The Journey to Healthy Skin | Products For Acne Prone Skin

As a teenager my skin was pretty calm. I suffered the odd breakout that typically cleared quickly, I had combi-skin but again it never really posed any problems. Growing up I made sure I cared for my skin by removing makeup before bed, choosing skin sensitive creams and cosmetics and I only really wore minimal makeup during the day. 

It seemed to have worked because I managed three pregnancies without the dreaded 'pregnancy skin' and it was only once I hit thirty that things started to change. I first noticed pigmentation or melasma, realising there was nothing I could do to cure it I made sure I wore a suncream to try to reduce the amount of new patches from popping up. I then started to notice my pores were really visible, almost as though the skin had been dyed, it looked like millions of little black heads which really upset me because nothing I was doing would fix the issue. 

Fast forward nearly two years and I was officially diagnosed with cystic acne, I have good skin days and really bad painful skin days. I don't wear makeup, I completely threw away most of my old cosmetics for fear that the bacteria would worsen the breakouts and also any skincare products that were harsh or contained allergy prone ingredients. While my skin hasn't cured it definitely has improved lately with a new skin care routine, supplementation routine and less stress. 

In the beginning I presumed that harsh toners, scrubs and acne marketed treatements were the way forward - I was so wrong. I must have wasted hundreds of pounds on products that made the issue worse, see this was is caused by hormonal changes brought on by one-million-and-one reasons. Stripping the oils away from the skin will only make it produce even more to compensate for the loss. Most people also presume if your skin is oily or combination that you need to steer clear from oils, serums and moisture of any sort - that's wrong - you actually need to add more! 

Did you know that acne is caused by dry skin or more so, dehyrated skin and bacteria plugging the pores. This blockage gets infected and once the air hits the infection it becomes what we knows as pimples, spots and whiteheads. Cysts are infections deeper in the hair shaft. 

So how do you fix the issue? 

Well first it takes time and, things may get worse before it gets better. medications are an option but for some it's simply too harsh for the skin and the body, I was one of those people. The skin first needs to be cleaned to stop bacteria and infection, it needs to be exfoliated to get rid of the built up flakes and dehydrated skin cells and, it needs hydration. Like the tortoise and the hare the slower you take this journey the better it is. Anything that promises you results in one, two or even three months is only a temporary measure and may make the situation worse. 

Strip your routine right back. Throw out anything that's past it's used by date (yes really) and, get used to the huge change that's about to happen. When washing your face, use a clean sponge or cloth and water. That's it. Crazy right? At first your skin will feel weird, almost balmy but it won't stay that way. Each morning and night be sure to apply a gentle moisturiser or serum, even if you have pimples. Make sure you're staying hydrated and watch what your eating and drinking as allergies or intolerances will make your skin worse as any imbalance will affect your sensitive hormones. 

So once you've made those changes and you've gotten used to what's making your skin worse and what's making it better, you'll should start to add products into your routine. I currently use a moisturiser, toner and serum. I don't use any exfoliators, scrubs or anything that's aimed at 'cleaning' the skin because water and a cleansing pad does this for me. I use the toner to remove excess oil at night before I apply moisturiser and the same in the mornings. When I'm feeling the need for a treatment I use frankincense essential oil and I use a face mist spray to add extra hydration in during the day while I'm at work. 

You may have also saw my post on Fountain's Molecule supplements, if not you can catch that here - this supplement along with iron are the only supplements I take. They've made a huge difference also. 

First Aid Anti-Redness Serum | Once a cyst or pimple has healed I'm always left with redness that's almost scar like and makes my skin look like there's are still pimples. This serum tackles that redness by hydrating the skin and boosting the healing process and reducing inflammation. It's safe for sensitive skins and doesn't contain alcohols, parabens and nasties.
La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Serum | Exfolar serums are huge in the acne community because they hydrate, but help to exfoliate the skin gently. This also helps with pigmentation from hormone changes and from previous acne scars, marks and uneven skin types.

Konjac Charcoal Sponge | I use a cleansing pad currently that's something similar to the Konjac sponge. It's made from intertwined fibres and gives you a gentle but scrubby texture that cleans exceptionally well without stripping the skin of it's natural oils. The charcoal sponge is especially good for those who have lots of toxins, lots of excess sebum and need an extra hand in cleansing without stripping the skin. It can be used with cleanser if you prefer but my recommendation would be to steer clear.

Facegym Frankincense Mist | Frankincense is an amazingly potent healer. I tend to use Frankincense EO mixed in with some of my moisturiser as a skin treatment to heal any damage, to reduce the levels of any nasty bacterials and to help give my skin some much needed radiance. I also use a seperate face mist so this product is a do-it-all as it combines with Boswellia Carterii Frankincense with a gentle hydrating face water. Pop it in your bag and mist your face throughout the day, especially if you work in an environment that has air conditioning which will strip your skin.
Origins United State Balancing Toner | This Origins toner helps to balance oily, normal and dry skin types. Reducing sebum in combination areas while ensuring the dry and dehydrated areas don't suffer. It contains bergamot, spearmint and lavender which are naturally antibacterial, help to boost the appearance of the skin and promote healthy blood flow which will help to heal.

What ever you choose to do, just know that things will improve if you're willing to make changes. Acne tends to be an internal and external condition so keep this in mind when you're planning your new routines.

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Rewined || Pinot Noir Candle

Quirky candles tend to look amazing but rarely pack a punch once lit. This hasn't stopped me from purchasing candles if they look nice but, you know, it's always a benefit to have a functional product and a product that looks lovely.

I recently heard about Rewined when looking for candles for my new house. Rewined are an American company who started because the owner worked in a restaurant initially and wanted to do something with the numerous empty wine bottles. Heading to market with his new concept candles, word of mouth grew and long story short, we now have Rewined Candles on the worldwide market.

So you'll have already noticed that those used wine bottles are repurposed into candle tumblers. Wine bottle glass tends to look nice and is quite thick so really, it makes the perfect vessel for holding a candle. The fragrances are also based around actual wine types and when you light the candle it gives off a warm amber and green glow to the room, nothing beats the winter season than some cosy PJ's, some hot chocolate and gorgeous candles glowing in the background, am I right?

The candle pictured above is Rewined's Pinot Noir fragrance. Pinot Noir contains fresh fig, cranberry, with leather and violet middle notes on a base of earthy musk notes. The result is an absolutely gorgeous, unisex scent that could totally pass as a perfume (hint, hint Rewined). There are many other options such as:

Cabernet // Notes include black cherry, currants, smoke and toast.
Champagne // Notes include white grapes, honeysuckle and bread.
Chardonnay // Notes include vanilla, butter, hazelnut and cedarwood.
Merlot // Notes include pomegranate, plum, violet, rose and vanilla.
Pinot Grigio // Notes include minerals, citrus and oak.
Riesling // Notes include tropical fruit, Asian pear, honey and citrus.
Sauvignon Blanc // Notes include mint, fresh cut grass, herbs and grapefruit.
Rose // Notes include rose petals, white peach and pink peppercorns.
Spiked Cider // Notes include fresh apple, cinnamon, clove and spiked deep rum.
Wine Under The Tree // Notes include freshly cut blue spruce and light zesty citrus.

How amazing also does the Chardonnay sound for this time of year? I was in two minds about that one and this one to be honest. Wine Under The Tree seems to be a massive hit also on their Facebook page and chances are it probably would be but, it's possibly one of those ones you have to smell to appreciate first off.

So back to my candle, I have a terrible habit of going off tangent. The notes on this candle hit your olfactory system easily at both hot and cold sniff, the scent travels but it won't travel throughout a house of say three bedrooms or above. Certain scents have been known to be more delicate but the Pinot Noir wine candle is definitely smellable and will fill my living room and downstairs area.

The candle burns evenly, there's no spluttering from the wick or mushrooming (so far anyway) and the jar seems to be safe and is holding up to the heat. Overall I've nothing negative to say, if I had to be fussy I'd have loved the scent to have travelled further but that's only if I'm being picky.

There are a few places selling Rewined candles in the UK including Rewined's Etsy Store and there's also Urban Outfitters too. If you had to chose which candle scent would you have chosen.

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Weddings || How to Get the Wedding Photos you Really Want

For most people their wedding day is the most important of their lives. It is a special occasion, one that they want to be able to remember in detail and one that they will want to share with future generations. Your wedding video and photos play a big role in whether you can do so. It is vital that you employ the right photographer and videographer. Provided you hire the right team, of course you will end up with photographs and a wedding video you can be proud of and you will cherish for many years. However, hiring the right photographer is only part of the story. 

Read on to find out more about the other steps you need to take to make sure that you get the wedding photos you really want. Following these three simple tips and I guarantee that you will end up with the magical wedding photos you want. 

The Right Location

The venue you choose has a big impact on the look and feel of your photos. It is always a good idea to look for a venue that gives you a choice of backdrops for your wedding. The Cheshire wedding venue Heaton House would be ideal. At this award-winning venue, couples can opt to get married either inside or outside. This means that you get a choice of backdrops for your wedding photos.

For those who opt to marry outside the Oak Pagoda offers views of the Cheshire plains. This gives you a beautiful natural backdrop. Alternatively, you can marry in one of the two barns. Each one is finished differently. Clever lighting combined with the right decorative touches transforms these spaces into a contemporary, traditional, or any other kind of space you want.

If you choose a venue like this, you really can create your own little world with its own ambiance. That goes a long way to ensuring that you get the wedding photos that you always dreamt of.

Be Clear About What You Want

Once you have booked the right venue, you are in a position to discuss things in more detail with your wedding photographer.  This gives the person you have hired to take your photos the chance to fully understand what you want. It also gives your photographer an opportunity to explain what is possible and what is not.  

If you have any specific shots you would like to see recreated in your photo album show your photographer examples of them. This will let him or her work out, in advance, if they can be recreated. If they can be, they will be able to bring the right equipment to your wedding and get the necessary shots to recreate the same shots for you.

Follow The Photographer’s Lead

On the day, it is important to listen to your photographer and follow their directions. You may feel a bit odd doing some of the things they ask you to, but they are positioning you in that way to get the shots they need to create great photos.

Do you have a wedding coming up or wish you'd planned your photo's better? I know I do, I wish I had chosen my photographer more wisely - and - when we renew our vows in 2017 I'll be sure to capture the day in the most perfect way. 

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* Collaboration *

My Favourite Tips for Taking Care of Your Teeth

Having healthy teeth is so important. Not only because it directly affects the way you look, but your health too. Having a healthy mouth is essential for our overall health and well being. Plus, it makes us look better too. If you want to make sure your teeth are as healthy as possible. Hopefully my favourite tips will help you...

Don’t Use them as Tools

Never, ever use your teeth as tools. I’ve noticed people do this in the past and it’s so cringeworthy! Don’t open bottles with your teeth for a start - are you a 16 year old boy trying to impress his friends? You shouldn’t even bite your nails or rip tags off things with your teeth. They are fragile and should be treated that way! The most unexpected of things could cause you to damage your teeth, so don’t take any chances. 

Be Aware of Food & Drinks That Stain

Your diet needs to be healthy in order to have the best looking teeth. If you’re eating all kinds of rubbish, your teeth are going to suffer. They’ll rot and stain like never before, and you’ll be left with unhealthy looking teeth. Eat as healthy as possible, and stay away from drinks that can stain teeth. Use a straw if you must drink something that isn’t water. If it would stain a white shirt, it’ll stain your teeth

Brush, Floss, and Rinse

You should be brushing, flossing, and rinsing at home for your teeth to be as healthy as possible. Use an electric toothbrush to get the best result. Flossing then helps to remove debris, while rinsing will finish off and make your mouth as fresh as possible. Keep up this routine twice a day for your teeth to be as healthy as possible. Here are some more tips to add into your daily routine:

  • Keep your electric toothbrush charged so that it’s working well each time you use it.
  • Never leave it too long before changing your toothbrush heads. You can usually tell when they need to be changed, as the colour will have disappeared half way down the bristles. They shouldn’t be bent at all. If your head has bent bristles, replace immediately.
  • If this is your first time using an electric toothbrush, your gums might bleed a bit. This is normal. If it continues, you should always see your dentist.
  • When flossing, make sure you carefully go around each tooth.
  • Rinse with a good mouthwash that actually cleans the entire mouth, such as Listerine. It may take you a while to get used to it, but your mouth will be much fresher and healthier.

See Your Dentist Once a Year, Minimum

You should see your dentist at least once a year. It doesn’t sound like very often, but you’d be surprised at the amount of people I know skip appointments! Don’t miss appointments, as your dentist can notice problems and things before you do. When you get them tended to quicker, you save pain and money. Leave it too long and you could end up with serious damage! It’s much better to have peace of mind than to end up in serious pain later on.

Have Issues Fixed Right Away

If you notice any issues, have them fixed right away. A crack in your tooth could be fixed providing you don’t leave it too long. I recommend porcelain crowns in cases such as this, but you’ll need to see your dentist and work out what’s best for you. The quicker you have these things fixed, the more money you’ll save.  

Use Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is not only great for cooking and moisturising, it’s good for keeping teeth healthy too. This is called oil pulling. People swill it around their mouth for 20 minutes and then spit it out for a healthier mouth and whiter teeth. You can also use home whitening products to get a whiter smile, but make sure you read reviews and things first. Coconut oil is the healthiest and most natural way to whiten your teeth and have a healthier mouth. 

I hope these tips have helped give you some idea on how you can better take care of your teeth. I make sure I stick to these tips no matter what. If you have kids, I recommend you teach them how important it is as early on as possible, so they have healthy habits ready for their adult lives. Look after them now before it’s too late or you’ll regret it!

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Bad Day At Work? Check Out My Top Tips To Relax & Unwind!

We've all been there. We have a bad or particularly stressful day at work, and we come home exhausted. Our physical and mental energy reserves have become depleted. And we wish never to repeat that bad day again!

The thing is; we all lead busy lives, and so it's inevitable that we'll experience many stressful days. Apart from avoiding going to work and just staying at home, what else can we do? Well, as it turns out, there are plenty of ways to relax and unwind after a bad day in the office. Here are a few of my tried and tested techniques that you should try out:

Steer clear of technology

You've spent your entire day looking at a computer screen and using your phone. Once you get home, it's time to shut yourself away from technology! That means switching off your mobile phone and not watching the TV or using your PC. The only technology you need to use is your radio or home hi-fi system. Everything else should get banned!

Be at one with nature

It doesn't matter if you live in the middle of the city or a house in the country. Anyone can shut themselves away from the world and be at one with nature. Start by lying down and closing your eyes. For city dwellers, you could listen to a CD with relaxing nature sounds playing in the background. Or if you're fortunate enough to live in the country, lie down in your garden on a summer's afternoon.

The purpose is to clear your head of the day's events and relax. Believe it or not, the sounds of nature can help you to relax and unwind wherever you are!

Do some gentle exercise

Some people find that the best way to unwind from a stressful day at work is to do some gentle exercise. For instance, you could do an hour's worth of walking or jogging in your local area.

There is also evidence to show that exercising in the evening can also help you get a better night's sleep. So, not only will you unwind from your bad day, but you'll sleep better too!

Consider taking up yoga

Following on from the section above about exercise, you may also wish to consider doing some yoga. All you need is a yoga mat and some appropriate attire. I recommend watching some yoga videos or going to some classes to learn the basics. Yoga is something that millions of us do around the world each day. It's a simple form of exercise and method of relaxation that people of all ages can do.

Take a long, hot bath

One other thing you should also consider is soaking in your bathtub for a while! Set the mood by lighting some scented candles in your bathroom. Next, put some bubble bath liquid into your tub as you fill it with hot water. 

You might also want to play some relaxing background music while you lay down and relax. 

Good luck!

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Time to GLOW || Fountain Glow Molecule

My favourite past times include researching genetics, keeping up to date with health related science news, holistic beauty, training towards new qualifications (wholeheartedly believe that continually learning new skills keeps the brain and our souls young) and movies. I love movies. It's fair to say I'm not your typical girly-girl but that's OK, I embrace my inner geek.

As mentioned above some of my passions is health, holism and science. Deciem combine all three of those qualities and the brand itself has recently become one of my absolute favourites not because they're unique but because the results of their products never fail to impress me. Deciem are the parent brand to Hand Chemistry, Inhibitif, Hylamide and Fountain to name a few.

I've previously discussed my love for Hylamide's SubQ Anti-Age Serum (link) and their Photography Foundation. Since the inception of their sister brand Fountain, I've had their molecule supplements on my wish list. I didn't automatically purchase one because I tend to be quite funny with supplements and well, any type of medication whether it be orthodox or holistic. I wanted to wait until they had been tried and tested, so I could read a few reviews and see how the company grew - unfortunately for me this only resulted in me wanting every single Molecule they created and finally I decided now was the time to get my supplementation journey started.

At present there are ten Molecules available:

The Beauty Molecule
The Beauty Molecule Extra Strength
The Glow Molecule
The Geek Molecule
The Energy Molecule
The Happy Molecule
The Hair Molecule
The Super Green Molecule
The Phyto-Collagen Molecule
The Hyaluronic Molecule

All ten of the Molecules are formulated so they are suitable for vegans. The hyaluronic acid ingredient can be found in each of the formula's and helps to hydrate the skin and slows down ageing.

So what is hyaluronic acid? 

Behind the super scary sounding name, hyaluronic acid is a polysaccharide which plumps up the space between the cells in the body acting as a  cushioned protective bumper. As we age we lose some of this carbohydrate which leaves us looking, well, a little bit older. We no longer hold that fresh-faced plumped-up skin that most relate to being young and beautiful but, this molecule enables us to get that back. In time of course. While it improves our ability to protect it also increases the hydration in the skin which of course helps to plump up the look of our skin.

When most people in their thirties, forties and above start to notice the decline in their skin they would typically reach for the creams, potions and erm, injections. While this affects the outside of our skin the actual works needs to be done from the inside out. HA Creams and gels may help but they will only temporarily help our appearance and will leave a pretty major dent in your purse especially with HA being a trend ingredient (and for good reason). Seems like a better idea to take that HA and put it on the inside to work its magic, no?

Did you also know that supplements need to be bioavailable to our bodies otherwise you'd be as good as throwing away your well-earned money? Most people have taken supplements believing it's going to improve their health but unfortunately unless they are coupled with something else that enables the body to absorb them they will just pass through our digestive system without being absorbed. Absorption is key to health and Fountain have created these molecules to do just that. 

For example, most vegetables are fat-soluble. A lot of people eat veggies and green smoothies because they contain little to no fats, what they don't realise is that you need fat to take in the minerals and vitamins within their veggies and green smoothies as they are 'fat soluble'. The same applies to supplements. There are water soluble vits and fat soluble vits. 

Are there any other ingredients? 

The glow molecule also contains phytoestrogens which help your body to naturally produce hyaluronic acid, no need to worry about buying more supplements to go along with your molecule or having to change your diet because two teaspoons a day is all that's needed.The main ingredient in this molecule is R-Glutathione, this ingredient helps to detox your body and that prevents damage, decreases free radicals and reduces oxidative stress which contribute to the signs of ageing.
Initially, I was worried that I would hate the taste because I rarely enjoy the taste or smell of any medications or supplements. The bottle read that it was supposed to taste like 'acai' which really meant nothing to me because acai doesn't tend to taste like much at all. On day one I tentatively took out my teaspoon and poured some of the clear, syrup like liquid onto the spoon and braced for a backlash of chemical tasting yuck. 

It never happened. 

It tasted unusually good and delicately berry like. Taking the second spoon was a doddle and it's been the same every day since. I found there was no horrible after taste, no weird symptoms but I did find a couple of positives pop up within a fortnight. 

The first being a change to my hair - and - the second being a change to my skin. I've had quite a lot of hair loss lately and nothing's reducing the amount of daily shed. As some of you may know also I ended up being diagnosed with cystic acne about two years back which has been a nightmare, again things have helped ever so slightly but not enough. The Glow Molecule has absolutely reduced my hair shed to that of a normal healthy scalped woman and, my cysts have reduced. This is currently my PMS period in the month and normally my face would be breaking out left, right and centre. I currently have a cyst (small) on my forehead, but my skin has definitely improved. It's not perfect and still needs work but I feel positive about this helping even more in the long run.

I'm not grumbling though because it's only been a few weeks, I was expecting to see nothing until around three months or so which is typical for most good supplements, so two weeks is pretty damn amazing. Maybe down the line I'll get brave enough to post a no makeup before and after. Until then I'll continue taking my two teaspoons a day. 

Currently, Boots have a fab deal on The Beauty Molecule which is in the sale for £24.99 or three bottles for £40. They have a similar deal on The Hyaluronic Molecule and there's more in store also. You can check those out on the Boots website and Look Fantastic also sell the whole range too.

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* PR Sample - I chose this. All words and opinions are my own *

Christmas Inspiration || 4 Simple Treats To Buy Yourself

Christmas is a time for loving and giving. You spend days, even months buying gifts for everybody in your family. But even with all this planning, you forget to purchase a present for a very crucial person each year. Yourself! Amongst all of the hustle and bustle of buying for others, we often forget to treat ourselves this holiday season. Yes, it’s a time for sharing with others but there’s also nothing wrong with treating yourself. Take a look at this guide and start thinking about giving yourself a Christmas gift this year.

Body Contouring Products

Every woman has some part of their body they wish they could change. There are beauty products out there that can help you change the bits you dislike, filling you with confidence. So why not treat yourself to a body contouring for Christmas beauty haul. Firming lotions, cellulite control creams and smoothing scrubs will make your body feel incredible. Go for brands that have proven results to ensure you’re buying the best products you can. Treat yourself to these items now and notice a substantial change in your skin in the new year.

Luxury Candles

Candles make great gifts for anybody. So while you’re buying one for your friends or relatives, choose one for yourself too. Pick one that smells fantastic and has a calming effect. You can use this candle when you’re trying to destress in the bath or when you want to fill your home with a refreshing fragrance. Choose a Christmassy scent to boost that wintry feeling or go for one that will smell great all year round. Whichever you choose, make sure it’s one that you won’t get sick of after a few burns.

Chunky Knitted Blanket

As the winter nights start to draw in, you’ll begin the feel the cold in your home. A chunky knitted blanket can give you warmth and add some cosiness to your living room or bedroom. Go for a neutral colour that will look good against any decor or be bold and go for a colour clash blanket instead. Look for ones that are oversized and seriously soft to maximise your comfort level. This treat may seem basic but it will end up being something you cannot do without during the colder months.

Portable Smartphone Charger

If your smartphone is your life, then you need a portable charger. This treat will not only help keep you connected, but it can also look good. With more and more designs becoming available, it’s easy to see why they have become so popular. This item is ideal for work purposes or just as a backup should your phone die. This will become an essential item that you will not leave home without and you’ll wonder how you coped before owning one.

It’s been a long year and you deserve a well-earned treat. Even though it’s likely, you’ll get presents from your friends and family, buying something you love can fill you with happiness. Even the smallest treat can spread your Christmas cheer a little bit further. So get treating yourself today!

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Just My Look Little Beauty Haul || Thoughts on OPI & Indolva

I've never been someone who hits the shops (online or offline) and spends a great big whack of money in one store. I've always preferred to buy little things from varied places, I'm too much of a bargain hunter to ever buy anything at full price on a whim and typically I have numerous 'wishlists' running at one time so when I have a bit of splurge money I tend to know exactly what I want.

Hubsters tried getting me to become a little bit more splurgey but nope, I can't shake the need to buy things I will use from start to finish.

Just My Look contacted me to see if I wanted to review any of their products, straight away I knew I'd be choosing a product for my scalp and my nails. I've had lots of problems over the years with hair loss and hair shedding and I quickly realised that I needed to treat the scalp rather than the hair strands. I hadn't decided what product I would be using because I tend to have dry skin (what dermatologists say is dehydrated rather than dry) as well as crazy sebaceous glands that make my skin and scalp both dehydrated - and - oily. It's really a no-win situation because most products either add moisture or reduce oil.

My product choices were...

Indola Innova Specialist Dandruff Shampoo | A specialist dandruff shampoo that's supposed to be gentle on the scalp while helping to clear away any built up skin that would result in dandruff flakes. This shampoo contains zinc which helps the skin to heal and regenerate, you'll also find zinc in products such as Sudocrem for the same reason - because it heals.

I used this continually for over a month and it seemed to be perfect. But, because I wash my hair every day it dried out the skin on my face while working miracles for my hair. That being said it wasn't enough for me to stop using it because it did settle down the hair shed and my hair felt so soft and flake free.

OPI Mariah Carey 18k Top Coat  | This is a £30 nail polish topper guys, but this was in the sale at only £9.95, of course I was going to snap up one of these, I remember when this topper was just about to launch and I was coveting it so hard but at the time I couldn't justify spending £30 on a polish topper. I don't mind spending less than £10 however on one, especially when it's made with real white and yellow golds and silver leaf flakes.

OPI Lights of Emerald City Top Coat | This is supposed to cost around the £12 mark full price, but this is now in the sale for only £4.95. It's a gorgeous all year top coat that you can wear alone or over your polish. What I liked about this one is that the squares are opalescent so change colour depending on what polish you wear or what type of light hits your nails. There are fairy colours, oranges, blues, greens, golds and whites in this one bottle.

I tend to opt for toppers rather than full coats as my nails are dry and I can't handle the constant applying and reapplying of coats just to maintain a glossy finish. Toppers and glitters tend to last longer so there's less need for using nail polish remover all the time. The OPI Mariah Carey 18k Top Coat was tested out both on my natural nail and I also then tested it over the same red polish you see in the photo but, I forgot to photograph that due to us moving house - doh!

On first application the top coat was found to go on easy, it dries super quick and there's a pretty even coating of flakes. What you see in the picture was one quick swatch, if you applied two swatches you would have p-l-e-n-t-y of flakes on show.

Onto the negatives....

When I applied the 18k top coat to my natural nails (as above) two days later the clear base turned yellow. I looked like a forty-a-day smoker. The next day it literally peeled off my nails while I was at work. This is what lead me to apply it over a coloured polish, to see if the same thing would happen. It didn't. The top coat remained put for over five days and didn't discolour the polish either. I would advise either wearing this for one day on the natural nail or on top of a coloured polish.

The OPI Lights of Emerald City Top Coat was chosen for the same reason as the 18K top coat, I wanted one that I could wear all year round, that I could wear on my natural nail and that wouldn't look crap if it chipped. This was certainly it. What surprised me even more is that when I applied it over different colours the actual square pieces seemingly changed colour.

This is opalescent in the bottle but a dark polish changed this to look more golden, a light base polish made this more fairy like. Similarly daylight resulted in the fairy tones and inside the house or later in the evening I was left with more oranges and golden tones. It's really quite beautiful.

Overall I'm really chuffed with my product choices. Yes the yellowing of the clear coat was disappointing but at least it resolved with a polish base coat. I can't recommend the Lights of Emerald City enough and the Innova was superb, if you have scalp issues I would absolutely recommend you try that shampoo before splurging on costly products that don't work.

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* Products were given for review - I chose these and all words are my own *