photo m

November 23, 2014

A-Derma: Skincare for "Difficult" Skin

effective affordable skin care sensitive skin

For the last month I've been trialling A-Derma's skincare range for sensitive, eczema prone skin and I have to say - whole heartedly and with no reservations - that it is a wonderful, wonderful range. I have a really awkward skin-type - it's combination (with starkly dry and oily areas) and it's sensitive - and I've found it difficult to find products that work for all my skin issues. However, I found that the A-Derma products that I've been trialling have really helped to keep my skin soft and smooth with very, very few dry patches (when I'd normally by this point in the year be struggling with almost painfully dry and red cheeks). I've had a couple of problems with spots this month but this is entirely due to hormonal breakouts. Other than this, my skin has been a real dream this month and these products have definitely played a big hand in that. I'll give you a low down on my experience with each product below.

available from Escentual for £13.00*
I found this micellar water gentle whilst still being effective. I don't think that it is the best micellar water I've ever tried but works brilliantly at removing makeup and gently cleansing skin. I'd definitely recommend it to those with sensitive or dry skin, or just anyone looking for a gentle way to remove their makeup including stubborn (although not Benefit They're Real levels of stubborn) eye makeup.

A-Derma Hydralba Light Hydrating Cream UV SPF 20
for fragile normal to combination skin, available from Escentual for £14.50*
This is a wonderful moisturiser to use in the morning. It has a very light consistency but offers a good deal of hydration coupled with SPF protection. It works really well under makeup and it's definitely the daytime moisturiser that I've been using the most this month. I found that it didn't leave my t-zone oily throughout the day but kept my cheeks from getting too dry - a perfect product for difficult skin types. This is my second favourite product out of the four.

for normal to combination reactive skin, available from Escentual for £15.50*
Because I've been getting on so well with the Hydralba Light Hydrating Cream and Nturialba Nourishing Cream, the RheaCalm Light Soothing Cream has taken a bit of a backseat and I haven't used it as much as the other products. That being said, it has a really nice consistency - light, but very hydrating - and because it doesn't contain SPF it can be used in both the morning and the evening. Additionally, it is the only moisturiser of the three I tried that isn't scented making it more suitable for those whose skin is sensitive to fragrance. 

for fragile and delicate skin, available from Escentual for £20.00*
This is my favourite of the bunch. It's a really rich and hydrating evening moisturiser but it isn't at all heavy. It straddles a fine line and it gets it so right. I found it perfect for my skin - it isn't going to be what very, very dry skin types need but it works well for those who get dry or tight patches and want something to help even out their skin's needs. Again, it didn't aggravate my skin or give me spots and it didn't leave my t-zone oilier. I really, really need to stress how much I like this. If you have very dry skin then this is also available in a thicker and more nourishing version.



Have you tried anything from A-Derma before? What skincare products are you using at the moment?


November 22, 2014

Tange Teezer: Different Strokes

image of Tangle Teezer Hair Brush Range

I have been seriously lucky on the giveaway front lately. I've never considered myself a very lucky person but recently I've been putting myself out there a little bit more on twitter and entering far more giveaways and it's definitely paying off. I'm not one for hoarding products - it's not the winning itself that I enjoy. What giveaways offer me that I really, really appreciate is the opportunity to try new brands and new products. On this occasion I was lucky enough to win Really Ree's Tangle Teezer Giveaway (which I entered about seven/eight weeks ago) and my prize was the entire Tangle Teezer range.

 It was wonderful timing as I was in the market for a new hairbrush (I've had my current Tangle Teezer for almost eighteen months and it is getting a bit worse for wear). I'm not going to keep all five of brushes for myself, I'm going to keep a couple and pass the others on to some of my family and friends as gifts this Christmas. I know a few people who are going to seriously love these brushes and I feel really privileged to be able to introduce them to a brand that I really like. Before I won the competition I didn't actually know that Tangle Teezer made brushes for children but I know that the Magic Flowerpot is going to make one little girl I know very happy indeed (her birthday is coming up and she'll love it). So I'll end with a very big thank you to Really Ree and Tangle Teezer for this incredibly generous prize and keep your eyes peeled for their future appearances, I'm definitely looking forward to comparing my Original Tangle Teezer to a couple of others in the line!


Have you won anything recently? Have you tried Tangle Teezers before?

Natural Beauty Products: Living Nature Concealer in Light Review

natural beauty products concealer review
natural beauty product concealer review

This month I've been wearing Living Nature's Concealer in the shade Light*. I got mine from MyPure, a great website for shopping for natural beauty products (especially at the moment as they have some great free gifts with purchase). I tried one of Living Nature's lipsticks last month and I really loved it, but I just haven't gotten on so well with this concealer. It isn't "bad" by any stretch of the imagination, but even the lightest shade is just a bit too dark for my skin at this time of year when I'm at my palest - if you have very fair skin then this will be much too dark for you.


Living Nature's Concealer* has a similar scent to another natural concealer that I've tried out - it's quite a heavy scent but it isn't unpleasant. The concealer has a thick, liquid consistency and a little goes a long way. The best way I've found to apply it is by squeezing some onto the back of my hand and using it a little bit like an artist's palette. I dip a brush (usually Real Techniques' Contour Brush) into a dot of concealer and swish it around on the back of my hand. As you blend the concealer out, it lightens considerably and it is essentially to really blend it out onto your skin in order to achieve an even finish.When you apply it to your skin (I've been using it under you eyes and around my nose) it lasts really well and offers medium coverage that doesn't look too thick or heavy. 

natural beauty product concealer review

Overall, I'm really impressed with the performance of the concealer but I do wish that it came in more shades (there are only three) so that I could get more use out of it. For now, I'm resigned to mixing it with another concealer that's lighter in tone to make it wearable. You can find Living Nature's Concealer* online here for £21.00.



November 21, 2014

How I Organise and Run My Blog


Earlier this week I asked on twitter if anyone would be interested in getting an insight into how I organise and run my blog etc. The resounding answer was that these sorts of posts can offer interesting insights into one way of doing things. This is by no means how you should necessarily run your blog, and this isn't a how-to guide on being a blogger, I'm just sharing some of my routines and ways of doing things. 

Blog Posts

Brainstorming and list writing
This is an important part of my blogging experience and it's something I used to do even before I set up my blog. I used to write lists of things I'd want to write about for myself, and now I write similar lists but for writing projects that I share online. A lot of these lists I write by hand but I also make lots of lists on my phone when I'm on-the-go (and, if you were wondering, my phone case - which I love - is from Coggles*). If you want to learn more about this part of my process let me know in the comments, I'm thinking of doing a whole post on how I come up with new ideas.

Taking photographs (in bulk)
I didn't start my blog with photography in mind - it's always been somewhat secondary to my creative process. That being said, successful blogs seem to rely on good photographs and I'm always trying my best to produce photos that suit my content. I try and take between 4-10 blog posts worth of photos at once (depending on how many post idea's I've brainstormed and what setups I need). I usually brainstorm what I want in each photo, how I want it to look etc. before I reach for my camera, I find this saves me time and wasted photos.

Writing up my blog posts
First of all, I upload my photos into Blogger and then I just leave it for a bit. I don't write my posts all in one go. I might write up some bullet points from my brainstorming sessions, or half of a blog post. I'll then come back and slowly flesh out each blog post until I'm happy with them all. This way I'm always working on more than one thing, I always have lots of new content to choose between and if my camera breaks or I'm ill and stuck in bed then there is still work that I'm able to do. I think I write like this because of my university experience with essays and always more than one thing on-the-go. I've come to enjoy multi-tasking, it keeps me from getting bored.

Scheduling - blog posts and tweets
Often I'll finish multiple blog posts at once - this is just how I work. What I usually do is schedule them to go live, one per day, over  a couple of days (I try and post at least once a day at 8am). When I go to schedule my posts this is when I add in all my tags and I label my photos on blogger etc. I also do a last proof read at this stage. Everyday in the evening, I look at what is going to be posted the next day and use Buffer to schedule tweets promoting my new blog post. I also re-promote the blog posts that have been particularly popular that week. Try and include photos in your tweets and tag brands or bloggers you've mentioned in your posts, this all really helps with getting more engagement on twitter which can help with views but also really helps to build working relationships.

Emails and Social Media

Making the most of my time
First thing in the morning I check my twitter and my blog email account and I reply to any messages I've received since I last checked these accounts. I also scan Instagram, and I'm working to introduce Pinterest into my daily social media checklist. It doesn't take long but I try and engage and reply promptly to any and all communication because this is a courtesy I appreciate myself. It's the same with blog comments, although I don't reply to all of them I tweet responses to questions as soon as I can. I find that commenters more likely to actually read their tweets and I like interacting with my readers on social media. If I have limited time, I read all my emails and tweets at once towards the end of the day. Or if I get five minute bursts of spare time, I'll read and respond to them as and when I can throughout the day. 

Participating in Twitter Chats
Twitter chats have always helped my blog to grow. Ever since I discovered them - a couple of months after I first started blogging (which was over two years ago now) - they have been a fantastic way to connect with new people, find new blogs and share my blog with a wider audience. I try and participate in a couple of chats a week, whenever I find time and I don't beat myself up if I miss one. I like to give them my all, talk to as many people as possible, reply to as many tweets as possible - I don't like participating unless I can be fully engaged. I particularly enjoy the #bbloggers chats, which are on Wednesdays and Sundays at 8pm (there is always a noticeable increase in my Google Analytics stats whenever I participate in either of these chats). 

Embracing new working relationships 
My blog allows me to talk to people I will never meet. Blogging is a platform into other peoples' lives, and although much of this is just social some of it can be "work" related as well. There are opportunities galore on the internet, including writing opportunities, reviewing opportunities, and networking opportunities. Since I finished my MA I've really been making me most of anything that comes my way. I don't say yes to everything but I always reply, and when I feel that I have to politely decline an opportunity I try to stress that I'd still love to hear from the person who contacted me again in the future. Don't close off working relationships by ignoring emails or direct messages - and remember that saying no isn't necessarily rude or ungrateful.

My "blog correspondence diary"
I keep word documents that act as diaries for any and all communication I have with PRs and brands. I write a summary of what we speak about, when we spoke about it, products in question, what I have to do as a result of the communication and my deadline for doing it. I keep ones of these documents for every PR or Brand that I work with. For important projects, I also include copies of email correspondence in these correspondence diaries. Since I started accepting more review samples I have had to up the organisation-stakes. It helps me keep my samples, writing projects and emails in order, and saves me time and stress because I know when I'm up to date on everything.

Extras

What I do if I really don't get on with a review sample
This is something that you might be interested in - what do I do when I really don't like something that I've accepted for review purposes. Well, first of all, I usually say when I'm accepting something for review that if I really don't like something, or if I have a skin reaction to something meaning that I can't use it, then I will always email the person who sent it to me before posting anything about it. I think it's a courtesy to let the person who's sent me the product know that I really don't like it and to discuss what the the problem might be and whether or not they'd prefer me not to post a review. So far, this hasn't happened to me. I've been lucky - and discerning - and haven't accepted anything that I found to have no redeeming value whatsoever. However, as regular readers will know, I do post negative reviews, even of review samples, but I would feel uncomfortable completely dedicating a whole post to slating something I really didn't like. 

Going to events and meet-ups by myself
I've become used to attending events and meet-ups by myself. It used to make me really nervous but I've grown to enjoy it. Going solo makes me more approachable and means that I can more easily network and find an opportunity to chat to everyone. The more people you get to know - even "superficially" with a shake of the hand and exchange of names - the more people you'll start to recognise at future events and over time you get to know lots of people you might never otherwise meet. Don't be put off by going somewhere alone, if you're really nervous share a tweet that you're worried and see who else might be there to meet you, I've met some really lovely people that way.

Who I talk to and what I talk about
At events and meet-ups I don't just talk to other bloggers, I really like to chat with PRs and brand representatives. I like to ask questions about what they do, what they're looking for when they work with bloggers, why they invited me. It helps me get an idea of what I'm doing "right" from their perspective and can help give me ideas on which are the areas of my blog that I need to work on. I'm also just personally interested in using the amazing opportunities that blogging gives me to learn new things - I want to get the most out of everything and I am very interested in knowing about the other side of the blogging world and the people behind all the emails. Ask questions that you want answers to, and ask questions to get to know the people you're working with. It will only help you and it may well also help the people with whom you talk.

Being "myself"
Recently, my (met-at-an-event, blogger) friend Candy wrote a fantastic blog post about the idea of being three-dimensional and it struck a chord with me. Something I'm always working at with my blog is being "professional" but still trying to get across a sense of "me" and who I am and what my interests are. I don't know if I do it well enough sometimes. I love beauty and I love blogging but my interests are so wide and so varied and I don't share them all on my blog. I don't even know if I'd enjoy sharing them all. I think I would, actually, but it would be tough to write so widely and keep you all interested! I'd love to know your thoughts about this - do you know "me" well enough? I'm all up for getting a little bit more personal and sharing more, it's just hard to know which bits to share. 


This has been a bit of a long one… Did I say anything that struck a chord with you? Do I do things differently to you? Please feel free to ask me more questions for future posts like this, I'm really up for sharing any and all of what I've learnt over the last two years since I started blogging.


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