Monday, 29 January 2018

Design.ME Hair Puff.ME

The haircare market is pretty saturated with styling sprays and texturising powders and potions, but this one is a little different. Puff.ME is billed as the first ever volumising powder in a pump, which might sound a bit odd but is actually pretty innovative! Packaged in a pretty hot pink bottle, Puff.ME creates instant volume, texture and general oomph with just one pump. I realise what I just wrote probably reads like a strap-line but it's absolutely true. 
Puff.ME hair powder by Design.ME Hair
When the bottle arrived the other day, I neglected to read the label properly, so without knowing what it actually was, I gave it a shake and then promptly sprayed two pumps into the front of my hair. Not my smartest move but I wasn't to know that this stuff packs some serious punch. I actually had to wash my hair pretty soon afterwards because I was literally walking around with the front of my hair in some kind of textured bouffant thing! I've tried my fair share of volumising and texturising products in recent years but I'm pretty confident that Puff.ME could just be a new front runner.
Puff.ME hair powder by Design.ME Hair
Designed for use on dry hair, I would liken it to an industrial strength hair powder- just in much more convenient packaging -and rather than shaking it on your head until the desired amount of powder falls on your roots, you just pump it on much like you would with, say, a seasalt spray. For volume, part your hair where you want to add oomph, hold the bottle 2 to 4 inches away and spray the pump at the roots. I'd definitely start with just one pump and add more if you feel you need because as mentioned, this stuff is potent! If you prefer, you can just spray some into the palm of your hands and work it in that way. For creating texture, just spray where needed and get styling. If my hair was long I would totally use this to add interest to braided styles and pony tails, but as I've currently got a 'lob' going on, I'll use it to add volume and messiness.
Even though the powder itself is white, I didn't notice any visible residue, though I would imagine this would be inevitable if you used a lot at once. It's also worth mentioning that it is fragrance-free (literally smells of nothing) so won't clash with your perfume. I personally quite like my hair products to smell nice but making it fragrance free makes it more universally appealing. Puff.ME is for normal to thick hair and there is a 'light' version of Puff.ME designed for fine/medium hair. It retails for £9.95 and as well as the aforementioned Puff.ME Light, the brand also has a blow-dry spray (PowerDRY.ME) and an amazing-sounding treatment (Fab.ME). The collection is cruelty free, sulphate free, paraben free and vegan. You can find Puff.ME at Sally's Beauty or Design.ME where it ships from the US.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

8 Beauty Buys for New Mums (And Dads)

We know by now that self care is important, but when you have a tiny, brand new human relying on you, looking after yourself reaches importance on a whole new scale. Throughout my pregnancy and during those precious and terrifying first weeks, I was consistently reminded to take care of myself, because;
(a). You need to be as OK as possible to look after the baby to the best of your abilities.
(b). When you become a mum (or dad) you're still an individual, as well as a parent.
Obviously, caring for an infant on virtually no sleep whilst simultaneously being in a perpetual state of confusion and worry is just part of the deal. I know firsthand how strange and amazing and overwhelming it can be but as a beauty and grooming enthusiast I found a few products that helped me feel a bit more human and a bit more me during the wonderful weirdness. Here I'm sharing a few bits that saw me through those very surreal first days, weeks and months of being someone's mum.

Once you've pulled your first all-nighter with the new arrival, you will understand why I've included this on the list. I had an unplanned caesarian with my baby so for the first few days we stayed in hospital and were sort of cocooned in this warm and comfortable pod where we had support from a brilliant team of midwives. Fast forward to our very first night at home and it was a whole different ball game! Rich and I did not sleep at all the first night and then slept in shifts for the week that followed. There was nothing wrong- we were both just terrified to be asleep at the same time and felt like we needed at least one pair of eyes on our tiny human at all times! There's nothing fun about sleep deprivation and I had the driest, droopiest eyes that I really struggled to keep open. Those first few nights at home I'd so wished I had something cooling and refreshing to relieve the horrible, shriveled up feeling my eyes had become accustomed to. This is where the eye roll on comes in. Believe me, paired with an eye spray or drops, it makes a world of difference and at least keeps you awake long enough to feed the baby at 2am (and 3am and 4am and 5am). Any 'cooling' or 'refreshing' eye product will do, but I say go for the rollerball because it's the easiest to wrangle in the dark/ when restricted to using one hand. I used Simple Kind To Eyes Revitalising Eye Roll-On but there are loads of other options inlcuding Botanics All Bright Refreshing Eye Roll-On and DHC Beauty Lift Eye Care Roll On.

For many of us, hand cream is already an everyday essential to keep hands hydrated and looking their best but when you've got a new baby, hand cream becomes a necessity. Dealing with nappies, sick and sterilisers means hands are washed really, really often which can in turn make the skin super dry. So much washing with antibacterial soap can make the skin crack and split but you can save yourself from this fate by smothering on the hand cream throughout the day (and night). I keep some in the baby bag too for hydrating my hands when I'm out and about. I'm a total Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment Cream fangirl but I went through so much of the stuff that it's perhaps not the most economically viable option! Any cream will do but non-greasy is always the best option so I used My Trusty Sunflower Hand Cream (gorgeous) and Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream. I found that Palmer's Cocoa Butter and Avene Baby Moisturiser also did the trick nicely.

The first few weeks with a new baby involves a weird mix of trying to get some decent, rejuvenating sleep and a sort of involuntary will to stay awake and alert. There's obviously nothing quite like a shower to perk you up and slathering yourself in a lovely shower gel designed to refresh body and mind really can make a world of difference. My mother in law gave me a big pump bottle of Australian Bodycare Skinwash just after I had my baby, because it has antiseptic properties so was perfect for sore nipples and healing ceasarian scars. It was a bonus then that the 2% tea tree oil formula left me smelling and feeling all zingy, perked up and fresh. Citrus scents also work brilliantly - I enjoyed using Soaper Duper Zesty Lemon Body Wash and Simple Refreshing Shower Gel. Superdrug Lime and Ginger Shower Gel is a good thrifty option and if you've got a bit of a budget to play with, This Works Energy Bank Shower Gel is the business. Anything minty is good for waking up the senses too, but I will say to go easy on the mint products (and anything with the potential to sting really!) while you're still healing, whether your baby was delivered naturally or via c section.

When people tell you that when you have a newborn washing your hair is a luxury, they're actually telling the truth. It's a horrifying truth and I didn't want to believe it either but it really is just one of the million new-mum clichés that turned out to be true. While there really is nothing like the feeling of accomplishment that comes with freshly washed, soft and sweet smelling hair, when you've got a baby latched onto your bosom or bottle for 23 out of 24 hours, dry shampoo simply must do. If you're a person who only needs to wash their hair once a week anyway, this probably doesn't apply (and I hate you a tiny bit), but I personally can't go more than two days between washing before I start looking and feeling downright offensive. In the early days I turned to Lee Stafford Original Dry Shampoo (smells quite a lot like Thierry Mugler Angel), Show Beauty Premiere Dry Shampoo (Smells AMAZING but bought the mini because the full size is ridiculously expensive) and Ouai Dry Shampoo Foam which has had mixed reviews but I personally very much rate it.

After having the baby, in most cases you can feel free to use up whatever lotions and creams you stocked up on to try and ward off stretchmarks throughout pregnancy. I was very aware that I had a rather tiny person in very close proximity to my body (if not attached to it) for 24 hours a day so I put away my lovely perfumed creams and brought out the silky, natural butters and lotions. Not only was I worried that perfumed body moisturisers might irritate my son's delicate skin, but I didn't want to overload his developing senses and worried that he might not 'like' the smell. I know. Neurotic. Anyway, I was so dehydrated for the first few weeks and I could feel that my skin was uncomfortable and tight so I needed to use something. I ended up relying heavily on coconut oil and Unscented Palmer's Cocoa Butter as well as Nom Nom Camelia and Vanilla Stretch Butter which I used religiously in my third trimester.  If you're looking for something really high-end, I was recently introduced to Previse MommyBalm Stretch Mark Cream which was specially formulated to be safe for breastfeeding mums.

Whether you're into budget brands or prefer to spend big on your skincare, now is the time to stock up on a lovely face cream. Chances are, your skin is going to be pretty confused by the weird hormones coursing through your post-partum body and is going to need a little more help than usual. Obviously everyone's skin reacts differently (if at all) after birth, but personally mine became dehydrated and really, really dry, even though I was literally drinking litres of water and coconut water every day. I used Dafna's Nutrition Night Treatment (you can read my review here) and treated myself to Chanel Hydra Beauty Nutrition. I also really like Embryolisse Lait-Creme Concentre as it's really rich and comforting. Basically, just treat yourself to your favourite moisturiser or try one you've always had your eye on. You bloody deserve it. Just be aware that it's not recommended to use creams containing retinol if you're breastfeeding.

I wasn't sure about adding this one to the list. When you're a new parent, you're supposed to be tired and you're supposed to look it - there's zero shame in that! However, if you want to fake a decent night's sleep, a quality concealer can make all the difference when popped under the eyes. In fact, for the first few months, mascara and concealer was all I bothered with if we were venturing out somewhere. I like Glossier Stretch Concealer but have heard great things about Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer and the new Makeup Revolution Conceal and Define Concealer.

When I was pregnant, I was obsessed with reading 'What's in my hospital bag?' type blog posts and articles and almost every single one mentioned some kind of facial spritz for labour. I do remember using a little can of La Roche Posay Mist before the contractions really set in, but it was after I'd had the baby that I really made use of it. I've always loved facial sprays and spritzes as part of my skincare routine (generally after acid toning) but during those early weeks found them to be a quick and convenient way to get a little extra moisture into my skin whilst simultaneously waking myself up a bit! As well as the La Roche Posay, I also used up my beloved May Lindstrom The Jasmine Garden Facial Spray and often reached for Clinique Moisture Surge Face Spray. If you're mainly after the 'wake up' effect of a facial spritz, you can obviously make your own - just pick up an empty spray bottle and fill it up with cool water!

In the early days I also found myself using products I'd actually bought for the baby! There were a few occasions when I'd wash my body and hair with Burt's Bees Baby Bee Shampoo and Wash or the Johnson's Bedtime Baby Bath. I remember doing this because I was utterly terrified of irritating my newborn's precious, delicate skin so figured products made especially for babies would do no harm and would also be more gentle on my healing scar. While I've luckily not had any problems with my c section scar, a ceasarian is still a major operation and the area for the weeks following the op is obviously going to be pretty delicate to some degree. The same can be said for the after effects of a natural birth- you'd have to be pretty darn lucky to escape that ordeal completely unscathed- but the point is, no matter how your baby came into the world, you're going to be feeling pretty delicate from the belly button down, so you're not going to want to use any highly fragranced or 'harsh' shower and bath products.
So those are the beauty and grooming bits and pieces that helped me feel more me during those delicate first months as a new mum. If you'd like to share any tips or products that helped you as a new parent, please let me know in the comments!

Monday, 15 January 2018

New from Embryolisse

The coveted French beauty brand, Embryolisse, has really grown in popularity in the UK in recent years. Not so long ago, the only way to get your hands on a tube of the brand's cult product, Lait-Crème Concentre was to hop on the Eurostar and embark on a pilgrimage to one of the many parapharmacies scattered throughout the City of Love. These days, you only need to jump online or pop into Boots to browse the range of ever-popular and trusted Embryolisse goodies. There are three new products that have just been released- to hand I have the moisturising repair cream and limited edition Lait-Crème Concentre, but there is also a new intense product.

Limited Edition Paris Edition of Lait-Crème Concentre, 50ml, £15
The kitsch limited edition packaging of the cult skincare staple is a cute tribute to the city where Embryolisse began. The rich cream is a multi-tasking handbag essential and can be used as a moisturiser, primer, mask, after shave lotion, make up remover and baby cream. Rich in essential fatty acids, Lait-Crème Concentre is one of those reliable beauty products that virtually everyone can make use of and indulge in which is probably why one tube of Lait-Crème Concentre sells every 20 seconds.

Embryolisse Rich Moisturizing Repair Cream, £29.99 
Before now, the only Embryolisse product I'd tried was Lait-crème Concentre so I was interested to try the repair cream. Though it has the same fresh and comforting scent as Lait-crème, this cream features ingredients dedicated to intensely moisturising and protecting the skin on the face. The moisturiser is rich in hyaluronic acid and natural wheat proteins and features sweet almond oil and beeswax to replenish the natural protective barrier of the skin. The cream also contains vitamins A, E and F to encourage cell renewal. Over time, the cream is said to decrease fine lines and personally just today I noticed a slight improvement in the appearance of the skin around my cheekbones and the darkness beneath my eyes seems less prominent. This could well be a happy coincidence but could equally be down to the fact I've been smoothing the cream on once or twice a day as both a moisturising and protective measure before venturing outside. Texturally, the repair cream is thicker than Lait-crème Concentre, which I for one love - in colder months, the thicker the cream the better I say!
Also new to Embryolisse, is the Intense Smooth Radiant Complexion 50ml. Designed to erase signs of tiredness and perk up the complexion, this comforting cream includes hyaluronic acid, Vitamin E, Omega 9 and natural sugars to plump and smooth skin. The cream is enriched with alfalfa and lupine extracts to stimulate collagen and reduce puffiness and dark circles and is complete with a firming film to instantly lift the face, diminish fine lines and relax features. This one is £39.
You can find Embryolisse products at Boots.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

New to the UK: Previse DermApothecary Skincare

I always find new beauty brands so much more appealing when the people behind the brand are friendly and Previse is a fine example of this - the founder, Sean, is an incredibly charming guy! Already a big deal in its native US, the brand has launched its ZeroFragrance line exclusively to Harvey Nichols in the UK. The general premise of Previse Skincare is to provide effective products powered by nature, in other words, clean beauty that doesn't compromise on how well it works. Clean beauty is already a big deal and it's definitely a growing market with plenty of clean and/or green brands showing up on the scene recently but I found there's one very distinct difference with this line from Previse. That is, the product range is unscented and free from both artificial fragrances and essential oils.

There are six plant-based skincare products in the line, formulated with Dermatologists to cater to a growing interest in the clean beauty market. To me, Previse are filling a gap in the clean beauty niche by creating natural products that don't necessarily smell natural! Not only are many people sensitive to essential oils and fragrance, some simply prefer their skincare to not smell of much at all, so Previse is providing what very well could be the perfect compromise- clean skincare without the telltale scent that so often comes with it. As mentioned there are six products in the line including Marine Granules Skin Brightening Botanical Scrub, MommyBalm Stretch Mark Cream, BodyMist vitamin E Body Oil, HydroFoam Rejuvenating Hyaluronic Moisturizer (amazing), Purify Hydrating Marine Cleanser and the SOS SkinRescue Healing Salve. Launching later this month is the Ozone Defence Nutrify Serum. 
I have two of the products to hand - the Marine Granules Scrub and yet-to-be-launched Ozone Defense Serum. Both products are entirely new concepts to me as one is a scrub designed to be mixed in with your existing cleanser and the other is powered by artichoke extract. Who'd have thought? First up, the Marine Granules Skin Brightening Botanical Scrub.
Previse Skincare Scrub
Now, I am an acid exfoliation enthusiast but I still love using a physical scrub a few times a week- there's just something really satisfying about massaging some grainy goodness into damp skin. The Previse Marine Granules Scrub is used as an additive to your cleanser and the amount you use depends on how strong you'd like the exfoliating action to be. I've tried it with a cream cleanser and a jelly/milky cleanser and found it equally as effective with both formulas. The brightening exfoliator blends fossilised algae with jojoba and botanicals to gently buff away dead skin cells and stimulate cell renewal. The scrub is gentle enough for sensitive skin. Previse Marine Granules Skin Brightening Botanical Scrub is £43.
The Ozone Defense Nutrify Serum has a consistency like 'thick water' which absorbs effortlessly.
Previse Skincare Serum
Infused with hyaluronic acid and enriched with vitamins B5, B3 and C, the serum not only hydrates but also helps shield the skin from air pollution. The serum features a green tea and artichoke elixir, which I think is the  most interesting component as I've not seen the humble artichoke mentioned in the world of skincare before now. It so happens that artichokes contain something called Cynaropicrin, which is a naturally occurring phytochemical that studies show aids in preventing the damaging effects of UV exposure and pollution. The Ozone Defense Nutrify Serum also helps fight oxidisation, helps elasticity, tightens pores and  moisturises. The serum is £49.
The Previse Skincare ZeroFragrance range is available in the UK exclusively at Harvey Nichols