Lush Elbow Grease

I’ve been posting about Lush a lot recently (see here, here and here). This adoration is well deserved, because their new products are seriously amazing, and I think this melty, fragrant and intensely nourishing Elbow Grease moisturising bar might be one of my favourites.

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A fragrant, rich moisturising bar that can be used anywhere you need to nourish some dryness, Elbow Grease contains a gorgeous mixture of butters and oils held together seemingly by magic. The nourishing coconut oil, cupuacu and murumuru butters keep it in a bar shape, but only just. It’s so finely balanced that almost as soon as it comes into contact with your fingers it melts into a rich, thick oil. There’s candelilla wax in there too, which protects the skin like beeswax does. I keep my bar in its original paper to make sure it doesn’t melt on me. I’m sure it won’t, as it does hold its shape really well when your skin isn’t in direct contact with it, but still.

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I’ve never seen a product do this before (not even coconut oil on it’s own melts this quickly) and I absolutely love it. Melty gorgeousness aside, one of the best things about Elbow Grease is the smell. Holy crap, this stuff smells like heaven. It’s an intoxicating blend of neroli, orange blossom, rosewood, sandalwood and ylang ylang that wakes you up and makes you smile as soon as you smell it. Apart from the gorgeous fragrance, there were a few other reasons I bought it. First, I thought it would be good for the rough skin that I sometimes get on my hands and feet (to put on at night since there’s no way I’d be able to use my hands after slathering it on!). Then I thought it would be perfect for softening, perfuming and conditioning my underarm hair. But finally, and most importantly, I had an inkling that Elbow Grease would be amazing for my thick, dry, coarse, frizzy and curly hair.

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And that’s what this post is really about, because seriously, I was RIGHT. The first time I tried Elbow Grease on my hair, I had it up in a frizzy, annoying ponytail. I was in a rush so I just pinched a bit out and rubbed in between my fingers before smoothing it through my hair… and the frizz was gone. I had smooth, shiny curls all day. I’ve used it several times since, particularly when my hair gets that annoying bouncy frizz thing going on. Every time I use it end up with defined, shiny and nourished curls. Here’s the proof:

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Same handful of hair, but before the second pic I quickly ran some Elbow Grease over each curl. Now, it goes without saying that if your hair is thinner, oilier or generally more well behaved than mine, Elbow Grease will not have such a subtle and desirable effect on your hair. However, my boyfriend, who’s hair is completely normal and acceptable, has started using it about once a fortnight on his hair before he goes to bed, to soften and nourish it like an intense mask, and it looks gorgeous. He’s sitting with it on right now and actually it doesn’t look oily at all!

I am SO impressed with this stuff, and am secretly hoping I end up with my annual ‘winter dry hands’ so I have an excuse to use this on more parts of my body. I’m gonna get them anyway, may as well have a reason to look forward to it! Get Elbow Grease on Lush for £5.95 – link

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush – Luminous Flush

Ok, I’ll be honest here – I know almost nothing about blusher, and my only rule is pretty much ‘as long as there’s no glitter in it and it’s pink’…IMG_7317Make-up is fairly unknown territory to me, because I’m so not a morning person. I’ve never had the time to get into it and actually enjoy the process (it’s a ‘slapping it on with my hand, swiping on some powder and trying not to poke myself with mascara as I put my shoes on at the same time’ situation). Through blogging though, I’ve recently discovered products that are so wonderful, my passion has been well and truly ignited. Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush is absolutely one of them.

It goes without saying that this blush is beautiful beyond belief. The marble effect looks so luxurious (I mean, it is luxurious, but it really makes you feel like you’re pampering yourself every time you apply it) and I love the fact that it’s two separate parts of the blush, the powder and the pigment, which are combined once you swirl your brush over it. The pigment is astonishing – I swipe my brush lightly over the blush twice and I’m left with a gorgeously warm pink on my cheeks.

IMG_7716This moody-as-hell morning selfie demonstrates how effortlessly this blush imparts a lovely subtle pink to the cheeks. I put next to no effort into my make-up on weekdays, but now my face looks more alive awake and radiant every day. I adore this shade too – the warm pink is a perfect match for my pale skin, blonde hair and blue eyes. The shades are really varied though, with lovely options for dark and light skin, with both yellow and blue undertones. Hourglass clearly know not only their lighting, but also their skin colours.

My Geologist boyfriend really liked the fact that Hourglass’s Ambient Lighting products contain diamond powder – he tells me that this has the effect of ‘scattering’ the light. As diamond refracts light a lot, adding the powder to the blush means that light will be refracted in lots of different directions instead of just reflected like with glitter. This gives a sophisticated glow, as opposed to the annoying sparkle of glitter (sorry everyone, I REALLY hate glitter in everyday make-up products). It really does as well – in comparison to any other blusher I’ve tried, there’s something incredibly complex about the colour. It’s not a sheen, but when James explained that the powder would refract light like that, it really made sense.

I absolutely love Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush – it’s so much more than just a blusher, and I really want to give their other Ambient Lighting products a try one day. Get it from Space NK for £28 – link

Learning to love my armpit hair

Today, I went to my first ever yoga class, and I was a bit nervous. Being naturally flexible and weirdly good at balancing (thanks, five years of gymnastic trampolining), actually being able to do the poses wasn’t the thing that was worrying me. My nerves were to do with the fact that I haven’t shaved my underarms for almost a year. I was wearing a vest top and sports bra, and was about to spend an hour with my arms up in the air, surrounded by beautiful strangers.

I love my underarm hair. It’s so soft, and it curls like the hair on my head. My partner thinks it’s pretty. think it’s pretty. The fact that I can have body hair, not worry about people seeing it and still feel confident is a huge thing for me. I struggled with body image until I was about 22, so here I am making myself less attractive in the eyes of society, and I still feel good?!

The yoga class was a blip – I was unsure of the people I’d be around, and knew that if anyone looked at me there was no chance they wouldn’t see my underarms.This experience was definitely the most intense ‘armpit hair display’ I’ve ever had, and I got through it because I knew that I liked my armpit hair, and I wanted to share with you the way that I actually learned to love it. Yep, that’s right, this is my underarm hair beauty routine. And what?

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Step one: Washing. 

My boyfriend sports a lovely Aragorn-style 5 day beard, which looks insanely sexy but has a tendency to scratch my delicate face apart when we make out. When shopping around for something to tame it, we came across this Kalamazoo Beard Wash in Lush and he bought a small tub. A couple of weeks later, he went back to buy this bucket size, because this mixture of pineapple, almond oil, jojoba oil and cupuaçu makes body hair INSANELY soft. I asked James if I could try it on my underarm hair one morning and he enthusiastically agreed, and ever since my hair has been baby soft and super smooth.

Step two: Deodorise. 

I haven’t used anti-perspirant for almost a year. Natural deodorants are great as they allow you to sweat (which you NEED to do) but if used correctly, do help prevent body odour. I use Pit Rok Spray in the morning, as this prevents the smell, and then Weleda Sage Deodorant later in the day if I need to cover up. I’ve tried tonnes of natural deos, and these are definitely the best. I keep my arms pressed to my sides to make sure the liquid gets through the hair and all over my skin.

Step three: Conditioning.

Using oil on your armpit hair is entirely optional, I usually only do it when I’m wearing something sleeveless. It is, however, the most absolutely gorgeous thing you can do with your underarm hair, and an excellent way of feeling more confident about it. When you lift your arm up to point at something and are greeted with the smell of some beautiful essential oils, how could you, or anyone else, think anything bad about your body hair? It smells of blossoms and fruit! I had this little bottle of Jurlique Skin Balancing Face Oil and have been using that because it smells divine and my hair loves it – while it’s pricey, I am SO tempted to buy some more when it runs out. But I’ve also recently bought some Elbow Grease, a exclusive Lush Oxford Street product that is without a shadow of a doubt the most gorgeous collection of oils EVER. It melts into skin and hair immediately, and actually smells just like my Serge Lutens Fleur d’Oranger perfume. When I put oil on my armpit hair, I like to comb it through with an eyelash comb. You’d be surprised how tangled  an inch of armpit hair can get! It curls and sits beautifully after I do this (and no, it doesn’t look greasy, the hair is too thick for that!)

Step four: Nighttime. 

I often shower before bed rather than in the morning as it helps me sleep, and as part of my night time skincare routine, I always sprinkle some dusting powder on my underarms to make sure they’re fresh in the morning. If I’m showering in the morning instead, I don’t bother, but it’s lovely to go to bed with fragrant, dusted underarms. Lush’s dusting powders are the only ones worth using if you ask me, and their Princess Dusting Powder, bought for me as an in-joke gift by my boyfriend (and another Oxford Street Exclusive), is gorgeous. Silky Underwear is another stunning option that I’ve raved about before.

So that’s how I grew to really enjoy having underarm hair! Is it stereotypical? Yes. Do I care? Hell no, I’m having SO much fun. One day I might even dye it green. 

Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm

Hand creams and I, we have a special relationship. Being something of a germophobe, and having naturally really dry hands (thanks dad), balms, creams and lotions have their work cut out when they meet me. I reviewed a lot of mediocre hand creams back in the day, but I’ve decided that now, I’ll ONLY be reviewing the creams that really make me go wow. Maybe when I accumulate a load of crap ones I’ll do a post on them, but for now, lets focus on Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm.IMG_6761

The nourishing ingredients packed into this botanical mixture, are quite something. Shea butter, sweet almond oil, coconut oil, macadamia nut oil, cetaryl alcohol (a fatty acid and amazing moisturiser), glycerin, cocoa butter, wheatgerm oil AND soybean oil. Like, whaaaat? Most hand creams would only contain one or two of these, but the combination of all of them means you get all of their individual benefits too. For example, coconut oil has antimicrobial properties, almond oil helps to protect the skin and wheatgerm oil is high in antioxidant vitamin E. The texture of the cream is gorgeous, while it’s in incredibly rich balm it melts into the skin so easily. The perfect combination of nourishment and absorbency for the busy lady with a dry hand problem.

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The botanical ingredients in Resurrection Aromatique are seriously out of this world. Orange, cedarwood, lavender, grapefruit and rosemary combine to make an intense and complex fragrance, that really does resurrect the senses. There are so many amazing ingredients in this balm, I want to talk about them all! There’s soothing aloe vera, anti-ageing tocopherol and carrot oil in there too.

So on paper this sounds like the best hand cream around, right? I have to say, I genuinely think it’s one of my favourites. I use it every morning before work (I massage it in while I’m walking out of my flat, covers up the smell of central London nicely) and it absorbs really well. Since using this I’ve realised that not only have I stopped having to use a hand cream throughout the day, my hands now look younger too! If you have constantly dry hands, this is such a good option for you, I cannot recommend it enough. It certainly isn’t a budget product, but at £19.00 for a 75ml tube, you’d be insane not to try it if you struggle to find good hand creams. Get it on Aesop’s website. Link

I’m really keen to try more of Aesop’s products, do you have any recommendations?

Benefit Dream Screen SPF 45 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

I have a weird problem with sunscreens. There are chemicals in most of them my facial skin reacts to, even though it isn’t really that sensitive to anything else. My skin breaks out in blotches, and feels hot. Believe me when I say I wasn’t expecting to find a solution, especially not one so pleasant and protective as Benefit Dream Screen!

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I’ve recently woken up to the fact that I’m in my mid-twenties, and have never used regular sun protection unless it’s the SPF 15 I used to get in my foundation. Did you know that sun damage breaks down the collagen in your skin more than anything else, including poor skincare and even ageing? Especially when you’re as pasty as I am, you need something high protection otherwise you’re screwed.  So when I was pottering around a Benefit stand a while ago I decided to ask for a sample. The lady gave me two little tubs which lasted for ages – giving me more than enough time to know that my skin loved it.

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A couple of things I’ve read about Dream Screen moan that it makes your skin feel greasy – if you’ve read that too (because let’s face it, it’s impossible to avoid paula’s fucking choice when looking for reviews) let me tell you that it’s a load of rubbish. When your skin feels greasy it feels like there’s thick oil covering it, when you put this on, it feels silky. Soft, matt, calm, smooth and ready for anything, including fierce summer sun.
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It sinks into your skin immediately, leaving invisible, broad spectrum and incredibly high protection as well as a soft, gorgeous feeling. It sits under my makeup perfectly, and I’ve been using it instead of my primer this summer. Since I started using it my skin has stayed exactly the same colour, so I’m confident the protection is exactly what they say it is. Benefit Dream Screen SPF 45 is an amazing solution for anyone who usually struggles with sun protection, as well as anyone looking for gorgeous, fuss free sun care. Get it on Feel Unique for £25 – link

LET GIRLS WEAR WHAT THE HELL THEY WANT

I’m completely fed up with seeing articles about schools banning girls from wearing short skirts or makeup. The headteacher’s justification is always the problematic notion that it’s ‘distracting to the boys’ which irks me more than enough, but one that really got to me today said “School bans short skirts because they’re ‘distracting’ to male teachers”

In the article they don’t seem to offer any proof, but even still, the idea that girls will be sent home for not wearing ‘school appropriate’ skirts is outrageous, for so many reasons. For a start, telling girls that wearing makeup distracts them from work, and then sending them home AWAY from work, seems a little contradictory. I would have more time for the concept if it was five hours extra school a week in return for wearing a full face of makeup. Well, I wouldn’t, that would be monstrously draconian, but still it wouldn’t be as bad as damaging a girl’s education because she doesn’t fit into the school’s idea of the perfect female student, would it?!

Now, objectively, I’m a well educated, intelligent, successful woman. I’m 25, so measure that success how you will (I’m not exactly a CEO). I refuse to submit myself to the idea that saying that about myself is arrogant because I’m sick of society forcing me to be modest about my entire existence – fuck that – I have a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Philosophy from a great university, I’m writing a book, and I’m a Digital Marketing Executive. I’m happy with where I am and how I’m doing.

What was the point of all that? Well, I wear makeup and revealing clothing, and I have done since I was about 15. I love showing my waist off and making my eyes look bigger, I love accentuating my chest and my full lips. Why the fuck shouldn’t I? My body is a part of who I am, just as much as my arguing skills, my compassion, or my complete inability to organise anything. Is it shallow? Is it really? I could take you on in a debate about the mind body problem, I’ve almost cried whilst trying to understand Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (like every other Philosophy student), and I’ve written essays on dasein whilst trying to push to the back of my mind the feeling that Heidegger is one of the most useless philosophers ever to write anything. The concept of ‘shallow’ is, ironically, pretty shallow. Mindless consumerism and an obsession with the aesthetic can be flaws, but only when they aren’t accompanied by anything else. To be purely shallow is a rare thing, and the idea that teenage girls, some of the most complex and confused creatures on the planet, fall into that bracket, is absurd, reductionist and misogynistic.

In our society women are expected to look beautiful, no matter what they do. You can be a doctor, police officer or a politician, it’s nigh on impossible to escape the ‘does she look good enough’ magnifying glass. It’s not just celebrities who look perfect – your teacher probably knows damn well how to do her makeup, the woman who serves you in the shop, and lets not forget, the women that teenage girls watch on youtube for entertainment. Girls see women wearing makeup every single day, and teenage girls are in the process of turning into women. In just the same way as boys learning the rules of masculinity during their teens, girls are learning the rules of femininity. Of course they want to conform, wear makeup, shorten their skirts and act like women. They’re about to turn into them.

Lying to girls that wearing makeup and short skirts distracts them from their education is bad enough, but telling them they distract BOYS is worse still. We NEED to stamp out this disgraceful, archaic idea. I have a higher sex drive than anyone I’ve ever met, I’m attracted to women, and I’ve never had a hard time concentrating because a beautiful woman is wearing a short dress in front of me. Not because I’m not a man, it’s because I wasn’t raised to think that women are objects for me to look at. Is it therefore contradictory for me to want to wear tight tops and lipgloss? Actually, it probably is. But that’s because some of the things society teaches us are wrong. Despite my parent’s best efforts, I was still taught by society that women need to be sexy and attractive to feel good – and because I was taught this while I was growing up I genuinely feel that way. 

Society needs to change – there’s no doubt about that. But confusing the messages girls are sent – that makeup is a bad thing and wanting to wear it means you don’t care about school, whilst simultaneously marketing products to them and making physical appearance unbelievably important, just confuses women and girls and makes what they want versus what they know is right completely different. These ideas confuse boys and men in exactly the same way – how often have you thought “What is up with men, they say they like women to look natural but then react with disgust the second they see an acne scar”? None of us understand what we want, because from the get-go we’re taught things that are wrong. We want things because marketing departments know how to make us want things – and you cannot trust a marketing department to act with your best interests at heart. I’ve been lucky to work for ethical companies but believe me, they are rare. This, combined with the fact that no one seems to realise how much of an effect the society we grow up in has on us, has made for a pretty confused group of people. Teaching girls that something as innocuous as makeup and a short skirt is wrong makes them feel bad about what they want. Teaching boys that girls should hide from them fetishises girls in their eyes – makes their bodies into objects, and means they can’t respect us.

We NEED change, and schools are a damn good place to start. Let girls wear what the hell they want, teach boys that girl’s bodies are not there for them to look at, or enjoy, without expressed, enthusiastic consent, and we’ll end up with a more balanced, happier generation than we’ve had in a long time.

Beauty Wishlist for Summer

I’ve never done one of these before, but there are certainly a lot of products I’ve been mentally wishlisting lately so I thought I’d make physical note, and you never know, you might get some summer inspiration too!wishlist

1. Jurlique Rose Finishing Powder – My No.7 Translucent Powder is about to run out, and I’ve been lusting after this light, gorgeously scented rose powder for as long as I’ve known what Jurlique is. I’m pretty sure it can be used over makeup, and if so, this is definitely my powder most wanted.

2. Lipstick Queen Frog Prince Lipstick – How on earth could you not want this in your life. First of all I tried it on my hand in Space NK and the colour was stunning – it’s a slightly translucent, beautiful pink, which is perfect for me because thick, heavily pigmented lipsticks just don’t work for me. I never really put anything luxurious on my lips, so this would be a lovely change.

3. Mario Badescu Flower Tonic Mask – I’m an absolute sucker for anything with a name like ‘Flower Tonic’ so this was always going to be on my list. However after reading that the ingredients include kaolin and Balsam of Peru (an extraordinarily effective healing extract) I was desperate to try it. Pore-clarifying and healing are two things my skin really needs.

4. Mario Badescu Botanical Exfoliating Scrub – Living right up to the stereotype I made for myself in the previous paragraph, the name of this scrub got my attention right away. However this does look amazing, with extracts of basically everything you need to restore a healthy, glowing and balanced complexion. Ginger, gingko, green tea, aloe and coconut together with palm seed powder to buff away dead skin….like…hell yes.

5. Philip Kingsley Geranium and Neroli Elasticizer – The reviews of this stuff are amazing, as are the awards it’s been lauded with. I love the idea of a ‘pre-shampoo’, as well as the fact that you can sleep with it on your hair. I’ve never actually seen it in stores so I have no idea what it smells like, but I can’t see how it wouldn’t be absolutely gorgeous. I just can’t shake the idea that my hair would be left silky smooth after using this, so I shall have  to try it.

6. Sukin Natural Deodorant – I’m anti antiperspirant, but the summer heat in London is proving too much for the lovely Deo My BO solid deodorant bar from Lush (despite it working wonderfully before it got so hot!) I definitely want to give this one a try, as I love everything I’ve tried from Sukin so far.

7. Frog Prince Wash Bag from Catseye – I’ve been lusting after this for over a year – I love the happy, cute design and it’s the perfect size for all the stuff I bring with me everywhere. Really I should just get a grip and buy it, but every time I go into Selfridge’s and see it, it just seems so frivolous (it isn’t, it’s only £15 so I don’t know what I’m on about really).

8. & Other Stories Nail Colour in Dot Peach – I recently bought the most gorgeous sandals from Topshop, but I need a muted nail colour to go with my work clothes. & Other Stories have really lovely nail polishes, and I adore this cute pink colour.

9. Bliss Ingrown Eliminating Pads – I’m really curious about these. Both my boyfriend and I get ingrown hairs occasionally (it’s really common for guys to get these on their legs!) and they’re bloody annoying, so if these work it would be fantastic – it is shorts season after all!

What’s on your summer wishlist? Any of these?