Beauty: Hydraluron Serum

Hydra ser

I blooming loved Indeed Labs Hydraluron Moisture Jelly (read my review here) and in my quest for better skin in winter, decided to give their Moisture Boosting Serum a go too. Anything that gets moisture in my face and encourages it to stay there is going to be alright with me.

The serum comes in a tube rather than the pushdown cylinder tub that the jelly comes in, and a little really does go along way. It smells of not much really but feels soothing and lovely when you smooth it on.

I even took just the serum on a weekend away and used in place of a moisturiser as I was packing light. I wouldn’t recommend doing this normally, but for a day or so, my skin survived! Generally, I do need a moisturiser on top too.

So, another goodie in my winter skin survival kit – what serums are you using?

Twitter: Stop the sales talk, it’s info we want.

Image via forbes.com

                    Image via forbes.com

If you’re anything like me, you’ll follow a fair few brands on Twitter and your feed will be clogged with sales tweets. I love Twitter, and I love brands on Twitter. Heck, I tweet for a company or two on Twitter and it’s a brilliant tool for connecting but we need to stop all the sales talk. It’s all got a bit blah.

Now, I am coming at this from 2 angles: as a creator of digital content for companies who want tweets/posts/vids etc to turn into sales, and as a regular user/consumer who doesn’t want to be sold something every last second of the day. It’s a hard balance to strike to keep everyone happy.

A lovely social media expert once told me to think of Twitter as a house party. You don’t ever want to be THAT guy standing in the kitchen shouting random things. ‘Boats! Buy boats now!’ or whatever. Think about it, he’s stood there and you’re all sidling away, pressing unfollow. How likely are you to buy something off that guy?How likely are you to even talk to him? Exactly.

We (and by we, I mean brands) need to stop thinking of social media as a sales channel. Yes, communication may result in sales eventually, but by refusing to think of social media in any other way will result in the exact opposite. Instead, it’s a brand builder – a way of creating a community around your company. What do your customers want to know? Tell them.

Sharing information that is relevant and valuable to your buyers increases brand loyalty making people more likely to buy from you. I know I like to have a relationship with the brands I buy from, even if it is one sided. Don’t forget, most platforms are inspirational – the I-want-what-they-have mentality? Use it!

Adapt and share/build a community/interact and engage/be useful. That’s what I will be thinking going forward, not just as a content creator for brands but as a user too.

Beauty: REN AHA Resurfacing Serum

AHA

Winter causes my skin to fall off my face. You know this – you’ve read about it here, here and here. Since double cleansing and really working out what my skin type is (dehydrated slight combi FYI) this winter is a HUGE improvement on any before and yet, it’s not quite there yet.

I read Caroline Hirons‘ cheat sheets like a woman possessed. She knows THINGS, and she shares them. Acids seem to be what’s missing for me. Now, acids make me think of painful things. That Sex and the City episode where Samantha’s acid facial peel turns her into a red raw burn victim? That. My skin is sore now and peeling, why would I slap something on it to make it more sore and more peeling? Turns out. A little acid removes the peeling, and stops the sore – after the initial sting (I say sting, it’s more of a tingly buzz…) on the first couple of days. ,

As I’ve always got on ok with REN products, I decided to add their Resurfacing AHA Concentrate into my evening routine, just to see. Basically, the combo of Glycolic, Lactic, Tartaric and Citric acids in a few drops from the pipette every night exfoliates your face helping skin turnover (less peeling) and helps improve water retention (a good thing in your skin! Less sore) which in turn makes the rest of the products you use more effective, as they can actually get down to your skin and work, rather than sitting with the dead skin on top. Yum.

As I’ve become a little geekish about what’s in the products I stick on my face (and everywhere really), here’s what’s in it:

‘Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Water, Alcohol Denat, Glycerin, Lactic Acid, Sodium Lactate, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Ananas Sativus (Pineapple) Fruit Extract, Passiflora Quadrangularis Fruit Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Fruit Extract, Rhizobian Gum, Sodium Hyaluronate, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Bisulfite, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Ethylhexylglycerin, Linalool, Limonene, Parfum* (Fragrance), Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Extract, Potassium Sorbate, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Peel Oil *100% Natural Fragrance – Parfum 100% Naturel’

For those of you bothered about natural ingredients, REN products have these in spades however, natural doesn’t mean less reactive, especially where acids are concerned and if you have very sensitive skin you may want to give this product a miss. Mine can be sensitive, but is reacting well to this serum so far.

It is best to use this at night as acids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, and it goes without saying that you need to stick some SPF on during the day to protect the new skin you are revealing.

What acid serums/toners/products do you use, and have you seen an improvement in your skin?

Holy crap, we’ve bought a house – and you can too.

In case you’ve been wondering what the deuce has happened to my blog over the last 3 months, it may just have something to do with this:

 

house

Look, our own traffic cone too…

 

(That and the lack of inspiration. I go to ground over winter, and the run up to Christmas and Christmas and, worst of all, New Year (groan) leaves me exhausted and frustrated in the creative/inspo department. Every time.)

So yes, we bought a house. 19 weeks from start to finish, which isn’t the best but isn’t too bad either.

Maybe you’re thinking of buying. Maybe you are embroiled in a sale at the moment. Maybe, you’ve been put off completely by the media, house prices and all the legal hoohah. Either way, here are my tips and little things I’ve learnt during the process which may just make it a little easier for you.

Work out your budget.

Buying a house is expensive. First time buyers need a seemingly impossible whack of deposit to get on the ladder, plus don’t forget your solicitor fees, mortgage fees, survey cost, possibly stamp duty… and you might need something left over to give the house a lick of paint when you get moved in. Even if your family can help you out it is likely you will need to save something. So think: Do you really need that coffee on the way to work/handbag/night out? If your shoes have holes by all means get a new pair, but stop and think if you really need it, or if it could buy you a roof tile or bath tap instead. Don’t cripple yourself though, it makes life unbearable if you are saving too much and can’t afford to pay your bills/buy food.

Go and see a mortgage adviser – most high street banks offer this for free especially if you bank with them – and be honest! You might earn diddly-squat and have a mountain of credit card debt, but not declaring this when they are working out what the lender will let you borrow is not helpful. If anything, it will make things worse.

Stick to your budget.

You will undoubtedly have saved like a person possessed for a good long while to make sure you can afford to get on the ladder. You’ve been to see a mortgage adviser and know what you can borrow so you know what your budget is. Do not start looking at houses you cannot afford! This is a waste of time. Look within your budget, and less – you never know what might take your fancy.

It’s all about compromise.

What can you and can’t you live with? Great house but a slightly dodgy area – can you deal with that? Two bedrooms, not three? No garden? If it’s a no, that house is off the list. If you absolutely hate everything in your budget, you need to save more money. However you need to….

Be realistic.

Everyone has their dream house but chances are your first house is not going to be that pinnacle of homeyness. It’s all about balancing your heart and your head. Be sensible, but you have to love it too. You will have to live there for a little while!

Have a look round.

You need to go and look at the houses you like. Estate agent photos do not always show you the whole picture. Are the rooms teeny tiny? What’s next door like? Is it near a power station? At the risk of sounding all new age hippie, houses have a feel to them. You know if you feel at home or not in a house. When we walked into the house we’ve bought, it felt friendly and well, like home.

Get a solicitor that emails.

This may sound daft but emails take a lot less time to compose and send than a letter does. If your solicitor likes to email it will cut down your house buying time and cause you a lot less anxiety. Emails are quick, therefore the answers to your questions will be quick too. Post is not quick. Post is slooow. If you can email your estate agent and mortgage provider too – all the better.

Make sure you understand.

Don’t feel stupid asking questions. It’s your money and your house, you need to know what’s going on. Things like loan to value amounts can be complicated and there is a tonne of jargon involved in borrowing money and house surveys. Ask them to explain exactly what they mean, and what that means for you. They can draw you a picture if they have to.

Stick to your guns.

Buying and selling houses is a funny thing. Sellers generally want more than the house is worth because they’ve lived in it and spent money on it, buyers want to pay less and estate agents sit in the middle playing one off against the other. There are some brilliant estate agents out there who will be honest and straight with you (I’m friends with some of them). They will do their best to get the most for the seller AND the buyer. There are others who are awful, who seem to spend the whole time making the process as protracted and painful as possible, until its all second guessing and mind games. It’s the luck of the draw which you get. There generally is a lot of negotiation when you buy a house but if you feel you’re being pressured for the wrong reasons, stick to your guns. Again, it’s your money and if you don’t want to do something, you don’t have to. You might lose a house or two, but that’s better than paying more than you want for a property that you’re not convinced about.

 

Hope this helps! Don’t forget, you don’t have to buy the conventional way either. Friends of mine picked an area they liked and flyered the houses they fancied asking if anyone was wanting to sell. They used a financial adviser provided by one of their employers to sort out the mortgage, and used a solicitor for the bare minimum of stuff…

There is lots of advice out there if you need it, MoneySavingExpert is a brilliant place to find things out. If you’ve got any of your own tips/hacks/experience to add, please do below…

The Signature of All Things

The Signature of All Things has got to be my favourite book, possibly ever. It’s a wonderful story and is exactly everything the perfect book should be: interesting, insightful, amazing characters, beautifully written, insert specification here – I tell you, it’s got it.

It does help that Liz Gilbert is one of my favourite writers. I first read Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything at a time of immense emotional turmoil, as I guess most people who find themselves reading it are. And it helped, lots. It helped because Gilbert writes in that way, that languid way of friends recounting tales over a glass of wine. She’s the awesome friend you have who has been through the wringer and come out all the more sparkly for it. I then read Committed: A Love Story, and that helped too, in a different sort of way. But The Signature of All Things is just brilliant because it’s written in that same amazing style of Gilbert’s, and it’s researched tremendously well but it’s an actual made up story, not an account of real life events and that’s why I love it all the more.

It tells the story of Alma Whittaker and the lives of those around her (while you wait for her to grow up a bit and start doing things). Set over most of the the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this is a global story that centres around one of the smallest of things: moss, and the largest of human discoveries. Alma is independent, brave and interested. Science and botany are her calling, and her world changes as her discoveries become more well known. Combining science and the natural world with life and all the emotions that go along with living it are what make this book so special. Read it.

Not That Kind of Girl

Lena Dunham’s star is risen and the story of how she gets there is quite entertaining. I devoured this book in a day, simply because I like how she writes. As I’m inquisitive by nature (nosy), I like to know about other people’s lives; how they’ve gotten to where they are and why. Dunham is a bit nuts, but she couldn’t do what she does if she wasn’t. How she thinks about certain things is very similar (mostly) to how I think about the same things – not everything, but enough to make me go ‘Oh yeah, I’m not the only one.’ every couple of chapters or so.

Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned, to give it it’s full title, takes on the format of a controversial self help book ‘Having It All’ that Dunham found in a charity shop aged 20. Borrowing it’s structure of sections detailing different aspects of typically female life, Dunham tells us a warts and all (literally) account of growing up in the early ’00’s. I’m the same age as Dunham, so her book is not going to speak to me on the same level as younger reader, but it is interesting to read how a peer has dealt with life and, admittedly, very different experiences to my own. Like I said, I’m nosy.

If you like ‘Girls’ and/or humorous, honest female writers, you’ll like this. Plus, her Dad doles out the best advice, the chapter ’17 Things I’ve Learned from my Father’ was one of my favourites.

It’s That Time Again

Winter boot time! Whoo autumn, I am ready for you…

This year, I discovered a magical thing called the pre season sale when the lovely people at Kurt Geiger released new season stuff AND THEN REDUCED IT. Not the good stuff mind. Not the embellished dagger heels or this uber gorgeous bag, but the stuff you need, which I think is more helpful really. This also coincided with me realising that not one pair of shoes I own are waterproof and so necessity won out and I bought these boots.

A good seasonal/winter boot goes a long way. These are sturdy yet pretty and practical and they don’t make my feet hurt. I’m not going to wear the heel down if I walk for longer than 20 minutes and there are no zips for me to trap my socks in. Yes, this has happened. Sometimes it amazes me I manage to dress myself and leave the house.IMG_1085.JPGIMG_1084.JPG