Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Summer Skincare Essentials

For me, Summer is all about August, and while many people around me now seem to have already resigned themselves to the fact that Winter is supposedly drawing in, I very much beg to differ!

Ok, so things might have cooled down somewhat, but last year we had sunshine right the way through until the end of October, and then some. Call me a wishful thinker if you like, but I think we've still got plenty of sunshine to come, and having only just finished this year's summer shopping I'm not willing to go digging out the Winter boots an coats just yet.

With this in mind, I wanted to share some of the skincare products that have been helping me through the warmer months - and incidentally, those which came away with me on holiday to Ibiza this month. I like to keep my skincare light and fairly basic at this time of year, while still maintaining a functional routine, but there are certainly a few types of products I tend to favour that I'd be unlikely to reach for in the winter. That said, there are also one or two surprises.

Ordinarily, I stick to a cream formula cleanser when the weather is good and I'm wearing less makeup than usual, as I find them to be highly effective at removing what I have got on my skin as well as leaving a fresh, clean canvas with no oily residue. Balms can be a little heavy for Summer, but this year I have kept right on going with the Ren No.1 Purity Cleansing Balm, and haven't looked back. This is one formula that is a pleasure to use, removing every last trace of makeup as well as soothing and moisturising skin after it has been assaulted by the likes of sunshine, salt water and sand. What I love about this one is that it leaves my skin feeling unbelievably soft, smooth and comfortable, all without that undesirable waxy residue that so many of its kind leave behind. It's a real winner, and it serves me equally as well in the Winter.

One thing I simply can't live without in the Summer- or perhaps just refuse to - is a facial spritz, and this year I've been carrying The Body Shop's Vitamin C Energising Facial Spritz around in my handbag. It's been an absolute life-saver during those uncomfortably humid afternoons in the office, and a quick spray over my face and neck has really helped to pep me up. The uplifting citrus scent awakens the senses, and makeup is instantly refreshed - what more could you ask for? It also provides a welcome shot of vitamins and moisture, and I tend to use it to wake myself up a bit first thing in the morning, straight after my cleanse.

Some days, I don't fancy using a moisturiser before bed, and a couple of drops of Raw Gaia Organic Cold Pressed Rosehip Oil* are the perfect alternative. Far from leaving my skin sticky or greasy, it sinks easily in, and packed with beauty-boosting vitamins A and C, along with essential fatty acids Omega 3 and 6, it certainly has the desired effect. As well as rejuvenating and nourishing the skin, I find that, when used a few times a week, my complexion appears more even and altogether brighter. It's also great for reducing unwanted pigmentation, so it's a must if this applies to you.

I'm keeping face masks and treatments to a minimum, as I don't find that my skin is quite as needy as it is in the winter and tends to do OK when left more or less to its own devices, satisfied with a minimal morning and evening routine. That said, I will whip out a secret brightening weapon from time to time, and that weapon, of late, has been the Apivita Pomegranate Face Mask. A light radiance mask, it's lotion-like on texture, and only a thin layer is required. Leave it for ten minutes, and hey presto - you've got your glow back. Granted, this is more of a 'keep your skin happy' mask than a problem fixer, but if you've got that happy medium down to a tee then this is your perfect partner.

Of course, these aren't the only products I have been using, but I've certainly pared down my routine for the timebeing and am quite enjoying the results. I shelve my trusty AHA toners when it's warm, as I deem it to be too much of a risk when the sun is out (you should ideally keep out of the sun for a week after use, so reaching for one on a daily basis is a definite no-go), but I've still been following up my evening cleanse with a generous sweep of Liz Earle Instant Skin Boost Tonic. I've also been trialing a fabulous new bedtime moisturiser, which I will be talking about very soon on the blog, and a rather nice serum, to boot. Again, both are light enough to use in warmer weather - I don't know about you, but I like to go all-out with pampering treatments in the Winter, so it's quite the contrast when I go back to basics.

Does your skincare routine chance in the summer? 
Do you have any essentials?


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Review: 3-Day Obsidian Juice Programme

If you follow me on Twitter, you may well have heard me talk recently about my desire to take on a three-day juice cleanse. I had been curious for a while, and with a holiday looming, it was just the push I needed to give my health an extra boost, and potentially drop a few pounds in the process. I had gradually gained a few over the winter and hadn't yet got around to losing them - or, rather, I had been trying to do so since April, to no avail, which was a bit of a strange one for me, having never had problems in the past.

The main deterrent from taking the plunge into the world of juice cleanses was the extortionate prices I seemed to keep finding myself faced with, time and time again. I had purchased a juicer back in January, but it had broken after a couple of uses, and while I did enjoy making my own in the short time that I was able to, I have to admit that it's quite the hassle, and pretty time-consuming, to boot. It's amazing how much fruit and veg you can get through to make a small amount of juice - particularly if you haven't exactly splashed out on the best, as I hadn't.

Enter, the people over at Obsidian, who very kindly sent me over a three day cleanse to put to the test. They actually run a successful retreat in Spain - where you can book yourself in for a cleanse whilst enjoying relaxing activities that focus on the mind, body and soul -  as well as a juice cafe in Loughborough.

At only £55, Obsidian's offering is a fraction of the price you'd pay elsewhere, and while it still isn't exactly cheap as chips, I'd be willing to bet that if you added up all the money spent on pizzas, takeaways and other treats over the course of a month then it would heavily outweigh the cleanse. Something to think about if you're wanting to overhaul your diet.

The Obsidian 3-day juice programme consists of four large juices per day, all of which arrive at your door frozen so that you can allow them to defrost the night before you want to drink them. This is so handy, as the longer juices sit around, the more nutrients they lose. Keeping them frozen until the last minute means that they remain as packed full of goodness as they were when they were originally bottled - just don't forget to take them out of the freezer in time!

The juices I received were:

Detox - A delicious light juice with the zing of lemon and slight heat of ginger.
Cucumber, Celery, Apple, Lemon, Ginger, Beetroot
Calm - A lovely vibrant zesty red juice.
Apple, Lime, Beetroot, Carrot, Mint
Invincible - A simple 3 ingredient juice that's the colour of sunrise and leaves you feeling refreshed and alive.
Apple, Carrot, Ginger
Flush - Another 3 ingredient juice that's sweet and zingy from the addition of fennel.
Fennel, Apple, Lemon
Green Fairy - An easy green juice with cucumber to refresh.
Apple, Cucumber, Spinach
Spa - Deliciously sweet as a treat to your taste buds and body.
Spinach, Pineapple, Apple, Lemon
Mean Green - The king of juices and made famous by it's inventor Joe Cross.
Cucumber, Celery, Apple, Kale, Lemon, Ginger

Now, personally, I love juices, no matter how high the vegetable content, but I do know that some people may not feel the same. Luckily, each juice was utterly delicious, and all of them had a decent level of fruitiness about them for those non-veggie lovers amongst you.

I started my cleanse on a Saturday, and had been looking forward to doing so all week. Ok, so foregoing solids for three whole days was going to be challenging, but I couldn't wait to see how the process would make me feel - and, of course, whether any weight loss would follow. Unfortunately, I woke up that morning feeling quite under the weather, which was a bit of a spanner in the works to begin with, but I soldiered on, starting the day with a Detox juice before heading to the gym. At around 11.30am, I followed up with a Calm juice, and although both were delicious, it was a lot of beetroot to be getting on with! Later on, things started to diversify somewhat, and I sipped on an Invincible at 3pm, rounding off with a Flush at around 7.

On day two,I still wasn't feeling great - nothing to do with the juices, but a bit of an office bug I had picked up, it turned out. It seemed to have been doing the rounds, but luckily only stuck around for a couple of days. Day two was very much about the green juices, and I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed Green Fairy and Spa, which were my second and fourth juices of the day. To be honest, I think they were probably exactly what I needed, and the extra boost of vitamins and minerals had me feeling much better by the afternoon.

Day three fell on a Monday, and saw me sipping on a Mean Green along with another Green Fairy, Spa and Flush. I have to admit, I did cave in on this day and have a little something to eat in the afternoon as I was feeling a bit weak. Shameful, I know, but I couldn't risk not being able to get through the day.

When I woke up on the Tuesday, I felt fantastic. I was full of energy and had no trouble getting out of bed - and believe me, this is usually a problem! I was pleased to find that I had also lost 2lb, but also a little bit annoyed with myself for having given in to temptation the day before, as perhaps I could have lost slightly more had I not done so. I'm usually pretty good in the willpower department when I really set my mind to something, but the fact that I hadn't been feeling my best when I began had definitely played a part.

I decided to continue on a liquid diet for a few more days after the cleanse had ended, and surprisingly I found myself a lot less sluggish throughout the day. I drank juice for breakfast and lunch, had a third in the afternoon and then a vegetable-based soup for dinner, and as a result I've been able to lose another couple of pounds - score!

I'd really recommend the Obsidian juice cleanse if you're looking to try your first detox and haven't got time for the daily hassle of making your own. It's a really convenient way to try it, and as I said before, a lot cheaper than most. I thoroughly enjoyed each of the juices on the plan - even Flush, which I had been dreading due to my dislike of fennel. Actually, it proved me completely wrong, and was one of the best flavours of the lot. Other favourites of mine included Invincible (great for an afternoon pick-me-up) and Green Fairy, which is possibly the most refreshing combination I have ever tried.

If you fancy giving the programme a go then visit the Obsidian website, or give them a follow on Twitter (@ObsidianJuices).

Please leave a comment, I read every last word and love hearing your views! It really brightens up my day.

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