Beauty, Lifestyle

My Guide To A Great Night’s Sleep Using Lavender

Trouble sleeping? Experiencing difficulty falling asleep, or struggling to wake up feeling refreshed is a common problem that is thought to regularly affect one in three people in the UK.* There are numerous causes of insomnia, ranging from stress and hormonal changes, to excessive caffeine consumption and using mobile phones or other electrical devices before bed.

The quality of our sleep is linked to our long term health and the better sleep we have, the better our body performs. A great night’s sleep is important for us to maintain high energy, mood and concentration levels during the day.

So what can you do to improve your sleep pattern and aim for a great night’s sleep?

I recently discovered that implementing a few tweaks to my lifestyle were in order to help me relax before bed, along with help from several products that helped make this routine a more pleasurable part of my day.

These lifestyle changes includes:

  • Setting and sticking to regular times for going to bed and waking up.
  • Avoiding caffeine, heavy meals and exercise for a few hours before going to bed.
  • Not watching TV, using my laptop or browsing on my phone in bed.

My aims were to:

  • Unwind before bed for an hour or so with gentle exercise such as yoga.
  • Replace TV and devices with reading a book.
  • Create a relaxing environment in which to fall asleep.

So far this is going pretty well, and one thing that I’ve learnt is that pampering yourself and giving your body a treat before bed is a great way of transforming a routine into something that you look forward to and then becomes habit.

So, what products have I been using? You might see a pattern emerging… yes they all contain lavender! 

Lavender is renowned for it’s relaxing properties. It’s been proven to aid relaxation and induces a feeling of calm by slowing down the activity of the nervous system, decreasing heart rate and lowering blood pressure. Lavender oil is also effective at soothing sore muscles, aches and pains. According to a recent study at Southampton University, introducing lavender into a bedtime routine improved sleep quality by 20%.** Let’s take a look at my favourite lavender-infused products of the moment.

Lavender Bath Bomb by Temple & Twine, £3.99

A great way to prepare your body for sleep is to take a bath. Combined with reading a book, this is a great way to make some time for yourself and switch off your mind. I personally love a candlelit bath (Next do a great range of well-being candles – check out the Sleep Fragranced Candle with lavender, sandalwood and jasmine extracts ,£6) with a scented bath oil or bath bomb to inhale and sooth the senses. Temple & Twine’s Lavender Bath Bomb is an absolute delight! The brand focuses on creating natural products that are good to the body, mind and soul, without using any nasty chemicals that can potentially harm the skin. The lavender-infused bath bomb created a gentle aroma that filled the bathroom and the left the water a gentle shade of lilac, with a sprinkling of lavender flowers. Still in the early stages of development, I’m really excited to see where this brand will go!

Sleepy by Lush, £13.95 /215g

Following a bath, my new bedtime routine has found a secure staple – applying Sleepy by Lush. I’d read reviews online, so I was eager to test out this miracle product that everyone was excited about. It did not disappoint – this body lotion really is incredible. Since buying it, I’ve used it every night and I’ve had some really great nights’ sleep. The dreamy, lilac lotion is made with oatmeal infusion, lavender flower and sweet tonka extract. The combination results in a gentle, floral yet malty formula that’s instantly comforting on application. (My partner also loves the smell, which he’s also convinced helps him to sleep, so that’s a bonus!) I lie on my front when I sleep, so I’ve taken to smoothing the body lotion on my chest and arms so that I can smell the cream on my skin while I’m drifting off. As well as it’s relaxing properties, the lotion contains cocoa butter, making it a fantastic moisturiser. It has just the right light consistency that sinks into the skin without leaving any greasy residue. I really can’t recommend this product enough – well done Lush!

Pillow Spray Violet Lavender by Home & Body Company

This next product is a bit of a mystery as it was bought for me as a gift by my partner and I can’t find it online anywhere, so unfortunately I don’t have a lot of information on it, or a price… It was originally bought from TK Maxx and on the bottle it says that it’s from Home & Body Company. I’ve been on their website, but they don’t list this product so perhaps it was a limited edition product? If anyone else recognises it and knows a bit more information, please do let me know!

Anyhow, this is the first pillow spray that I’ve used and it’s definitely a welcome addition to my bedtime routine. The sweet lavender scent is extremely soothing when spritzed on my pillow and it aids my aim to create a relaxing environment in my bedroom. It is a lovely product and I can’t get enough of the packaging with the cute inspirational quote on the front ‘It’s okay not to be perfect’, which looks fab on my dressing table.

However, one of my resolutions this year is to use more natural products that are kind to the skin and contrary to the other two products that I’ve mentioned, unfortunately this pillow spray isn’t all that natural. Instead of containing lavender oil, the ingredients list ‘parfum’ which is likely a fragrance that imitates the scent of lavender. If you are particularly concerned about whether the products you use contain essential oils or fragrance oils, it’s important to check the ingredient list before purchasing. For me, this was a downside to this product as the benefits of lavender essential oil are far superior to a fragrance oil. An alternative that I have been recommended is This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray (£18/75ml) which is made using 100% pure essential oils, so I’ll be sure to try that out.

Lavender isn’t a cure for insomnia…

…but there are certainly proven benefits to using it as a calming influence in your routine. I’ve found that by introducing some of the lifestyle changes mentioned above, plus the addition of these lavender-infused products, I am able to create a relaxing environment that fully prepares me for rest and sleep.

Do you have a particular routine or favourite product that helps you to sleep? Comment below!

 

*https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/insomnia/

**https://www.sixstepstosleep.com/does-lavender-help-you-sleep/

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Lifestyle, Portfolio

Hampshire Wedding Group Style Glamorous 1960s-Inspired Shoot

Just got engaged and seeking inspiration for your special day? Check out this gorgeous 1960s-inspired wedding shoot by the Hampshire Wedding Group.

A collection of hand picked wedding suppliers based in Hampshire, the group offers couples a range of services to cater every aspect of their wedding day, from styling and floristry to catering and photography.

Winslowe House, an elegant Victorian country mansion in Hedge End, provided a gorgeous backdrop for the summer shoot with its panoramic views of the surrounding countryside featuring a fabulous Rolls Royce provided by Abbey Cars of Southampton.

Audrey Hepburn’s wedding photos provided inspiration for the bride’s hair and make-up, styled by make-up artist, Miriam King, modelled beautifully by Joanna…

…and to complete the look, the bride wore original 1960s dresses and accessories, supplied by vintage clothing boutique, Glamragzz.

A stunning bouquet of lemon yellow gerberas and daisies, contrasted with soft cream roses was arranged by professional florist Carole Stables at The Flower Stables Limited. Whilst Southampton Caterers provided a gorgeous afternoon tea with sweet and savoury treats!  

Inside, the venue was decorated and dressed by Tie The Knot Events, with delicate covers and sashes adorning the seating.

Suephisticated Wedding Cakes, specialising in handmade wedding cake design and creation provided a fab three-tier wedding cake with bright pink, 60s-inspired detailing and an elegant gold script cake topper. 

The stunning shoot was captured by professional wedding photographer Anthony Burdett-Clark of Lightbox Digital Studios. 

For even more inspiration, keep an eye out for the Hampshire Wedding Group at upcoming wedding fairs in 2018 such as Ampfield Golf and Country Club, Steeple Court Manor and Winchester Guildhall. You can visit their website here. 

Beauty

The Benefits of Dragons Blood

Mythical creatures have been a hot topic of late, with Game of Thrones’ Season 7 airing this month (can we take a moment to appreciate that finale!!!) So what better time to review my latest skin care discovery – dragon’s blood!

No dragons were harmed in the making of this cream I promise – dragon’s blood is in fact a bright red sap which is found in the Croton Lechleri tree in the Amazon. The name dates back to ancient times as medieval encyclopaedias claimed its source was the literal blood of elephants and dragons who had perished in mortal combat. Throughout history dragon’s blood has been used as a dye, varnish, incense and to soothe wounds.

Today it’s most commonly found in skin care products due to it’s anti-inflammatory benefits. Dragon’s blood contains naturally occurring compounds including proanthocyanidins, phytosterols, alkaloids and lignans which can help to soothe the skin and remove redness. When applied to the skin, dragon’s blood is said to ‘create a ‘second skin’ barrier which helps to firm up your complexion’. Fun fact – this use is not dissimilar to that of the sap’s natural role in the tree, designed to protect the tree trunk.

I picked up Beauté Mediterranea’s Crema Dragon’s Blood on a recent trip to Spain. Initially I thought ‘dragon’s blood’ was a clever marketing trick (which certainly worked on me) until I starting researching the ingredient. Beauté Mediterranea boasts the cream is ‘restorative’, helping to prevent the production of free radicals, leaving skin feeling softer and looking younger.

My verdict? I’ve been using the cream for a couple of weeks now, first thing in the morning before applying make up and my skin is certainly looking a lot clearer, plus my skin tone is pretty even, although that could be because I’ve been wearing less make up recently.

I certainly rate this cream on account of it’s luxurious texture. It’s a much thicker cream compared to others I’ve bought, which I really like – it does feel like you are applying a protective layer to your skin. The cream has a very strong sweet, floral fragrance which some my find off-putting initially, but you get used to it very quickly.

Beauté Mediterranea, born in Barcelona in 1979, specialises in creating innovative, eco-friendly skin care solutions using natural ingredients. The brand boasts access to their very own pharmaceutical facilities, which allows their team of scientists to constantly develop and evolve their formulas (this also explains the minimalistic, medicinal-style packaging which I love).

If you’re looking for a new skin care line to try, I’d definitely recommend exploring Beauté Mediterranea. Marketed as a luxury brand, their products are a little pricier than your average beauty brand, however I’m a true believer that quality comes with what you pay for. And if you’re yet to experience dragon’s blood, I’d recommend giving it a go! Nip and Fab also have a great collection that I’m dying to try.

Have you tried products containing dragon’s blood? Any recommendations?

 

Words by Araminta Pender

Beauty

Chia Seed Skin Care

Chia seeds are one if my favourite superfoods! Full of fatty acids including omega-3, plus high in protein, I’ve known about the health benefits of chia seeds for a long time (BBC Good Food does a great guide here) – home made chia chocolate pudding is my favourite, trust me it’s worth trying! But I’m not sure why I’ve never thought to explore the benefits via skin care.

Although, thinking about it, this might be because products containing chia seeds aren’t so easy to come by in the UK – I’m not sure exactly why this is but I do know that if you want to find a product that includes them, you’ll have to do a bit of digging on the internet. Or, head to TK Maxx like I did and browse the beauty section!

On a recent visit, I picked up Organik Botanik’s Chia Seed Face Mask. The name is slightly misleading as I was expecting more of a scrub-like texture, when in fact on opening it I discovered a sweet smelling cream. The product doesn’t actually contain chia seeds but rather chia seed oil.

According to Allure.com,

‘Chia seed oil is chock-full of important saturated fatty acids, which are both integral to maintaining healthy skin cell membranes and warding off the harmful effects of free radicals…’

So essentially chia seed oil is great for helping your skin fight irritation, blemishes and dehydration – look out for Salvia Hispanica amongst skin care ingredients, as it’s commonly listed by its Latin name.

Organik Botanik boasts that this cream will leave your skin feeling fresh and happy and I have to agree it does! I tried incorporating the mask into my daily skin care routine, once a week for two weeks and I definitely noticed my skin looked a lot brighter and plumped up after use. The formula was also very gentle on my skin, so it’s an ideal swap for those like myself who often find mud masks can irritate their sensitive skin.

I’d recommend using the mask when you have a spare 15 minutes and you feel a bit of pampering is in order as for best results you need to leave the mask to dry and then rinse off with warm water and a soft cloth.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you a lot about the brand as I can’t find an official website and the only place that seems to stock the product in the UK is TK Maxx (do let me know if I’ve missed it somewhere!) so it’s a bit of a mystery. But I do know that this product has been a great introduction to the range and to chia infused products!

RRP £4.99 from TK Maxx

Review by Araminta Pender @mintypender

Beauty

Lovely Cosmetics

Dry lips, although often associated with cold weather, can also be a real problem in the summer months. When it’s hot, it’s easier to get dehydrated and so our lips are more prone to cracking. That’s why it’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day and (here’s the fun part) invest in a good lip balm made from natural oils or butters.

I got caught out recently whilst working at a trade show and just to my luck, having trekked for a good hour to find something to sooth my chapped lips, I happened to stumble upon Lovely Cosmetics! There right in front of me were a row of beautifully packaged lip balms (not to be dramatic but it really was one of those I’ve died and gone to heaven moments) – so many flavours to choose from!

I got chatting to Caz, owner of Lovely Cosmetics, and she recommended the latest release, Fruit Salad (RRP £5.25). Oh boy is this the best lip balm I’ve ever owned. Not only does it smell amazing (just like Fruit Salad sweets!), it tastes amazing and it’s made from entirely natural ingredients! I’ve had to resist trying to actually eat it several times, it’s that good. And because one lip balm is just never enough, I also picked up Happy Hour (RRP £5.25) – a Strawberry Daquiri flavoured balm.

Both lip balms have had plenty of use both during and after the trade show. The formula really did make a difference and soon rid me of my dry lips. It’s been a staple in my bag ever since. I’m really started to appreciate just how special all-natural products are and the incredible effect they can provide. What I love about these lip balms is they really feel like you’re putting something on your skin that’s good for you. They’re not too greasy or too sticky, and they left my lips feeling totally conditioned.

I’m also really impressed with the packaging. The pots themselves are made from glass which gives them a nice weighty feel in your hand, they feel like good quality products. Plus, the brand itself really stands out with it’s colourful design. The website is filled with images of brightly coloured products surrounded by sweets and confetti, which makes it really fun to explore.

Since browsing the website and Instagram feed, I’ve got a few other products on my wish list to try, including the Unicorn Kisses Glitter Gloss and Fudge Face Mask. I sense we’re going to be seeing more from Lovely Cosmetics in the near future – what a fantastic brand!

You can visit the website here. 

 

Image and words by Araminta Pender

Beauty

Exclusive Interview with Pixiwoo

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I was so excited when I heard that I’d been given the chance to interview Sam and Nic Chapman aka Pixiwoo – expert make up artists, vloggers and founders of Real Techniques brushes – on the release of their new book, Face. Face is the ultimate make up book, ideal for beginners and aspiring make up artists, filled with easy-to-follow guides, tool recommendations and unique tip and tricks.

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I absolutely loved the book! The detail the tutorials go into is brilliant. The book starts with working out the best skin care routine for your skin type, how to achieve the perfect brows, which mascara wand is best suited to you, how to contour, tips on choosing the right lipstick and the list goes on. Interspersed between each chapter is a page of ‘Pixi Tips’, a collection of Sam and Nic’s tricks to achieve that perfect look. The tutorials are accompanied by a combination of beautifully drawn sketches and gorgeous photographs, making this a very visually appealing guide. And isn’t that what make up artistry is all about? Finally, one of my favourite features of the book that really sets it apart from other guides is that it is accompanied by a free app on IOS and android that allows fans to show off their make up skills by sharing their own looks but also watch exclusive content only available on purchasing the book. Face is now available in stores and online.  This is definitely my ultimate make up guide of the season!

And now for the interview…

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What does a day in the life of Pixiwoo entail?

“Every day is different… During a day in the studio, we film. I (Nic) get in at 8.30am, I’ve researched the look that I want to create and I get in and film that look. Sam drops her kids at school and gets in at 9.30am. I’ve nearly finished my tutorial by then, I will upload the tutorial on to the computer. We go for brunch and then Sam comes back to film her and I edit mine. Other days we’re travelling or we’re at meetings. No two days are ever the same!”

Tell me about your new book, Face. What makes it different from others currently on the market?

“The most obvious answer is the app, it’s truly amazing! We were so excited to be able to work with Blink Publishing and they did an amazing job. I guess also there aren’t that many books that go that in depth. We tried to answer all the questions that we’ve been asked for the last 8 years. We get asked a lot of questions! So many that we cant always answer everybody. So I guess this is our way of making a book that everyone can read and hopefully learn something.”

I love the interactive app idea as a way of incorporating the social media side that helped with your successful career. What advice could you give to budding bloggers/vloggers about starting their career online?

“I think the most important thing is that make sure that you’re being really social on ‘social media’. Have conversations with people on Twitter, interact on Instagram. Comment on their videos and be part of the conversation and don’t wait for it to come to you and that’s how you can get recognised and noticed.”

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This is your first book that will be published, how did you find the writing process? What were the highlights and how did you get through any problems that arose?

“The writing process was much more difficult than we thought really! We had to cut it down a lot. You don’t realise how much make up knowledge is in your brain until you write it down. We’re not naturally teachers, but to actually break it down and how to say things, crossing over for all skin types, it was very difficult.

So a highlight of the process? Getting it done! We admire writers that do that for a living as its way more difficult than we imagined!”

What has been the biggest challenge of your career so far?

“Managing both your everyday life and work  life is a constant juggle. And on top of that being parents! Making sure you have enough time to fit everything in and still be you. I don’t remember the last time I had me time. I managed to fit in a night out with my girls the other night but that hasn’t happened for a year haha!”

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs looking to build their own brand?

You have to trust your gut instinct and thats something that Sam and I always do. Don’t settle until your 100% happy with it. Whatever the deal is or the job is, make sure that you are 100% thrilled with it. That way if doesn’t quite work, you can still be proud of it. There’s nothing worse than producing something but not being happy with it.”

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You’ve had a great year, what have been your best moments so far?

“I’m really excited about the book coming out, along with the DVD earlier in the year. We’ve done some travelling and brought some brilliant products out with Real Techniques this year. All of them! It’s so hard to pick! We constantly have to stop and pinch ourselves… I don’t want to say its been luck , we’ve worked our arses off and its just been an amazing journey to go on. Who knows where it will go, there might be bigger things to come next year, we just don’t know yet!

What’s the next project for Pixiwoo?

“At the moment we’re just focusing on getting the book out there. We need feedback first, we want to hear peoples views before we go into planning anything else. If our core fans aren’t happy with something then it’s really important for us to do something to change that. We really want our fans will be happy and invested in whatever we bring out. We get a lot of project offers every day but we cant do everything, and I don’t think you should do everything if you want to give it 100% or there’s the risk that it will become diluted.”

But can you give us any hints as to what’s coming up?

“Next to come out will be the holiday ‘Christmas sets’ and we’ve got some lovely, gorgeous, beautifully packaged sets coming out any time now!”

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What are your top three beauty tips and tricks?

“Ooh so many to choose from… Make sure that you always take your make up off and drink plenty of water. Don’t smoke? They’re pretty obvious tips but they do make the most difference. When choosing your foundation do it in natural light, before you buy it… The key things are that you should focus on looking after your skin and your health.

Finally, if you were on a desert island and you could only take 1 piece of make up with you,what would it be?

“Mascara! But depends whether you’re on the island on your own really… Because if I’m by myself, I’d take a mascara. But if I’m there with my boyfriend I’d take a lip balm…!”

Beauty

The Mask Raider Challenge!

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Korean skincare is more popular than ever and I’ve totally fallen head over heels for it, so I couldn’t wait to try out Mask Raider’s subscription box. Mask Raider is a curated subscription of skin care masks that are delivered straight to your door every month. Partnered with brands such as Innisfree, Etude House, My Beauty Diary and Mediheal, the brand offers the subscriber the access to sample mid to high tier quality sheet masks from Korea, Taiwan and Japan.

There are four different subscriptions that offers 8-10 sheet masks a month, including instructions, an ingredient list and analysis sheet. The beauty of Mask Raider is that they do the research for you! When I reached into my package, I found two cards with information about what ingredients were in each mask, what skin type they were best suited to, drying time and the benefits each mask provided – so you know exactly just what you’re putting onto your body.

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Mask Raider offers over $35 (£28.63) worth of masks for only $26.67 (£21.81) per month, which is a pretty good deal! Or you can select the Mask Raider annual subscription which gives you 2 months of masks for free!

So what masks did I receive and how did I get on?

 Mediheal W.H.P. White Hydrating Charcoal Mineral Facial Sheet Mask

A moisturising and whitening mask with Niacinamide, Adenosine and activated

Charcoal Powder to draw out impurities from deep within pores, resulting in clear skin.

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My initial impressions after taking the mask out of the bag was that the size of the mask was really good, easy to unfold and lay on my face which I think had something to do with the cellulose material. This mask was a lot thicker and sturdier than others that I’ve used which have been a bit more difficult to apply. The mask itself was black like the picture on the packet which I assumed was to do with the ingredients containing charcoal.

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I left the mask on for just under 40 minutes, as the packet advised and when I took it off I was super impressed with the results. I’d tried to tackle a few pesky white head pimples on the side of my face and so my skin was looking a bit blotchy and red before I put the mask on. As soon as I took it off, they had completed flattened, the reddening was gone – it was as if the mask had completely erased them – seriously impressive! Plus, my skin felt soft and shiny.

The day I chose to test this mask, I was feeling pretty ropey with a cold and my skin wasn’t in the best condition (dull, dark circles under my eyes etc) but as if by magic, once I took the mask off my skin was shiny and the bags had disappeared. I looked positively healthy!

Banobagi Vita Genic Hydrating Jelly Sheet Mask

Anti-wrinkle, whitening and hydrating liposome jelly mask with vitamins and ‘oxygen water’ from Jeju Island.

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When I took the mask out of the packet, I noticed that the mask was covered with a lot more serum than the Mediheal mask, which makes sense as Banobagi’s Vita Genic sheet mask promises the skin intense hydration (containing ‘oxygen water’ from Jeju Island)– there was even excess serum in the packet afterwards. This mask was made of white cotton so putting on the mask was a lot more difficult than the last as it was pretty sticky and slippery, but once I got over that and just how cold it was (why doesn’t anyone mention that?) it felt so good on my skin, so refreshing!

I took the mask off after 20 minutes and again the results were great, my skin felt amazing! I patted the excess serum into my skin and took a little left over from the packet to moisturise my neck and chest area (I couldn’t bear to waste any!) and looked it the mirror. My face was practically glowing, it had a natural dewy sheen that make up couldn’t reproduce. My boyfriend even commented on how different I looked since I went upstairs for my pamper sesh. I also noticed how firm my skin felt, which must have been the after effects of the anti-wrinkle ingredients.

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I’d say that this mask was probably the least comfortable to wear out of the two, purely because of the amount of serum that Banobagi packed into the mask but it definitely produced the most instantly noticeable results.

Mask Raider packages are now available online.