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

Decleor 2016 Advent Calendar Review. Day 1: Aroma Cleanse Cleansing Milk with neroli essential oil.

Happy New Year!!!! 😀 I hope you all had a fabulous night last night and I wish you all the very best for 2017. Thank you all for staying with me into another year. I appreciate you all and I hope that together we’ll continue to build upon the blog’s following throughout 2017 (here’s hoping!)

Right, so we turn our attention now to Decleor’s 2016 Advent Calendar. As in previous years, this will be the last month of my daily blogs and thereafter we will be back to occasional posts when there’s something new to discover, a bargain to tell you about or a giveaway for you to get involved in.

In the meantime, how does Decleor kick things off? Well, their first offering is a 10ml bottle of Aroma Cleanse Essential Cleansing Milk with neroli essential oil. It’s worth £1 based on RRP although there’s a massive 400ml version (worth £40) available for only £25 at the moment, here, or if you’d rather try a smaller bottle you can pick up a 200ml version (worth £20.50) for only £14.95 here.

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You apply it to the face and neck using a damp cotton pad, in light circular movements. It smells gorgeous. Neroli is supposed to be particularly good for elevating the mood so it’s a lovely way to start off the new year – with a little essential oil lift. It cleanses effectively and has a nice light consistency which leaves your skin feeling clean and smelling great.

I like this. For me, fragrance is (and always has been) all important and this is a winner in that regard. Neroli features in a lot of my favourite Lush products, so there’s something very familiar and comforting about it.

We’re off to good start with a solid 8/10. I think if it hadn’t been for the fragrance it may have been a 7 or 7.5 as, again, Eve Lom sets the cleanser bar ridiculously high. That smell though…!!! ❤

Lou x

 

Look Fantastic The Beauty Secret Advent Calendar Review.

Hey lovelies. Hope you’ve had a fab Christmas.

I thought it might be helpful if I summarised in one place my overall impression of Look Fantastic’s Advent Calendar offering this year.

In terms of value, the goodies averaged out at £11.32 per day, ranging from £1.08 all the way up to £34.49.

Look Fantastic state that the total value of the items inside the calendar exceeds £300, although by my calculations it comes to a little over £280. I based my figures on RRPs for standard sizes so perhaps they made an allowance for smaller versions. Anyway, it’s pretty close to what they claim and well in excess of the £70 I spent on it, so value wise it’s pretty darn good.

My individual product ratings were good too, ranging from a poor 5 all the way up to a 10. The average daily rating came out at 7.5.

I was also very happy to see so many new items. I expected a few more duplicates and I was pleased to be proven wrong! The order of goodies was also significantly improved with the great stuff from the few days leaving a solid lasting impression.

Yes, I’m happy with this calendar overall. Lots of new review fodder, great value and good stats. I suspect the Look Fantastic 2017 Advent Calendar may be making an appearance on Wonk & Warpaint in the future!

Lou xx

 

Day 25 – Look Fantastic The Beauty Secret Advent Calendar. Illamasqua Eyeshadow Palette.

Merry Christmas, you lovely lot! I hope you’ve had a fabulous day. 😀

Behind the door today was an Illamasqua Eyeshadow Palette worth a whopping £34, and which follows on nicely from yesterday’s eyeshadow brush. I feel like the order of treats in this calendar has been much better thought out than last year.

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There’s also a £10 Look Fantastic voucher which is another lovely touch and I’ll definitely be using that to treat myself to an extra little prezzy. 🙂

I’ve never used Illamasqua eyeshadow before, although knowing a little about the brand (their Sealing Gel is a game changer) I had high hopes when I applied it this morning, and I’ve been proven right. It’s lasted extremely well despite the fact that I know I’ve rubbed my eyes at least a couple of times, forgetting I was wearing makeup. Anyway, it hung on in there. The colours are also beautiful. They’re neutral so are ideal for daytime although could also be used to build up to a brown based smoky eye. I particularly love the terracotta type shade in the bottom right. The orange tone makes my eyes look blue (they’re not really). I know I should tell you the name of the individual shades, but I’m exhausted, I’m upstairs and the palette isn’t! If you particularly want to know, come back to this blog post in a couple of days when I will have updated it to include a note of the shade names.

Anyway, this is something I’m delighted with. My favourite from the calendar and a really fitting end.

9.5/10

I’ll do a brief summary blog in the next day or two and I’ll be back again properly on January 1st for the next one. 😀

Lou xx

P.S. Darn it… I missed out on posting this on the actual 25th December by 19 minutes. Poop!

[UPDATE 29.12.16 – the shade names are (clockwise from top left) Servant, Tango, Terra, Vernau, so it’s Terra that I particularly like.]