Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Safe in the sun with SmartSun

At the beginning of summer I was contacted by Smartsun who kindly sent some of their UV indicator wristbands to try. They arrived just after I got home from our trip to St Andrews which is ironic really since I managed to get burnt while we were away! Smartsun are a Swedish company who are dedicated to helping people stay safe in the sun with the help of their one-use UV indicator wristbands. The wristbands change colour depending on your exposure so if it stays yellow, you are safe to stay in the sun. If the wristband changes to beige it means you need to top up your sun protection and if it turns to pink, it's pretty much an indication that that's the colour your skin will be shortly and it's time to find some shade!

I was sent a few wristbands so decided to use them to see what kind of exposure I got of the UV rays day to day as well as when I'm conscious of being in the sun on my day off etc. It is recommended we always wear sunscreen even when the sun doesn't have his hat on which is the majority of the time in Scotland but I'm quite lazy and don't apply extra sun protector anywhere and rely solely on the SPF in my make up.

To start with, I wore a wristband to work. Although I spend most of my day in the office, I do go out and about for lunch or to meetings and the post office so I was interested to see if this would build up over the course of the day. The wristband itself is really comfortable to wear and I forgot about it as I was working away at my desk. I was out and about for roughly an hour in total but my wristband never changed colour so I definitely missed out on the old vitamin D that day!

Unfortunately we have been having a typical Scottish July which means I haven't had much of an opportunity to see a change in the bands any time I have worn them.

The wristbands are of course not meant as a form of protection against the UV rays but should be used as a reminder and always worn with a high quality suncream. It's not something I tend to think about unless I'm going on holiday and know I'll be exposed to the sun for long periods of time but as the really sunny days are often few and far between, we often forget how much damage the sun can actually do to our skin. Below are a few facts around skin cancer - not to scare you but as a little nudge to keep it in mind:

-Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK
-7 people currently die each day as a result of skin cancer in the UK
-Over 80% of all skin cancers are caused by over-exposure to the sun and/or sun beds

Although I don't think I would wear one every day, I would definitely buy a pack to take away on holiday where I am likely to forget to reapply sun cream and/or burn. It's a fun way to get kids thinking about being safe in the sun and doing so from an early age gets them into that habit for later life.

The Smartsun wristbands are available in packs of 5 for £4.99 from their website and amazon.
You can find them on facebook, twitter and YouTube.

Would you wear a wristband on holiday?


Monday, July 13, 2015

Summer at St Andrews

I can't believe it's already been over a month since I visited St Andrew's with my boyfriend on a little 4 day trip and took a stroll down memory lane. I have so many cherished family memories from this small town, that is just under two hours drive away, which is the complete opposite to Lee who had never been before but I knew he would love it as much as I do.

We booked relatively last minute so with The Open Championship coming up on the old course, the hotels were pretty pricey. We ended up staying in a cute little apartment called 'The Wee House' that had everything we could have wanted and really felt like a home away from home. With two bedrooms downstairs, upstairs was a bright open plan living/dining/kitchen area which was ideal for us and although it was right next to a main road, being so close to the centre more than made up for it.
The day we arrived was actually our one year anniversary so we went for dinner at The Glass House located just off the main street in St Andrews. Although it doesn't look like much from the outside, the main restaurant upstairs has friendly staff and delicious food - what more can you ask for?

We wandered home for an early night and decided to get up early the next morning to take a walk along the pier, passing St Andrews Cathedral. Thankfully it was sunny and warm the full time we were there which made exploring the little town so much more enjoyable.

After a visit to Bonkers (a teeny shop packed full of hidden gems) we went for lunch at Forgans which is a new addition since I last visited. The d├ęcor was quirky like something straight out of pinterest and the food, made using local produce, was amazing - Lee is still dreaming of the duck shepherds pie! Well worth a visit.

Before a wander along the beach we went to the aquarium which was a highlight of the whole trip. As well as loads of weird and wonderful fish, you will find penguins, seals, meerkats, poisonous frogs, snakes the list goes on. I got to hold a corn snake and swim with nemo (kind of)! I enjoyed it so much more than I remember as a kid and we spent a good two hours discovering lots of creatures!

Probably Lee's highlight of the week was playing mini golf on the old course. I didn't even know you could do this so it was a new experience for both of us and it was so much fun. The course is actually quite challenging and playing along side professional golfers who are only a matter of meters away is bound to make you competitive. There was a fun, relaxed atmosphere on the busy course and I was so relaxed that I let Lee win!

The post is getting a little long so I'll stop here but we crammed so much more in (botanical garden, Janetta's ice cream, tour round the university with my old friend, visiting Anstruther for the famous fish and chips, more visits to the beach) the list goes on but I cannot recommend St Andrew's enough. There's a gorgeous beach, quirky shops and restaurants, plenty of beautiful places to stay and everything is within walking distance. The perfect relaxing 'staycation'.

Well done getting to the end of that long post!


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Body Shop's Hidden Gem

I've used Body Shop products for years and loved their body butters as a teen. Now I use their skincare and after having a pay day shop online, I found the Body Shop's Skincare Diagnostic Tool.
I had no idea this existed and neither does anyone I've asked since stumbling across it!

'Your skin may be decided by nature, but it’s defined by how you nurture it. Simply answer a few quick questions and our skincare specialist will hand-pick the ideal skincare regime for you created using a selection of our finest ingredients. You can also select your ultimate skincare regime by browsing through our full collection of skincare kits.'

Simple as that! It's not revolutionary but it is a great tool if you're just starting to get into skincare or you want to find the right products that are recommended for your skin type. You fill in some details such as gender and skin type as well as any problem areas (blemishes, dark circles under your eyes etc) and this will all be considered by the body shop magic skincare machine (technical description). There are even some 'did you know' facts at the side of every question.

After a quick check at the end of the quiz, the website produces your 'skincare soul mates' with all the products that will work for you in a handy regime.

You can then click on each product to find out more information or print out the product list to take into store where you can get further advice from the lovely body shop staff.
The Body Shop skincare diagnostic tool can be found here and the brand is on twitter & facebook.
Let me know if you give it a try or if you already knew about this handy tool.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Pooch Parcel // Ruby & Duke

 I have tried a few beauty boxes since I started blogging but I think I was by far the most excited about this one and it wasn't even for me.

Ruby & Duke is a subscription service which provide one box each month stuffed full of premium treats & toys for your four legged friend. I'm a sucker for anything like this and after spotting a 50% off voucher I decided to give it a go and order one for my 2 year old lab Max.

First of all, you select the size of your dog so that you receive items that are suitable and then select how many months you would like the box for. You then eagerly await the postman every day which Max was more than happy to do!

Inside the box:
Billy & Margot Popcorn for dogs - Max was unsure about this at first but now it's one of his favourite treats and looks and smells like human popcorn. It contains fibre, is 100% whole grain and is gluten free.

Beco Pets Jungle Double Rope - Since receiving the box, I have been eyeing up a few toys on Beco Pets. They are a UK based company who provide affordable and eco friendly products for pets. Max has a few ropes that are similar to this but the Beco Pets one has lasted longer and I'll definitely be purchasing some more toys from them.

Beco Pets Spork -  Made from natural plant fibres and toxin free, Beco Pets have created a spork just for your pet. Max is usually fed dry dog food but I think this would come in really handy for anyone who uses sachets or tins or mashing up other ingredients to add in. It's also dishwasher safe.

Lily's Calming Baked Biscuit Treats - I spotted these straight away as I have heard of Lily's before and noticed the dog food range is now being stocked in my local Tesco.  Lily's dog food doesn't contain any over-processed ingredients like a lot of dog food on the market and Max really loves these treats. Max always has a good crunch on these and I feel comfortable using them as they don't contain any preservative or sweeteners which can often turn Max into 'Mad Max'!

Rosewood Toothbrush Sweet - Out of everything in the box, the toothbrush was by far Max's favourite. I think it was the squeaking he liked and since the weather had been much nicer he got to run about with it in the garden. It has now been chewed to bits which is Max's way of saying he approves!

All in all the box was great value for money at £10 (50% discount) as the contents amount to much more than this and I would struggle to find even just two toys under a tenner in most shops!
Max really enjoyed all of the items and even enjoyed playing with the empty box. He is spoiled and has a lot of toys already so I don't think I would subscribe to receive a box every month but its definitely a great treat and a good way to discover new brands that have your four legged friend best interests at heart.

You can find Ruby & Duke on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram :)



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Getting Your Skin Summer Ready: My Top Picks

We have been pretty lucky with the weather this month with the sun making an appearance more often than usual. It's definitely getting me thinking about summer and the fact that my pale pins might actually get to see the light of day soon (yikes!). Below are my top picks for prepping your skin in the run up to summer and must haves when your hitting the beach!

Beauty Kitchen's Inspire Me Brightening & Toning Body Polish (£14.99)-
Did you know that using a body scrub (particularly a natural one) is one of the best things you can do for your skin? It not only removes any dry, flaky skin but it helps boost circulation and combat cellulite. I love this body polish from Beauty Kitchen as its made with Himalayan salt to return minerals to your body and is packed full of oils including grapeseed oil and Abyssinian oil to really hydrate the skin - so much so you might not need a moisturiser afterwards. The uplifting citrus scent is perfect for summer and my skin is super soft after every scrub. Available from beautykitchen.co.uk, hollandandbarrett.co.uk and selected Holland & Barrett stores across the UK.

The Body Shop Mojito Body Sorbet (£8) -
The Body Shop are launching their new limited edition Virgin Mojito Body Care range for summer. The refreshing scent of crisp,  fresh mint is blended with a twist of freshly squeezed lime to invigorate your senses' I'm already on a beach somewhere! The whole range sounds great and I really like the idea of a virgin mojito body sorbet. This light moisturiser would be super cooling and hydrating on the skin which is perfect for when you've fallen asleep on the lilo!
Available from thebodyshop.co.uk and in stores nationwide from 2nd June.

Cocoa Brown 1 Hour Instant Tan (£7.99)
Being naturally pale, I'm not usually one to go for fake tan. However, I tried the 1 hour instant tan from Cocoa Brown back in 2013 (read my review here) and loved it. It comes out as a mousse & I always use a mitt to apply the tan evenly. It has a light floral scent instead of the usual digestive smell and I tend to leave it on over night rather than one hour since it doesn't stain my pjs or sheets! When you wash off the excess you are left with a really natural looking tan every time.
Available from Superdrug, Tesco and Primark

Rimmel London Natural Bronze (£5.99)
Throughout the rest of the year I tend only to use bronzer pretty sparingly but I do find its any easy way to give your skin a glow and make it look like you've caught some sun. Rimmel's Natural Bronzer is really affordable and light weight so your skin will still be able to breathe and be protected with an spf of 15. Lets you fake the sun-kissed glow without having to lie by the pool all day (although I wouldn't mind doing the latter!)
Available from Boots and Superdrug

Soap & Glory's Heel Genius (£5.50)
My hands often get dry and I love Soap & Glory's Hand Food so looked to them to make sure my feet would be pampered before I look out my pumps and strappy sandals! Heel Genius can be used as a foot cream or as a foot mask when slathered on before popping on some cotton soaks to help the cream really work its magic. Wave goodbye to cracked heels and celebrate your fantastic feet by adding a pop of colour courtesy of OPI 'That's berry daring'. I love the colour and the name!
'Heel Genius' is available from soapandglory.com and Boots. OPI nail varnish is available from feelunique.com

I am definitely in the mood for summer now and hoping for some sun! Do you have any products you swear by?


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Lucy Bee Organic Raw Coconut Oil

I stumbled upon Lucy Bee Extra Virgin Organic Raw Coconut Oil (phew!) when I was looking for a natural cleanser. My beloved Body Shop Vitamin E cleanser was running low and I fancied trying something different. After noticing you can order a brochure to tell you all about the coconut oil I ordered my copy (you can request a copy or view a pdf version here). I expected a few pages telling me how good the product was and where I could purchase it. Instead I received a 28 page little booklet with information on the coconut oil including how it is extracted and why they support fair trade. It also contains recipes, customer comments and a 'day in the life' of Lucy Bee. I was sold.

At £9.95 for a 500ml jar I think this is very reasonable but the lovely Petrina at Lucy Bee very kindly sent me a jar at the beginning of last month and I have been road testing it ever since.
My immediate thoughts are that its a wonder product although you can probably pick that up yourself from the long list of uses (hair conditioner, deodorant, massage oil, oil pulling, spread on toast, use on your roast dinner...).

I initially tried it as a cleanser which is what I was looking for in the first place. I took a ten pence size dollop of the coconut oil, warmed it between my hands and massaged all over my face. The coconut smell is very pleasant and not at all over-powering as you may think. It easily melts away any make up and leaves my skin feeling so nourished and hydrated that I don't even need to use a  moisturiser. In the morning my skin is so soft and there is no oily residue left behind. It's rapidly becoming my 'go to' cleanser.

Trying the oil as a lip balm had a similar and just as fantastic effect - super soft, hydrated & happy lips! I apply a thin layer over my lips as soon as I get out of the shower, especially if I'm wearing lip stick that day as it acts as a protective layer and makes my lipstick go on smoother. Great for cuticles too!

After seeing Lucy tweeting about her granola recipe I decided to give it a whirl and see if this wonder product could really be used in the kitchen too. Loads of recipes and hints & tips can be found on the website which is so useful. The granola was amazing and the subtle coconut flavour really works along side the oats and mixed seeds. Unfortunately cooking isn't my biggest strength but I am keen to try the coconut oil out in other ways as it is a great healthy alternative and adds a lovely flavour. I'll try one of the smoothie recipes next!

Finally I tried oil pulling. Lots of celebrities are claiming that this method is what keeps their teeth so white. One brand which has been endorsed recently is Coco White which I think for 5 small sachets is £20! You can buy a large jar of Lucy Bee for half the price so it just seems bonkers! Apparently oil pulling is an ancient remedy that comes from India which has been found to clean and nourish the teeth and gums. It is a weird sensation at first but I got use to it pretty quickly and my teeth always feel super clean after oil pulling and I think they are slightly whiter.

I have been so surprised how flexible the product is and I'll probably end up needing a jar in every room if I carry on the way I'm going! It contains no gluten, lactose, additives or preservatives. All the details about how the oil is extracted and the fact it's fair trade and really making a difference makes me love it even more. I've only touched on a few uses but head over to the website to find a long list of uses including deodorant, toothpaste and even in your pets food for a shiny coat!

For stockists click here
For more info check out the Lucy Bee website & social media:

If you made it to the end of that long post well done & thank you!


Monday, May 04, 2015

A little touch of Scotland

Last month I was very kindly sent this beautiful tweed make up bag from Scotsburn Croft's founder, Claire Ferguson.
Staring out in a little shed making a range of fashion accessories, Claire has always been inspired by her home in the highlands of Scotland. Over the last few years, the Scotsburn Croft range has grown to include beautiful & unique home furnishings and ceramics all hand made and inspired by her breath taking surroundings.  

The first thing I liked about the makeup bag is obviously the tweed. It's made from 100% wool and feels so soft. Its woven with nano sphere and after a quick google search I found out this is self cleaning technology and mimics the way certain plants repel water droplets and dirt. It's also water proof on the inside which is great to wipe clean.
Most of my make up bags are either smaller or a lot bigger than this but I find this one is actually a perfect size. I'm going away for a few days in June so I will definitely be taking this with me.

I think most Scottish people are quite patriotic and although we don't run around in oor jimmy hats drinking irn bru all day long, I do feel a sense of pride in using something that was made in Scotland and inspired by our beautiful country.
Where to find Scotsburn Croft: Website