Monday, 20 April 2015

going back to staffordshire.

Just after my birthday I headed back up to the Midlands (god I miss the Midlands) to see my parents (and ahem, to get my presents). I've recently slipped a disc in my back (for the second time in my life, because I am that old now), which means I basically need to keep moving otherwise I seize up. So, on the day I spent with my Mum, we headed only about a ten minute drive away for a little walk around some villages in Staffordshire. I got in some country air (haha), and we both had a wonder along the canals. I love canals, I don't know why I love them so much, but maybe its partly because I grew up around them in Birmingham and also because they remind me of living in Holland and some of the better memories I have from there. We also had a look into a few farm shops, I went a bit over the top on the chutney buying but I genuinely can never help myself when it comes to chutney. We stopped in the end for a pint by the canal side, but only because we were too late for tea and cake. Next time, maybe. 

Friday, 17 April 2015

review: soap & glory beauty sleep accelerator night & flight moisture miracle

I picked up Soap and Glory’s ‘Beauty Sleep Accelerator’ moisturiser just after Christmas, when my skin was really suffering with the cold weather. That’s not something that’s ever really happened to me before, I usually don’t particularly suffer during the bad weather, but this year I really did so I decided it was time to find a product that would help me out!

Soap and Glory come out with their usual science crap on this product before they actually start talking about what it will do – “detoxifying oxyginseng technology” anyone? They reckon it “floods your skin with moisture, stopping dry, dehydrated skin in its tracks, so you wake up dewy, luminous skin.” It’s formulated to work intensively for overnight, but is apparently just as “effective should you choose to deploy its super healing powers at alternative times.”

The first thing to say about this moisturiser is that it smells absolutely amazing. That’s hardly much of a surprise considering it’s a Soap and Glory product and they’re well known for having products which smell great. I read a review of this product by Amber whilst I was still just getting to use it, and she’d commented on the smell and I completely agreed. It had worried me a little – sometimes my skin can get in a bit of tizz and go all sensitive and leave me with puffy eyes and I thought a smelly product wouldn’t be too helpful on that score.

It seems like a stupid thing to say as this is formulated for overnight use, but I really would say only use it at night. It doesn’t sink in straight away – admittedly it doesn’t take too long and there are thousands of other moisturisers I can think of which take way longer – but it takes too long to sink in to be shoving make up on straight away afterwards, especially if, like me, you always wake up late and spend most of your mornings running around. But for night-time use its perfect. It doesn’t make me feel greasy, and once its sunk in you can’t feel it at all, meaning it doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable.

It does flood my skin with moisture, I suppose. But it’s an effect that doesn’t last all that long. You do have to use it every night to really feel the benefit. Not too much of a criticism I suppose, but still. I never feel too much of a lasting benefit. I really don’t think I wake up with dewy skin either, I think that would overstepping the mark somewhat. Luminous also? Nah, I don’t think so. Brighter probably, but not luminous. That would be getting a little overexcited.

One of the best things about this product is that it lasts for absolutely ages. I’ve been using it for three months every single night (is it a sign that I’m getting older that I now definitely actually properly moisturise each night?) and I’m still only around half way into using this stuff.

I like this product, but would I repurchase? I’m not sure. I wouldn’t not repurchase it. But at the same time I get the feeling that there’s something out there that for the price (£13 for 45ml) that could just do a teeny little bit better.

Friday, 10 April 2015

review: tresemme oil elixir

I picked up this product completely randomly when I was at Sainsbury’s one day. You know one of those trips when you go in for bog rolls and leave having spent £40 quid and leave with no bog roll? Yep. I wondered into the products section and found this and was like “yep, sod it, mine”. My hair had been a little dry, especially over the winter months, and I’ll always give anything a shot if it promises to sort it all out.

I’ve been unimpressed with hair oils before. I have quite thick and relatively long hair, and so I always have to use a lot of product for it to make any real difference, and then you end up with the problem of product build up and my hair being weighed down and therefore flat – so to be honest, I wasn’t expecting all that much. Maybe a little more shine if I was being lucky.

Oil Elixir claims to work for all hair, saying it will rejuvenate hair with a “luxurious blend of salon-grade Babassu and Macadamia oils, rich in Omega 7. The dry oil technology provides rapid absorption, to instantly tame frizz, so flyaway’s appear reduced”. You can use this product in a variety of ways; either as a pre-shampoo nourishing treatment, a pre-styling treatment on wet hair, or as a styling product when hair is dry.

I personally use this product as a pre-styling treatment, using three or four pumps into my hands and then running it through the lengths and ends of my hair before blow drying. I can’t comment on its abilities as a styling product as the thought of adding oil to my dry hair petrifies me as I’m already fighting a battle to keep greasy hair at bay. It’s easy enough to use, and doesn’t leave too much residue on my hands or make a mess, plus it smells really amazing. It reminds me of being in a salon, but in a good way – not a burning hair mess smelly kinda way.

One of the main worries I have with hair oils is that it’s going to leave my hair looking greasy, and that’s completely not the case with this product. If anything, after using it I’m convinced my hair stays cleaner looking for longer. I was also worried about this product weighing my hair down, and making it flat but again, this doesn’t appear to be the case with this – surprising, considering it’s basically a bunch of silicones, high grade oils or not. Instead it’s shiny, sleek and definitely not as frizzy as it used to be. I’ve even been complemented on my hair looking sleeker and less like a birds nest, and I’ve often thought that being complemented on a something randomly is a good way of knowing that it’s actually working.

Again, as if often my major gripe with products, I don’t like the cost of this. It retails at £9.99 (although I somehow managed to get it for £3), which is admittedly a lot cheaper than many hair oils on the market, but it still feels like a lot to me. A lot of that cost is probably the packaging, which is an extremely heavy duty glass bottle – not what I was expecting from TRESemme. It does last for an absolute age as well, it wouldn’t have to be rebought very often.

But would I buy it again? You know what? I’m so impressed I probably would.

Monday, 6 April 2015

i've fallen out of love with london. and i don't wanna do it anymore.

I caught the tube for the first time the other week during the rush hour, as a commuter. Of course I’ve caught the tube at rush hour before, but never when I had to actually be anywhere. Of course, this generally has made me quite lucky. I lived in Pimlico and could walk to work and I knew the tubes were bad but it wasn’t something I had to deal with. Now I’ve moved to Clapham, and on the days I don’t face the nightmare cycle into work, I catch the tube. It’s a journey which involves three lines. I can wait for anything between four to eight tubes to go past before I can get onto the Northern line, usually two before I can get onto the Victoria line and one to get onto the District line. And the other day, after watching thousands of tubes go past me before I could get on, and then getting into a fight with a woman on the District line because she was a total dickhead, I was pretty pissed off. Then I got into work, to the news that my little brother, who earns half my salary is going to rent a flat with his girlfriend. They’ll be moving to a nice enough area, in not the poshest, but by no means the worst part of Birmingham. A two bedroomed place, with car parking, a living room and substantial kitchen, with their own little garden. For £450 a month. I pay well over that for a room which isn’t much bigger than my bedroom was in halls at Uni (you know, get out of bed and your nose is squashed against your wardrobe kinda thing). And then later, when my housemate had smacked out a snide comment and British Gas had fucked me over thanks to my ex-housemates, I found myself on the phone to my Dad crying ‘I’ve made a big mistake, I don’t want to live in London anymore’.

And the truth is, I don’t. Even now I’m calmer and haven’t had such a shit day, I still don’t want to live here. I’ve been here a year now and I still don’t get why everyone loves it so much. Yes, there’s great food to enjoy on the weekends, but actually, I could get that back in Birmingham. Yes, there’s culture and galleries and if anyone is going to be doing anything, it’s probably going to be in London. But do I ever have the time to go to these things? No. Do I have the friends to go to these things with? No. Do I have the money? No, it’s being depleted by shitty rent and extortionate prices for a pint. 

I thought I would love it, but I’ve been here for a year and I don’t. I should love it, I should. I love big cities, I love being lost in crowds, I like being close to shopping areas, I love good food and free museums. But London isn’t worth it. I could get all of that in Birmingham. Back in Cardiff. Back in any other big city in this country in some way, shape or form. 

The same day I called my Dad, I found myself in an Uber after a work do, and the car drove past a billboard. It was from a project called londonischanging. As they say on their website the project is “intended to facilitate discussion about the impact of economic and policy changes on the culture and diversity of London. Via a web form, we are asking a series of questions intended to capture a variety of personal stories and circumstances that will enhance understanding of broader demographic trends concerning migration into, out of, and around London. An edited selection of responses from the web form is currently on display on digital billboards in Central London and new responses are being added daily”. And the phrase that was on that billboard that I saw resonated with me. And it stuck in my head. And I’ve included more above from the website that have stuck with me. It would seem I’m not the only one who feels like this. 

I keep thinking of all the things I could have done had I not lived in London. I could have paid off my sodding over draft which clouds over me still, even though I left Uni in 2012. I could have starting saving money. I could have bought wonderful things with money and travelled with the money I would have left over. Like I say, my brother who stayed in Birmingham and earns half the money I do, has been to China and New York in the past six months. He’s twenty one and he has a fucking ISA. 

I think ahead to my future. Will I ever be able to buy my own house? I’m stupidly British in that that really is an aim of mine. I want that option to have my own little place. Will I ever be able to pay off my overdraft? My student loan? Will I always have a bedroom no bigger than my student digs? Will I be thirty and still sharing with housemates that probably don’t like me all that much? Will I ever get to go abroad ever again? Will I be able to afford to have children? And even if I do have children, will I have to pay for private education to make sure they don’t go to some crap inner city London horror story school you hear of? 

I just don’t understand why everyone else loves London. Is it purely down to the fact that they have friends and I don’t? What is the big secret that I’m missing?

The only thing keeping me here at the moment is the job. Unfortunately, I don’t see any realistic prospects of getting a job anywhere else other than London. I don’t see the opportunity. Maybe I’m being stupid, and honestly I hope I am. 

And going back to the crying phone call I had with my Dad, he said he was proud of me. I’d been further than he ever had, having lived in Sutton Coldfield for all of his life, and the vast majority of that on the same street. That he was proud I’d at least tried. That I don’t have to stay here forever. And I suppose that’s something to cling on to. I hope I fall in love with London soon, or, I hope I pluck up the courage to leave. 

Friday, 3 April 2015

review: clinique pore refining solutions instant perfector.

Thanks to a largely very unhelpful lifestyle, and some bad genetics (ta Mum), my pores are horrendous. Sometimes I get quite worked up about this and sometimes I’m completely not bothered about it all – largely because I’ve all but given up finding anything that actually works. I was on the Porefessional bandwagon for a while, but it’s actually a product I pretty much hated, and I’ve tried most of the drug-store options which are available too. Nothing worked.

Using a voucher I got for Christmas, I decided to treat myself to Clinque ‘Pore Refining Solutions Instant Perfector’. Clinque isn’t a brand I usually go for, it’s usually out of my limited budget, even though friends often recommend it highly. I suppose Clinque isn’t really a product which is marketed at my age group, it’s a brand I associate with my Mum. Unusually for me, I didn’t look at reviews, I just made an impulse purchase. I’m quite glad I did.

The product claims to make you “look smooth and virtually flawless with pores that appear more than 50% smaller instantly.” I have to say, I think that’s pretty true (apart from the whole flawless thing, I’m pretty sure I never look flawless and that it’s also pretty much an impossibility. My pores were definitely reduced, even under the harsh light of my work’s bathroom. The product works like a matte mask too, which is great as my combination skin can often get a bit shiny – the shine is definitely reduced. The product also claims to last up to eight hours, and this is also something I’d agree with. I’ll put it on before work at 8am, and it’s still noticeably working by the time I leave work at 6. Impressive stuff.

My one downside with this is the cost of the product. At £20 for 15ml, it’s not the cheapest product I’ll ever come across. It does last a while (a little goes a long way and all that), but I would probably have to think twice about re-purchasing as my disposable income just doesn’t stretch for things like this. Also, the product comes only in two skin tones (light and deep) or invisible bright. This wasn’t an issue for me personally, as I chose invisible bright which was fine for me, but as the deep tone is still pretty fair, it would be useless for anyone who wasn’t white.

But this blows Porefessional and other related products out of the water for me, so if you’re looking for something to keep pores at bay, I’d definitely recommend this.