enjoy the rest of your day.
Take care,
CJ xx

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Review: Max Factor False Lash Effect mascara


Back in January I was luckily enough to win 2 prizes in two giveaways from Supersavvyme.  One was a Max Factor False Lash Effect mascara and the other a Lipfinity Lasting Lip Tint.  Today I am reviewing the mascara.

Now to be honest, I've never found my "Holy Grail" of mascaras, I've always thought they are pretty much of a muchness (don't all shout at me at once!) and I grab whichever is on offer at the time.
The False Lash Effect mascara has a different barrel brush to those that I've used before.  I am used to bristles but this brush was larger than usual, made of plastic and the plastic bristles very short.  The consistency seemed just right - not too wet or too dry for me.

The photo's below shows my lashes bare (Dunno why I look a tad boss-eyed, I'm not!).

One coat of False Lash Effect.  I purposely didn't curl my lashes like I usually do because I wanted to see how it looked without.

Now I usually only use one coat of mascara because I worry about clumping, but for the purpose of this review I tried two coats.

Two coats of False Lash Effect.

I was impressed with this mascara. It didn't seem to clump and it didn't smudge or flake throughout the day which is a necessity in my book.
It lasted all day and I felt it looked just as good ten hours later as it did upon first application.
**(eyeshadows were from Urban Decay's Naked 2 palette.)

After 10 hours wear (taken in evening, hence different lighting).

Removal wasn't difficult. I double cleansed, first with a balm and then with a cream cleanser, both removed with a hot facecloth.  The next morning there wasn't any residue at all under my eyes.  Yay, no panda eyes!

Overall, this mascara gets the thumbs up from me and perhaps I will grudgingly admit all mascaras are not equal and I should really try several different ones to find my Holy Grail.
It is readily available in most drugstores, Superdrug are currently selling it for £10.99
What is your favourite mascara?  Do you think I should always do the 2 coats rather than my usual 1 coat?  Or should I leave the 2 coats for when I want a more dramatic look for an evening out?  I don't ever wear mascara on my bottom lashes as I think it looks odd on me and I think it draws attention to my terrible dark circles.

Which is your favourite mascara?  Do you have a Holy Grail?
Thank you for reading and I would love it if you found the time to comment.
Enjoy the rest of your day.
Take care,
CJ xx

Sunday, 23 February 2014

The Harcombe Diet 3-Step Plan

Hi there,
Well today is a non beauty related post but relates to diet.
Have you ever heard of The Harcombe Diet?  No?  Neither had I until December last year.  

I'd heard of (and tried) most of the other diets - Weight Watchers, Slimming World, calorie counting, Rosemary Conley, South Beach, Dukan.  Yes, I am a lifelong dieter.  How I rue the day when, aged 20, I joined a slimming club in order to lose a stone.  Ironically my starting weight back then is my goal weight now!  I was put on a strict 1000 calorie a day diet and of course I lost weight.  Who wouldn't? Obviously I didn't know back then that I was starving my body on so little calories. I reached my goal quite quickly but it was unsustainable, old habits soon crept back in and my weight crept up, plus more.  And there started my life of yo-yo dieting.  From the age of 20 until now, almost 44 (eek, where did the time go?) I have ranged in size from an 8 to a 14 (16 if I wore trousers, so I never did!).  Now a 14/16 might not seem big but at only 5 foot 1 and a half (hey the half counts!) it just tipped me into the obese category - although to be honest I no longer take the BMI charts as gospel.  

I have never had a problem losing the weight but keeping it off is a different matter.  All the other diets I tried, for me, just weren't a long term way of eating - more a means of losing weight.  They never addressed my eating issues so as soon as I stopped whichever diet I was on, back came the sugar monster and with it my cravings and so the vicious cycle began again.

Fast forward to just before Christmas 2013 and I was the biggest I'd ever been. I am ashamed to say, I weighed the same as I did when I was almost nine months pregnant with my first son!  I had 3 skirts which fit me and even my "fat" skirt was getting tight.  I had a wardrobe full of clothes that I couldn't  fit into. I felt fat and frumpy. I ordered Zoe Harcombe's book  The Harcombe Diet 3-Step Plan after I read about it on a non diet related forum.  Prior to that I had never heard of this plan.  The reviews on Amazon seemed promising so I clicked add to basket and the book arrived a couple of days after Christmas. I couldn't wait to get reading, especially after the excess of the festive season.  

As I began turning page after page, I had my "light bulb" moment!  This is me Zoe is talking about.  All the things I had put down to lack of willpower over the years weren't just due to that but I realised were due to Hypoglycaemia and Food Intolerances.  Another common problem with over eaters is Candida but I didn't think I had that so crossed that off the checklist Zoe provides in her book. (How wrong I was but more of that later!). I always thought I was a chocoholic, I rarely went a day without it.  If I was dieting and stopped eating it, I could manage but I could never just have a small taste - one bar led to another... I really believed I was addicted.  Now I realise I wasn't addicted to chocolate but to the sugar in the chocolate.  I am a sugar addict or should say, fingers crossed, I WAS a sugar addict.

The Harcombe Diet promotes eating REAL food.  Ditch the processed rubbish and eat real food. The diet is split into 3 Phases.  

Phase 1 is the hardest but only lasts 5 days (or more if you wish). It is the detox part of the diet.  You have to cut out ALL caffeine, sugar, bread, pasta, potatoes, artificial sweeteners, cereals.  It is hard, I am not going to lie, but hey it's 5 days! You may get bad withdrawal symptoms - I did.  I think the more addicted you are to these foods then the more symptoms you have.  My symptoms included bad headaches, flu like symptoms and very heavy legs.  I also craved my sugar fix for the first 3 days. I think the headaches were mainly down to my Pepsi Max addiction but going cold turkey was the only way.  I only drank decaffeinated green tea or water.  For me, day 2 was the worst and I did end up going to bed with a migraine in the afternoon. Day 3 I still had a headache but it was easing and by Day 4 they had gone and the cravings were reducing.  I was still in the habit of eating between meals so if I felt a bit peckish, I would eat a hard boiled egg just to get me through until my next proper meal. 
I was eating bacon and/or eggs with tomato fried in butter or olive oil for breakfast (I did try porridge with water but it wasn't for me), ham/egg/chicken/salmon/tuna salad for lunch with a virgin olive oil dressing or a homemade mayonnaise.  (Steer clear of shop bought as they contain sugar!).  Then for my evening meal I'd have a chicken stir fry, meat and veg (no potatoes) and I even had my Sunday roast, minus the roast potatoes but had roast parsnips instead and made a gravy made out of the meat juices.  I realised by Day 4 that I was actually enjoying my food again.  After the 5 days I weighed myself and I'd lost 6lbs.  I was pleased but I knew most of that was due to water weight and that Phase 2 was where the real weight loss began.

Phase1: Warm chicken and bacon salad with olive oil dressing

Because I was still having a few cravings, nothing major, but I wanted to ensure they had gone fully, I decided to stay on Phase 1 for a bit longer.  I was enjoying my food and I was finding it easy and I didn't feel deprived.  I am glad I stayed on it as a day or two later I started getting Candida symptoms.  I won't go into details but you ladies will know what I mean!  I'd not had these for over 10 years so I can only assume it was somehow lying dormant in me and when it had no sugar to feed on it came out fighting. (Don't know if that is even possible, but that's my non medically trained theory!).  Anyway, I soon killed that off with my new diet and an over the counter tablet for good measure.  

It is recommended when starting Phase 2 that you slowly reintroduce foods so that you can see if you are intolerant to them.  The book says that any foods that you are desperate to reintroduce are most likely the very foods you are intolerant to.  For me that ruled out bread.  I LOVE bread.  Ho hum. I decided to reintroduce cheese first as I felt that was most versatile in terms of cooking meals.  You have to monitor yourself and note any symptoms returning such as headaches or weight gain or weight stall.  Well I didn't get any headaches from it so on weigh in day I trepidatiously stepped on the scales praying there wouldn't be a weight gain and was so relieved to find I had lost weight. I was thrilled. I could eat cheese on my diet. Obviously, I couldn't start eating tons of cheese but I felt I didn't need to anyway. Just a grating on my salad felt sublime.

Phase 2: Chicken Cordon Bleu with herb roasted carrots,
buttered leeks and green beans.

The following week I decided to introduce cream. I don't really like milk and I don't drink tea or coffee so I wasn't missing it. I know most people reintroduce milk first in Phase 2 so they can have it in their cuppa but I didn't need it.  Again I chose cream so that it would help me in my cooking.  I made a lovely crustless quiche and again no headaches or upset tum and again I lost weight.  I was eating cheese, cream and butter yet still losing weight!  I didn't feel hungry between meals so I rarely snacked and if I did it was a slice of ham or an egg.  Last Sunday it got to 4pm before I realised I'd missed my lunch!  This is a huge deal for me, as I am usually a clock watcher and eat because it is time for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I missed it because I simply wasn't hungry.  

In Phase 2 you can eat either fat meals or carb meals - you cannot mix the two. For example, if you want rice you can have it but because it is a carb you cannot eat it with fat (ie meat) so you could make something like a veg curry and rice as a carb meal.  If you were having a fat meal, eg Bolognese sauce made with steak mince, then you cannot have spaghetti with it as that is a carb.  I have mine with spaghetti squash, a vegetable.  Okay it isn't pasta but there are compromises to be made.  Pasta always bloated me and gave me wind yet still I loved it - I still do, but I'm learning to live without it.  I have been sticking to fat meals for Phase 2, mainly because it is easier for me to cook the same food for my family, although my portion is minus the potatoes, rice, pasta.  I also find fat meals fill me up for longer.  
I won't go into all my meals here as I feel I have waffled on enough already, but let me know in the comments if you want me to do a post on my adapted meals.

This week I added frozen berries to my diet.  Blended a handful with some cream for a sort of ice cream type dessert.  Mmmm...

Phase 3 is the last part of the diet for once you've lost all the weight.  I can't tell you about that as I've 2 stone still to lose before I get there but hopefully once I do, I will post about it here.  I really feel my eating habits have changed and I feel this is a diet that I can sustain for the rest of my life (famous last words, but I really do think this is not another fad diet for me).

I have no affiliation with The Harcombe Diet, other than being a happy dieter. Cutting sugar out of my life is the best thing I have done in a long time. Besides the weight loss, now at 19lbs, I've lost 3 inches from my waist and my skin has never looked better.  See what Caroline Hirons says about the effect of sugar on your skin.  Sugar is in so many foods.  I have had to ditch my usual pre-packed ham because it contains sugar!  Why is there sugar in ham???  Same goes for bacon.  Luckily there are brands that don't contain sugar so I buy those now. Check your food labels. I bet you will be as surprised as I was as to where they sneak in this white stuff.

The book I read is available on Amazon but Zoe has written several so, if you feel like taking the plunge, choose the one that you feels suits you the best. There is also a Harcombe Diet website with more in depth information from Zoe.  Zoe is the expert, my blog post just informs you of my experience on this diet.

I was a sugar addict.  It has been 55 days* since I last had sugar and it feels good!

*disclaimer* (I did have 1 cheat a couple of weeks ago of 1 homemade choc chip cookie and the side effects I had -  headaches, lethargy, tummy pains, diarrhoea for one and a half days - will prevent me from cheating again!)

Enjoy the rest of your day.
Take care,
CJ xx

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Review: Laura Geller Baked Confections - eyes and lips

I see I now have a few followers!  Thank you so much for taking a chance on my new blog. I hope I won't disappoint.

Well I've finally had the chance to play with my new Laura Geller Baked Confections TSV and I love it so here is my review of the eyeshadows and lipstick.

First up is the Baked Eye Stripes in Plum Torte.  I found them very easy to apply with minimal fall out.  On my first impressions post I said I thought that I would need to apply the pink shade "wet" in order to get any depth of colour.  I was wrong!  I applied the pink colour dry and it was easy to build up.  I then used the taupe colour on my crease and the plum colour on the outer eyelid.  All these were used dry, although I did wet the plum at the end to  line the outer eye.  They were all easy to blend.

I wanted to see how long they lasted throughout the day without any touch ups.  The picture below shows my eyelids after 9 hours. I did prep my eyes first with Urban Decay Primer Potion.  It did crease a little and has worn slightly on one eye but overall I was impressed by it's staying power, especially as it had my lines to contend with!  It's a shame my under eye concealer didn't hold up as well as this!

So I am pretty impressed with this eyeshadow.  The beauty of baked shadows is that they can be applied wet or dry but other than to line, I really can't see me needing any more depth of colour than this so shall probably use them dry most of the time.  Really pleased with these shadows and they make a nice change from neutral colours.  Oh and the pink is a great match for my much missed Clinique Seashell Pink shadow!

Now onto the lips...

I have several Laura Geller lip glosses and lipsticks but this is the first Laura Geller liquid lipstick I have bought.  Although the packaging is very much like a lip gloss, with the sponge wand applicator, there the similarities end.

This has a creamy, matte consistency. It applies well but I did need a couple of coats.  It looks very much like a lipstick once applied and is a lovely natural shade.  It feels very nice on the lips and I think I will get a lot of wear out of this. After about 7 hours wear, there wasn't much colour left, just a slight outline on my top lip, although I don't think the camera picked it up very well in the picture below.  However, Laura makes no claims that is a long lasting lipstick and it had to endure drinks and a lunch of chicken salad and usually I would re-apply after eating but didn't so I could do a proper review.  

I am very happy with this lipstick and I didn't expect it to last through eating a meal, in fact in my opinion, many lip stains don't fair much better either!

There won't be a review for the baked blush or Spackle as I have decided not to keep them. I took another look at the baked blush and it looks lovely in the pan but it just doesn't suit my colouring.  I have lots of Laura Geller blusher which I love, but this colour just isn't for me.  As said in my previous post, Spackle just doesn't do it for me.  Sorry Laura!

Finally, before I go I must give an honourable mention to the large angled kabuki brush that came in this kit.  The photos below show the original kabuki brush on the left and the new large brush on the right.

Please excuse the dirty brush, if I had known I was going to take a pics of it, I'd have washed it first!  Slapped wrist - must wash brushes more often.

As you can see, the new brush is considerably larger than the old one so it cuts the time it takes to apply Balance and Brighten.  I do like this brush A LOT!  And it's retractable so great for travelling too.  I love kabuki brushes.

So all in all, I am very pleased with this Laura Geller TSV.
Have you tried any of her products?  Let me know what you think.

Thanks for reading.
Take care,
CJ xx

Sunday, 16 February 2014

First Impressions & Swatches: Laura Geller Baked Confections TSV


Well I'm back again with my first impressions on the recent Laura Geller TSV from QVC.
It's called Baked Confections and the colour option I chose was Porcelain.

On unboxing I was a little surprised on the colour of the blusher and the lip colour because to me they appeared more pinky toned on the television but more on those later.

First I swatched the eyeshadows. 
This trio is called Baked Eye Stripes in Plum Torte. 
I loved the look of these in the palette, especially the pink shade.  My favourite eyeshadow in the late 1980's was a Clinique shadow called "Seashell Pink".  How I loved that eyeshadow and I always got compliments when I wore it.  Imagine my despair when it was discontinued. My search then began for a replacement.  It took years for me to find a similar shadow but eventually in the 2000's I found one in Virgin Vie called "Pink Opal" which I felt matched up.  I was happy again.  Then a few years later Virgin Vie folded and along with it my pale pink eyeshadow was no more.  Fast forward to about 2 years ago and I was
perusing Superdrug and a little eyeshadow trio called Pink Sorbet caught my eye by MUA Professional no less!  It was £2.50 so I thought it was worth a try, although due to the price I didn't expect much to be honest. Got it home and tried it and voila!  I had found my replacement Seashell Pink/Pink Opal.  However this time I didn't want to get caught out so I rushed out and bought 2 spare palettes which I still have in my stash, although it hasn't been discontinued yet.  
Anyway, I digress... 
When I saw the pink in this Laura Geller trio it reminded me a lot of that pink, so I was a happy bunny.  The taupe middle shade also looked nice and a girl can never have enough neutrals.  Then the plum shade also looked lovely and I don't have one that colour so again I was pleased.

The swatches above are dry, straight from the pan. The pink is hard to see because of my pale skin but it is there! The plum colour was more of a dark damson on the skin, whereas it looked like it had more of a blue tint in the pan.

Now those familiar with Laura Geller's baked products will know that the beauty of them is that they can be used wet or dry. Above are swatches of them wet.  As you can see the intensity of them is much stronger and I think I prefer the pink wet rather than dry.

I have been using Laura Geller's Balance and Brighten for years and it is my "go to" foundation.  It is so quick and easy to use.  Sometimes I'll get out a liquid foundation, but they seem to feel so heavy on the skin that I always return to my beloved B&B.  I used to wear Fair as it was the lightest shade Laura did but it was always a tad too dark and yellow toned for me (blue eyed redhead) so when she added Porcelain, a pink toned B&B to the
range I was thrilled as it is perfect for me.  The large angled kabuki is a new addition though, so I am looking forward to trying it out.  Sorry there is no swatch but  it was too pale to show on my skin!

The baked blush is called Baked Brûlée Apple Custard.  It looks lovely in the pan, swirls in pink and brown and has a slight shimmer to it.  When I swatched it, I was disappointed that it was more brown than pink on my skin.  I'm not sure if I will keep this because it is a bit too "gingery" for my colouring I think.

Finally we come to the lip colour, Lucious Lips Liquid Lipstick in Cherry Almond. This seemed smaller than all the previous Laura lip glosses I have purchased, but upon application I realised it is more of a lipstick than a gloss.  Clue was in the name! I thought this appeared more pink toned on television but it is in fact, despite the name, quite a neutral colour. It does look quite brown in the swatch but perhaps that is because it is against my pale skin. It is a matte texture and I do like it.

You  may notice that there is no swatch of the Spackle Primer in Ethereal.  I do currently have a Champagne Spackle open and it is the only Laura Geller product, so far, that I'm not keen on.  Perhaps I should give it another try and, if I like it, try the Ethereal but at the moment I'm not planning on keeping the Spackle, hence no swatch.  Sorry!

I haven't had chance to have a proper play with this set yet, but first impressions are all good and I would give it 4 out of 5 stars.

It is currently out of stock on the QVC website but the item number is 204156 Laura Geller 5 Piece Baked Confections.

Sorry if I've waffled on too much and that my photographs are not of the highest standard but hopefully with time I shall improve!  Would love it if you took the time to comment. 
Thanks for reading.
Enjoy the rest of your day!
Take care,
CJ xx


Friday, 14 February 2014

Hello! New to blogging.

Hi there!

I am new to blogging, so please be gentle!
I am 43 years old, married and mum to 2 teenage boys.

Being in an all male household, the only way to have my "girlie" fix is by reading beauty blogs and watching lots of beauty related YouTube videos.  However, one thing I noticed was that the majority of them were by young, gorgeous 20 somethings.  I do still love watching them and learning from them but obviously my needs in my 40's differ greatly to those in their 20's.  With that in mind, I thought I would have a go at blogging myself (too much of a coward to attempt YouTube!).  I have no beauty training whatsoever and I still make lots of beauty mistakes but it is all a learning curve.  I am hoping to use this blog to review any beauty products I have bought - the good, the bad and the ugly.

Sorry for the naff photo above - I was going to spell out "Hello" in lip glosses instead of "Hi", and I could fib and say I didn't have enough lip glosses to do that, but the truth is I wasn't sure if I'd fit the word on my bed!

Anyway, that's enough waffle for my first post.  
Thanks if you've managed to read this far.
Have a great weekend and I hope to be back soon with my very first review which will be the recent Laura Geller TSV from QVC.

Take care,
CJ xx