Tuesday

Windmill Hill

I never expected to have a job which involved putting my face on the internet. To this day I'm not entirely sure why I started the blog but it was for anything but any kind of "fame." I'm very aware that I'm a small fish in the pond when it comes to blogging but the decision to "reveal" myself from anonymity wasn't an easy one. It doesn't matter whether 1 person sees a photo, or a million - instead it's the concept of just having the photo out on the World Wide Web. It took 3 friends, one being Briony and a lot of gin to get me to pose for it.

outfit details at the base of this post

I, like most girls have hang ups and have struggled with my shape and body for various reasons at various times.  One thing I've always had an issue with is the colour of my teeth. They're by no means awful but I wanted them to be white without question (or camera setting). I'd tried at-home whitening kits before (including the various concoctions you can buy in the US) and one professional course but they had never given the kind of results I was hoping for.

So when Enlighten got in touch I was initially dubious, but at the same time desperate for it to work. I went to a dental practice (the word "practice" freaks me out - surely they shouldn't need to practice, they train for years!?) in St John's Wood near me (this one) and had moulds made to make my dental trays and two weeks later went back to collect them. They also coated my teeth with a protector to stop enamel erosion. In truth having half a tonne of pink goo shoved in your mouth whilst it's held open with dental pliers wasn't a top 10 life moment, but the trays that came back fitted me perfectly and (best news of all) were completely unnoticeable when I put them in...

outfit details at the base of this post

Enlighten recommended I put the low-dose gel whitening concentrate into the trays each night for a week, and then a slightly higher dose for a further week. I followed this for 10 days and by then my teeth were super white, so stopped. I've used the remaining gel to act as a top up once a fortnight to make sure the results stay. I did get some sensitivity for a couple of days, so didn't use the gels one night and was fine by the next day... You could most definitely wear them during the day if you needed/wanted to - they trays are transparent and more or less invisible - bar speaking with a very slight lisp.

I've realised that I've missed an enormous point here; I am ecstatic with the results. You have no idea how lovely it is for me not to have to worry about my teeth anymore. I showed my teeth on my Instagram here and had a surge of you ask for details (so apologies for the delay with this). It made me realise how many of us worry about this but on the flip side, how easy it is to fix.

outfit details at the base of this post

Last weekend I was away with a big group of friends and I didn't need to worry when other people took photos of us all together, whereas before I'd close my mouth or instantly have fear about my teeth looking bad compared to others. They aren't "Hollywood" white either, so it looks totally natural. 

This was one of the best projects I've worked on with the blog (on a personal level) and something I will keep up for life. Results last around 2 years according to the dentist, but if you continue to "top up" with the gels once every few months it can last a lifetime. You can also buy a whitening toothpaste from Enlighten here which prolongs results...

Outfit details (and links)
sunglasses = as worn, Fendi
top = as worn, Boden / similar here at ASOS (£12!)
pom pom hat = as worn, Winser London

Find out all the details here, and thank you from the bottom of my heart to Enlighten, CCD PR and the team at Smile More dental practice.
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The Big Black Friday Guide

Ladies and gentlemen, it's THAT time of year again. Welcome to the carnage and madness that is Black Friday. Let me tell you despite the name there is nothing dark about this week of crazy retail discounts, instead it's the best time of the year to do a spot of shopping. Luckily for us in the UK it also falls on pay day weekend. Here is a list of the best offers and codes available as I hear about them, along with a little outfit post featuring my all-star Jigsaw coat... 

outfit details and links at the base of this post

Fashion
(click brand name to go through to site)

And Other Stories - 50% off selected stock, 25-27th November
John Lewis - site wide discounts up to 50% off
Missoma - 30% off all weekend
Marks and Spencer - site wide 50% off over Gifting Weekend
Matches - 50% off main site stock and sale
All Saints - 30% off site wide with the code CYBER
 La Redoute - 40% off site wide with the code "BLACKFRIDAY"
Luisa Via Roma - additional 20% off with the code BFRE20
Converse = 30% off entire site on Cyber Monday with the code CM30
Hush UK - 25% off 25 items, Thursday 24th to Monday 28th
Nike - 30% off with the code XMAS16
River Island - 50% off selected stock
Dune - 30% off most items including current season
Accessorize - 30% off bags and main collection jewellery
Jaeger - 25% off with the code GRAZIA25 with further discounts online
Topshop - up to 50% off all weekend
ASOS - up to 70% off winter wear 
Boden - 30% off with the code F6P8
Urban Outfitters - Buy one get one at 50% off
Monica Vinader - 30% off 

outfit details and links at the base of this post

Department Stores / MultiBrand Discounts
(click brand name to go through to site)

John Lewis - site wide discounts up to 50% off
Selfridges - 20% off fashion and 10% beauty and fragrance
Shopbop - 25% off with the code GOBIG16
Matches - 50% off main site stock and sale
Marks and Spencer - site wide 50% off over Gifting Weekend
La Redoute - 40% off site wide with the code "BLACKFRIDAY"
Urban Outfitters - Buy one get one at 50% off
And Other Stories - 50% off selected stock, 25-27th November


outfit details and links at the base of this post

Beauty
(click brand name to go through to site)

Look Fantastic - site wide 18% off
REN Skincare - 35% off all products with the code "EXCLUSIVE35"
Aveda - 15% off first orders (UK only)
Birchbox - offers on various brands starting at 10% off

outfit details and links at the base of this post

Home
(click brand name to go through to site)

La Redoute - 40% off site wide with the code BLACKFRIDAY
West Elm - 30% off with the code SAVENOW
The White Company = 20% off candles and fragrances
Urban Outfitters - Buy one get one at 50% off


Outfit details
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Thursday

Best Beauty Buys For Colder Weather Part Two

So here is part two of my "best buys" in beauty for the fast approaching winter months. Thank you so much for the fab feedback I've had on Part One of this story (here if you missed it). It's really great to know you're finding it helpful. I had a super time testing all of these out, and as some of you have asked for I'll put the leading product in each category under the headers to help you pick out a favourite. It was incredibly hard to choose, and in some cases I've picked entirely on my own skin type - so do read the small print/rest of the text...

Masks and Treatments
favourite:  Moisture Surge Mask special mention: Clear Improvement
featured products: Bobbi Brown Instant Detox / Bobbi Brown Skin Nourish / Clinique Moisture Surge MaskNARS Luminous Mask/ Origins Clear Improvement Mask / Balance Me Radiance Face Mask / Balance Me Restore and Replenish Overnight Mask / Clarins Extra Firming Mask

Taking the time to treat my skin to at at-home facial is something I've only done for the past couple of years. I was very unwell for the best part of six months and at the end my skin had aged 8 years (according to a skin test I had) so it was a really wake up call. I've went back for a skin review recently and I'm now 11 years younger according to them, and looking at pictures I certainly look better at 32 than I did 29. I put this largely down to making space in my schedule for products like these...

A product that I didn't need to re-try as I've been using it for months is Clinique's Moisture Surge Mask. This is epic. Use like a regular over night moisturiser and wake up with refreshed, firmer skin. Only thing I would say if don't use around the eye area as it's too rich and causes bags... For the under eye area specifically I found Clinique's Extra Firming Mask superb. 

For people who are looking for a proper "glow" I'd go for none other than the NARS Luminous Mask. It didn't have such a "fixing" effect for breakouts but essentially did the work of a primer so meant I didnt need to cloak my skin in make up for a few days afterwards, which is fab because in winter I often get super clogged pores due to more foundations and primers... On that note the Bobbi Brown Instant Detox is perfect for people who do wear a lot of make up as it really, really gets into your pores and gives them a good old clean. It was also the best for pore minimising too... Should also most definitely mention Balance Me's Restore and Replenish Overnight Mask which I'd recommend after a heavy weekend if you need to look like you've been sensible and rested up, rather than knocking back shots. Hides a plentitude of sins (and good for men too).


Finally for people who really break out I'd strongly recommend Origins Clear Improvement if you need an instant fix. The charcoal granules neutralise large spots and redness pretty much straight away, and when I used it on a monster spot on the middle of my nose it reduced it immediately so I could get away with just a little concealer that day - amazing.

Serums and Oils
favourite: Midnight Recovery

First note; people with oily skin can (and should) use oils. For years I had assumed that products like this weren't an option for me as I had slightly greasy skin as a teenager. However they're now pride of place in my daily routine and it's the one thing I really can't be without when I go away (hotels usually have some kind of moisturiser to make-do, but obviously nothing like this...). I have used two combined products from Kiehl's for a long time having stolen them from my boyfriend; Midnight Recovery and Eye Alert. Together they take you from looking like you got home at 4pm and woke up next to a kebab (heard on the grapevine some people do that...) to refreshed, alive and reinvigorated. So, if you are looking for a gift someone who enjoyes life a little - these two are perfect gifts.

Next up, serums. Let me tell you something about serums over using creams that was passed on to me by a doctor friend. Warning, it's gross. These days when people go in for plastic surgery/enhancements on their faces the first thing a surgeon needs to do (particularly around the mouth and eye areas) is cut under the skin and remove the build/surplus of cream that remains under the skin and causes a sagging effect. Disgusting, right?

Serums hold have that problem as our skin recognises them as a natural extension of it's own oil/moisture. In a nutshell, there is an argument to say that they are better than creams. On that note the one that repeatedly gets recommend to me is the Liz Earle Superskin Serum. I am yet to use it myself, but I can vouch that having watched friends use it over time the results are outstanding. I'll be trying it next, and will show you the results as I always do on my Instagram here.

Eye Treatments
favourite (for emergencies): Kiehls Eye Alert, and for daily use: Estee Lauder's Fill and Firm 

The skin around my eyes is without a doubt my biggest problem. The moment I haven't had enough sleep or drank enough water it shows in this area, and I'd be lying if I said it didn't get me down at times. As already mentioned for emergency treatments I use Kiehls Eye Alert, and as a daily one I use Estee Lauder's Fill and Firm duo. I was initially nervous of the "fill" word in the title as I really wanted my eyes to be flatter and less puffy - so to assure you what it does is fill the fine lines and make them disappear, and it really does!

I asked a couple of friends to try two more; Benefit's Firm It Up which had the feedback "miraculous, put it on before my commute and when I popped into the loo before work my dark circles had pretty much gone" so it's perfect for emergencies and Liz Earle's Superskin Cream... I gave the latter to an older friend who said it really did do an excellent job on quite deep lines if you have more pronounced lines maybe go for this one...

Cleansers

Now this was incredibly hard to judge. I use cleansers religiously, particularly as my skin is aging and my bedsheets are getting more expensive. Now I'm spending ridiculous amounts on linen I'm not prepared to have to wash them every time I can't be bothered to take off my make up - it just doesn't make sense. If you're anything like me I found cleansing intimidating - I had just got my head around simple make up removers and then had balms and Micellar waters thrown at me - how on earth do you choose?!

First up, a product I've used for a long time that really got me into the idea of cleansing. It's a hard working product that you only really need to use ever so often, so a bottle lasts you a long time. Meet Liz Earle's bestseller the Hot Cloth Cleanser. Whack it on pre-shower once a month for a proper deep cleanse. It tackles (removes) even the most stubborn of black heads and build ups. Their Cleansing Balm is tackles two problems in one; cleansing and moisturising. As it's made from oils (almond oil being the main one) it works to pull any dirt or toxins from the skin, and then to soften it. Seriously of everything here, this was the most impressive find. It has completely changed my perception of the brand - really do recommend. Secondly I really do need to mention Diptyque because there is a complete misinterpretation that this brand just do candles (one of which is in the above shot, and I should also say how incredible it is, find it here) and are best for scents/smells over practical beauty products. 

Finally, I'm a real fan of a foaming cleanser wash. There is something incredible refreshing about using one. If you have more sensitive skin, I'd recommend Bare Minerals Foam Cleanser as everything about it is perfect for delicate skin, down to the elderflower scent. And as a simple yet very, very good staple - don't forget about YSL Micellar Water to remove even the toughest of make up.

Separately a little hero find is Bare Minerals Blemish Remedy Gel. Use it after you've cleansed, but also before make up application, on problem areas - spots, redness and inflammations. Because it makes it disappear. Not a little bit - entirely. Completely incredible. 

Scents

I picked these three from an extensive selection (see John Lewis' entire perfume range here) for two reasons. Firstly it was utterly selfish and I'd heard good things about them, and secondly I thought it would give me an opportunity to say honestly if a fragrance is something you should invest in.

The Tom Ford Neroli Portofino is their classic, trademark scent. It's not cheap, but I love it. I once went to an event with the brand where they said "clothes dress you, perfumes define you" and I really get what they mean. This one in particular is just pure class - and I mean that in the straight forward upstairs/downstairs way. If you're looking for a subtle but distinctive scent without filling the entire room, this is for you. Or if you want to buy someone a gift that says "I think you really know your stuff, and this suits you" get this. I'm obsessed with it and wear it most days.

Next up, Acqua di Parma Colonia. When I was little I can remember my Dad taking me around John Lewis and saying "this is the one I really want." It's unisex, sharp, woody, orangey... It's really smart if that makes any sense at all. You only need one spray of it, seriously. A friend actually puts a drop in her regular moisturiser and she can still smell it all day. This is the kind of investment you'll get a comment about every time you wear it - so yeah, it's worth it.

Lastly as a slightly softer option for someone who perhaps is new to perfume, Burberry's Black is really lovely. It's a lot more feminine, despite it's dark packaging - lots of jasmines and florals going on - but without being overpowering in any way. I have got this for a friend who wants to smell good without drawing a huge amount of attention to herself - it's perfect.

Hair, Shower and Bath
favourite: Elasticiser Extreme special mention: Shower Oil 

You only need to refer to my early-day blog posts to see what a complete and utter mess my hair was in not so long ago. It was typically long, bleached and dry. Ironically I thought I looked beach-ready and fabulous. Oh how I now laugh... Lots of you (thank you) have asked me where I get my hair done and for that I single handily have Sassoon Salon to thank - most notably Abi who has taken my colour from "yellow" to "youthful" over the years. However, what has also helped is the interim treatments and quality shampoos I've picked up along the way.

It was a completely new foreign concept for me to use a treatment mask for my hair but I now swear by Philip Kingsley's Elasticiser. Pop it on dry hair pre-shower and rinse off after around 15 minutes before shampooing. My light, fluffy hair is instantly fuller and bouncier even without blow drying. As an additional boost I use a new product from Living Proof called Restore Mask after a particularly tough period (post holiday, festival etc) as it helps bring back the colourings and stops split ends. I also now invest in their shampoos and conditioners, here and can't rate them enough. Two years ago I just bought whatever was on offer in the supermarket, now that idea makes me shudder. Hair is so, so important.


For bath times I swear by Rituals. Their product range is brilliant, and do it exactly what they claim to. The relaxing ones relax, invigorating ones invigorate... You get my drift. I use them exactly in that fashion - a "sparky" one in the morning and a relaxing one at night... Cannot recommend enough, and they're great on skin too. Find the whole range here.

Photos for this post were taken using the Olympus Pen 7 here with the 45mm lens here both from John Lewis. The post was written in collaboration with John Lewis.
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