Thursday 4 April 2013

Easter Bunny vs. Gym Bunny

This is not a post about chocolate and over doing it. Far from it. I couldn't give a rat's ass about eating or not eating chocolate. Or bunnies. I don't care what anyone did for Easter. Most of you had a couple of days off work and feel good for it. I've had close to four months off work and feel shit for it... so another couple days only rubs it in, so to speak.

See... I am trying to find some way of explaining my absence... And the best I can come up with is to just plain tell you the truth and see if that cuts it. I hope so because despite a lack of posts the stats are still climbing and I am so grateful there are readers out there still popping by and browsing through....

So what's up with me?

Life turned to poop quite frankly!! I'll tell you the short version, for the sake of my dignity and to avoid too much over-sharing on a skincare blog. But I am going somewhere with this so stay with me folks.

Pretty much right back at the very start of the year my six-year relationship came to an end. With it, I not only lost in him my best friend but subsequently, a whole load of other friends too; my life as I knew it. And my house. I had to move which has almost bankrupted me and what with only working about five days in three months I have little more than tuppence to rub together (can you tell I have also aged about forty years - tuppence?!)

So stress kind of became my best friend for a while and I felt a little weird carrying on as I intended back at the start of the year, writing about moisturiser, when all I really wanted to do, nay - all I was really qualified to do, was write about waterproof mascara. And we all know there aren't many natural versions of that. (In fact, are there any? If you know - do comment!) So I didn't write anything at all... I wallowed instead.

Actually. That isn't quite true. I have certainly done a lot of wallowing.  And staring at the ceiling. And panicking. And I needed to. It's part of the process after all. But something else has dragged me along, just enough for me to bother even tell you about any of this.

You see, at the beginning of the year, at the same time as all this happened, I started what I affectionately called 'Daily Gym Challenge'. If you follow me on Twitter you might have seen a few tweets about it. It was born out of shock and shame after realising that for the past year I had averaged a £200 spend per gym session attended (I went three times, if you were curious). Did I cancel my membership, defeated and broke having learnt a hard lesson? No!! Pigheadedness prevailed and I decided the only way that this was acceptable was to continue paying fifty quid a month and this time claw back some value by attending every day during January. Every, single, god-given day. Amen. 

I basically did it - with a few adaptations to the rules. I went six days out of seven (minus a few as I was out of town ... I let those pass.) And it felt good. And not just because I had proven a point - to myself if no one else... it turned out... I loved going! I carried on going! Extending the challenge beyond the original thirty days formed a solid routine and I, dear ladies and gentlemen, have become a proper little gym bunny! 

And the upshot of all of this - well blow me down - exercise is good for you! 

It occurred to me this week, after having 5 days off over Easter and having slightly slacked the week before due to a hectic social calendar (one must try to keep up) how different I feel when I go. And how cruddy I feel when I can't go. And I did feel really cruddy over Easter. This made me realise something: how much worse would I have felt if I hadn't been doing my daily training sessions at all? How much more would I have wallowed? And going by past experience my propensity to wallow can reach professional standards.

But there's more to this. Oh yes. The skincare bit. Stress was giving me breakouts, irritable, itchy, dry skin. Reactive skin. Couple that with a winter that just won't leave and my complexion looked like it needed to be taken outside and shook good, like an old rug.

Maybe this was me actually getting off lightly. How much lousier would my skin have been? I should look like yesterday's trampled old newspaper that's been dragged into the gutter by a mangey fox at two in the morning. And then maybe peed on. By a poor, drunk tramp. Because that is what stress and panic attacks can do to one's skin. Other stressful and crazybusy times have brought on pesky little eczema patches in the past and although I haven't exactly been glowing through these times of late, working out at least four or five times a week now might just have calmed my irritable skin, cleared up those breakouts and avoided a whole fox newspaper tramp eczema debacle. Thank god!

If you're doing it right, exercise increases blood flow and it's blood that carries the sweetest of all the gases around your body. Flooding your hard-working cells with oxygen brings more nutrients with it and this just means everything functions more efficiently. Stuff gets done. Awesome.

Exercise also stimulates your lymph system. Movement and breathing march those toxins right on outta town, right on down to Chinatown (aka the liver and the kidneys). There is no organ to pump lymph fluid around the body. If we sat still all day (which can happen, let me tell you) nothing inside would move either. We'd turn into a toxic mush (that isn't a scientifically verified statement). Moving and massage and proper breathing keeps everything motoring along.

And of course whilst all this added oxygen and extra lymph-loving helps to get our skin cleaned up on the inside, sweating gets it cleaned up on the outside. Sweating also helps to eliminate toxins from the body - the skin is the largest organ for detoxification after all. It helps clear away excess oil and dirt sitting around inside the pores which, with the help of a good shower afterwards, can really get your skin glowing.

This is all wonderful of course, but perhaps most importantly of all, exercise releases endorphins. We all know that, I know. But it really, actually does. And when you haven't got much else going on in your life, like me, every little endorphin counts.

I like to think of exercise just as moving. Repetitive fidgeting maybe. With weights. Simply moving more has totally effected my mindset and really made me take back (some) of those hours I handed over so freely to This Morning/Loose Women. It's given me so much more than I would have ever gained from watching yet another Michael Ball interview or Phil Vickery cookery segment (somehow I've still managed to witness far more than my fair share) When you add to all of that the muscle-toning and the heart-strengthening side of things, it really does make you wonder why more people don't do it!??

Seriously though, if you feel good, you look good and if you look good, you feel good. If you've been feeling poop like me, get up and get out. It can change everything.

(Thanks to for the awesome image... what a cool website. Check it out)

Friday 11 January 2013

And I'd like to thank...

Hi everyone!

This post has been a long time coming and I decided it was worth waiting it out as I wanted my first post back to put a spotlight on something you might have heard about: Les Miserables.

The fabulous hair and make up designer - Lisa Westcott - and wonderful hair and make up artist to Hugh Jackman - Julie Dartnell - have been nominated for this year's Oscars! And the film has a nomination for the BAFTA for Hair and Make Up too. Hi-FIVE!

I am so happy to have been part of this film, with all its many challenges and triumphs! These two wonderful make up ladies are superstar winners in my eyes and it was goddamn privilege to be on the team.

But the real point of this post is actually to thank some of the other behind-the-scenes heros for me too.


Welcome to the stage, Neal's Yard Remedies, Oskia and Pai - great, British, genuinely natural brands who provided products for our make up bus - and the cast and crew alike just loved them!

We had a hell of a lot of dirt, grime, blood and sweat to apply to get our cast looking like the poor folk of Paris and as fun as that is, it's up to us to take it all off again at the end of the day (excuse the pun musical fans...) Looking after skin is so important especially when many (all) of the products we use for character and effect make up cannot be anything like natural. Add to that a heavy filming schedule and inevitably skin gets worn out and over-cleansed. That's why to me it is so important to take care of your artist's skin and to do this I prefer to use something kind, effective and something that will put some nourishment back in.

Big love to those behind these brands that have supported me in spreading the natural skincare message through my work. It's so satisfying when you see someone's skin improve because of the products they use and the care you take.


Les Miserables is out in cinemas now!

Thursday 6 September 2012

No Rest For The Wicked And All That...

I haven't found a single spare moment to tell you that I've started another film. Literally not one.

I've neglected many aspects of my life: friends, family, laundry, cleaning the bathroom. I've even had a birthday which went by without one cocktail or high five (there were a few sing songs, a Sunday roast and lots of cake though). So I'm sure you'll all understand when I say I HAVE LITERALLY NOT HAD ONE SECOND...

I have been using lots of nice new products though and giving them all a thorough testing so I will be sure to let each one have their day as soon as I possibly can.

It might well be Christmas by then but Goddamn it I will not fail on this!!

Pugs and Kisses...

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Daylesford Organic Farm

I've been feeling pretty sorry for myself in a sea of tissues, eucalyptus salve and Olympic commentary. I have a cold, people! But now I am in the in-betweeny boredom stage where you're too weak to really do anything but have come out the other side of the 16 hour sleeps interrupted by fidgeting and fever - I am daydreaming of the things I want to do or rather something I want to do again, that is to visit Daylesford Organic Farm. Maybe I should go convalesce under the shade of a sturdy old tree and a hand woven blankie...

My sister has long been a fan of this beautiful organic farm in Gloucestershire and has chaperoned my entire family there on many occasions. Although I have been to the shop and cafe in Pimlico which is pretty divine in its own right, my turn on the farm was long overdue and so we went a couple weeks back to have a mooch, eat some delicious lunch and stock up on naturally, ethically and sustainably produced treasures.

Quick FYI - Daylesford Organic Farm in Gloucestershire is owned by Sir Anthony and Lady Bamford (oh my) and has been organically producing food and livestock for 25 years. There are a couple of sister companies, Bamford, a luxury natural skincare line and Château Léoube, an organic vineyard in France. On site in Gloucestershire is a farmhouse cafe, cookery and farm school, spa, gardenware, homeware and farm produce shop. And apparently you can sleep there too.

The place is beautiful. Did I say that already? Well it is. I can't say it enough. The menu in the cafe is simple but totally delish, the cheddar rarebit is most recommended as are the salads. Obviously pretty much everything comes from the farm. The interior is light, muted tones, classic farmhouse beams, it's earthy but oh so neutral and very calming, even if the room is alive with happy chatter and hearty chomping. I can't actually believe I didn't take any pictures of the cafe or my food, how unlike me?

Take a look around though...

The homeware range is lovely. A nice mix of traditional and minimal, simple ceramics, hand blown glass, chunky chopping boards, that kind of feel. The palette across the whole range is neutral. Woods, whites, mushrooms, stone, slate. I got myself one of those nice white wicker hampers to stash towels in, it's pretty big for a mere £14. I couldn't quite believe that value. Some things are particularly expensive here, don't even consider the clothing line unless you live in a house made from gold and can just lob off a bannister or something to buy one of their cashmere stoles but other things are miraculously cheap in comparison.

Sorry for cruddy photos here. I kind of worried I shouldn't be taking pictures but I did all the same.

Walking around Daylesford is a pretty slow-paced, relaxing affair and when you walk into the Hay Barn Spa it's easy to let go, stay awhile longer and slip... deep...into... a gentle... and blissful.... ........sleep. Ahem. Sorry. 

In the Hay Barn Spa you can a buy more from the Bamford skincare line (it's dotted throughout the various shops), plus a few other brands like Fushii and Aromatherapy Associates. The treatments on offer sound heavenly, and will definitely demand closer consideration, trial and review! Actually, I reviewed a hand cream by Bamford a long time ago now, one of the first reviews I did. It's a great range, simple luxurious packaging, heavy, green glass jars and nice, neat, white tubes. Clean formulations (obviously) and gorgeous signature fragrances. 

You could say Daylesford is a kind of lifestyle shop. It's not a lifestyle I actually lead in so far as I don't live in a converted barn with floor to ceiling windows and room for a pony (and when you are there it's easy to get swept away thinking you do or you will. Or that you even want to....) No, far more importantly, it's a lifestyle shop that says something about how you live your life. It's a business that favours what is wholesome and holistic over what is most profitable and proliferative. It's taking responsibility. And it lets us take responsibility too - as the products we choose to consume can go towards supporting not just a business but a whole theory on living.

Daylesford Organics Farm
Pop in if you can or get yourself to Pimlico, Notting Hill or the roof terrace atop Selfridges for a spot of Afternoon Tea. (I have to try this!!)

Tuesday 31 July 2012

Lily Lolo Mineral Blush

My last post was kind of geared towards fooling yourself into feeling like you've had a summer by the amazing trickery of bronzer. Although we did see a slice of sunshine when the big fat bully of the jet stream left us alone for one measly week, now it's back to the same old. So following on from that post I wanted to just quickly tell you about the latest little purchase from Lily Lolo who make, in my opinion, the BEST mineral foundation in loose powder format I have ever tried (and I doubt I will ever find one I prefer). Amen.

Given how much I like their foundation - I'm on my third pot of Blondie, a light neutral tone - I thought it was high time I tried one of their blushes. So I opted for a new shade, Beach Babe. That's a wishful-thinking-kind-of-name if ever I heard one. But that's OK. That's what we want! Because with this beautiful soft peachy pink and my Neal's Yard Mineral Bronzer, I am maybe one quarter of the way to becoming a Beach Babe myself! HA! All I need now is a beach, some kind of miracle bikini and some scorching hot rays. High Five! (OK and some sunscreen, shut up already)

The shade is very pretty, very summery without any sparkle because (all together now...) I hate glitter. It's just a very wearable colour. The texture is superb. Lily Lolo are really good at delivering a fine milled texture without scary nano-particles that do freaky disappearing acts in your cells and get up to nasty toxic jiggery-pokery when they shouldn't be. No, there's none of that here. Actually, although it is a great summer shade, it would be perfect all your round, as it would look very china-dollesque on a lovely pale, dainty face framed with a big cosy scarf and glossy dark locks. Can you tell I am a little sunshine-starved right now? Anyway...

I also ordered a Baby Buki brush to assist me in my Beach Babe fabulousness and although at first I thought it wasn't going to be a patch on the densely packed dream of the Super Kabuki, as this one has nowhere near the same tightly crammed bristles, it does actually perform perfectly well at popping on a dab of colour to one's grinning cheeks. Marvellous. 

Lily Lolo Mineral Blush in Beach Babe is £7.29
Baby Buki Brush is £7.99
Tropical Paradise Picture available here. I really want this!

Sunday 15 July 2012

Neal's Yard Remedies Mineral Bronzer

Hello! Welcome back! Welcome back to me really.  I have taken rather a long hiatus I know but as Elvis (and countless others) said, 'you were always on my mind'. So let's press on yes?

It was supposed to be a sunny and dry day today. It isn't. At least it isn't sunny. And in a month where expectations are at their highest and where the reality of the modern British Summer hits home hard, it is a predictably grey and lack lustre day. I don't know about you but I remember hot summers. I remember sunbathing in my garden during the school holidays. I remember revising for my exams whilst stretched out on a blanket in 30 degree heat. WHAT the hell happened!!?? Like the rest of you, I'm so fed up with this weather!

And so to perk myself up and to pretend it is anything like July I have made bronzer a staple in my everyday make up routine. I'm dusting myself with it at every given opportunity in the vague hope I can confuse my own brain into thinking I have seen the sun in this forsaken season before Winter creeps on in.

And this is the thing. This is why this is news. I have never been a fake-tanner though I do like to dabble now and again. And although I admire that sun-kissed look on others - I have always thought it was a bit like a push up bra - just who am I kidding? Only myself really and that's just a bit sad. I'm no Californian beauty with a golden tan all year round and I always felt any attempt at that would just look well, fake. And I hate fake. But I got a bit bored of blusher and nearing an age where my skin's better days are behind me (positive attitude eh?) I definitely need a little help in illuminating, shall we say, my complexion. Stumbling across NYR's new make up line one day on Upper Street, I got particularly infatuated with this mineral bronzer. 

So I realise now a bronzer just lifts your face, makes your skin seem a little more radiant, a little more contoured and is without the need of a stupid mitt to apply it. This kind of faking it I can do!

There are two shades, warm bronze and golden bronze. I opted for the golden. It is a pretty, uncomplicated, golden brown shade, without too much sparkle. I hate glitter. I am not 8 years old. It is particularly easy to apply... Big fat brush, swirlylswirlyswirly in the lid. Tap/shake. Swirlyswirlyswirly on your face, over cheekbones, bridge of nose, temples. Sod it, the WHOLE face.

You can't really go wrong if you have a light touch. By which I mean it is very buildable and has a lot of pigment to it so be warned - I have been wearing this bronzer for a while now actually and whilst I was working it was rather too easy to put too much on a in a dark bedroom at 4 a.m. Arriving at work on board a make up bus surrounded by bright lights, big mirrors and industry professionals did amuse a few times. Nevertheless, many people said how lovely and bright it made me look and took to slapping on some bronzer themselves! 

Tempting as it is with sun-in-a-pot, I do recommend you try and restrain yourself to the high points of your face, where the sun would naturally catch you first as this looks a little softer and helps contour  for a more flattering look. Don't actually swirl it over the whole face, otherwise you may as well just spray paint a David Dickenson shade of foundation on and be done with it.

Actually, I had to make up a quite a well known chat show host the other day for a satellite link-up to New York and he was keen to have a golden glow for the sake of the American audience. Now my make up kit is particularly geared up towards blood, dirt and general fatigue at the moment from my latest jobs so I had very little in the way of "all-round American good guy" kind of products with me. I quickly whipped this out of the bag and indeed it did the trick. Not too glitzty, can-use-on-a-man kind of practicality there. Not too glamourama. Just happy, attractive skin.

And for the record, it is 11% organic, 84% mineral with no talc, no parabens and no silicones. It is infused with antioxidant white tea and some nourishing oils too, like sweet almond. Just how there is an oil in a powder I don't know. But I believe them. I am on board. And I like it. 

Neal's Yard Remedies Mineral Bronzer in Golden Bronze is £16.50 for 5.5g available in store and online.

Thursday 31 May 2012

Les Miserables Teaser Trailer

Its' been a bit quiet on here for a while, maybe you have noticed. (I did warn you!)

No excuses for where I have been for all these months though. No reasons or apologies. It's been bloody hard work, with two weeks filming left to go and I think the result is going to be phenomenal. Feast your eyes on the teaser below and try not to cry.

P.S Normal skincare service will resume in approximately two and a half weeks.... you got to give yourself a day or two right?