Monday, 20 October 2014

Helloooo everyone!

After a couple of very nice comments about my skin in past posts, I thought I would do an updated skincare routine for the Autumn/Winter months. Looking back on my last skin post in June, it may seem like not a lot has changed, however I have now added a night routine which has been so beneficial whilst also picking up some old faithful creams along the way.

Mid-summer and at random times of extreme weather, my skin decides to do a 180 and switch from oily/combination to dry, sensitive and extremely devoid of all nourishment. Aside from my targeted products for skin conditions, I like to use brands I know and trust and switch to their hydrating ranges to bring balance back to my skin.

Clarins is my one true love for keeping my skin in good shape, so this lightweight yet creamy Cleansing Milk for Normal to Dry Skin keeps my dry areas nourished and my skin soft without stripping it of essential oils. Speaking of oils, I am still loving the Clarins Lotus Oil which I use in the mornings to prevent excess oil from being produced, and it does a nice job of adding some extra moisture without encouraging shine.

Now I can get puffy eyes during the morning which my concealer does not comply with, so something cooling such as the Eye Contour Gel does wonders to my morning blur. All eye gels and creams work best if you use your ring finger first to tap the product in on your under eyes and lids, and then I find using your middle finger to tap again under your eyes and above the cheekbone promotes your lymph to remove any puffiness or water trapped in your skin.
Finally, some moisture that will also protect me from UV rays and keep my skin quenched; the Hydraquench Cream SPF 15 is an old faithful, and it doesn't matter what skin-type you have because this will  work. It sinks in beautifully, working wherever needed and the plant-extracts keep your skin looking fresh and bouncy all day.

Moving on to the nighttime, I'm all about washing the day away and making sure I have squeaky-clean skin to allow my more nourishing products work their best whilst I sleep. The Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm is the one; it's lasted me since March this year and will probably run out this week *cries* after using it every night (and sometimes for double cleansing too!) You only need a small amount, and when you warm it up in your hands it just glides on like a dream. I use this for my nightly face massage and I have never slept - or looked - better, plus it smells just like a spa which is dreamy. Once this runs out I'll be having another try of an old favourite in the form of the Clarins Pure Melt Cleansing Gel, which does a similar trick of melting all over the face and cleansing you in just a lovely, nourishing manner. Heaven.

Whilst cleansing does get off a 99% of your make-up, you can guarantee that your mascara might still be clinging on your lashes, so to budge it right off I stick to the saintly Clarins Instant Eye Make-up Remover. If you have sensitive eyes at times I would suggest you dilute it with water, otherwise this will clean everything right off. The oily base helps to magically remove any panda eye trace, leaving your lashes naked and free.

For oils, I of course am sticking to Clarins mainly, and to keep my skin from drying out I use the Blue Orchid Oil. I find that if I use the Lotus Oil day and night my skin will feel deprived of oils, so at night I give myself a good oily punch by working this into my face - again in a circular massage - to prevent any further dry areas. On top of that, if I'm having a good skin week I will just work in the HydraQuench Cream, but if it's that time and my skin is a bit blotchy or a few irregular deep spots are emerging, I'll use the Super Restorative Night Cream either on the individual spots or all over if it's going a bit cray cray. My skin is back to normal in two days, and it also gives me the hydration I need in the winter.

Once or twice a week I'll also do a face mask routine, and sometimes I do it more often if my skin looks clogged or is a bit raging as I'd rather bring out the elements naturally instead of squeezing and damaging my skin. After cleansing, I'll steam my face over a bowl until the moisture starts to drip off and use the Elemis Herbal Lavender Rescue Mask to draw out all the dirt and deep nasty stuff whilst brightening my complexion at the same time. 15 minutes does the trick and it doesn't dry hard like clay either which is lovely, and then after toweling it off with warm water, I'll take a hot steaming cloth to just open up the pores again quickly and use the Quick Fix Exfoliating Scrub Mask to really get inside the pores and work out any of the gunk that's come to the surface and also remove any dead skin cells for a nice new shiny fresh face.

Doing a double mask may seem a bit harsh, however the first mask - I've personally found - leaves all the gunk trapped in the pores so more spots and blackheads occur. Using the second mask is very gentle, almost like a cleansing scrub, but it does work to just bring out that gunk and get the cycle of breakouts moving and gone in a few days.

I realise this is quite a Clarins laden post - I promise I am not sponsored, I just love the range - but I think it's important to find a range and products that suit your skin and make it work as it was created. My skin is better now than in many years, and choosing higher end and more plant based ingredients has definitely given my skin the chance to flow through the changing seasons easily, and to work with daily grime and make-up much better than high school - oh the days of using cheap cleanser, the pain and the torture!

Tips for good skin? Cleanse morning and night, double cleanse after make-up, always take you your make-up (even if it's 2am), use a balancing oil to keep you hydrated but prevents excess oil production, invest in natural/plant based brands that will promote gentle skin, and use mask to unclog your skin - not your fingers.

Are you a Clarins or Elemis fan? How often do you do a face mask? Have you got a day/night routine and what products to you suggest?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

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Friday, 17 October 2014

Helloooo everyone!

Another week of typical English weather (where are the crisp Autumn days?!), another chance to wear a jumper! I finally cracked out my favourite outfit of the cold season - a navy knit paired with a cute collar and my trusty Zara beanie, a look that's never done me wrong.

Jumpers are my best friend come October; you can wear them with fancy skirts, trousers, plus you can buy all sorts of style of knit to jazz up your wardrobe (novelty jumpers and sparkly additions are great come the festive season, no need to stop me going crazy in that department).
When you need something casual, an old faithful you may say, a plain chunky knit will always serve you well. This particular one is from H&M, and is perfect for layering as it's not too bulky but really insulates you. A jumper that fits under a coat is a great one to invest in, as you don't want a tight constriction across your arms or chest when all zipped up.

My ever faithful new jeans c/o M&Co are another fabulous casual piece to pair this season, as the high waist design keeps all my tops tucked in and my stomach warm - no one like a cold back in the autumn am I right? The super soft fabric makes it easy to move, and they are perfectly layered with my over-the-knee boots for keeping your legs even warmer - all about keeping warm this post is!

Beanie - Zara (see similar) | Collared Top - Topshop (see similar) | Jumper - H&M (see similar) | Jeans* - M&Co | Boots - Clarks via TK Maxx (see similar) | Bag - Urban Outfitters (see similar)

When the typical weather strikes, it's nice to fall back on your favourites and know you have something stylish and easy to wear during the day. So take a strike against the rain and step out in knitted style!

Do you have any favourite jumpers? What do you love about autumn fashion? Are you a big beanie fan?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Helloooo everyone!

I am so super excited to share this recipe with you, simply because it's just so  delicious, so  fudgy, and so  healthy! That's a lot of 'so' which means it's just really that good.

Sweet potato is one of my fave things to eat, and I've been keen to try it out in brownies for ages, so with a recent cheeky purchase of some Caramel Coffee - oh yes, the good stuff! - I was on it like a car bonnet to get baking some healthy treats. 
It also gave me the chance to try out making caramel using dates - how amazing food is - and it really did go down quite the treat, so sit back, relax and have a temptation by the brownies, and get copying this recipe!

1 Large Sweet Potato | 150g Rice Flour | 20g Cocoa/Cacao Powder | 35g Sugar | 3 Tbsp Caramel Coffee Mix | 66g Raw/Dairy Free Chocolate | 20 Dates | Nut Milk | 55g Butter | 1 Tbsp Soya Yogurt | Hot Water | ½ Tsp Baking Powder | ½ Tsp Maca Powder (optional)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with parchment. Cut your sweet potato into small chunks, and boil in a small pan before reducing to a simmer to become soft. In a bowl, soak your dates in warm water until finished making the mixture.

2. Measure the sugar and butter before creaming together, and measure in a separate bowl all the dry ingredients

3. Prepare the coffee in a small Cafetiere and allow to infuse and become strong, and break up the chocolate to melt on a medium-low heat until liquid.

4. Once the potato is ready, drain and mash in the saucepan before transferring to the wet ingredients. Mix together lightly with a fork to combine.

5. Alternate between sifting in the dry ingredients, pouring in the melted chocolate and coffee until you achieve the perfect consistency. If you find it's too dry, add in some yogurt to thin it down and make a creamier mix, and the pour into the tray.

6. To make the caramel, take the soaked dates and add to a blender with some milk. You can also use hot water to make the dates softer if you need to, but blitz the dates until smooth by adding milk a bit at a time and the dates have produced a lovely caramel colour. Take half the mixture and cover the top of the brownie mix, and cook for 17-20 minutes.

7. Stick a knife in to check it's all cooked, and allow to cool on a wire rack. Once it's set a little more, spread the remaining caramel on top and allow to cool and stay fresh in the fridge whilst you take a cheeky slice to enjoy ;)

The first bite of this is so good, especially eating the mix along the way (oopsie) and what's great is that it's not too sweet but you don't need a lot of it to get your dessert kick. I'd suggest a deep baking tray so the brownie doesn't become as dense, because you want a good mouthful to chow down when you have a little treat right?
You can make it more coffee flavoured for a real mid-morning kick, and with the added carbs from the sweet potato you will be feeling fuller for longer - yay for no hangries at work or school!

If you're into fudgy brownies, being healthy and having a treat now and again, then you need this recipe in your life. Try making it one rainy evening and indulge in the goodness, and you'll certainly surprise yourself and your pals with the delicious ingredients and taste. Go on, you deserve it.

Do you like brownies? Are you a flavoured coffee person? What is your favourite healthy treat?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

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Monday, 13 October 2014

Helloooo everyone!

After a summer of open-toe shoes, flip-flops and wedges, it's safe to say that your feet may need a little TLC; add to the mix your heels for work or parties, breaking in new boots and neglected tired toes, and you've got a recipe for sore, uncomfortable feet all season long.

Thankfully there are ways to make sure your feet stay snuggly and cared for through out the wear-and-tear, including the holy grail to all girls - Scholl's Party Feet Gel Cushions* and Heel Cushions*. Designed to add extra cushioning that reduces the burning sensations from pressure, they're easy to fit into any shoe and can be re-used time and time again - I do like a multi-use product.

The perfect opportunity to give these a proper whirl arrived when I popped back down to London a few weekends ago, as I had a pair of trainers I was dying to wear but after months on the shoe rack and trodden down sole, I wanted to make sure there'd be absolutely no ripped up tootsies on my walkabouts.

For maximum comfort all day long, I whacked in both pads for the heels and at the front of the foot to level out the position of my feet like a shoe insole and protect me from any painful feelings from breaking back into my shoes - no one likes walking around with cramped or bad footing.

The non-slip technology really does keep the pads in place throughout the day which is fabulous when taking your shoes on and off lots, and it keep your feet feeling bouncy all day long.

It's safe to say that after a weekend of wearing these, my feet were pain free and super comfy - no rubbing, no blisters, no complaining (well not much) - and they also worked really well at keeping my feet in my pair of sandals a day later, which sometimes cause my feet to slip but no more hurrah!

To top up the protection and nourishment, the Velvet Smooth Intense Serum* has been marvelous at injecting in extra moisture after washing and keeping my tootsies covered in socks all day and night. The added Hyaluronic Acid helps the skin suck in all good hydrating properties that will help restore your neglected toes - come on, admit you hardly moisturise your feet like me... - and make them feel super soft and strokeable.

Whether you're partying the night away, walking around a new city, or just need some comfortable grip between your feet and favourite shoes, you need to invest in these pads. I would definitely suggest buying both packs as you'll prevent any burning, uncomfortable pains, and they are re-usable too so a big woop for being cost effective. Don't let your feet suffer this season, keep your feet in balance with the awesome Scholl collection!

Have you used the Scholl Pads before? Are you a feet neglecter? How do you deal with sore tootsies?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

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Friday, 10 October 2014

Helloooo everyone!

What a very rainy week it's been! I got the chance to jump in some nice clothes for a quick outfit post today, in a bid for early morning autumn sunshine. It's ended up being quite a 'classic' look for me; minimal colour and pattern (shocker), very workwear-esque but something easily translatable from day to night, and of course it's paired with a classic trench or mac coat piece.

Trench - Warehouse (see similar) | Shirt - Thrifted (see similar) | Black Sheer Top - TK Maxx (see similar) | Leggings - Urban Outfitters (see similar) | Heeled Boots - Debenhams (see similar)

I'm quite surprised at how much I like this look; the shirts layered together creates quite an exciting shape and by switching up certain pieces you can also make it a little more glam for evenings out. Something cool and casual to throw on before the rain starts up again - brollies at the ready everyone!

Do you like classic, simple tailored looks? What have you been wearing in the dreary weather?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

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Thursday, 9 October 2014

Helloooo everyone!

If you're a blogger, someone who works in PR or Marketing, or a champion retail assistant, you will know that it's never ever  too early for Christmas. With press releases starting as early as June, and most stores now stocking the shelves with chocolates, crackers, decorations and deals - - you can't hide from the fact that the festive season is nearly upon us.

Now if you're not one for getting excited prior to December 1st then look away now, otherwise let me take you down this funky christmas advent calendar route, something a little outside the realms of chocolate and the increasingly popular beauty calenders...

I'm going to admit that amongst the offerings of advent calendars, I'm a little stumped. I know I want something I'm going to use - so goodbye chocolate - but there's not a beauty brand calender I'm 100% 'jumping for joy' over. Whilst not prepared to part with my £50 for Benefit just yet, I stumbled a great idea (if I do say so myself) thanks to the elves at Funky Christmas Jumpers.

I love Christmas Jumpers. I love wearing anything festive. I love having a variety of jumpers that are festive, that I can also have some in the wash and wear others whilst being impatient for presents. And thankfully, this season's collection from FCJ is up for grabs so you can don all your friends and family in jumpers, or, be super clever and creative and have a Christmas Jumper Advent Calendar! That's something I'd buy right away.

What I love about this collection is that each one of them is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Whatever your style, and however crazy or 'vanilla' you like to be with your festive jumpers, you cannot lie and say they don't make you smile and laugh a little which I love! There's a jumper for every occasion, every party or outing, every member of the family, and there's even a few designs to even make the Scrooge of the family a little bit merry.

These jumpers are so unique to the market, and with loads of celebs wearing them too - I see you One Direction - you know it's going to be top knotch quality that won't make you look like a cotton headed ninny muggins. 
The brand has come a long way in a few years and has a cult following around the globe, and all the jumpers are unisex with a variety of sizes, so what are you waiting for? Join me in the campaign for a Jumper Advent calendar and get buying your own FCJ!

To enter the contest to win the whole 2014 collection click here, and if you love this idea just give it a little comment and tell me which jumpers you love and what you want as an advent calendar this year.

Are you excited for Christmas? Do you have a favourite Christmas jumper? Do you love the look of Funky Christmas Jumpers?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Hellooooo everyone!

Comfort food is a necessity during the Autumn; warm filling meals that soothe your soul and allow you to experiment with various flavours are my favourite kind, and seeing as I'm on a festive hype right now, I just had to make some sort of cinnamon based meal...

It's super easy to switch up sausage and roasted veg, and by making it into a quick curry style meal you'll have something totally hearty to see you through the chilly weather and evenings by the fire.

2 Vegetarian Sausages | 2 Onions | 1 Sweet Potato | 2cm Slice of Butternut Squash (lengthways) | 4 Large Chestnut Mushrooms | Handful of Fine Beans | 1 Medium Parsnip | 1 Small Chunk of Courgette or Marrow | 4 Heads of Broccoli
1/2 Cup Quinoa | 1/4 Tsp Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cumin, Coriander and Ginger Powder

1. Pop your sausages in the oven for 20 minutes at 180°. In a frying pan, melt some oil and slice your onion. Keep on a high heat for two minutes and then lower the temperature to allow the onions to caramelise.

2. Take your spices and coat over the onions. Allow these to simmer away until the end of cooking on a low heat.

3. Dice all your main carbs into a saucepan for boiling. Add hot water and allow to boil for 15-20 minutes on a medium heat.

4. Whilst everything cooks, slice up your remaining veg to chuck in the pot later - prepare to be a keen bean ;) Once the veg is part boiled, add in the quinoa and allow to soak up the water.

5. The onions should look (and smell) delicious now, so add in the remaining veg to simmer away until al dente. As they become cooked through further, switch off all the heat and leave to rest.

6. Drain and slightly mash the veg and quinoa, and stir in the remainging veg and sliced up sausage. Ladle out amongst yourself, and enjoy!

It's safe to say this meal is a good tummy filler; the blend of sweeter yet still aromatic spices gives this dish a lively edge, whilst the potato and sausage grounds you into your body after a day of work/fun/being a sloth - all are well deserved instances! So switch up your regular roasted veg and main meal for something fun and spicy to spice up your senses.

Do you like curry? What are your favourite blends of spices? Are you a cinnamon freak like me?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

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Monday, 6 October 2014

Hellooooo everyone!

Everyone can safely put their hand up in agreement when I say that if you have a spot/scar/blemish that just looks or feels horrible, you want a quick fix.

There are tonnes of products on the market for spot defence and targeted treatment, but aside from La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo+, not much else has calmed down my skin within a day and done the job properly minus the chemicals.

I recently rediscovered the awesome power of Clarins Super Restorative after my mum picked up some cheeky samples, and I conveniently did a face mask which bought up some right deep buggers - those ones that don't look like anything serious but are so painful to touch - and needed to take them down a notch or two.

Before I get onto how this range is so so good, I have to address the fact that this range is targeted to those 50+ with changing and less supple skin. Don't let this put you off though, as many Clarins girls have confided in me and told me they use these products on their skin also at that lovely time of the month to control breakouts, and that it's very important to use this (if you're under 50) for a week tops and to then switch back to your regular moisturisers as the skin will become used to the effects and won't give you the intense healing properties you achieve through first use. 

Think of it as the natural antibiotic skincare - when you take a course of antibiotics, you have to take it in full (say one week) to build up a resistance to an infection and remove the bad stuff. If you stop using it too early, the infection can build up again, but if you use it too long then there's no real change after a while as it stops absorbing the treatment.

With that in mind though, this sample and product range is worth the investment if you regularly have hormonal skin which is causing you grief. Targeted at calming down the hormones, the Super Restorative range contains :
Anti-Ageing Tetrapeptide for a boosted night-time epidermal renewal for skin-cell regeneration - great for targeting spots or blemished skin.
Montpelier Cistus to target deep causes of age-spots and help even the complexion - perfect for getting rid of angry blemishes and revealing the fresh looking, clear complexion.
Hyaluronic Acid Complex which helps restore the skin's moisture deep down and rebuild the protective hydrolipidic film at the skin surface, leaving you with baby soft skin - essential for skin that's been poked, prodded and suffered at the hands of chemicals and spot squeezing.
Organic Harungana Extract which is exclusive to the rebranding of the range, and reactivates deficient fibroblasts (the 'conductors of skin youthfulness'), stimulating the production of collagen to help replenish the dermis and reduce the appearance of deep wrinkles and skin slackening - making those scars, spots and more just go 'poof'!

I won't lie and say this stuff is affordable (£69 a pot!) but it will last and last and last, and it's 100x better than using cheap, stripping ranges that just make everything super angry and not super restored - wahay. The easiest way to get your hands on some of this is to pop into your local department store or Boots and just ask to try (say it's for your mum or gran though), or you can buy various sample sizes on eBay minus the glass jar but great for travelling.

This range is a miracle worker. Within a day, all major breakouts are calmed down and by Day 2 you have clear skin. Keep it topped up for a few days and you will be able to do bare-faced or minimalist for days on end. If you're really struggling to find confidence in your skin and want a more natural solution product wise, then go for this; give a whirl with a sample and see what it does for your blemishes, moisture levels and the plumpness of your skin. Hormonal and changing skin isn't just key at 50+, it's something every woman goes through at any age; use it right and you'll have fresh new skin that makes you feel sensational.

I'll be popping this on my wishlist this Christmas will you? Have you got a go-to range for spot-prone skin?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

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