Look Fantastic Advent Calendar 2017 – Day 3. Grow Gorgeous Scalp Detox Exfoliating Pre-Wash Treatment.

Behind door number 3 was a 50ml tube of Grow Gorgeous Scalp Detox exfoliating pre-wash treatment. It’s worth £7.37. based on full size RRP.

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I’ll start by saying that its fragrance is not my cup of tea. It’s in your face and overpowering. It’s just too much! It reminds me of Thierry Mugler Alien perfume, so if you like that (which I obviously don’t) you’ll probably like this too.

As for how it works, I can’t help but hark back to Lush AGAIN on this one. Their salt scrubs (Rub, Rub, Rub for hair and body and Jersey Bounce shampoo) are incredible. They’re lovely to use and as the salt dissolves as the product foams, you’re not left with any bits in your hair. Unlike with this…

The exfoliating particles in Grow Gorgeous (white willow bark extract and pomegranate fruit enzymes, apparently) are small and more than a little unpleasant. It’s a bit like having sand in your hair.

Also, the fact that it doesn’t really foam means you have to use quite a lot. This makes the Lush alternatives much better value for money.

Once you’ve used the scrub, you shampoo and condition your hair as normal. Although I usually only shampoo once, I had to do it twice to get all the bits out. Afterwards, I have to admit that my hair did feel clean. However, I had just shampooed twice, sooooooooo……??

In case you haven’t guessed, I’m not a fan! 2/10

Lou x

Look Fantastic Advent Calendar 2017 – Day 2. Ciaté London Fierce Flicks Eyeliner.

It’s another full sized treat today – Ciaté London’s Fierce Flicks Eyeliner which retails for £15.

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I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m naff at the whole feline flick/winged eyeliner thing. I’m slightly better at it when doing someone else’s makeup but when it comes to my own, I end up looking like a let a 5 year old loose with a Sharpie.

However, for you guys I selflessly and bravely applied the liner and rocked it all day! At home. On my own. In my onesie. I was very self-conscious when I had to answer the door to the Postie.

I’m not going to show you my horrific attempt (I’ll spare you that and thankfully there is no photographic evidence). Instead, I wrote on the back of my hand to show you how simple it is to use. The fine nib makes precision…

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It’s an incredibly deep black, super easy to control (if unlike me you know what you’re doing and have a steady hand) and lasts for hours. I applied it first thing and by bedtime it hadn’t budged a smidgen. In fact, I had to be quite a bit firmer than usual when cleansing in order to get it off. Even then it kinda hung around the base of my lashes a little.

If you’re into the winged liner look, this is definitely worth a try. I think even I might get better at it if I persevered with this!

9/10 – exceptional staying power.

Lou x

 

Health Update / Look Fantastic Advent Calendar 2017 – Day 1. Illamasqua Lava Lips Marbled Lipstick.

Hey guys 🙂

Well, here it is! I’m so sorry for the delay(s!) in posting this. My op made me feel rougher than anticipated and I’m still building up my stamina now, after 6 long (and boring) weeks in bed. I can get out and about now but a day (or even a few hours) out doing not very much can make me feel whacked for two or three days.

Anyway, FINALLY here’s the blog I started but couldn’t finish while I was recuperating! Thank you all so much for bearing with me. xx

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As I’ve mentioned in my short Facebook updates recently, I’ve just had surgery and am recovering in bed at the moment. I’ve not felt up to doing very much at all since the op and today is the first day I’ve set myself any goals which were to watch a movie and to start to write this post [edit: I didn’t get far with this at the time!!], so here I am. 🙂  I’ll start with a little health update (it’s been a while) and then get into the calendar review. I’ll include headings so you can skip the health bit if you prefer.

Health update

I’ve not blogged much since my diagnosis early last year. I finally found out, after years of pain, frustration and misdiagnosis, that I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. It’s an inherited connective tissue disease which affects collagen and therefore has an effect on muscles (tick), tendons (tick), joints (tick), organs (tick) and pretty much every structure in the body. When I look back with the benefit of hindsight there are clear EDS indicators right back to my childhood but we just didn’t know what to look for.

I had heard of EDS before but only because Cherylee Houston, Coronation Street’s first disabled actress, has it and there have been a couple of storylines around it. I knew very little about it though. It’s relatively rare which is the inspiration behind the EDS community’s adoption of the zebra as its mascot. Apparently medical students are advised during training: “When you hear hoof-beats, think horses not zebras.” In other words,  think of the most common explanation for any given symptom or combination of symptoms and treat on that basis.

The problem is, zebras DO exist and a failure to acknowledge and properly consider rarer explanations can lead to delay in diagnosis, a lack of knowledge and support and misinformation.

EDS symptoms also mimic other conditions and patients are often misdiagnosed for many years, even decades. It’s a condition you’re born with so I’ve had it for 40 years but I really only had 4 years of acute symptoms prior to my diagnosis, so (although it didn’t feel that way at the time) I was one of the lucky ones.

So yes, we refer to ourselves as zebras and I have to say that I’ve found the community on the whole to be supportive and a fantastic source of information.

When (pre-diagnosis) I read an article on EDS, I (a) cried and (b) went straight online and bought myself a Pandora charm. I knew that what I’d read explained everything the past 4 years’ diagnoses had failed to explain. I knew this was the answer I’d been lacking and I wanted something tangible to commemorate what I felt was a significant milestone. My Pandora charm was just that. I chose the design closest to a DNA string I could find! I sent the article to my GP and asked her to refer me to a specialist. My GP is great and has been almost as frustrated as me about the lack of an adequate explanation for my symptoms these last few years. She referred me straightaway. When I eventually saw the specialist he said there was “no doubt about it” and I cried again. It is such a relief to know what the issue is, to finally understand how my body works and how and why things go wrong. I also felt vindicated in refusing to accept diagnoses which just didn’t sit right with me. None of them explained all my symptoms and I knew there would come a day when something would. There were times I was encouraged to give up, sometimes by those in the medical profession and sometimes those close to me. They told me that whatever the latest diagnosis was (whether it was dystonia, fibromyalgia or one of the others) was “all” I had. (“All” certainly requires inverted commas because each of these conditions has a significant effect on a person’s quality of life. They are both extremely painful, chronic and distressing conditions and I certainly don’t want to minimise that.) However, for me I knew there was more to it. There were too many symptoms which lacked explanation and didn’t quite fit with any given diagnosis. Although there were times I was tempted to give up searching for answers, when I eventually found out about EDS, it ALL fell into place.

Despite the relief and vindication, EDS is a difficult diagnosis to receive. There is no cure and it isn’t going to go away. It’s simply a question of managing symptoms. I had always hoped that when I finally found out what was wrong, it could be cured and I could have my previously healthy life back. The impossibility of that hit me harder than expected and affected me in ways I wasn’t prepared for. But anyway, enough of that, let’s move on to brighter things!

Advent calendar – overall impressions

As predictable as Christmas itself, I opted for the Look Fantastic calendar again! I’ve found it unbeatable in terms of value for money and as this year I’m only reviewing one, I wanted to make it a goodie. I expect there will be some repeats but I’m alright with that.

The calendar design this year is my favourite yet. It’s ENORMOUS, really heavy and is made up of 4 pull out drawers literally crammed full of goodies. Inside, there’s a box for every day and each box contains a beauty treat wrapped in tissue paper. It’s like opening a Christmas prezzy every day.

 

 

 

Once I’ve finished, I’ll keep the box. I plan to fasten the decorated doors to the sides and use the drawers for little dressing table bits and pieces. It’s a great idea to present the calendar in a reusable form like this as having it on my dressing table for 12 months will hopefully remind me to order my next one. Great marketing!

I opened the first 4 doors a while back. I was planning/hoping to get ahead of myself even so far back as November but that didn’t happen, so here we are.

I’m also going to include a little caveat before we get into it and say that as I’m recovering I may not blog every day and the posts are likely to be shorter than usual (and certainly shorter than this one!) The first 4 may be a little longer than the rest as I’ve had the benefit of being able to use those products a few times. After that, you may find the posts get shorter (hooray, I hear you cry!)

I also may sometimes use stock images rather than my own, as this will mean I can blog from my phone when I’m having a bad day.

Day 1 – Illamasqua  Lava Lips Marbled Lipstick

In box number 1 we hit the ground running with a 3.6g Illamasqua lipstick in shade Vixen (3770) which appears to have been a shade exclusive to Look Fantastic although it can now be found on third party retail sites such as Amazon and eBay.

The Lava Lips product description refers to a 4g product whereas this is 3.6g. However, 4g may be the rounded up figure so I can’t confirm whether or not this is truly full sized. A full sized Illamasqua Lava Lips retails for £20, so either way, this is a fantastic value treat to kick off with.

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The gorgeous marbled effect is so pretty it’s almost a shame to use it!

It’s a very creamy lipstick to apply but goes on almost matte, so make sure your lips are in good condition before you apply it. I can’t recommend Lush’s lip scrubs highly enough – my personal favourite is Honey. If you don’t have a scrub and don’t fancy making your own, you can always use a soft, dry toothbrush instead. Once you’ve done that, apply a good quality lip balm. Again, my fave is unsurprisingly from Lush! It’s called Honey Trap. If you scrub your lips and apply balm in the evening before bed, they’ll be in perfect condition for your lippy in the morning.

I LOVE the colour of this lipstick. It’s gorgeous. It makes teeth look whiter and would probably suit most skin tones.

I had no other makeup on so these photos aren’t great. The second is particularly awful but it shows how white it made my teeth look!

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Illamasqua is a higher end brand so I expected good things in terms of wear. However, I was disappointed. After drinking my morning coffee, a lot of it had already gone. Although I was left with that (usually particularly unflattering) thick lipliner look, it didn’t look too bad in this shade. Had it been darker it would have been more noticeable.

I didn’t eat or drink anything then until lunchtime. Although a tiny bit still wore off before I had my lunch, it wasn’t too bad. After lunch, it had all gone. Completely. This certainly isn’t a match for my favourite Lord & Berry Lipstick Crayons in terms of wear and low maintenance.

So, overall it’s a lovely colour and finish but it’s high maintenance and you’d probably have to reapply every hour or so. I don’t do high-maintenance. If I have to keep reapplying lippy, I just give up. This won’t be making an appearance in my handbag anytime soon. That said, I know I’m probably in the lazy minority and if you don’t mind frequently reapplying, this might just be the lippy for you.

Either way, it’s a great value item to get us started.

6/10 (which includes an extra half point for value!)

Lou x

 

To the two ladies at the hospital today.

I noticed you, tutting at me. I was within earshot as you sniggered together and commented on how ‘snooty’ I looked.

I was wearing my favourite coat. I know it’s flattering and that makes me feel good.

I don’t go out so often, you see. A trip to the hospital is as much a day out for me as anything. In fact, as those trips are so frequent and my health limits so many aspects of my life I can genuinely say that I spend more time at the hospital than I do socialising.

So yes, I’d made an effort. I wore my lovely vintage leather gloves too; an unexpected gift from a friend, which will always now remind me that kindness exists and that I’m not alone.

And I wore my boots – the ones with heels on. Not going-out-type-heels, but heel enough to give me just a tad more confidence.

I also spent a lot of time looking at my phone. I wasn’t really doing anything, but I couldn’t bear the thought of eye contact or interaction with strangers.

I needed those things, that confidence, distraction and that reminder that I’m not alone because on previous visits to that hospital I have never felt more so.

One occasion saw me literally hiding in a corner, shaking and hyperventilating. Unable to communicate with or make eye contact with anyone.

I probably looked ‘snooty’ then too. In the corner, separating myself from others and not acknowledging anyone. And I’d probably made a little effort then too, to compensate for the crippling anxiety I felt and the fact that I was genuinely terrified even at the point at which I stepped foot outside my house that day. But I made it. I made it to the hospital, I made it through the appointment and I made it home again. And that was an achievement.

Many days are spent in my onesie, unable to raise my arms or hold them up long enough to brush my hair – looking a mess. Do you have any idea how much effort it took to brush my hair today? Or pull on those boots? Or make my way to the hospital that terrified me so previously? Of course not. You don’t know because you can’t see.

I heard you comment on the fact that when I moved to let someone sit next to their partner, I didn’t even smile at them. You’re right. I didn’t. I didn’t even try. I have (amongst other things) dystonia. It’s a condition affecting the muscles. Essentially, the brain can’t control the muscles properly. Although dystonia can affect people in many different ways, for me it affects my neck, shoulder and primarily my face. I think I’m sending one signal (e.g. ‘smile please!’) but my brain goes ‘Nah, let’s do this instead…’ The resultant spasms are painful and exhausting. Whenever the affected muscles are untreated, that’s what happens to my face.

That’s why I was there today for treatment. Without it (and whenever it wears off, which it always does) one side of my face pulls with such force that on the opposite side I now have a jaw disorder which is more commonly caused by car crashes or other high impact accidents. My face has done that all by itself. My unsmiling face. The other side of my face is pulled so tightly that it doesn’t move, so essentially I look like I’ve had a stroke. So yes, I often decide not to smile when otherwise I’d like to, but you don’t know because you can’t see.

I’m also painfully aware that (until I smile or talk at least) I look “fine.” Such is the curse of invisible illness; a significant mismatch between what’s going on inside the body and what others perceive. And while I may flush in embarrassment at the sly glances I spot in my peripheral vision while I’m busy ‘looking snooty’, it’s preferable to that momentary change in someone’s facial expression when they start talking to me, or I smile at them and at the beginning of the exchange they think I’m “fine” and then they see the effects of dystonia on my face and I see a look of pity register in their eyes. I can always see that moment, precisely when it happens. I’m in my 30s, and I’ll no doubt be seeing it for the rest of my life. Even worse than that, people occasionally start redirecting their conversation to whoever I may be in the company of. I am still me, in this misbehaving body! I’m still intelligent, I’m still at heart an extrovert, a warm and friendly person but my body lets me down. Yet you don’t know, because you can’t see.

At its worst, it’s painful to even attempt a smile and talking is agony. I have to consider, before saying a word or even attempting a facial expression whether or not its effect will be worth the pain and fatigue it will cause. Give it a try for just an hour. Imagine that smiling hurts; talking hurts. Spend an hour in someone’s company with those things in mind. Would you mention that Mrs Griffiths from down the road did something hilarious at the local shop? Would you smile when you see someone you recognise in the street? This is me. This is the rest of my life. These are decisions I’ll always have to make. Is chit-chatting with my son, for example, ‘worth’ instant pain and hours of fatigue? Thankfully, he is a more understanding human being because of what he’s seen me go through. It’s usually him who makes those decisions for me, because he knows I’ll (naturally) always put him first. He’ll say “it’s okay mum, we don’t have to talk” when he sees me struggling. I’m so proud of him. He’s caring and compassionate. He understands. Unfortunately many others don’t.

So to you two ladies, although I’m sure you won’t see this post there’s a chance that others like you might. There’s just one thing I want you to take from this, and that is this: please don’t judge; you don’t know, you can’t see.

Lou x

Decleor 2016 Advent Calendar Review. Day 4: Hydra Floral 24 Hour Hydrating Light Cream.

Day 4, although I’m missing out on posting it on the right day – again – by minutes.

Anyway… we could have predicted that today’s treat would be a moisturiser. So now we have a cleanser, toner, serum and moisturiser.

It’s Hydra Floral 24 Hour Hydrating Light Cream, a 15ml tube worth £12 (that’s better!)

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It’s currently on sale at Look Fantastic with 25% off (£30 rather than £40 for a 50ml tub) and it seems that the 25% discount applies to the whole Decleor range. You can shop the entire range (or at least that part of it which is stocked by Look Fantastic) here.

It’s another beautifully scented offering and complements the other floral gorgeousness we’ve got so far. It IS very light and it doesn’t take long to sink in, My skin also feels softer but it’s another non-gamechanger to be honest. It’s a little unremarkable.

It does smell good though and I’m a sucker for fragrance so that keeps the score fairly reasonable at 6.5/10.

Lou xx

Decleor 2016 Advent Calendar Review. Day 3: Aromessence Neroli Oil Serum

Super short today because I’m shattered. One routine hospital appointment and I’m totally spent. No spoons today! (spoon theory).

Anyway, it’s the complementing serum oil to go with the two products behind doors number 1 and 2. As the others, it smells gorgeous. Actually, this smells even better.

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This 1ml vial is worth £3 based on RRP (it isn’t cheap!)

You only need a teeny bit, it sinks into the skin after a few minutes and leaves it feeling soft and nourished.

I like this very much. 9/10

Lou x

Decleor 2016 Advent Calendar Review. Day 2: Aroma Cleanse Tonifying Lotion with neroli essential oil.

Another 10ml bottle today, this time in the form of toner. It’s Aroma Cleanse Tonifying Lotion with neroli essential oil – the toner which compliments yesterday’s cleanser. It looks like we may be building up to a set of skincare products which complement each other. I hope that is the case – it’s a nice idea.

I don’t know why they’ve classified it as a ‘lotion.’ It isn’t. It’s a straight up toner. Toning water would perhaps have been more appropriate but what do I know?

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Anyway, this little bottle is worth a less than generous £1, although a 200ml bottle is currently on sale at Look Fantastic (we’re back there again!) for £18.45.

Again, it smells fab. Their blurb says that it “(tones) your skin to perfection without any tightness” although I do feel that it has actually tightened the skin. That’s not a bad thing, however – at least not in my book! Decleor also claim that it leaves you with smoother skin and it does seem to do just that. It’s not a game-changer however and had I tried this before Pixi’s (see my earlier blog here) I would not have been convinced to stop skipping toner. It’s okay. It DOES smell great and that’s a saving grace.

I would say that if you’re planning on buying the complementing toner and cleanser you should consider getting a bigger bottle of toner than cleanser, or even buy them at a ratio of 2:1. You won’t use them up at the same rate and you’re going to need more toner if you’re to have any left halfway through your cleanser.

So yeah, it’s okay. Not marvellous but okay.

6/10

Lou x