Beautiful Skin At Any Age

I am fast approaching thirty. That isn’t old by anyone’s standards but I am still aware of the gradual changes to my skin that are taking place. Coco Chanel was once quoted as saying ‘Nature gives you the face you have at twenty. Life shapes the face you have at thirty. But at fifty you get the face you deserve’. I think she got it spot on. No matter how young you are, it is never too early to make changes to your lifestyle which will set up a good foundation for the ageing process. Your older self will thank you for it.

Stay hydrated – Water is quite literally the elixir of life. Your body is approximately sixty percent water and it plays an essential role in many of the processes that happen within your body. It will also help to keep your skin clear and assist your body with flushing out toxins. With that in mind, you need to stay properly hydrated in order to look and feel your best. Official guidelines state that you should be drinking six to eight glasses of water per day for optimum health but don’t forget many foods such as fresh fruit also contain water. Many people drink hot water with a slice of lemon but bear in mind that this is a very acidic drink and will erode your teeth when drunk on a regular basis. Alcohol and caffeine are dehydrating so it is a good idea to drink some plain water each time you consume a drink that contains either substance.

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Aim to drink at least six glasses of water each day

Eat well – Genetics and heritage determine how your skin looks, behaves and ages but you can do much to assist the process by improving your lifestyle. As well as staying well hydrated, another way to do this is by eating a good, well balanced diet to give your body the nutrition it needs. The most beneficial vitamins for your skin are A, C and E. These are found in abundance in fruits and vegetables so try to include at least five portions each day. Other beneficial foods for your body include beans, dairy, eggs, fish, nuts and whole grains. Remember that the nutritional benefits of eating the right foods will always be better for your body than consuming them in pill form.

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Aim to eat a minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables each day

Protect yourself from the sun – Never underestimate the damaging effects of the sun on your skin. A golden tan may look attractive in your twenties but when you are in your fifties and have wrinkled, sagging skin peppered with moles, it will not look quite so appealing. And of course, too much sun exposure can cause skin cancer. Many skincare and make up products contain a sun protection factor (SPF) so keep a look out for these when you are shopping for supplies. Also use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15 and avoid midday sun when UV levels are at their strongest. Don’t forget to wear sunglasses, constant squinting in the sun will help to give you the dreaded ‘crow’s feet’ wrinkles around your eyes.

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Always protect your eyes from the sun

Exercise – Most of us are aware of the health benefits of exercise but of course it can benefit the way we look too. As well as helping to build a slim, toned physique, all of the sweat you produce when you exercise will help to bring impurities out of your skin helping to keep it clear and fresh. As you get older, as well as keeping your body healthy, exercise will also help to manage your weight. As you age, your metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns calories) decreases leading to an increased likelihood of weight gain.

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Yoga is a great way to help you to stay in shape

Get into a good beauty routine – As well as the lifestyle factors that will play a part in maintaining the beauty of your skin, getting into a good routine with skincare will also help. Look after your skin by moisturising daily, exfoliating weekly and use face masks depending on your skin type. Normal moisturiser formulas are often too rich and heavy for the delicate skin around the eyes and can cause puffiness. Make you use a specially formulated cream for eyes. As we age, our skin produces less collagen and so skin loses it’s elasticity and becomes less firm. If you have mature skin, look out for products containing peptides and retinoids which will help your skin to build collagen and appear firmer. Also try to avoid foundation formulas that are too dry as they will settle into wrinkles. Keep your skin well moisturised and use a moisture rich foundation formula.

Stop smoking – I used to have a twenty (sometimes thirty) a day habit so I know how hard it is to stop. But with self belief and sheer willpower, you can stop. You will look and feel so much better for it believe me.

Remember, it’s never too early to begin thinking about preserving your skin for the future.

Until next time, stay beautiful x

Must Have Hair Accessories For Every Woman

Many of us have a ‘signature’ hairstyle, one which we have been sporting for years, maybe even decades. And some of us wear that hairstyle in the exact same way, day in, day out. Well what if you fancy a change? Maybe nothing as drastic as a radically different haircut but just ways of making it look a little bit different. This is where hair accessories come in. Every woman should have a variety of accessories on standby for when you want to add a little bit extra to your hair. I have compiled a list of popular hair accessories which I think every woman should own, whether your hair is long, short or somewhere in between.

Alice bands – These aren’t just for little girls. Practical as well as stylish, they are great for when you want to wear your hair down but kept away from your face. They are available in lots of different sizes, styles and colours and can compliment the rest of your outfit whether dressed up or casual. Popular for many years now, Alice bands are often associated with the ‘Sloane Ranger’ look – a velvet Alice band teamed with pearl earrings. But don’t let that put you off.

Kirby grips (Bobby pins) – When found on carpets and under beds, these have been puzzling men as to what they actually are for decades. In the right hands, kirby grips can be used to transform hair into beautifully sculpted creations. Personally, I hate them. I find them fiddly to use, they don’t stay in place after I’ve put them in and I end up pulling out hairs when I remove them. But…so many other girls find them easy to use and create all manner of beautiful, innovative styles with them. So if you haven’t tried them, see if you are more skillful with them than I am.

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My hair on my wedding day, a French twist created using kirby grips. Not by me I must add, this is the work of my hairdresser Hayley Gage

Claw clips – Ah now these are much more like it. Just snap in and go. No frills, simple to use, these are a must for every woman.

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The classic claw clip

Fascinators – Faintly ridiculous for everyday use but a must have for a wedding or a day at the races. When choosing a fascinator, consider your hair colour and face shape as well as your outfit. If your outfit is relatively plain, fascinators can be used to add a burst of colour, especially when matched with shoes.

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Wearing a fascinator at my brother’s wedding

Hair bows – I quite like these. They snap in easy (always a good thing), they come in lots of colours and styles and are a nice little touch to compliment the rest of your outfit. Black and polka dot ones are my favourite

Snap clips – These are handy for controlling lumpy bits of hair or nasty flyaways. The only problem with them is they are pretty damn ugly. No matter what colour you buy them in, they just never seem to look nice in my opinion. They are cheap and practical though so I still think they deserve a place on the list.

Hair flowers – Like hair bows, a strategically placed flower (or flowers) is a pretty way to jazz up your look.

Elastics – Ah where would we be without the good ol’ hair elastic? Make sure you always keep a plentiful supply of these, preferably ones without metal as they are less likely to damage your hair.

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Hair elastics, an everyday essential

Head chains – I have included head chains in the list as I’m seeing more people wearing these now. They’re not something which I would personally wear, I tried one on once and to say it didn’t suit me is putting it mildly. But if you have the style and confidence to wear one and pull it off – good on you!

Headbands – I like fabric headbands for all the same reasons that I like Alice bands. What I don’t like however is the way they always end up pinging off my head. Usually at inappropriate moments. Maybe it’s just the ones that I’ve tried or perhaps it’s just me.

Headscarves – Like head chains, I think these take a certain panache to pull off well. But if you are one of those women that can, they can look seriously cool.

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Nicely coordinating scarf, lips and nails

Mini claw clips – The miniature version of the ever popular claw clip. I don’t see people wearing these as often but I find them a useful, easy alternative to kirby grips for a variety of hairstyles.

Scrunchies – Yes, scrunchies. I would actually like to see these make a comeback. I like them as they are softer than many other hair ties and less likely to damage your hair. They were all the rage back in the 90’s but they seem to have fallen out of favour in recent years. I have noticed gymnasts have been wearing them a lot lately though so maybe with the forthcoming Olympics in Rio, maybe we will see a scrunchie revival. I hope so.

Barrettes (hair clasps) – Easy to use and available in so many different colours, materials and styles, these are the classic, go to accessory for many women who want to inject a bit of sparkle to their hair.

Tiara – A very formal hair accessory, unless you are royalty, most women will only have the opportunity to properly wear a tiara on your wedding day. If you are choosing one to wear, make sure it compliments the rest of your jewellery and doesn’t clash. Consider your hairstyle carefully and make sure the ends of the band of your tiara are covered. There is no excuse to wear the naff, plastic tiaras ever. Even if it is your birthday or hen do, don’t do it. They look cheap and common and I’m sure that you are neither.

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Coordinating jewellery with a tiara

Bun ring – It has taken me almost thirty years but I finally know how to use one. I find them fiddly but I think a pretty ballerina style bun looks chic and elegant so I think it is worth the time it takes to master.

So there you go. Have a rummage around and see how many of these you are missing 🙂

Back To Basics…Aftercare Of Your Manicure And Pedicure

Every woman likes to look and feel her best. Beautifully manicured fingernails and pedicured toenails are essential for a really polished look. If you’re looking at your hands and feet now and feeling a little self conscious that they are not looking their best, treat yourself to a manicure and pedicure. If you are unable to do it yourself, visit one of the many professionals out there who offer this service. It’s only a little thing but I know I feel a lot more confident when I have nice nails, even if my hair is a mess and I have no make up on. So once you’ve prettied up your nails, how can you maintain the way they look for as long as possible? There are some simple things you can do which will help to care for your hands and feet. I’m sure many of you already know most of them but it can’t help to have a quick refresh and go back to basics…

Avoid damage – Bitten nails are never a good look. If you are a nail biter, invest in one of the many products available to help you break the habit. Avoid using your nails as ‘tools’ where possible, use the pads of your fingers instead. When filing your nails, file in one direction only and avoid using metal files. Filing back and forth generates heat which can make your nails brittle and weakened. If you buff your nails to reduce ridges, only do so for a few seconds and never more than once a week. When cutting your toenails, always cut straight across, never at an angle as this can cause an ingrown nail – I can tell you from experience, they are painful!

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Fingernails painted with Rimmel Salon Pro polish in ‘New Romantic’ from the Kate Moss range. A pretty,  pinky nude shade which I wore on my wedding day

Diet – When you are ill, depleted of nutrients or run down, your hair and nails are often one of the first places where your body will show signs of damage. Drink plenty of water and eat a healthy, balanced diet with a good variety of vitamins and minerals.

Drying time – Pretty obvious but make sure you allow enough time for your nail colour to harden and set. If I need to speed up the time it takes for my nails to dry, I find dunking my hands in really cold water helps. It wont dry your nails completely but it will help to set them a little bit quicker.

Hard skin – Have you ever stood on an escalator and at eye level in front of you, there is someone wearing flip-flops with rough looking, flakey heels? Don’t let that flakey footed person be you! Keep hard skin on your feet at bay by regularly using a pumice stone or foot file after a bath or shower. I use a ‘Ped Egg’ foot file and I find that works pretty well. Whatever you do, do not use a razor to shave dead skin off your feet – I actually knew someone who once did this! It ended badly.

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‘Ped Egg’ foot file

Moisturise – It amazes me how many women take care of their face by moisturising and exfoliating regularly and yet completely ignore their hands. Even if you take great care of your face and neck, if you have wrinkled ‘old lady’ hands, it will be a real giveaway as to your true age as you get older. Look after your hands by using hand cream on a daily basis, especially after you have washed them as soap can have a drying affect on skin. Don’t forget to pay attention to nails and cuticles. There are special creams designed to moisturise cuticles but I find olive oil is a good alternative.

Nail length – Long nails look nice but keep your nails to a practical length according to your work and lifestyle. In my previous job, I frequently used my hands for some pretty rough work. Whenever I tried to grow my nails, I ended up snapping them. Painful and not very nice to look at! I try and grow my nails longer sometimes but I think the habit of having short nails is pretty well ingrained in me now.

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Toenails painted with Revlon Colorstay Gel Envy polish in ‘Hot Hand’, a shade of bright pink. The photo makes it look slightly dull but it’s a lovely bright pink colour

Never pick at your polish – Whether you have had a DIY home manicure or a professional gel application, do not pick at your nail colour as it will damage the surface of the nail underneath. This is especially true for gel manicures. If you pick at or peel one of these, it can come off in one big, nail sized sheet. It might be fun but it’ll damage your nail and expose the horror that lies beneath (a scaly, rough looking nail!)

Painting your own nails – Use a base coat underneath your nail colour to prevent staining your nail when you come to remove the colour. If you do have old polish stains on your nails, you can use cotton wool dipped in lemon juice to remove them. When you have finished applying your polish, apply a good quality, clear top coat to help prevent chipping and for extra shine. When it is time to remove your polish, use an acetone free remover, it is less harsh on your nails.

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A selection of my favourite nail colours – as you can see, I am a fan of Revlon Colorstay Gel Envy polishes. They offer a selection of nice colours, are inexpensive and if you use a clear top coat, they last quite well

Protect your hands – Washing up water, cleaning products and other nasties will all take their toll on your hands and nails. They may not be the most attractive garment but get those rubber gloves on!

This article has some really basic tips and advice. Some of you will know a lot of it already but hopefully there are some of you out there that have learnt a thing or two 🙂

Coping With The Death Of A Loved One

Death is often seen as a taboo subject. Something which many of us are reluctant to talk about. But it’s a sad fact of life. We live and then we die. But how do we cope after the death of someone we love? Today, I will share my story with you about coming to terms with the death of someone I loved dearly – my dad.

Five years ago today, my dad passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest at home. He was 56, I was 24. As anyone who has ever experienced the death of a loved one, particularly an immediate family member will know, you don’t ‘get over it’ but time does make it easier to deal with. You get used to no longer having that person around anymore. I have lost people close to me before and those deaths were ‘expected’. Personally, I found them slightly easier to deal with. Not that an expected death is any less upsetting but you do have some time to mentally prepare yourself for when the time comes and to ‘say goodbye’. Even if you don’t say it out loud, inside you know that each time you leave them if could be the last. In a way, you had already begun to grieve so when the time of passing comes, it doesn’t come as a shock.

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Dad 1954 – 2011

With a sudden death like dad’s though, you don’t get that time to prepare yourself for when the time comes. I will never forget the moment I found out about dad’s death. I literally collapsed from shock. It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact I would never see him again or hear his voice. As well as sadness, I felt angry that he had been robbed of his life at a relatively young age. How he would never see myself or my brother get married, never see his grandchildren and they would never meet their grandad. Bereavement is an experience that leads to all kinds of emotions and thoughts. Most of which aren’t pleasant.

My advice to anyone coping with the death of a loved one would be firstly, do not hide your feelings. Talk about how you feel. If you are not comfortable talking with family and friends, talk to your doctor or talk to a bereavement charity such as Cruse. Have a good cry, don’t bottle things up and try and ‘stay strong’. You are grieving, you don’t have to be ashamed or embarrassed about getting upset and appearing like you are feeling ok if you’re not. Don’t neglect yourself, eat properly and rest. Take care of yourself and talk to your doctor if you have a health concern. And never turn to drugs, alcohol or smoke to excess. After my dad died, I dreamt about him and he said in the dream, ‘do not try and come here’ and I knew what that meant – your loved one’s life may be over but yours isn’t. And they wouldn’t want it to be so don’t do anything self destructive. Don’t make any big decisions while you are still grieving such as business or financial. You still need time to adjust to what has happened and time to think. I returned to work after my dad’s funeral and I found that to be very beneficial. I wasn’t pressured into returning to work so soon but having other things to think about and to do and the support of my colleagues helped with the grieving process.

Above all, remember that you will get through it and come out of it as a stronger person. It’s a cliche but it’s true. Losing a loved one is one of the most stressful experiences that we will go through in life. Take each day one at a time. You will experience a rollercoaster of emotions and you just have to let each one pass. Bereavement is a difficult journey and there will be days where you will hit rock bottom and wonder whether you will ever feel ok again. But it’s a journey that you will complete and yes, you will be ok. I am speaking from experience and I promise you, it will get easier. You will never forget them and there will be times when you will still get upset but you will adjust to life without them. When you think of your loved one, one day you will smile more than you cry.

My thoughts are with anyone who is experiencing or has experienced the death of someone they loved. Please feel free to share this with anyone who you feel that it may help.

Keeping Fit At Home

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Gym balls are an affordable piece of equipment you can use at home

Many of us are guilty of having a spare room in our home which is quite frankly, used for junk. Boxes full of books that will never be read again, paperwork which should have been burnt years ago, towering piles of unwanted Christmas presents…is this a good use of space? No. My husband and I have two spare rooms, neither of which is used as a bedroom. One of the rooms is, I must confess, still a junk room (although the ‘junk’ I refer to I would rather call ‘stock’ as it is awaiting a forthcoming car boot sale). However, we are in the process of turning the other room into a gym.

Gym memberships are the norm for a lot of people nowadays. Having other people around you when you work out can serve as a motivation and many people enjoy the social interaction of meeting others at the gym. I however, prefer to work out alone. Despite the fact we are all there for the same reason, I cannot help but feel a little bit self conscious and inhibited when I enter a gym. And I know I am not alone in feeling this way. Hence the beauty of having a work out area in your home. Our home gym was originally conceived as a small double bedroom. In it, we currently have an exercise bike, stepping machine, cross trainer, twist board and weight rack. Despite the room’s small proportions, all of the equipment fits comfortably and in the future we aim to add more to it.

Compact, inexpensive fitness equipment is easily available so having a gym in your own home needn’t be the preserve of the wealthy or those with a large home. Even if you prefer a public gym, the benefits of having a gym or fitness area in your home are certainly worth considering. Sometimes we just don’t have the time or inclination to visit the gym but if you have the equipment you need at home, there is no excuse to skip your workout.

Now, where are my weights…

Welcome!

Hello and thank you for visiting my blog. I am new to blogging and after many years of ‘meaning to get round to it’, my blog is finally here. The aim of my blog is to engage with and inspire like-minded women from all over the world. My interests include beauty and makeup, completing my ‘bucket list’, running my own business, learning new things, keeping fit, cars, fashion, interior design and travelling.

As I mentioned before, I absolutely love makeup. I consider my un-madeup face to not be ugly as many women consider themselves, but as a blank canvas. A space for playing with colour and techniques and trying out different looks. Whether you just want basic makeup to make yourself look like ‘you but only better’ or more advanced applications such as false eyelashes, theatrical eyeshadows and blushes and body paint, there is no limit to the way you can look apart from your imagination!

I will talk more about products and techniques in future posts, but in the meantime, thank you so much for dropping by and hopefully I will see you again soon.