Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Nail of the Day: Bright (vaguely) 80's Fun :)

It has been an absurdly long time since I attempted anything more than plain colour on my nails (and I've only done that a handful of times in the past year) but I was at a hen party this weekend which included a lovely mid-afternoon pamper session (complete with tea in real cups and saucers) Not only did I discover a love for honey masks (more on that in another post I'm sure, I loved it and I'll be trying another one very soon!) but we all also tried out some nail art- and I forgot how much I really do love it.

Because of the 80's theme I wanted something bright and fun, and without any real direction I chose a base colour of BarryM Shocking Pink, and picked out No7 Poolside Blue and BarryM Amethyst Glitter to go with it.

I decided that the best way forward was to test out some different techniques (I'm out of practise at them all now so...) and went for a different pattern on each nail.

I used a large dotting tool for the thumb and little finger, a couple of coats of Amethyst Glitter on the ring finger, the regular nail polish brush (*carefully* swiped across the nail - my middle finger on my right hand is quite different...Matching angles have never been a forte of mine!) and a small nail art brush for the stripes on my index finger.

I know they're not the neatest nails (especially the stripes on my index finger) but I am thrilled to re-introduce myself to the wonderful world of nail art. Hopefully with my housemate moving out and boyfriend moving in I should have a lot more space (and more time at home where my nail polish is) to paint my nails and get experimenting.

The downside is that Dale doesn't even understand why I'd want to paint just my ring finger a different colour, or add glitter only on that nail. *sigh* He has so much to learn...

Are there any new nail art trends or techniques that I've missed?


Saturday, 19 April 2014

Review: Nivea Creme

As I mentioned in a couple of posts this year (my eczema and 2013 favourites in particular) I discovered Nivea Creme last year and it has fast become a firm favourite and an absolute skincare essential- I thought it deserved a proper review.

Nivea Creme has been around since 1911 and has become one of those cult products that everyone who uses it will always swear by. The stereotype is that everyone's Grandma is a lifelong fan but I think there must be a very good reason it's still going strong over 100 years later! 

It is available in a couple of sizes- I have the 200ml, but there's a 50ml size which I think would be a lot more practical for handbag use (I've depotted some of mine into a separate little container so I don't have to tote around the bulky 200ml tub I have! The 200ml is around £3.50 and the 50ml is around £1.50- though I've seen both on sale for a lot less. (I bought my 200ml for £2 at Morrisons)

I the product itself is a pretty thick cream, but I think it has a kind of fluffy, whipped texture: think non-sticky marshmallow fluff... And although it is thick it does sink into the skin pretty fast provided you only use a small amount (it can be greasy and take longer so sink in, but I think that's often the price you have to pay for decent moisturisation) As I've said before I get the driest skin on my hands, so it's important that I can apply a product that allows me go straight back to working or whatever I'm doing without leaving super-greasy marks on everything.

The ingredients are fairly simple- with mineral oil being the main moisturising component, and although there is some fragrance it definitely does not irritate my skin- even on patches of eczema or around my eyes. Because of the fragrances it does have a scent to it but I don't think it's a very strong- it's vaguely citrusy/fresh smell that I actually really love.

I've never had any issue with Nivea Creme clogging my pores or making my skin feel oily (though, again, I usually have very dry skin) even when I've used it all over my face at night. I've also used it like a moisture mask- slathering on a thick layer, leaving it for a while then gently removing the excess- which is lovely)

Nivea Creme is advertised as being fully multipurpose product, for use on basically anywhere your body that needs moisture. I mainly use it on my eczema patches, all over my face on particularly dry days, as a makeshift eye cream (my eyes are always the driest part of my face) for dry elbows and knees etc. though I would definitely use it anywhere on my body if needed- it would probably make a good alternative to body butter if you needed it!

Overall I have to say I really do love Nivea Creme- I'm sad it took me so long to discover it! I love that is so multifunctional and richly moisturising, I use it for so many things and would definitely be lost without it!

Have you ever used Nivea Creme- what do you think?


Sunday, 13 April 2014

How I manage my eczema flare-ups.

So first of all- a disclaimer! I'm not a medical or skincare professional, everything I mention in his post are things that work FOR ME, everyone's skin reacts differently and if you're struggling with eczema you should really see a doctor / dermatologist rather than relying in the internet (the internet is a very useful tool, but is not a substitute for a professionals advice- plus they can give you prescription drugs!)

I never ever had eczema as a child, and I really only developed it at about the age of 20/21. I've had it on and off since then, in various places (but mostly my eyelids and hands/wrists) and since then I've tried a LOT if things to try and get rid of it, some have worked well and I'm pretty sure some things made it worse... So I thought I'd share a bit of my experience and a couple of products that work for me.

For the first couple of days of a flare-up when the skin is feeling itchy, hot, raw and horrible I think a hydrocortisone cream is essential. I think you can buy these from pharmacies but I got mine prescribed (if you've never used one before or have only just developed eczema I really recommend seeing your doctor anyway, they can probably provide stronger hydrocortisone creams if you need them and will be able to give you the best advice about what/what not to do and use)

It's very important to be very sparing with a hydrocortisone cream- you only need a very thin layer on the affected area, and there can be side effects (like skin thinning) if it's used frequently over a long period. That said, this stuff really is a miracle for my skin- it takes away that horrible red, hot, itchy feeling when an eczema patch first crops up, and makes it look and feel a lot less 'angry'. Unfortunately you're not supposed to use it on the face (which is hell when I have eczema on my eyelids; and I have to admit that on a couple of occasions I felt so awful I caved and used it on my lids...) as the skin is more delicate there, so I'm not sure what would be a good alternative for the face.

The next thing that is super important for eczema treatment is moisturiser, moisturiser, moisturiser. I sometimes feel a lot like Lady Cassandra from Doctor Who: I am constantly within arms reach of at least 2 or 3 forms of moisturiser and reapply all the time throughout the day.

There are lots of different options for keeping your skin moisturised, but I have a few favourites that really moisturise well, and don't further irritate my skin (which is sensitive at the best of times)

For the daytime I tend to switch between Nivea Creme and E45- which are both nice because they moisturise well, sink in pretty fast (which I really need at work- my eczema is worst on my hands and I need to be able to type and touch paperwork without leaving greasy marks on everything) and is gentle on irritated or sensitive skin. I make a point of applying moisturisers to my skin whenever I wash it- so for my hands I reapply all the time!

At night I often soak myself in oil (usually either almond oil or rescue oil) on my hands, arms (especially inside my elbows) and my knee and ankle areas to really moisturise thoroughly over night- I do find it helps my dry skin in general. 

Once my skin has healed a little, and reaches that horrible looking dry and flaky stage I like to (very gently) exfoliate. (please never exfoliate raw, broken skin! You will do much more harm than good) Remember when you have a layer of flaky dead skin any product you apply will have to penetrate the dead skin before it can actually do anything useful to the living (hopefully healthy) skin below, so by gently removing that dead stuff you can help to keep your living skin moisturised (plus it looks and feels so much better)

I usually use a very simple DIY recipe, which involves mixing caster sugar (a finer grained sugar which is gentler than granulated) and olive oil (so it can also moisturise as you scrub) into a thick paste and rubbing it over the skin. It's simple, natural, and works so well. You could also use my coffee scrub recipe to exfoliate- that's nice and gentle too (plus it smells amazing!)

That's really it for products I use- I do find it better to be minimal with products I use on flare-ups; the skin is so much more delicate during a flare-up and I'd hate to do anything to make it worse! But here are a couple of more general tips I like to follow:

  • Moisturise every single time you wash/get wet- that means immediately after washing your hands, getting out of the shower etc. I love to use oils all over when my skin is damp from a shower.
  • Avoid harsh body washes and bubble baths (I like the Sanex Zero range, though I'm on the hunt for a SLS free shower gel that is affordable- let me know if you know of any!) If possible only use body wash on the essential areas and leave the rest of your skin alone.
  • In fact, avoid baths- they're so drying! If you must have a bath use a moisturising bath oil, and cooler water. Short, cool showers are much better for your skin. And try not to shower every day if possible.
  • Try and look out for what might trigger your flare-ups (unfortunately I can't work out what triggers mine) it could be anything really: environmental, dietary or stress related- or potentially just a random, annoying, occurrence.
  • Don't let your skin get too hot or cold and wear looser, breathable fabrics (cotton is your friend here)

So that's my take on caring for eczema, please give me all of your tips and advice in the comments, I always appreciate new things to try.


Sunday, 6 April 2014

Photography Challenge #3 - Self Portrait

I've never really been one for selfies- partly because I've only recently had a camera in me at all times, but also because I tend to prefer taking the pictures. It's not that I mind having my picture taken (I love it really) but I often think selfies just aren't that flattering. I contemplated trying out ways to set timers and work with mirrors to set up lovely shots, but in the spirit of the challenge I decided to try it- and see if I could did some pictures I take of myself that I like.
With the popularity of the 'no makeup selfie' I thought I'd include a couple (in pictures 1 and 3 below I'm wearing no make up, and in pictures 2 and 4 I've got my regular daytime face on- eye makeup, concealer and blush- no foundation) 

People have had some rather extreme reactions to the 'no makeup selfie' trend- that women should never wear makeup in the first place (how horribly judgemental, I hate that some people think they can decide what other people choose, or choose not to, put on their face!) or that it's not doing anything at all to raise awareness or money (which I think Cancer Research UK would disagree with, I'm sure I've read that they've raised over 2 million pounds since it started) but I personally agree with anything that helps to raise money- even if it's an internet fad that some people take part in without really getting the point of the trend. 

Then again I think everyone has that annoying 'friend' who posts a no makeup selfie on Facebook with a caption that reads something like 'This is my no makeup selfie, but I think I'm so naturally beautiful I never ever wear makeup anyway, so it's really just a regular selfie' (paraphrased, mostly
- but I hate these people! It's awesome that you look lovely completely makeup free, but being comfortable with your naked face doesn't make you a better person, or a better woman, or a better feminist or whatever they think; comments like that make you a bitch, and people who choose to decorate their face with cosmetics are just as beautiful as someone who is 'natural'. /end rant)

Anyway I think it turned out mostly successful, through a great deal of trial and error, and I did get a couple of pictures I like :)

I look rather dishevelled in this one, I've just walked back to my boyfriends house from town (about 1/2 hour) in the windy, rainy, classic British weather.

I love this picture- I'm not really sure why, but I think it looks cool. It is not edited in any way (apart from cropping slightly) and the blurry effect is caused by an accidentally blurry camera lens- which really confused me for about 5 minutes after I took it!

So there are my self portraits!

What do you think of the 'no makeup selfie' trend?