Get your ball gown out

The past week has been crazy busy, thus the lack of posts. I had my dissertation presentation on Friday, which was my final university assessment (!!!). The evening was truly relaxing and included a booze cruise followed by the Univerisity Summer Ball on Saturday night. I wore a gorgeous green taffeta cocktail dress that I bought from a shop in Liverpool for £1 a couple years ago and hadn't until now had the opportunity to wear. If you ever get the chance you MUST go to Take Two - a unique store on Bold Street in Liverpool city centre that sells all sorts of garments that are slightly damaged. This dress had a broken zipper and was a size too big, but a little help from my trusty sewing machine cleaned it up nicely :-).

Zebra Nightwalker

Outfit of the evening. Get your monochrome out.

Dress - H&M | Shoes - New Look (old) | Necklace - New Look | Clutch - Debenhams

Pop of yellow

Totally digging the high-waisted shorts thang. Good job New Look :-)

Beauty Bargain: Badger Organic/Natural Sunscreen

I am a huge TK Maxx fan for the clothes, shoes, candles, homeware and occasionally beauty products. You have to do some serious sorting through to find what you want and double check that it is unopened, but bargains are definitely there to be scooped up!

I was quickly nosing through and noticed this Badger SPF30+ Sunscreen. I have been searching for a natural sunscreen for a while and actually made it a bit of a mission to find one that day so when I saw this I knew it was meant to be. RRP is £16.99 I believe, which is quite a lot for only 87ml/2.9 fl oz but I paid just £4.99!

The tube claimed that the product is lightly scented with lavender, which I didn't mind. However, when I opened it up it smells of sea buckthorn (which I adore and personally prefer to lavender!) *heaven

The tube is perfect for carrying around in your bag, and is exactly the size I wanted for topping up sunscreen on the back of my hands, neck and chest throughout the day. The active ingredient is non-nano uncoated zinc oxide (18.75%) as well as the ingredients in the photograph below. Divine stuff, I highly recommend!

Fit and Flare

This is probably my most worn blazer and skirt. I don't always wear them together of course, but I like the way they look paired - a nice contrast of neutral tartan and stripes.

Jacket & Shoes - ASOS | Skirt & Top - Topshop | Necklace - Vintage

Happy Skin Goodies!

So in follow up to my last post, a lovely box arrived for me earlier containing some gorgeous products that I am beyond excited to try! Reviews will follow in due course once I have given them a proper testing, but this is a kind of preview of the sorts of products you may want to try if you are opting for a more natural skincare regimen. Have you tried any of these?

For cleanser I am still using: Caudalie Fleur de Vigne Instand Foaming Cleanser (AM) and LUSH Angels on Bare Skin (PM). My moisturisers are also the same: Origins Vita-zing (some AM) and Oilateum Face Cream (AM & PM).
 Neal's Yard Rehydrating Rose Toner
 L'Occitane Almond Shower Oil | Lovea Argan Body Scrub
 Burt's Bees Citrus & Ginger Root Body Wash | Burt's Bees Milk & Honey Body Lotion
Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap - Eucalyptus
Eco Lips Mint Lip Balm + SPF 15
Weleda Sea Buckthorn Hand Cream

Goodbye Skincare Chemicals!

I’m just in the final stage of finishing my degree. One aspect of my course this year has involved studying ecotoxicology, or the influence of man-made chemicals on living organisms and the environment. A very depressing module a times, but a very interesting and informative one that has made me seriously re-think my skincare routine and what ingredients I should be using.

A few years ago the ‘paraben buzz’ began. A few papers were published, mostly in the oncology world sharing studies of paraben discovery in breast cancer tissues. Cosmetic addicts then jumped on the bandwagon. Do I think they are safe to use? No. But does it frustrate me that people stay away from them without having done their research? YES! It amazes me how easily people are influenced and how quickly an idea can trend without those involved actually understanding why they are doing something. This is the first of a few posts I will be releasing on chemicals in skincare. Let me fill you in, from a scientific perspective on what a few of these chemicals do, and I’m sure you will understand why I think it is better to be safe than sorry...

1.     1.  Parabens. This is a group of endocrine disruptors. The endocrine system consists of various glands in our body and their hormone secretions. From the hypothalamus to the adrenal and thyroid glands, right down to the gonads (ovaries and testes). These glands secrete hormones that are picked up by receptors on specific cells that require that hormone to carry out a particular function. Estrogen is a female hormone, but parabens mimick this. The problem of parabens in cosmetics is that cause an excessive estrogenic effect on the body. Breast cancer is caused by excess estrogen leading to rapid cell growth in breast tissues. In the same way that those on the contraceptive pill or taking hormone replacement therapy suffer from an increased risk of breast cancer, those subjecting themselves to estrogen mimics also may potentially be at risk. There has been no concrete evidence that those absorbed through skincare products accumulate in the breast tissue over time, but Goodson et al. (2011) found methylparaben in tumour growth in breasts and Tavares et al. (2009) linked paraben use to mitochondrial function in the testes – a potential cause for the increased infertility in the developed world.  A study of 160 breast cancer samples revealed 99% contained parabens (Barr et al., 2012) - scary stuff! My issue with these is that because they are lipid-soluble (and the breasts are mostly composed of fatty adipose tissue) they have the potential to accumulate, causing damage over time. GOODBYE FROM ME. 

2.     2.   Methylisothiozolinone (MI) (now that’s a mouthful!). This is another common preservative to fight of micro-organisms in skincare products. This has been shown by Lundor et al. (2011) to be a neurotoxin, outcompeting essential metal Zinc for special binding sites in our cells, preventing the growth of neurons by inhibiting certain proteins. It also generates reactive oxygen species (ROS – more commonly known as ‘free radicals’) which lead to cell damage. A lifetime accumulation of ROS are what are thought to cause the aging process. This is why there is a constant buzz about antioxidants in the foods we eat and the products we use. These antioxidants basically transform crazy free radicals into safer molecules that no longer cause damage, hence their importance! AU REVOIR.

3.     3.   Phenoxyethanol. This is another carcinogen which causes ROS to damage cells. It also acts synergistically with MI to make it super-good at preventing bacterial invasion to our products. Both this and MI have been found to cause contact dermatitis in some patients, indicating heightened sensitivity in several people.SAYONARA.

There are of course other preservatives, and I will write another post mentioning some others, as well as detergents and mineral oils. But for now I wanted to let you know about a rather big step I have taken in my skincare regimen. A few days ago I had a massive in-depth look at the ingredients in my ample supply of skincare products and decided to take the step and get rid of anything with any of these ingredients. Face, hair and body. YIKES! That was basically EVERYTHING bar a few nice gems. Not that I agree with my friends to using them either, but hey, we’re all students and everyone loves a freebee :-) so I had several happy pals! I then proceeded to make a rather large order at Feel Unique for some new goodies due to arrive in the next couple days. Lots of reviews to come!

I hope this was informative. Please share your thoughts and ideas!

Tough Love

I hate inbetween weather. It's a bit too warm for a Winter coat, but if a gust of wind comes along then a jacket will not suffice. At least this one makes me feel tough enough the handle the chill ;-).

Jacket: Topshop (last year), Sweater: New Look, Shorts: DIY, Flats: New Look

RAVE: Eyeshadow Combo

I am addicted to this shadow combo. It really brings out my green eyes, but would look gorgeous on just about any eye colour or skin tone! First up I use MAC's 'Constructivist' Paint Pot blended out across the lid to create a deep bronze base, then apply the real star: Revlon's Satin single eyeshadow in 'Shimmering Sienna'. This shadow is a gorgeous deep frosty rust/copper colour and looks incredible when packed on with a flat stiff shader brush and blended out into the crease. The pigmentation is incredible and it blends like a dream! These photos were taken 8 hours after application, so not bad eh?!

L-R: Contructivist, Shimmering Sienna

 Not the most flattering photo ha! But I wanted to show you the eyes :-)

MAC: NEW Summer Brights!

I adore bright lipstick anytime of the year, but for summer especially I think a bright pink, red, or coral is effortlessly glamorous. I popped in to my local MAC store to 'Back-to-Mac' some empties. The newish 'Reel Sexy' and brand new summer 'Hey Sailor!' collections were in and fully stocked, so I decided to pick up 2 stunning lipsticks - my favourites for a long time.

Watch Me Simmer (Reel Sexy) is a bright coral pink in an Amplified finish. Super-pigmented, bright and rich on the lips, this colour is unlike anything I have in my collection and I cannot wait to wear it!

Sail La Vie (Hey, Sailor!) is a Satin version of Lady Danger. I adore any kind of bright orange/red and this I will be wearing all Summer long. I do own Lady Danger, but don't always want to wear such a Matte formula; this allows me the same amazing pigmentation but with a nicer formula on the lips.

Below I have provided swatches with the closest MAC comparison I have for each :)

(L-R: Lady Danger, Sail La Vie, Watch Me Simmer, Impassioned)

Real life: We Bought a Zoo

On Saturday I took my boyfriend to Dartmoor Zoological Park for his birthday. He's animal crazy and we were curious about seeing the real life zoo that inspired the recent film 'We Bought a Zoo' starring Matt Damon and Scarlet Johansson. The real life story of this zoo is that it was opened in 1968 by infamous Ellis Daw. In the early 2000's, there were multiple charges of animals being kept in inhumane conditions, in particular Siberian tigers which were being bred outside of an approved breeding programme, and being kept in appalling conditions. The place was forced to close in 2006, but was bought later that year by the Mee family who underwent a major renovation project, opening it to the public a year later.

I must say, for somewhere that allegedly was once a dump, this zoo is now beautifully restored. There are a plethora of plans to further improve the park, giving the place the reputation it always deserved and never had with previous ownership. I haven't seen the film, but the bf assures me the place looks completely different (not a surprise considering the movie was set in So. Cal!). Enjoy the pictures :) and let me know what you think of the movie if you've seen it!