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23 September 2015

The Bath House | British-Made Perfumes, Candles And More....

I've just come back from a wonderful weekend in the Lake District celebrating the marriage of one of my oldest friends. Whilst there I was lucky enough to have chance to explore the area a little and wandering through the pretty town of Bowness on the edge of Lake Windermere, I stumbled upon the Bath House and was immediately impressed. Think Jo Malone, but less spendy.

The Bath House review

With the C word coming up (shhh, I'm in denial that it's summer no longer) I wanted to blog about it because their beautiful British made all-natural products have got 'gift' written all over them. Some natural beauty products can be a bit worthy. You know it may be doing your skin good, but it just doesn't feel great to use. Not here. The entire range is luxurious with lovely packaging and is just the right side of affordable. How it's managed to escape my notice before now is beyond me.

The Bath House review

Their perfumes deserve a special mention. Mixed in amongst classic fragrance combinations are some unique scents that are perfect if you want a scent that's a little bit different. My boyfriend described Patchouli and Black Pepper as something Boadecia would wear - all spicy and sensual. White Tea and Rose bears more than a passing resemblance to Chloe's signature fragrance. This offering is a little lighter perhaps, but an excellent dupe at a fraction of the price. Damask Rose and Violet is the kind of traditional rose scent I love. Slightly grannyish and super feminine yet somehow still contemporary. White Cedar and Pear - my favourite - is perfectly autumnal and manages to be both fresh and warm at the same time.

The Bath House review

Wear time on the two I tried (Patchouli and Black Pepper and White Cedar and Pear) was excellent, with the scent still lingering an impressive 12 hours later. At £28 for a 50ml bottle compared with £42 for a 30ml Jo Malone cologne, they offer excellent value for money and I know where I'll be spending my pennies in future. Bath House also do a 12ml handbag sized version giving you the chance to try a scent without committing to the large bottle. These would make perfect gifts.

The Bath House review

Other things to look out for are the beautiful bath oils and bath salts. Who wouldn't want to display these in their bathrooms then indulge in a soak after a long day? I've also got my eye on the candles which smelt amazing and promise to scent a room without even being lit. The soap and lip balms would make perfect stocking fillers too.

The Bowness store is sensory heaven and there are four other stores in the North West. For most people though, the Bath House online shop will be the place to look. If you're put off by buying fragrance online, their descriptions of the scents are clear and accurate, and there's free delivery on orders over £40. 

I'm so pleased to have found this store. High quality, chemical-free, British made products in gorgeous packaging to suit all ages and tastes, I'm seriously impressed. My challenge will be parting with the gifts I buy for other people and not keeping them all to myself.

7 July 2015

Going For The Chop At A Salon With A Difference

Kojo&Lee bob

After years of having long blonde hair, I've finally gone for the chop. I dabbled with a darker colour for a few months recently, but it did nothing for me (I looked a bit dead). That change didn't work out but I was getting bored of having the same style and was ready for something different. When I was younger I was really adventurous with my hair and thought nothing of switching things up regularly. In the space of a few years I had a blonde crop, a red bob and even waist length braids. Then I found a style I liked, and stuck with it. FOR YEARS. Yawn. 

So yeah, the other day I went for the chop.

After lots of recommendations from friends, I paid a visit to Kojo&Lee in Sheffield city centre. It's a hidden gem (literally), that has taken the traditional salon approach and turned it on its head. Currently there's no sign above the innocuous doorway, no sinks for hair washing and no colourist. It nails the minimalist shabby chic vibe, with gilded mirrors and a dark grey glazed cabinet adding a hint of faded glamour to bare walls and unsanded floorboards.

Kojo&Lee bob

Nikki, a Toni and Guy trained stylist, set it up a few years ago and quickly realized that there was a market for a salon with a difference. Sometimes people find traditional salons intimidating, sometimes they're out of people's budgets. For me personally, I'm so over handing over large sums of money for a mediocre experience and a mediocre style. 

Kojo&Lee has taken off by word of mouth alone and that tells me all I need to know. People are obviously loving what Nikki offers. What struck me more than anything was that she really listened to me - what I wanted and, importantly, what I didn't want - and seemed to pay real care and attention to every snip. She styled it with my wavy hair type in mind, when so many other stylists try to straighten the life out of it. I'm thrilled with the finished result.

I didn't really know what to expect when I went in, but my visit to Kojo&Lee was honestly one of the most positive hairdressing experiences I've had. The best bit? It set me back only £20.00. Unique, affordable, quality hairdressing - what more can you ask for? 

Find out more about Kojo&Lee, including plans to add sinks and hire an experienced colourist at

29 June 2015

The Perfect Summer Coral: Nails Inc Kensington Passage Gel Effect Nail Polish

I'm a big fan of bright colours on my nails and cheery coral is my favourite. It somehow has the effect of looking like you've made a bit of effort without looking as try hard as bright red.

Nails Inc Kensington Passage Gel Effect Nail Polish

Nails Inc Gel Effect Nail Polish in Kensington Passage is the perfect coral for summer. It's a bright, bold go-with-anything shade that is supposed to mimic the effect of gel polish. I've always been impressed with how gel polish dries instantly and remains chip-free until you remove it. But it starts to look dodgy as soon as there's a significant amount of regrowth (after around 10 days) and I have neither the funds, time or inclination to be visiting a nail salon every couple of weeks to maintain it. Don't even get me started on the laborious removal process, which absolutely wrecks your nails.

Nails Inc Kensington Passage Gel Effect Nail Polish

So a polish that gives the same effect but can be used at home and taken off with standard nail varnish remover sounds like a good idea to me. 

Nails Inc Kensington Passage Gel Effect Nail Polish

I used a base coat on my finger nails which provided a smooth base under which to apply the colour and I was seriously impressed with the pigment and application. This is just one coat of colour, whereas normally I'd apply two to get this level of coverage. The end result is certainly glossy, but not quite as high-sheen as an actual gel polish. The colour lasted a good few days before it started to chip. This picture was taken four days in - as you can see, there are a few small chips, but I'm pretty impressed considering it's only one application with no top coat.

Nails Inc Kensington Passage Gel Effect Nail Polish

I didn't bother with a base coat on my toes, and things didn't fair quite so well. The application was a little streaky and I definitely needed two coats to get a decent coverage. The colour lasted well though, and four days in there are no chips and the colour is still looking glossy.

I love the colour of Kensington Passage and will be wearing it all summer long, but I'll definitely be applying a base coat underneath to get the best effect.

Nails Inc Kensington Passage Gel Effect Nail Polish is £15.00 and can be bought HERE

16 June 2015

Naturally Good: The Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Range

Burt's Bees Baby Bee

Burt's Bees Baby Bee

The Burt’s Bees Baby Bee range is completely natural, so there are no nasties in there to irritate teeny skin. You’d be amazed how many popular baby brands pump their products full of well-known irritants. Ingredients like Sodium Laureth Sulphate(SLS) can cause irritation to adults, so it’s no wonder it can affect a baby’s delicate skin. I’ve been keen to use only natural stuff on my daughter since she was born just over six months ago, and I absolutely love everything I’ve tried from the Burt’s Bees baby range. Undoubtedly it’s more pricey than the likes of Johnson’s, but for me, the quality of the ingredients and the fact that you only need small amounts each use make it good value. And whilst money is tight at the moment (hello Statutory Maternity Pay!), I would rather pay more to look after my baby’s delicate skin. 

Of the many things I’ve learnt since having a baby, it is that new cracks and crevices seemingly appear on a daily basis. Just when you think you’ve got your bathing and drying routine down, a new crevice comes along to remind you that you're not as on top of things as you should be. When Iris was a few weeks old, she smelt of what can only be described as festering, sour cheese for a good few hours before I realised that milk had been collecting under her armpit. Not only did the poor girl stink to high heaven, she was left with a horrible red sore there too. I applied the Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Diaper Ointment (after a good wash) and the next morning, the redness was gone. So whilst the name suggests it’s designed for use on bottoms, I find it works really well elsewhere too and it has successfully soothed Iris' dribbly chin and airless neck rolls. It’s basically a natural version of Sudocrem and it smells lovely – there’s definitely a hint of lavender (a natural antiseptic) in there. My only gripe is that the cream is quite thick and getting it out of the tube is a bit tricky – a pot would be much better. Other than that (and the annoying Americanised name), it’s a gem of a product which is well worth having in your baby kit.

The Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Multi-Purpose Ointment is an all-natural alternative to Vaseline which will appeal to parents who want to avoid using petroleum-based products on their little'uns. I've been really impressed with this stuff. Following an horrendous case of nappy rash at two weeks old, leaving Iris’ poor little bottom with bleeding, open sores, I’ve used this after every change and she’s never had nappy rash since. On holiday recently, I forgot to take it, and lo and behold, the nappy rash reappeared. Whereas Vaseline creates a protective barrier to prevent moisture from a wet nappy penetrating the skin, this stuff has the added benefit of providing nourishment too. Whilst I have a small person to look after, I will never not be without it.

I bathe Iris every couple of days and use a small amount of the Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Shampoo and Body Wash (not pictured) to cleanse her hair and body. It’s really gentle and hasn’t stung on the few occasions it’s got into her eyes when rinsing her hair. I’ve been using it for six months and I’m only a quarter of the way through the bottle.

Iris sometimes gets dry skin on her cheeks and around her eyes and I’ve found that the Fragrance Free Nourishing Lotion from this range really helps to keep it at bay. I apply a small amount (saying “cheeky cheeky cheeky chops!” whilst doing so is not compulsory). It sinks in really quickly and leaves her skin really well moisturised and feeling nourished. This would be a fantastic choice for adults with sensitive skin too. I’m still on bottle number one despite using it every day for six months.

Lastly, and possibly my favourite from the range, is the Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Nourishing Baby Oil. I got this in a gift set but didn’t try it until one of the mums I’d met at a baby group recommended it. I quickly grew to love it and now use it all over Iris’ body after each bath. It smells AMAZING, sinks in quickly and leaves her skin beautifully soft. It’s also great for use during Baby Massage.

There’s currently a third off the Burt’s Bees Baby Bee range at Boots

29 May 2015

Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster | The Fake Tan For People Who Don't Like Fake Tan

The Beauty Scriptures

Me and fake tan do not get on. On the few occasions I've tried it over the years, it's ended up patchy, orange, or both. I once sported feet that David Dickinson would be proud of after a particularly over-zealous encounter with a bottle of St Tropez and they remained orange for weeks after the rest of my tan(go) had faded. Not a good look! 

Perhaps it's because my skin is dry and very pale, but I've not fared much better with gradual tanners either, which, despite promising to be simpler and more natural-looking, still go patchy. And don't even get me started on the lingering smell of biscuits that seems to be a necessary tanning evil.

Given all that, I decided a few years ago to embrace the pale and interesting look. I would much rather be deathly white than orange any day of the week. But summer is fast approaching, I have a holiday coming up and, frankly, I just feel more confident getting my legs out when they're not so milk bottle.

So when I heard about the new Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster from Clarins I was intrigued. It's basically a concentrated vial of gradual self-tan that you add to your usual moisturiser. Clarins recommend adding 4-6 drops per 'zone' and the fact that it's totally customisable really appealed to me. You're in control, so you can simply add more or less depending on how dark (or not, as the case may be) you want the end result to look.

The Beauty Scriptures

I broke my body down into arms and chest; thighs and bum; knees, calves and feet, missing out my tummy because it's never on show. With my regular body cream - a Body Shop Body Butter - at the ready, I added 4 drops of tan to the amount of cream I'd usually use to cover each of those areas. I then mixed the two together in my hands and applied as normal i.e slapping it on in a haphazard fashion until it's vaguely rubbed in. It was super easy and faff-free.

The Beauty Scriptures

Interestingly, Clarins also offer a version of this product for the face, but you get half the quantity (15ml as opposed to 30ml) for only a few pounds less. I questioned what was the difference between the two and was advised that the body version is slightly darker. So I simply added 2 drops instead of the recommended 4-6 to my usual amount of moisturiser to cover my face and neck.

The Beauty Scriptures

Over the course of a few hours, a subtle colour developed. On my very pale skin, it was noticeable enough to minimise the milk bottle effect on my legs and give my face a healthy glow, but it was not so noticeable as to look fake.

When I've used fake tan in the past, I've always had dodgy results around my wrist, elbows and ankles where the skin is dryer. Not so here. I was left with an even coating of natural-looking colour. If you're darker skinned, I'd say you could easily apply 6 drops per area without it looking too dark. Alas, there was a still faint whiff of Eau de Biscuit once the colour started to emerge, but it was not as bad as other tanning products I've tried.

I used it again a couple of days later and was even more impressed second time around. The colour on both my face and body was really natural looking. No-one else would be able to tell I was wearing fake tan, I'm sure of it, but I just looked that little bit healthier. That's exactly the effect I wanted.

Overall, I think this is an excellent buy. It's certainly the best self-tan I've ever tried and is brilliant for dipping your pasty toe in the tanning water if you're an orange-phobe like me. The 30ml body version worked perfectly well on the face, so I'd suggest opting for that rather than getting the smaller version. At around the £23 mark, it's not the cheapest gradual tanner on the market, but the bottle should last a while and the quality of the results make it good value for money.

Buy the Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster HERE

Happy tanning!

19 January 2015

The perfect lip balm? Lovely Cosmetics Peppermint Lip Conditioner review

Lovely Cosmetics Peppermint Lip Conditioner Review

I recently worked out that not a day has passed since 1994 in which I've not applied lip balm, so it's fair to say I'm well and truly addicted. 

Over the years I've tried pretty much every pot and tube of the stuff going and have settled on this Blistex offering for quite some time now. However, it's petroleum-heavy and I've been increasingly trying to remove petroleum and mineral oil-based products from my skincare regime. A by-product of the oil industry, those ingredients are quite simply an inexpensive way for beauty companies to bulk out their cosmetics and despite popular belief, they are great at keeping moisture out (hence why cross-channel swimmers coat themselves in it!) but aren't actually very good at imparting moisture into the skin. Lips don't have any oil-producing glands, so they need all the help they can get.

What with the wintery weather we've been experiencing recently, my lips have been particularly parched so I was excited to try this Peppermint Lip Conditioner by Sheffield-based artisan company, Lovely Cosmetics, which I was given as a gift by my boyfriend for Christmas. 

I love the ethos of Lovely Cosmetics, whose aim is to make small-scale, natural, cruelty-free skincare. The vintage-style packaging is cute, though the chunky pot is not particularly transportable if, like me, you always like to have a lip balm in your handbag. The Peppermint scent is pleasant and not at all cloying or overpowering. 

As for the balm itself, it's jam-packed full of skin-loving oils - all of which are clearly listed on the pot and on the Lovely Cosmetics website, so you know exactly what you're putting on your skin. If only some of the big beauty players were so transparent about their ingredients!

The Peppermint Lip Conditioner contains:
Persea gratissima (avocado) oil, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, cera alba (beeswax), theobroma cacao (cocoa) butter, mentha piperita (peppermint) essential oil, tocopherol (vitamin e) oil
Being oil based, the balm feels quite different to a traditional lip balm. Solid in the pot, it needs to be warmed on the finger before applying on the lips. Once on, it feels immediately nourishing. I can really see how it's earned its 'conditioner' moniker. 

One of my gripes with many lip balms is that they sink in too quickly and require constant replication. This one doesn't. Applied at night, there's still a trace left next morning and lips feel noticeably softer and more moisturised. It's also great for applying before lipstick to create a smooth base. 

This is one of my favourite finds of the last year and I'm a total convert - I've not used my Blistex balm since getting it and I can't see me ever going back. 

The Peppermint Lip Conditioner is £5 and can be bought online here.

If you're Sheffield-based, lots of the city's indie shops are stockists and I'd encourage you to check them out as it's a lovely brand (sorry, not sorry) and worth giving a go.

24 December 2014

Mummy Christmas!

Mummy Christmas

Well, it's Christmas eve and I currently have a snoozing baby lying on me as I type. Iris was born three weeks ago and nothing could have prepared me for what a whirlwind having a baby would be - it's been a successful day if I find the time to have a piece of toast, never mind fit a beauty regime into my day - but Iris is just perfect and I'm totally in love with her.

I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has read my blog over the past year - I've loved writing it and hearing from readers. I'm probably not going to be posting quite so much for a while as I focus on being a Mum, but I'll check in every now and again with beauty news or inspiration.

Have a wonderful Christmas x