My skincare saviours

I have not been blessed with perfect skin. I never have and I probably never will. So skincare is my life. As a teenager I had VERY problematic skin (didn’t we all.) As an adult I have the definition of combination skin. An oily t-zone that just doesn’t hold foundation whilst everything else is incredibly dry. Add into the mix an occasional outbreak and you can see the issues. I’ve probably tried 90% of the skincare brands out there and still experimenting but I’m finally switching it up. I’m swapping high end, animal-testing brands for more animal friendly, easier on the pocket brands. I’m also vowing to stop being the laziest beauty person ever and setting myself a routine I can stick to.

Make-up removal

In case you’ve been living under a rock, let me give you this advice now. Make-up wipes are trash. I know they seem easy, and cheap but trust me. They. Are. Not. Worth. It. Switch to micellar water instead. My favourite is the Bioderma – I have tried Nivea as well but it feels a touch more drying then the Bioderma. I use this with the large cotton wool pads for the easiest make up removal and so much better than wipes. I take a bottle everywhere with me and keep one in my gym bag for when I’m finishing work and heading straight to the gym. I’m vowing never to use a single make-up wipe again.

My holy grail micellar watee

Evening

My evening vs morning routine whilst similar, is still somewhat different. When the news first broke about the micro-bead exfoliator scandal, I ditched any exfoliator I was currently using and went straight to The Body Shop and purchased their seaweed scrub. I haven’t looked back since and so this makes up the first part of my evening routine. It’s the perfect scrub that’s gentle enough for daily use whilst still buffing away the nasties. I tend to only use this in the evening as I like the idea of my skin working it’s own magic during sleep so the last thing I would want to do is buff all that magic away. My next step is cleansing. I mix up my cleanser routine depending on the condition of my skin. If i’m a little bit more on the blemish-y side I’ll use the foaming tea tree wash from The Body Shop but if I’m blemish free, it’s the Vitamin E cleanser. Next is the tea tree daily solution. This light liquid is perfect just to keep blemishes under control/at bay and soothes the skin in preparation for moisturiser. Finally, moisturise. Exactly the same with cleansing I switch it up depending on my skin. If I have some spots to fight it’s all about tea tree based moisturisers. If I’m on the dryer side then it’s the vitamin E aqua boost sorbet.

Morning

After what I hope is a good night’s sleep and skin recovery; as I’ve already mentioned I bypass exfoliation and try to keep it as gentle as possible. This usually means the Vitamin E cleanser, the tea tree drops and a trusty moisturiser. If my skin is really dry I’ll use something as intense as Nivea Soft but I’ll also use this to replace my make-up primer. If it’s less intensive I’ll top up with my Vitamin E aqua boost sorbet and apply a normal primer. Quick, simple, effective.

Vitamin E cleanser, tea tree drops and my choice of moisturiser

Make-up

I am the foundation queen. Not because I know my stuff, because I own SO MANY. I’m currently working with 5 of varying degrees of coverage/consistency/skin type to get me through my different skin days and I still don’t have my holy grail. For breakout days it has to be Vichy Dermablend 3D. The foundation contains salicylic acid to fight breakouts whilst you’re wearing it. If I’m having a mixed skincare day I use this almost like a concealer and combine it with other foundations. Where I can I try and wear as little face make up as possible and let my skincare work away. My biggest qualm with foundation at the minute is everything is clinging to my dry patches. As a serial blemish–proned sufferer this is completely new territory. My only other advice for skincare is wash your make-up brushes weekly at worst. I know it’s a chore and nobody likes doing it but your skin will thank you. I mean think about it, if you have bacteria build up causing blemishes why would you want to continually wipe that all over your face?

Weekly treats

Whilst i’m ‘generally’ lazy with my skincare there’s one thing I never skip. Pamper Sundays. I’ve got myself into the perfect little self-care routine on a Sunday which always involves a face mask. Every week, like clockwork. Since re-discovering 7th Heaven face masks I’ve become obsessed. I always used them as a kid at sleepovers because they were so easy to get hold of at any local supermarket but I didn’t appreciate what a fantastic brand they are. They’re completely cruelty free, have supported animal welfare for 30 years and have a mask for everyone. So if I’m more blemish-proned I love a clay or mud mask. Pores my concern? It’s a charcoal or seaweed peel off. In a rush, then it’s all about the 5 minute tea tree sheet mask. Now my skin is on the drier side I’m going to give some of their moisturising masks a go. Like I said, something for everyone.

Fluffy socks and a face mask – pamper perfection

Easing on the purse

Prior to switching to all things The Body Shop, I swore by Clinique anti-blemish solutions and moisture surge. Here, the average price of each product is roughly £20. Compare this with The Body Shop at an average price of £10 and the savings are there to be made. Also, factor in the reward schemes I spoke about recently (link here) and the free £5 vouchers = saving big bucks. What’s more, o2 priority customers can regularly get discounts such as 30% in store or online and £5 off a £25 spend in store and online. 7th Heaven face masks are already an absolute steal at roughly £1 each but I try and be extra savvy and buy them in bulk when I’m back in Yorkshire where you can pick them up from Body Care at 89p. Whilst it’s only 11p, that’s essentially 11p per week making it what a fiver a year? Not exactly a monster saving but a saving all the same.

My beauty wish list

So where do I take my beauty to next? Well first on the list is nailing this dryness and foundation situation. I’m hoping it’s a serious case of winter dryness but with a skiing trip in March it clearly isn’t resolving itself soon. I’ve heard so many amazing things about The Ordinary for both foundation and hydrating products so they’ve jumped straight to the top of my list. I’m also interested in trying more from The Body Shop.

Do you have any recommendations that you think might benefit me? Why not leave me a comment with some of your beauty saviours?

NG x

You can shop all my Body Shop faves here

The store loyalty cards you need in your life

It seems like every shop you ever visit wants to offer you their latest, exclusive discount/store card. So which actually carry the best rewards? I’ve put together the ultimate guide to my favourite reward cards and exactly what they have to offer.

Beauty
  • The Body Shop – With their “love your body club” card you get 10 points per £1 you spend. 500 points = a £5 voucher with an extra £5 on your birthday. You also get exclusive invites to in-store events and discounts are on offer. I really love this reward scheme as they instantly tie it to your account so when you buy online you don’t actually need to input the card details (providing you use the some account you registered with).
  • Boots – the Boots advantage card is the absolutely classic of all the ‘reward’ cards, established in 1997 it’s easy to see why it has survived the test of time. You get 4 points per £1 when you spend and each point is equivalent to 1p to spend back in store. They regularly hold exclusive ‘point’ events offering up to 10 points per £1 spend and they will mail point booster vouchers every quarter. Boots have also recently launched an app which allows you to easily see your point balance as well as load further point boosting offers straight to your card to redeem in store. My only slight niggle about the Boots card is that you have to pay the full amount in points, you can’t part pay in cash.
  • Debenhams – If you’re a regular Debenhams shopper then they Debenhams Beauty Club card is perfect. It offers 3 points per £1 spend. 500 points = a £5 voucher and an extra £5 voucher for your birthday. Other advantages include being the first in the know for new samples and a complimentary Benefit eyebrow wax/Elizabeth Arden facial for your birthday. They also offer free Click and Collect delivery for Beauty Club members.

A recent body shop haul, saving £5 with the loyalty card

Fashion
  • John Lewis – My favourite feature about the John Lewis card is that you can get a free regular hot drink and cake in their cafes. One of the most unique features of the John Lewis rewards is the option for the ‘Kitchen Drawer.’ This means that you can store all your receipts to your phone making it easy access for items under warranty. You also get exclusive invites and offers such as early access to clearance events.
  • Boux Avenue – The Boux Avenue VIP card gives you points per £1 spent to redeem on future purchases. Each point is worth 3p so 300 points = £3. Points can be used in full or as part payment and further benefits include exclusive VIP events and sale previews.
  • ASOS – everyone’s favourite site, ASOS offers their A-list scheme. Every £1 spent = 5 points. 500 points = a £5 voucher valid for 6 months. With 4 A-list “levels”, additional perks include extra points days and 48 hour preview access to sales.

Some of the featured cards including my Boux avenue card!

Supermarkets
  • Tesco – another point per £ offer, each point is then worth 1p so 150 points = £1.50. Every 3 months Tesco will send you vouchers based on your points value which you can spend in store, online or with one of their partners. These can include anything from cinema tickets, to meals out and even Uber credit. One of the best feature about Tesco is there are so many ways to collect. They even give you two handy key fobs so you don’t have to carry your card and since you can redeem points on Esso fuel it really helps remembering to collect those points.
  • Sainsbury’s – the classic nectar card. You can pick up your card in store or online, you can link an additional card holder to your account and you can collect points in SO MANY PLACES. Travel on Virgin Trains? You can collect nectar points on that. Bank with Sainsbury’s bank? Get nectar points. Shop at Argos a lot? Well you get the picture. They’re the largest loyalty scheme in the UK with over 16 million users regularly shopping at Sainsbury’s. 1 point per £1 is on offer with them direct on groceries and this increases depending on partner. Points can be spent just as easily as they are earned with redemption available on huge brands such as EasyJet, Vue Cinemas and Pizza Express. Failing that you can always use them on your next Sainsbury’s shop where 500 points = £2.50 off.
  • Waitrose – if you live anywhere south of the northern border you’ll know that Waitrose is a major deal. In terms of locality Waitrose is my second closest supermarket at home and probably my closest at work. Whilst they’re not the cheapest I have to say I’m impressed by their loyalty scheme rewards. It’s less of a point collector and more of a get stuff for free. Benefits include a free hot drink whilst you shop, free access online to the good food guide and 10% discount at the Waitrose Cookery School.

Are there any store cards I’ve missed that you love? Why not leave me a comment with some of your faves.

NG x

Northern Girl on… Joan Collins lash treatment

When I went to The Bloggers Hub Summer Penthouse Party they had the dreamiest giftbag and in it was the beautiful Joan Collins lash treatment. It recommends continual use for at least 30 days so I decided to give it a try throughout June.

The Product
It’s like a clear mascara that you apply on an evening before bed to help grow and enhance your natural lashes. The outer packaging itself suggests that with use you will feel like you no longer need to wear false lashes. It’s so unbelieveably easy to apply and the second you apply it you see an instant lift in your lashes. Its definitely worth applying it on an evening as suggested, there were the odd mornings where I tried to apply it just so I kept up with it and it definitely made applying my mascara more difficult as it simply hadn’t had time to soak in.

Before and after, instant lash lift

The packaging
Beautiful. It feels so classy and upmarket and the perfect look for sonething to stamp Joan Collins’ name on it. I love the entire feel of the Joan Collins cosmetics range for it’s packaging.


The results

Whilst the application showed an instant lift it certainly didn’t continue in the morning. I dont parricularly have small lashes anyway and with a bit of care on their own they can curl up to my brows, making false lash application actually really difficult, so maybe it’s aimed at people who need more lash lift than I do. At around day 30 the only thing I had noticed is that when applying my mascara my lashes were definitely thicker but this almost caused more issues as it made them clump together more. Overall i’m disappointed so far, I’m going to try and persevere with it for another month but if the results are the same I’ll be donating it to my sister (who does wear false lashes frequently)

Have you tried anything from the Joan Collins range? Let me know your thoughts!

NG x

Northern Girl on… HD brows 

It took me so so long to find a good brow stylist and by good I mean someone who understands individual brow shapes. I’ve had brow stylists in the past where it’s been so blatantly obvious that they applied the same shaping to everyone. Yes it was cheap but I didn’t love my brows. Whilst I wouldn’t ever recommend breaking the bank for beauty, I do think it’s important to love and be happy with the results even if it means spending a little more.

I’ve been seeing my beauty therapist Jess for a couple of years but that also means I don’t have her down in London with me now, booo. So if I’m ever travelling back to visit family I try and ensure I fit a brow appointment in. 

I’d always just had a very basic tint and wax in the past and it always did the trick. My brows are very dark so the tint didn’t always keep it’s impact once I’d applied foundation but it meant that it could be touched up easily with just a brow powder. 

I’d seen on Facebook that Jess had recently trained in HD brows and it had to be said the results were incredible. I’d been intrigued by HD brows for years but had struggled to find someone local to go to so I made sure that on my next visit up north I would finally give HDs a go.

The procedure 

HD brows combines more techniques than a standard tint and wax to create a fuller, stronger effect. The brows are tinted as normal and are then waxed but using a more gentle formula than normal which means less redness after. They’re then threaded and plucked to achieve the perfect shape. Once this is complete the brow stylist will then use a variety of brow make-up products to polish the overall look. The whole procedure tends to take around an hour due to the precision and perfecting that takes place to create the finish. The overall idea is to create the perfect brow that doesn’t need any additional touching up after. The make up isn’t permanent and will wear off eventually but that all depends on your brows. The stylist will then go through all the aftercare with you before you leave. 

My before and after. Photo credit Instagram.com/j.beautyandbrows

Is it worth it? At the salon I was at HD brows are over double that of a tint and wax but for me it is unbelievably worth it. The effect lasted ages. I try and wear very minimal make up generally but nearly always like to define my brows. Even with wearing foundation I didn’t need to touch them up until at least a week later – a huge difference from touching them up the same day after a tint and wax! Even nearly 2 weeks down the line the shape is amazing and touching them up is an absolute breeze on a morning.

Still so perfect after a week

Overall I honestly don’t see myself not having HD brows every time. I just love them. I can be quite last with my brows so I’m going to try and keep on top of the shape a bit more so I don’t need to go as frequently but it will be HD every time!

Have you had HD brows before? What are your thoughts on them? Drop me a comment.

NG x

You can find your nearest HD stylist here – http://beautyinhighdefinition.com/salon-finder/