Thursday, 31 July 2014

My #BusinessPyjamas

While I'm not a professional blogger, I do work from home for over half the week, and I can bet other people in the same position will tell you that getting motivated to put on actual clothes in the morning can sometimes feel like a bit of a redundant task!

I've never been a morning person anyway, so if anyone actually does have the misfortune to see me before midday (usually the postman) I will probably still be in my pyjamas. And the tops and bottoms probably won't match. Who knows why both parts of the same pair are never clean at the same time, but I roll with it like some sort of deliberate bed-based fashion statement.

Post-midday, comfort is key for me as my real desk is where I store my make up so my desks come bed- and sofa-shaped, which means I need to be able to bend my legs (and that is barely possibly in so many of my skin tight jeggings or thigh skimming dresses). In this summer heat I tend to go for loose harem pants or thin patterned pyjama-style trousers and a strappy top, or if it's really hot as it has been over the past couple of weeks I'll throw on some little cotton shorts.
I bought a few casual summer dresses the other day which do the job of being both cheap enough to wear round the house without worrying but actually nice enough to wear out in the evening, and throwing one on keeps me cool in the heat but also makes me feel summery and a bit more 'done up' even when I still have bed head!

AXA want to see your Business Pyjamas for their current competition in which you could win an iPad mini- just snap a selfie of you at work in your most delightful pair and write a little blogpost about what you normally wear while working, then post your photo to the AXA Facebook page or tweet @AXABizTeam using the #BusinessPyjamas hashtag!

You can see my #BusinessPyjamas above, I nominate Sophie Rose Hearts to show us hers!

This is a sponsored post in association with AXA

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

How to Choose the Right Accessories for Your Face Shape

There are some accessories and beauty buys that can be used by pretty much anyone, as they don’t look any different from person to person. Examples of this include hair ties and pins, as well as certain shades of eyeliner and mascara, but of course there are many more that I haven’t mentioned.
On the other hand, there are products that will provide different looks depending on who is using them, meaning that there could be accessories that look better on you than someone else, as well as the other way around. It can sometimes feel a bit tricky trying to find the perfect accessory to suit your face shape, so I thought it might be helpful to share a few tips to help you on your way...

Picking Glasses & Sunglasses
Whether you need glasses to read or simply wear sunglasses for comfort and style, the whole process of choosing them can be a little bit overwhelming. There are so many frames to try on that it can be difficult knowing where to start.
As a starting point, it’s worth noting that Tesco Opticians can provide prescription glasses to suit your face shape - the staff are able to point out certain styles that could complement your features. If you can’t make it into a store, you can try out their ‘Frames on Me’ tool online that will let you try some frames on virtually instead!

Choosing Headbands
It might seem like a simple process going into a shop and picking up a couple of headbands that are on special offer, but it is worth considering how they will actually look and feel. We all know that are features are unique to us, so it is really the best solution to make the most of them.
When it comes to headbands, think whether it will look right proportionately, and how it will affect your hairline and the amount of forehead you have on show. Not only that but the size and weight of some styles (especially those with embellishments) might make them uncomfortable to wear after a couple of hours.

Selecting Hats
If you're one of the many people who have said the words, “hats don’t suit me”, it might be time to re-evaluate your thoughts! Whilst not all hats may suit you, there is likely to be one out there that will leave you feeling proud of your appearance. Like other accessories, they come in different shapes, colours and sizes, so it is just down to finding the winning combination for you.
Spend some time in a large department store trying on a number of different styles to narrow the options down, and then try and build up your confidence to wear one out. Hats are very “in” right now so it could be the perfect time!

I hope these tips will help you to own your accessories in the future, but I’d also love to hear your own tips and bits of advice for picking them. What do you find most difficult to buy for your face shape? Please leave me a comment and let me know!

This is a guest post

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Quick Tip: Best Way to Clean Cosmetic Sponges

A super quick post today as after a few years of cursing my beauty sponges when they got dirty, I've worked out the quickest and easiest way to clean them, and wanted to share it!
I'm a real stickler for getting my sponges scrupulously clean- I wash every last remnant of foundation/concealer from the surface and make sure the inside is as spotless as it can be too. Spending so long under the hot tap means it has taken about a year for any of my sponges to develop a stain, but it also means that I dread sponge-cleaning time as it takes so long. I asked for suggestions for a better method than just Baby Shampoo and antibacterial cleanser a while ago on twitter and I received all sorts of suggestions from showering with sponges to putting them in the washing machine, but nothing worked well enough for me.

I wrote about Surgical Spirit in my recent favourites post, and raved about how well it cleans and sanitises brushes and how cheap it is for a huge bottle (£3.56 for 500ml at my local chemist, or £1.35 for 200ml at Superdrug). I've been the loving the Beauty Blender since I received one in the July Birchbox but unfortunately I accidentally threw away the soap it came with and, looking for a way to keep my washing woes to a minimum, I turned to the Surgical Spirit to see what it could do. 

My new method is to place the sponge in an old or disposable plastic cup, then pour the Surgical Spirit over it until it swells, before giving it a few squeezes and pokes in the cup. It's amazing how dirty the liquid turns! As Surgical Spirit is mainly alcohol, it will kill any germs and bacteria lurking on and inside the sponge. 
After squishing the sponge in the cup for a bit, I pour away the Spirit and squeeze the sponge tightly in sink, it already looks considerable cleaner. I then move onto Baby Shampoo, and it takes two lots of shampooing and rinsing instead of the usual million to get the sponge completely stain-free, alcohol free, and back to its original clean state. I find the best way to lather it up is to rub the shampoo onto the outside of the sponge then roll it in between the palms of my hands instead of trying to scrub or squeeze the gel in. I then leave it in a little dish to air dry until I'm ready to use it. 

I usually find dye comes out of a new sponge for the first 5 or so washes, and the Spirit seems to really draw this extra dye out, which I find helpful as it can stain my sink during normal sponge washing. It does lightens the sponge's colour a little bit on the first wash so if colour is very important to you then this may not be the right method. However the alcohol doesn't change the texture or usage of the sponge at all and the shortened cleaning time outweighs a bit of colour change for me. 

If you're struggling to keep your sponges spotless and sanitised I would highly recommend getting yourself a bottle of Surgical Spirit, as it not only works brilliantly on sponges but it's also great for brushes too!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Tips For Preventing Pain & Sensitivity From Crest Whitestrips

Crest Whitestrips receive a great deal of good reviews from the beauty community and are in my opinion one of the best affordable at home whitening treatments available. That said, in people with sensitive teeth, the whitening process can be a bit of a nightmare and bring quite a lot of pain along with bright shiny whiter teeth.

For me, the pain is almost always on the top 'chewing' part of the tooth, and feels like an electric shock right down into my nerve. I've had pain so strong, just for a few seconds, that it's made me gasp and need to sit down (the things we do for beauty eh!). The sensible advice would be to stop using the strips if the pain is too bad. But that said they really do work and I know some of you aren't in the habit of taking sensible advice! 
I've worked out some methods that in my case not only prevent the pain while whitening but also the extra sensitivity afterwards, so if they cause you pain but you're really determined to keep using them, then follow my tips below for 95% pain free whitening!

My first tip is to apply a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth before beginning. There are fancy toothpastes that can claim to numb the teeth but I find normal Sensodyne works fine. You can brush with it but I find it more effective to apply a big blob with my finger and spread the paste out into the teeth, leaving as long as possible before trying to swallow. 

If you get pain in the same place as me then the next tip is to avoid the top of the tooth completely and only whiten one side at a time instead of folding the strip over the teeth. This is done by cutting each strip in half lengthways and applying to only the front or back surface of the tooth at a time.

The final tip is to prevent any of the foam created from the strip coming into contact with the top of the teeth. Keeping your mouth open and swallowing carefully helps to some extent, but the foam seems to swell over and  get into the sensitive parts of the teeth. I've found the best way to prevent this is to bite down on a cotton pad while whitening.
This isn't too intrusive as you can still breathe and swallow normally but it really does help. For a 30 minute treatment you might need two or more cotton pads as they get a bit damp, and you need to make sure you place it far enough into your mouth to cover all the teeth being whitened, but this is the only way that I can wear even half a strip for the full 30 minutes of the 3D White treatment.

And there we go! This isn't rocket science stuff but you shouldn't feel much, if any, pain while using these methods, and all I get now is a mild tingling in my teeth. I've said, these strips really do work, otherwise I wouldn't keep using them. They're so much cheaper than getting a professional treatment, and even some of the over the counter treatments, so in my case it's no pain no gain as my teeth seem to stain quite easily.
Bear in mind the strips are not good for your tooth enamel, so I couldn't recommend using them regularly, but every now and then using them with the tips above will not only keep your teeth whiter but also prevent pain and sensitivity. 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Just Singles #3Dates3Mths - Challenge Three (the Final Challenge!)

Here we go, the third and final JustSingles 3 Dates 3 Months challenge! This post was meant to be up ages ago but life has got in the way a bit recently so please please forgive the lateness. If you haven't read about my previous challenges, you can find challenge two here and challenge one here, along with a bit more info about JustSingles.
For the third and final challenge I signed up to the JustSingles website, dipping my toe into internet dating for the first time,  and hoping that asking someone on a date online would prove much easier than in person (but at least I'd have a computer to hide behind if it all went wrong!). 

When I first signed up on JustSingles I wasn't sure what to expect, the only experience I'd had with something similar was an app on my phone which turned out to be less for dating and more for sleazy men to try and chat up girls from the other side of the country. Thankfully, it isn't anything like that- for a start the profile descriptions and photos are monitored and have to be approved before they're shown (thankfully! I'm still having nightmares about crotch shots from the men on that phone app!).
As well as their main site, JustSingles offer a range of lifestyle and location based sites, things like Sporty Singles, Ginger Singles and Doctors Singles. I went for their main site as I didn't really fit into any of the other categories, and I thought there might be a bit more choice! After writing a reasonably run of the mill 'About Me' (we'll forgot about my worry over whether the phrase 'bed-loving' made me sound sleepy or slutty), I chose some nice (but not toooo nice) photos, then had a search for people who lived close by and some fun with the 'wink' button. 

Sending out the first message to someone actually was actually scarier than I thought it'd be- in person you can always start with a simple one syllable "hi", but on the internet you feel pressured to come up with the most amazing couple of sentences of your life, that make you sound keen without being stalkerish. Of course there were a few people who didn't reply to my keen-but-not-stalkerish first messages, but I've always thought that being ignored is the nicest way of being rejected- you're left to imagine that they've just forgotten their password, or their internets been cut off, or they were viscously attacked by a savage dog and tragically lost their typing hand. 
Along with their many sites for different interests, Just Singles also offer a good search service so you can narrow down your results not just to age and location, but to things like hair length, height and interests.
Despite at first kicking myself for not having a car when I found that a lot of sexy looking men lived just outside my bus range, I found a lot of nice men who lived quite near. There was one guy in particular with that I bonded with over my dairy induced headaches and his lactose intolerance, which sounds like a really dull conversation but it actually felt really nice to make a connection with someone new over something small.

It was within the first couple of weeks after joining that I plucked up the courage to send a scary first message to someone who's profile I'd been eyeing up for the previous few days. His name was Darren, he was 6 ft, had blue eyes and liked football. I know we're in the middle of the World Cup at the moment, but I won't lie, I hate football. I don't think having different interests is a massive problem though, I like taxidermy but I don't bang on about stuffed birds all day.
Anyway, imagine my surprise when I actually got a reply back from the football loving beefcake! We exchanged messages for a little while, talking about our tastes in music, TV programmes, and super exciting things like what we had for lunch. One of the good things about messaging someone online is that you can take a little while to plan your replies. Not 'plan' in a manipulative way, but in a way that makes you able to keep a vaguely interesting conversation going with someone sexy without having to be off your tits on tequila. It wasn't long before we exchanged numbers and my phone was buzzing every few minutes with nice messages.
Once you've been chatting with someone for a while, asking them out becomes quite easy, and it's much less scary to ask someone out through a messaging service than trying to pounce on them in real life. At the tap of a thumb the message was gone and I'm not embarrassed to say I was checking my messages constantly after that. I read the reply with one eye closed, just in case, but thankfully he said yes!

I've always been slightly sceptical of internet dating, I'm not sure why as everyone with a profile is usually looking for the same thing, but it was much simpler and actually more fun than I thought. To be honest I always thought this challenge would be the successful one as there's bound to more choice and opportunity online, but I really never thought it would be this successful.
I only asked one person out on JustSingles, and I haven't been back on the site for weeks, so I don't think I need to spell it out that the first date went pretty well! After the previous two challenges where I didn't even manage to secure a time or place for a date, I think I've done rather well at the third challenge, and I'm interested to find out where that one scariest of first messages will take me from here!

This is a sponsored post in association with JustSingles