Category Archives: Beauty/Hair

Under The Spotlight: Maybelline Superstay Lipstick

My friend, Kat, and I talk about many things when we get together or when we message each other over the years.  We both like the same sort of music, we like the same style of clothing, we share the same tastes in footwear, but one thing we adore (and talk about a lot!) is make up by Maybelline. Mainly their mascaras and lipsticks. Especially Maybelline’s Superstay Lipstick.

Maybelline Superstay Lipsticks have been a feature in our make up bags for a while – I think it was Kat who first told me about its virtues.  For those who don’t know, the lipstick has fantastic staying power and the range of colours suit everybody’s tastes.   I prefer the pinks and nudes of the colour spectrum; whereas Kat is a big fan of the reds and burgundies.

Me, at Gatwick Airport at 4am, wearing my Superstay lipstick ….

In September/October, Maybelline had a range change and had repackaged and reformulated some of its make up items – including our favourite lippy! Being a  Superstay Lipstick guru, Kat had concerns about whether the lipstick is still as good as it used to be – so she decided to give the new look Superstay Lipstick a try and here’s her review …..

I’ve been a big fan of Maybelline Superstay lipstick for some time now, as its the only one I’ve found that actually does what it says on the tin. I have three shades that I use regularly and since moving to a Scottish island earlier in the year, have been stockpiling these so that I don’t run out. Especially as, much to my horror, I was advised a year or two ago that there were plans to discontinue the range and replace it with something else.

Earlier in the year, I found a range that was labelled Superstay and tried them, but without success, and had therefore stepped-up my stockpiling efforts. In the meantime, I have also found what I believe to be new shades in what I have come to think of as the ‘traditional’ Superstay 24 range (see photo), and have now added a fourth shade to my favourites. So maybe there is hope that this traditional range is not for imminent demise.

Whatever the truth of that assumption may be, you may also have seen the recent TV advertising campaign showing us a new Maybelline Superstay Matte Ink lipstick range: as you may imagine, I’ve been quite excited to try it out. Earlier in the week, I found a range of these lipsticks in the Orpington Boots Maybelline concession. How could I possibly resist!

I bought their shade No.45 Escapist (a very dark purple – again, see photo) and yesterday, I wore it all day.

 

I first applied it at around 8am. Out of the tube, the applicator seemed quite clogged, but it was easy to wipe off the excess on the top of the tube, and very easy to apply. At first, without the lip balm that came with the traditional Superstay lipstick, it felt quite cloying and dry on my lips, much like the traditional one does when it’s almost ready to apply the balm – not quite as bad, but bad enough to persuade me to open my traditional lipstick and apply the balm section. After that, fine and comfy.

I took the first photo immediately after eating breakfast. There was no residue on the spoon or my tea mug. My lips still felt perfectly comfortable. So far, so promising.

Without taking either the lipstick or the stick of balm (or indeed, any balm), out with me, I then left the house for the day.

The second photo was taken shortly after lunch – at around 1.30pm (or 5-6 hours after application). Again, there was no staining on my cutlery or my wine glass. However, I was beginning to be conscious of the lipstick on my lips, and I believe you can see a very small amount of colour fade, at the inner edge of my bottom lip.

The third photograph was taken around 7pm (11 hours after application). At this stage, I had drunk a further cup of tea (still no staining) and had not applied any further balm since first application that morning. As you can see, the colour fade has intensified slightly – and I was slightly more conscious of wearing the lipstick.

The fourth photograph was take around 9pm, after having eaten dinner, and drunk a further glass of wine (purely in the interests of research you understand). Again, no staining on my cutlery, but a very slight smudge and a speck of lipstick on my glass. I feel this is reflected in a further fade visible in the photograph.

By this time, my lips were feeling dry enough that I bit off the merest flake from the surface, so I applied more lip balm, this time Nivea Pearly Shine (which is supposed to give a slight sheen to naked lips. It does, but I find the ‘slight’ is further towards the ‘vague’ end of the spectrum). Normally, the traditional lipstick does not fare well when used with a different balm – and as I so rarely find I need to use one, I try not to.

The last photograph of the day was then taken, after also having drunk a cup of hot chocolate (oh how I have suffered in the interests of being thorough). No staining on the cup and only a little further colour fade, which did surprise me slightly, given my comments above.

Before I took to my bed for the night, I again applied the balm from the traditional Superstay lipstick, instead of wiping the lipstick off, so that I could take a final photograph when I woke up. I won’t tell you what time I took the photo this morning, but it had definitely been on for over 24 hours at this point! As I think is clear, it’s not perfect, but it’s definitely still there.

I used to find that the traditional lipstick did not always last as applied for the whole 24 hours, but easily lasted all day out and about, and more than easily coped with a night out, without fading at all. It did occasionally require an extra application of balm, but this did not always help with the staying power of the colour however (especially, as noted, if I used a different one than supplied with the lipstick). My husband also has a full beard and moustache, which can be a bit of a wire brush on lipstick, so am quite happy that it does last overnight, if only in the style of old-fashioned lip liner by the time I wake up! People have stopped me in the street, or over lunch and/or drinks and complimented me on my lipstick and its staying power, and I’ve been happy to recommend the traditional Superstay range.

This new range seems on this evidence to be very close. There was slight colour fade during the day, but this was not obvious until after 11 hours after first application, and though I was conscious of it after 6 hours, it was not noticed by my companions sitting across the table from me. I would also note that the shade I was wearing was very dark, so any fade would be much more noticeable. On any normal day this would be perfectly acceptable, and more than acceptable for a night out. I would prefer however that the lip balm had not been dispensed with.

I will not be ditching my stockpile yet, and very much hope that this is not a replacement for the traditional Superstay range, but merely an addition to the Maybelline offering (they do, after all, offer an almost bewildering range of mascara too, all of which are also great). On the other hand, if this were their only Superstay offering, I would definitely stick with it. But perhaps I would also be keeping the unused balm sections from the traditional range, to use in conjunction”.

Thanks for the review Kat!  It’s a pity about the balm not being incorporated anymore …but I am looking forward to checking out the new range for myself very soon.

Do you use Maybelline’s Superstay range?  Do you have a particular favourite? Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know!

Linda x

Photo Credits:

Review photos – Kat Sparshott;  Pin & other photo – Linda Hobden

 

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5 Beauty Products For A Summer Glow

Summer is well and truly here …the sun is shining and temperatures are hovering around the 30 degree centigrade mark (late 80s Fahrenheit) – my make up is dripping off my face through perspiration … in fact it isn’t because I have found some great beauty products that give out a great summer glow.  Oh yes, you can go “au naturel” in summer but there are a couple of things that I’ve discovered now that I have reached the ripe old age of 50 +.

The main thing is that my skin is very dry, I am prone to eczema especially around my eyes, and although I was acne free as a teenager I have an occasional spot or two cropping up when I least expect it.  My skin is fair and in the sun I go red before turning a pale golden tan colour.  In winter, my Leichner moisturiser with a hint of colour is a brilliant cover up but in summer I find foundation too heavy. In summer, if I do wear make up, especially for evenings out, having no foundation base I find that the make up just slides off or goes patchy – I have found an illuminator/primer that is just perfect. Over the last two summers, I have found some products that really do work and I’m going to share my summer saviours with you.

1.  Garnier Moisturiser.  Actually, any moisturiser is a must.  I happen to go a bundle on Garnier Moisture Plus – this tube featured in the picture is actually for normal/combination/dull skin and I personally prefer this one than the equivalent moisturiser for dry skin.  It is a lighter lotion that illuminates and really gives my skin the “drink” it needs, as well as having a sun factor of SPF20.

2. Avon Glow Illuminator.  I have lost count of the number of different primers I have tried over the years, most have been “OK” but not great.  This summer I have “fallen in love” with Avon’s latest make up range, Glow, and especially its primer/illuminator.  First thing, this primer isn’t clear and it is  a cream rather than a gel base. It has a light brown/gold tint to it that blends to your natural colour (whatever shade that may be) once applied to your skin.

The beauty of the illuminator is that you could just use it as a highlighter (think contouring) or apply it all over your face as a primer under foundation or apply it all over your face as an extra moisturiser.

3. L’Oreal Sublime Bronze Fabulous Elixir Self Tanning.  If you like the idea of a tanned face on holiday but you end up like me, with a face red like a beetroot, then why not invest in this elixir.  It says on the bottle that it is for face and body – but I haven’t used it on my body so I cannot vouch for that.  The idea is that you apply the elixir onto your face when moisturising for a few days in a row then you’ll get a gradual tanned face that lasts for at least 2 weeks and the colour intensity depends on how often you use it.  The pros to this is that when you are on holiday, the self tan wears off and not washes off, however many times you jump in the pool; no streaks; no “self tanning” smell.

4. Rimmel Sun Shimmer.   Similar idea to the L’Oreal’s Elixir but this is a “wash off” formula.  I find the sun shimmer great for those days where you’ve got a patch of red sunburn on your shoulders or a red face. It acts like a soothing after sun cream; instant colour so you can see where you are applying it to; leaves your angry red patches looking more bronzed – although  beware of white clothes/sheets/towels, it does rub off – hence I generally use it on my face or bare shoulders if I’m wearing an off the shoulder or strapless outfit.

5. Avon Skin So Soft Enhance & Glow 7 in 1 Body Lotion.  This is a body lotion that you can apply to your legs and depending on how often you apply the lotion, you get a gradual tan developing. This body lotion colour does come off in the bath/ shower/pool. However, this is a lovely body lotion in its own right for lovely soft legs; the colour doesn’t come off onto clothes/sheets; and to just take the tinge off of milk bottle white legs until your legs get used to the open air, this lotion is a godsend.

All the above products are purchases that I have made over the past few months and that I have enjoyed using – none are samples, gifts etc. Have you discovered any beauty products that have piqued your interest this summer? Do share – I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos by Linda Hobden (apart from my pic which was taken by my son Jack)

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Going Teal

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the USA with its trademark teal ribbon worn by supporters.  My guest today, nurse and blogger Mandi, has gone that step further by dyeing her hair teal. Mandi shares with me today her reasons for making her teal blue hair change and why she wholeheartedly supports Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Welcome to the blog Mandi….

My name is Mandi and I am a mother of three wonderful kids, a pediatric nurse, writer and professional hugger. I also happen to be a survivor of rape that happened when I was seventeen.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month in the USA and the colour teal is the colour of sexual violence prevention. What made you decide to go a step further with the teal and dye your hair? (It looks great, btw)

I started the tradition of dyeing my hair teal for Sexual Assault Awareness Month last year. It is symbolic to me of the fact that sexual assault survivors, like myself, carry the impact of the assault with them everywhere that they go, much like we carry our hair with us always. Many times those who are not survivors seem to have the idea that after the initial hard times immediately following the assault have passed, that a survivor’s life goes back to normal. The truth is that sexual assault changes a person in very profound and personal ways and we are never, ever the same after. We carry the impact of the assault with us twenty-four hours per day for the rest of our lives, it changes us right down to our DNA.

Mandi at 17

The theme of the month this year is that “Prevention is possible” – promoting safe behaviour, thoughtful policies, healthy relationships. What steps do you feel somebody can take to prevent a person from being a victim of sexual assault?

This is a sticky question for me in many ways. After my assault, the questions that were asked to me by both professionals (nurses, police officers, etc) and by laypeople were directed at what I, the survivor, had done. What had I been wearing? Had I been drinking? I want to be very clear in the fact that there is nothing that a victim could have done to have made the rape or assault their fault. We live in a culture that places the burden of sexual assault on the victim and that needs to change. I think that we must continue talking about consent and rape culture in hopes of someday not having a society that seems very accepting of sexual assault in many ways. It isn’t the actions of potential victims that needs to change, it is the actions of the perpetrators that must change. This is why I made the very hard decision of coming out publicly as a survivor of rape last year when I wrote a piece for the Huffington Post entitled ‘A Thank You Letter to My Rapist’. It was honestly one of the hardest and most vulnerable action that I’ve ever taken. After that piece went live, I was shocked by the deluge of messages and e-mails from fellow survivors who wanted to thank me for writing it and wanted to tell me their own stories(many of them telling someone about their rape for the first time). There are so very many survivors in the world, many more than people realize. If we can have public conversations about rape and about how profoundly it impacts those who survive it,I believe that it creates tiny ripples of change and possibly prevents future assaults.

Being a nurse as well as a blogger, what reaction has your hair received being dyed teal? Has it led to some meaningful discussions?

I was actually quite nervous about dying my hair teal because I was worried that it would look unprofessional. I do work in a non-traditional nursing environment as I am a public health nurse who goes into the homes of low-income families to provide support and education so the reaction may be different for me now than it would have been when I worked in a hospital. The population that I work with is very accepting of those who may not subscribe to societal norms, so they have been very accepting and, in fact, one client who was unsure of accepting my services said that she allowed me into her home because of the teal hair which signaled to her that I might be someone that wouldn’t judge her for the ways that she didn’t fit in to society. I have not talked to my clients about why I dyed my hair teal as that would take the focus off of them and onto me and that would be inappropriate. However, in my personal life I have had many conversations with complete strangers so far this month and that has made it very worth the trouble. I also had a co-worker share that she also is a sexual assault survivor and I don’t think that we would have been able to have such an intimate conversation had my hair not triggered the discussion.

Sexual Assault is a public health issue as it ultimately affects women, men children, families and communities. What short term or long term consequences do victims of sexual assault tend to experience and the knock on effect to the people around them?

Before I answer this question I want to take a moment to address that many survivors loathe the term victim and don’t like to use it. I honor that stance and most often use the term survivor. However, I also embrace the term victim for the very reasoning that it was a violent act that changed my life forever. Each survivor will have their own unique experience in the aftermath of their assault. I often think of rape as the a ripple in a pond. That ripple in the water will continue to spread outward farther then we will ever know and impact the survivor and those around them for many years to come. In the immediate aftermath of my own rape the week of my seventeenth birthday, I experienced deep depression, PTSD (I still have mild PTSD symptoms today, 21 years later) and suicidality. I attempted to take my own life multiple times and the last attempt was nearly successful. I was in so much pain that I truly wanted to die. There is no way to describe in words how dramatically the assault impacted my life. The girl that I was before the rape and the girl that I was after were two completely different people.

Donald Trump himself during his election campaign was alleged to have sexually assaulted over 15 women – although he has denied the allegations. Do you think his appointment to presidency and the allegations against him has helped or hindered the work of the Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaigners and supporters?

This is such a tough question. I think that it has both helped and hindered the work of changing rape culture. On one hand, I’ve seen public conversations about sexual assault on a level that I’ve never before seen in my life. On the other hand, I do think that there are some that will have heard the audio tapes of our now president bragging about sexually assaulting women and still being voted in as president and will believe that it must be okay if so many believe that a man, who in his own words bragged about grabbing women’s genitals without consent, can be our nation’s leader. It is a very confusing time to be a survivor. I had very close family members that defended Donald Trump’s words about sexual assault in social media posts that showed up in my feed. It was sickening to realize that they posted those knowing that survivors would see these posts and it would hurt them. Rape culture in many ways is so ingrained that I fear it will be hard to turn the tide and change the way that people think about sexual assault. This election and it’s aftermath has distanced me from family members and friends who I never before would have realized had such ugly beliefs about sexual assault and humanity in general. I have to believe that the ugliness that is being brought forward now is being brought to the surface so that it can be healed. We can not heal, as a nation and as a world, what we do not recognize exists. We are now seeing,in a very public way, just how deep sexual assault stigma and rape culture is. It is now our job to counter that darkness with light and awareness.

Although your hair has been dyed teal for this April campaign, will you keep the colour beyond April? Have you any other hair colour preferences?

The reason for placing the teal in my hair was not for beauty but I’ve found that I absolutely love it. It brings out the blue in my eyes! I am an introvert that doesn’t generally like to call attention to myself, so I doubt that I will keep it but haven’t yet decided. I’m the type of gal that trusts her stylist(Lisa Klein of Hair House in Pleasant Hill, Iowa) so much that I always just plop myself into her chair and tell her to do what she likes, so we shall see what the next color is!

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Do scrubs count? Ha! Sometimes on non-work days I think about wearing my nurse scrubs simply so that I don’t have to think about what to wear! I love shirts with inspirational messages and funky, retro headbands and sunglasses but otherwise don’t have too many fashion preferences. I’m an easygoing kind of girl!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love sites that give to charities when you buy from them. Some of my favorites include Headbands of Hope, Sevenly, Toms and Krochet Kids International.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

A bathing suit for summer that I won’t be embarrassed to wear in public. I think buying a swimsuit each year is my most challenging fashion purchase each year!

Boots or Shoes?

I pretty much live in either my nursing clogs or flip-flops. This may be the worst answer to this question that you’ve ever had! I call shoes “foot prisons” and would actually live in my bare feet if it were socially acceptable.

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Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about your blog & Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

I hope that anyone reading this who may be a survivor that is struggling will head over to RAINN to learn more and seek out help, if needed. I want to tell you that you may be suffering now, but there is hope on the other side of this pain. Never stop seeking out the help that you need. You are needed in the world. So much love to all of those in the world who are struggling through this right now.

Here is a link to the article in the Huffington Post that I referenced earlier. Don’t let the title scare you- it isn’t really a thank you letter to my rapist, it’s a thank you letter to myself for the finding the strength to survive. In the immediate days after assault it can feel as though the pain will never end. If you are in the midst of the excruciation aftermath of assault, please know that it does get so much better.

Here is my humble blog(http://thezenrn.blogspot.com/). I love to connect with others that may be survivors or are doing work for prevention and awareness of sexual assault. My readers remind me that the world can be a beautiful place, even though terrible things happen to many of us daily. I’m also very active on my facebook page and, as an introvert, love to connect with others while sitting on my own couch(https://www.facebook.com/thezenrnblog/)!

Thank you Mandi for giving us an account of your experiences and for showing how people can get behind the sexual assault awareness campaign to make a big difference.  Dear readers, have you ever done anything to highlight a campaign you believe in so deeply? Have you dyed your hair like Mandi or sky jumped for charity?  Do share your stories, I’ll love to know…..

Linda x

Photos of Mandi have been published with permission of Mandi Redhead.

The Pinterest photo was taken by Linda Hobden and is an exhibit from the Musee de l’insolite, in Sauliac-sur-Cele in France.

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5 Spring Discoveries

Following on from my December 2016 post “6 Discoveries I Made in 2016” (read it HERE) – here are 5 new discoveries I’ve made since the start of 2017. When I say “new”, the discoveries themselves may not be “new” as in “just out in the market new”, but in the sense that I’ve either stumbled across them for the first time or have tried them for the first time.

1. Cauliflower Pizza.

According to the Slimming World magazine, the latest food fad is cauliflower pizza. My first thought was, I admit, “yuck” but thinking about it, I like cauliflower cheese and the ingredients used to make that are essentially the same, just put together differently.  I then came across Tony Lozzi’s blogpost (Fit2Father) talking about cauliflower bread and his yummy recipe gave me hope for the cauliflower pizza.  Here’s the recipe for Cauliflower Pizza (slightly adapted from Slimming World) – serves 2 :

Ingredients:  1 cauliflower, cut into florets; 2 eggs; salt & pepper; 1 teas dried oregano; cooking oil spray (try Frylight’s garlic spray); 3 tab tomato purée; red onion, sliced; yellow pepper, sliced; 4 slices of ham, sliced; grated cheese (optional)

Method: Preheat oven to Gas 5 or 180C.  In a food processor whizz cauliflower florets until very fine. Tip into a microwaveable bowl, cover with cling film and zap in the microwave for 5 minutes. Add beaten eggs, seasoning & oregano. The mixture should be really wet.  Line a large baking tray with nonstick baking paper, spray with cooking oil & pour on the cauliflower mixture.  Shape it using a knife, wooden spoon or your fingers. Bake for 25 minutes, until base has solidified and gone golden. Flip base over & cook for another 10 minutes, until golden. Remove from oven, spread with tomato purée & top with ham and vegetables (and cheese). Return to oven and bake for 10 minutes. Serve sliced.

2. Silvaner Pinot Grigio Wine

No discovery post of mine can be complete without a reference to wine.  The discovery is not actually Pinot Grigio itself – I’ve tasted Pinot Grigio wine from Italy, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa … but not from Germany.  This wine is deliciously light and went well with my chicken dinner tonight.  I will definitely purchase this wine again – thank you mum for the introduction!

3. Italian herb secret

Famous UK cook Mary Berry caused a stir this week when she revealed that she uses an old recipe for making spaghetti bolognese using WHITE wine and double cream (and chicken livers & bacon).  Most people were outraged that she used white and not red wine – some commented on the use of double cream.  Personally, I add red wine if there is any in my kitchen and occasionally Worcestershire sauce. I think I’ll stick to my tried and tested recipe. However, a native Italian pointed out that Italian cooks don’t actually add herbs or garlic at all when making bolognaise….so, now you know….

4. Sheer Knee Highs

OK … knee highs or pop socks are not new.  Despite my day job being a hosiery merchandiser, and knee highs are a mega big seller in the stores where I work,  I actually bought & wore knee highs for the first time ever last week.  Not the sexiest of hosiery items I must say, but it was more comfortable wearing them under my trousers than tights. 

5. Drops Of Youth by Body Shop

When is a face mask peel not a peel? When it is a fantastic liquid peel such as Drops of Youth by Body Shop. This is absolutely fantastic stuff.  My Body Shop At Home gave me a sample to try and I was so impressed that I immediately purchased a bottle. I’m using it instead of a night cream – this stuff works! It not only deep cleans your skin, it works immediately, leaves your face feeling clean, refreshed, moisturised and soft.  It doesn’t irritate my skin either.  To use: after taking off your make up, apply a blob or two into the palm of your hand and rub over your face. The peel immediately gets to work. When finished rubbing, rinse off with warm water and dry.  Add night cream if you wish. My skin gets extremely dry but this stuff does such a good job that my skin is fully hydrated afterwards.  Excellent product.  Give it a whirl.  Apparently use it long enough and your skin takes on a youthful appearance…

That’s all for the moment dear readers! What do you think of my recent discoveries? Do share your thoughts 🙂

Linda x

All photos are by Linda Hobden

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Lilac Invasion

Spring is nearly here in the Northern Hemisphere!  This Spring THE pastel colour to be seen in is shades of lilac ( I do include hues of lavender, violet, mauve, iris blue, cyclamen, hyacinth and purple here). For UK at any rate, Mothering Sunday will be here on the 26 March, and as my own mum is rather partial to all things lilac, this post includes lilac gift ideas too.

Flowers  –  a traditional good gift.  Instead of a traditional bunch of multi coloured flowers why not look at pots of hyacinths or plants for the garden. Talking of gardens, do you colour co-ordinate your plants or do you mix colours? The photo below is taken from my mum’s garden – she has green fingers and finds gardening therapeutic.

Books – many garden centres, stately homes, and public gardens have gift sections/shops where other gifts can be purchased other than plants.  How about a book about flowers?  I bought this book from a National Trust property … 

Toiletries –  from body lotions to foam baths and shower gels to soaps; there is a vast range of lavender based colours and smells all set to entice you to relax and breathe in that lavender scent reminicescent to Southern France in summer.  I quite like the Tesco lavender bath foam – plenty of bubbles –  and the new shower gel scents from Avon. I just love jasmine perfume.

Make Up – lilac colours have been around since time began but I do so love the new eye colour and lip glosses from Body Shop…

Eye shadow can be so versatile – in this photo I’ve used the eye shadow as an eye liner too.  Avon do nice eyeliners in purple hued colours too. This particular eyeshadow is by Sarah G Cosmetics.

Sometimes I like to buy a perfume based on its bottle and this perfume by Vera Wang not only smells divine it looks good too.  So pretty to have on your dressing table!

When it comes to slippers, these lilac polka dot slippers by Avon caught my eye.

And there are some pretty canvas shoes and sandals about too!

Dear readers, are you ready to embrace the lilac invasion? Have you dyed your hair lilac?  Do you like the lilac pastel hues or have other pastel colours caught your eye? Do share your thoughts!

Linda x

Photo credits: Linda Hobden

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Spotlight On Rivage

My skin is very dry and prone to eczema therefore I am quite fussy and alert when it comes to skincare.  Certain perfumes irritate and some skin creams leave my skin itchy so I really try and stick with face/body products that I know work for me.  I had read an article about the benefits of the mud and minerals of the Dead Sea in Jordan and how it can help alleviate skin complaints such as eczema; so when I was approached by skincare brand Rivage, who use Dead Sea minerals and mud sourced directly from Jordan, to review their products, I jumped at the chance.

Rivage sent me their night cream and eye cream, plus samples of their eye contour gel, facial scrub, hand cream and face masks.  I’m not a fan of face masks so I must admit I haven’t tried them out.  The main thing to report is that I had no adverse reaction to the products  which is a brilliant start.  I was impressed with the packaging of the products – the coral colour is very trendy and they ooze “spa”.  I was extremely impressed with the eye contour gel and the facial exfoliant cream – these are my favourite products.  I am prone to eczema around the eyes, and the gel moisturised the eye area well and left a cooling effect which was really lovely.  The eye cream worked in a similar way to the gel – it is just that I preferred the consistency of the gel rather than the cream version. Both do an excellent job though.  The night cream was slightly “sticky” when first applied but it does quickly absorb into the skin to leave the skin moisturised.  I usually use a heavy hemp based hand cream on my hands twice a day to keep my eczema around my knuckles at bay – I did use the Rivage hand cream, it did leave my hands soft but it is difficult to judge fully as my hands are not sore at the moment and I am not sure how the cream would fare during an eczema flare up.  However, I will say that if your hands are not prone to eczema, this hand cream will keep your hands feeling soft and lovely. So, all in all, I give Rivage the thumbs up. I wanted to know more about Rivage, so dear Bryony agreed to be interviewed! Hi Bryony….

Hi! I’m Bryony. Rivage is a skincare brand that prides itself in its use of all-natural ingredients, including mud, salt and minerals sourced directly from the Dead Sea in Jordan. I am incredibly proud to be a part of the team in the UK!

What was the inspiration behind setting up Rivage?

Rivage began in 1996 when we were inspired by the power and results of the Dead Sea to transform the health of our skin and hair. The Dead Sea is the beginning of natural skin care – a healing and medicinal natural spa that has been celebrated since 3000 BC. Our skincare products are a fusion of the ancient and the modern. The minerals and botanicals that enhance our skincare blends are as old as time, but they are optimised and refined by our laboratories to deliver a remarkable home spa experience. Each product in our range is carefully engineered to work in harmony with your skin’s natural qualities to renew, detoxify and nourish your skin, naturally.

Have you always wanted to be in the skincare industry?

Ever since I was very young, I have always struggled with my skin, from eczema to acne I’ve dealt with problem-prone skin for as long as I can remember so when I was given the brilliant opportunity to be a part of Rivage starting in the UK, I was obviously sceptical of the products but they have proven to be fantastic for my skin and have really helped with my confidence in the products and the company.

What products seem to be most popular with your customers? Have you got a personal favourite?

Our bestsellers definitely seem to be the Bath Crystals, Day and Night Creams and the Mud Masks (particularly the Nourishing Honey Facial Mask). My personal favourites would be the Eye Cream and the Facial Exfoliant Cream as they are both brilliant products that helped with my problem areas in a huge way! 

 

What is so special about the Dead Sea & its minerals?

The Dead Sea is a true wonder of the natural world. As well as being one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world, the Dead Sea is located at Earth’s lowest point, 410 meters below sea level. The Dead Sea is so-called because of its hypersaline waters are inhospitable to marine life. In this rare environment, we find mineral-rich salt and mud, hypersaline water, reduced solar radiation and a higher concentration of oxygen. For centuries, the Dead Sea has attracted people looking for relaxation and well-being. The salt, mud and water of the Dead Sea contain 23 minerals, 12 of which do not exist in any other sea in the world. Together these minerals speed up cell metabolism, regulate water balance, relieve and heal skin disorders and stimulate the natural process of repair. Our Ecocert Dead Sea mud offers your skin a unique blend of minerals and compounds. This material, which is world-renowned for its healing and restorative properties, forms the basis of all of our products.

Apart from the Dead Sea Waters & associated minerals, what other natural active ingredients are used & their benefits?

We have many active ingredients in our products apart from mud, salt and minerals from the Dead Sea. Aloe Vera is an ingredient that is included in many of our products as it aids in moisturising as well as its healing properties. It is used in many of our Mud Masks, Skin Correcting Serum, Olive Oil Soap and Facial Moisturizing Cream. Almond is another of our most popular ingredients included in products such as our Body Butter, Foot Cream and Intense Hair Repair Mask. Almond oil is an incredibly effective moisturiser and is effective with nourishing dry skin whilst also aiming to soften your overall complexion and balance your skin tone. A more lesser-known ingredient that we use for its anti-ageing and moisturising properties is the Beech Tree Buds. The Beech Tree can live for up to 250 years, making sense why it is used for slowing down the ageing process. These buds are used in our Eye Cream, Eye Wrinkle Gel and the Revitalising Night Cream. Fruit, such as blueberries, passion fruit, lemon and pineapple, are vital ingredients for ensuring that our products are full of the best vitamins, nutrients and enzymes for the healthiest looking skin possible.

What plans, if any, have you got to extend your range of products? Any new products in the pipeline?

We do actually have plans to extend our product range. We are planning to introduce some products that are available in the retailers in other countries but are not yet in the UK. This includes some more bath products and ‘problem solver’ products so keep an eye out!

All products are proudly environmentally friendly and are not tested on animals. Are the products suitable for all skin types?

Some products are suitable for dry skin and some are suitable for oily or normal skin so it varies depending on certain products but the majority are suitable for all skin types unless stated.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Outside of work, I can be found in a simple t-shirt (nothing too exciting!) and jeans with my favourite Converse, I’m more for comfort than style! If I’m going out, though, I do make an effort and pair a printed dress with black wedges. I like to dress simple and safe!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

New Look and H&M are two of my favourite clothing shops and Amazon just has to be up there at the top for a favourite online store! I just love the amount of random, crazy stuff you can find on there too! The Gift Company is another lovely little store and I adore the things they have in there. Any bookshops too! I’m always open to trying out new stores so if you have any in mind, send them my way!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I would love more tailored clothes and more dresses. An LBD would be a lovely addition to my wardrobe! More heels are a definite and some cute pumps!

Boots or Shoes? 

Shoes! I find that boots are harder to pair with clothes (maybe that’s just me though) but shoes feel more universe with some outfits so I will definitely be found with shoes more than boots!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about Rivage.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/rivage_uk
Instagram – www.instagram.com/rivageuk
Facebook – www.facebook.com/RivageUK
Website – www.rivage.co.uk

Thanks for letting me try your awesome products Bryony! It is so nice to discover new products that don’t irritate my skin.  Eye creams, dear readers, do you prefer creams or gels? I’d love to know your views. 

Linda x

DISCLAIMER:  Although Rivage sent me products to review, all opinions remain 100% mine.

All product photos are by Linda Hobden.  Picture of Bryony published with kind permission of Bryony.

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A Hug In A Box

Every now and then we all appreciate a hug – a hug to lift our mood and alleviate stress.  Sometimes a person is around to give that said hug  but if nobody is around when life is stressing you out, occasionally a virtual hug will have to suffice.  That’s when a BuddyBox can step in – it’s a virtual hug in a box – created for ANYONE who could benefit from a boost.  Love to know more?  Well, I wanted to know more so I caught up with Jayne Hardy, founder of Blurt to discover all…. Hi Jayne…

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Hi, I’m Jayne Hardy, Blurt’s Founder. I lost most of my twenties to
depression. At the height of my illness I was unable to work, leave the house or even undertake the most basic acts of self-care. When I founded Blurt in 2011, my chief goal was to prevent others from feeling as isolated as I had done. Having experienced first-hand the powerful connections that could be fostered via social media, I deliberately focused Blurt’s activities online – providing interim support for those struggling with depression and challenging the stigma around mental health. I’m also a Mum to two-year-old Peggy and live in Cornwall.

What inspired you to launch the BuddyBox?

We applied for some grant funding from UnLtd to develop our online shop, as we’ve always wanted to be sustainable long-term. In the initial meeting, our grant manager, Julie, was speaking to us about her daughter’s struggle with mental ill health whilst at university and how Julie would love for there to be some sort of ‘wellbeing’ box that she could send. The idea struck a cord and BuddyBox was born.

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BuddyBox is run by your organisation, Blurt. Can you explain a bit about Blurt and the work that you do?

We’re dedicated to helping those affected by depression. We’ll help you understand depression and what it means for you. We’ll support you, listen to you and introduce you to people who’ve been where you are. We’ll help you break down barriers and broach the subject with those closest to you. We’ll help you help yourself, with a little knowing nod. We think people who’ve experienced it know best, so we’re passionate about peer support – connecting those who have been through depression with those who are currently struggling, to provide reassurance and comfort during a very scary time.

I love your idea of these boxes – packed full of thoughtful, mood lifting treats – “A hug in a box” indeed. I know that the range of products for filling the boxes are a closely guarded secret, but what sort of items do you include?

We aim to provide a ‘self-care’ experience for the recipient and so we include products to nourish, comfort and inspire.

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What subscriptions are available? Are you able to purchase a box as a “one off”?

We have several options available – a monthly subscription, quarterly subscription, 6-monthly subscription and an annual subscription. And of course, the one-off boxes.

Where do you get your ideas from when sourcing and looking for products to fill the boxes? Do you get customers suggesting particular products?

We come up with a box theme in the first instance and then we look for products which fit within that theme but also work together to provide an experience for someone. We’re still relatively new and so we’ve been trying new things and seeking feedback to help us grow and improve.

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Any plans to expand your range of boxes in the future?

We’ve got ideas aplenty but it’s knowing whether they’re good ideas and also whether there’s a need for them. We’re taking our time and working with focus groups before we commit to anything.

As you are based in the UK, are your boxes available to purchase overseas?

Yes, they are indeed! We’ve recently opening up international shipping which was an exciting change and so we now ship worldwide.

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Apart from receiving a BuddyBox, of course, what do you personally do or use that helps you to de-stress/ feel pampered?

I’m an introvert so I’m most recharged when I’ve spent some time on my own – reading a book, having a bath or watching a series of something on Netflix. I also enjoy running and spending time with my family, my daughter is 2 years old and I’m loving seeing the world through her eyes – finding the joy and excitement in simplicity.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I’m pretty much always in a pinafore dress, dungarees and jeans. And on my feet? Flip flops.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own)

I’m a bit of a lazy and unimaginative shopper when it comes to clothes and so I like ASOS because I can find everything all in one place. I also love Preta Portabello and LUSH.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I need some winter boots.

Boots or Shoes?

I don’t really like having anything on my feet which is why I love flip flops but during the winter, I can’t bear feeling cold so I love boots to keep my feet warm – with thick snuggly socks.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about BuddyBox and Blurt.

Website: https://www.blurtitout.org

BuddyBox: https://www.blurtitout.org/BuddyBox

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blurtitout

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/blurtalerts

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theblurtfoundation

A fantastic idea Jayne and thank you so much for introducing your boxes on the blog!  Opening a box of goodies would cheer me up no end … whatever it contained… Skincare, bubble bath, make up, hosiery, lingerie, chocolates, prosecco, books, perfume,  teabags … dear readers, would you appreciate a hug in a box? If you opened a surprise package, what would be inside to put a smile on your face?

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of The Blurt Foundation.

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An Interview With Maison De Marrakech

I’m being inspired by all things Morocco this week as I explore a London-based interior and fashion design online shop specialising in Bohemian lifestyles and Moroccan charm.  Think kaftans, Argan Oil beauty products, leather poufs, gorgeous colour palettes ..the list is endless!  It was with great excitement that I caught up with  Reina Hagen-Cherquaoui, founder of this paradise online shop – Maison De Marrakech.  Hi Reina!

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Please introduce Maison de Marrakech …

Maison de Marrakech is a bohemian lifestyle company. Our motto is to bring that beautiful, peaceful, elegant, yet simple lifestyle of Morocco into the lives of every woman (or man, of course!). I initially started by creating small numbers of kaftans or tunics that I thought would bring exotic-ness and beauty into the everyday lives of women around the world. Marrakech has a uniqueness that enriches your life, and awakens all your senses, and Maison de Marrakech is a place where you can find products that re-creates that beautiful ambience. Therefore, although we are known for our kaftans, our ultimate goal is to introduce the bohemian ‘lifestyle products’ into people’s lives. Also, as most items are handmade, it creates that feeling of directness, and you can feel the history in each product. Each product of ours has a history, not just anonymous.

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What inspired you to set up Maison de Marrakech?

It was definitely love at first sight. I felt my passion and enthusiasm come alive the moment I stepped into the Medina of Marrakech.
Marrakech, to me, was very mysterious, rustic, elegant, simple, rich, colourful, bohemian, deep, new & old, so much diversity and depth. To me, it felt like, “I had found what I was looking for all my life”. Moroccan design/art/crafts, had every element I looked for in beauty, and gave me that peace of harmony & happiness in life. For me, looking at beauty is pleasing to the eyes, and being surrounded, living in that space, creates happiness. It’s exactly this blissful moment, this happiness and richness that I wanted to share with everyone. This is how I started my company. It’s simply to share what brought me happiness, and to visually share this with the world; as well as to help women feel absolutely beautiful and exotic about themselves, to encourage their self esteem, and to bring out their inner beauty.

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As you were born in Japan, what attracted you to Marrakech?

Marrakech gave me every element I was looking for in beauty. Its richness, simplicity, complexity, colours, passion, harmony, and elegance was hard to resist. What’s really surprising is that, Marrakech (or Morocco in general) could have 2 completely different elements, but they blend so well together, eg.  rich, yet simple; passionate yet calming. I loved the Japanese traditional arts, and have seen much beauty around the world, but for me, Moroccan art gave me a feeling of ‘coming home’. This is what attracted me to Marrakech, and still does.

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I love the Turquoise Leather Pouf – it’s gorgeous! What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Our popular items are definitely the ‘one size’ Marrakech Resort Kaftan series, the tan Moroccan poufs, and some more trendy kaftans we are creating such as the ‘zigzag Zahara kaftan’.

Out of all the outfits, accessories, beauty & boho interior products in your collection, do you have any favourites?

I must say, I do agree with my clients, in that my favourite will be the same as my customers: the one size Marrakech kaftans, our new boho style kaftans & the Moroccan leather poufs.

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Your travels around the world have left you with a profound appreciation of arts & culture – this is evident through your love of Marrakech. So, what place is now on the top of your travel bucket list?

I love travelling to places where the ambience is beautiful and peaceful – somewhere you could have gone 100 years ago and would have still been the same as today. For this reason, I’d love to travel to places like: Florence in Italy and Rajasthan in India.

Your shop specialises in promoting Bohemian lifestyles – which famous lady and man would you love to see as the “faces” of Maison de Marrakech?

It would have to be a type of person who has the gorgeous exotic look that could pull off a simple kaftan and make it look absolutely stunning, and also lives a kind of bohemian lifestyle: Kate Moss.

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Looking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2016, what new items will you be introducing?

AW2016 will be quite exciting for us, as we will be creating new boho-style Moro inspired jackets, and create a new look, where we’ll be creating new tunics, that you can layer with a turtle neck, or with any winter clothing. We will also introduce more of the accessories, bags and Beni Ouirain types of rugs to keep your home nice and cosy for the coming winter season.

As you are based in London (& Morocco), are your products available to purchase overseas?

Yes, we are an online based company. All products could be purchased via online , shipped to anywhere around the world.

When designing outfits to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional charm or bits of all those?

I do incorporate a bit of the trend, customers taste, but I always am loyal to what I believe and use the Moro traditional charm as my base of design.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I used to wear only high heels from Karen Miller, Anne Klein and Jimmy Choo, but now with raising children and juggling work, I tend to wear sandals from Tory Burch (they do have beautiful elegant sandals!)

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

Yes. I love the boho vibe of Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I’d love to get one of those gladiator sandals, they look fab and bring a flair of glamour to any outfit but especially with short skirts/shorts. Or a pair of tan boots (with heels ). I would also love a golden bling Jimmy Choo type of party high heels, just to keep myself feeling feminine!

Boots or Shoes?

Boots are always great for a walk in the woods or for picking up kids –  you could wear them anytime, anywhere (except for holiday beaches). You just pop them on, and they’re so practical. So, I love boots!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Maison de Marrakech.

You can find us on :
www.maisondemarrakech.com
www.etsy.com/shop/maisonmarrakech
www.maisonmarrakech.com
www.instagram.com/maisondemarrakech
https://www.facebook.com/Maison-Marrakech-135621059788738/

Thank you Reina for chatting on the blog today and I absolutely adore your products – oh the colours!  I love your travel ideas of going to  places virtually untouched by the modern world…. I visited once a village called Greffeil in  the foothills of the French Pyrenees … some houses still had hay in the basement/ground floor to house their goats overnight, the goat herders still shepherded as they had always done for years … It was like stepping back 100 years.  Have any of you, dear readers, visited places that have remained virtually unchanged? Do tell, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Reina Hagen – Cherquaoui / Maison De Marrakech

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An Interview With Crystal Parade

A bit of sparkle and razzmatazz on the blog this week – Crystal Parade  is the UK’s premier partner and supplier of Preciosa Crystals, Swarovski Crystals, and Crystallised Swarovski Elements – as well as supplying fabrics, feathers, fringes, crinolin and motifs for use in the theatre, TV, film, events, fashion, bridal and theming industries, among others.  I caught up with Wendy Miller, the Managing Director, to find out more about her sparkling inspiration and her passion for boots!

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Hi, my name is Wendy C. Miller. I’m an entrepreneur, Director/Producer of Musical Theatre, and Managing Director of Crystal Parade. I enjoy acting, gardening, singing, travelling, and spending time with close friends/family.

Crystal Parade was awarded the Feefo Gold Trusted Merchant accreditation this year. What was the inspiration behind Crystal Parade?

The inspiration behind Crystal Parade was to essentially collaborate with the Creative Arts sector in a closer way. Having a certain amount of knowledge, experience and a great passion for the industry, my desire was to build an online business which could add further value to the marketplace by providing high quality products, specialist advice, innovative ideas and excellent customer service.

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Your main areas of speciality are providing all kinds of Swarovski Crystals, Preciosa Crystals, principal fabric, abstract fabric, fancy fabric, feathers, fringe, crinoline and motifs for use in the theatre, TV, film, events, fashion and theming industries. You’ve recently supplied the products to embellish the outfits for Fleur East, Little Mix & Olly Mur’s dancers on X Factor, for example. How satisfying is it to see the finished costumes on stage that your company have helped to produce?

It is extremely satisfying to work with some of the world’s leading stylists, designers and artistes. We are very passionate about our business, our product range and the services we offer, the whole
team strive to provide excellence at every opportunity. The end result always gives us great pleasure and we are enormously proud of our collaborations.

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You also supply Swarovski Crystals, Crystallised Swarovski Elements and Preciosa Crystals and other such products for use in bridalwear, beauty, costumes, cardmaking, dance, equestrian,
jewellery and nail art. What products are most popular?

At Crystal Parade we have such a comprehensive range of high quality products to choose from, be that crystals, fabrics or trimmings, we find every industry has a different requirement. For instance our smaller sizes of Swarovski flatback crystals are extremely popular with nail artists and beauticians, and the larger sizes are used more for crystallizing dancewear, shoes and theatre costumes. The Crystal Clear and AB (aurora borealis) are easily our most popular colours in both Swarovski and Preciosa however, it depends on seasonal inspirations and of course which pantone colours are on trend. We’re always on hand to offer specialist advice whatever the requirement.

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You recently launched Crystal Parade TV where you showcase your latest ideas and fun projects which people can easily make – what has been your favourite “idea” or “project” which is featured
on the channel?

We have filmed around 10 episodes so far, crystallising different types of desirable objects for the home and garden, all of which are easy to make plus they look fantastic when complete. My favourite is a close call between the Marmite Jar episode & the Winter Lantern video . Both were interesting projects to work on and topical but the Winter Lantern episode features a cheeky cameo appearance by my cat so I would have to choose this purely for the entertainment value!

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What has been the most unusual item/ enquiry requested to be decorated with crystals?

As you can imagine, we receive all sorts of requests, some more interesting than others but one of the most unusual, not to mention humorous, enquiries we received when we first started out was to help crystallise a battery powered adult toy. Unfortunately we were unable to assist on that particular occasion!

Can you tell us about the Crystal Club?

The Crystal Club is an exclusive member’s only community for those who love to add sparkle to their lives and are dedicated to the art and craft of crystallising! Crystal Club members are able to build up ‘Sparkle Points’ every time they purchase from our website and then receive money off as well as receiving up to date information on all competitions, freebies, discounts, giveaways, special offers, downloads, projects, inspirational ideas plus all the latest news & workshop updates.

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As you are based in the UK, do you offer products or services overseas too?

Yes we do, Crystal Parade are recognised in the industry as the source of creative inspiration. Known as the go-to supplier of crystals, fabrics, feathers and trimmings for both consumers and businesses, we regularly work with customers from Europe, Middle East & Africa, America & Australia.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

On the whole I’m a jeans and t-shirt girl. We have a smart casual dress code in the office so I get to wear jeans every day, consequently I have lots of different types,styles and colours. Joe is my favourite brand. I usually team them with a cool pair of boots, shoes or brogues, a nice artistic shirt/top, finished with a funky scarf and nice handbag!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Apart from www.crystalparade.co.uk? 😀 I like Steve Madden for shoes & I love shopping in Waitrose!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I just got some new ankle boots from Moda in London but I need some more Joe Jeans

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Boots or Shoes?

It would have to be boots. I’m a huge fan of boots, plus we are currently working with the award winning musical Kinky Boots in London. We provide the crystals & fabrics for the show. You should see the boots! WOW!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more
about Crystal Parade.

Website – www.crystalparade.co.uk
Crystal Parade TV – https://www.youtube.com/user/CrystalParade
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crystal-Parade/301559506525421
Twitter – https://twitter.com/CrystalParade1
Pinterest – https://uk.pinterest.com/crystalparade1/

It’s always a great pleasure to have a fellow fan of boots on the blog – I do love your fashion sense too, Wendy – you can never have enough boots, shoes or jeans I say! (Plus the odd glamorous dress or two)  I will try to get to see Kinky Boots – if only to witness the boots themselves! And as for the request for a crystallised adult toy…. Ah, dear readers, are you into crystal embellishments? What fashion/footwear item would you love to embellish? Dare I say it, but any other items?   Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Crystal Parade except for the shoe photo.Last photo: Daily Mail 
[http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3357710/Girl-power-Little-Mix-Fleur-East-leggy-display-team-epic-mash-hit-singles-star-X-Factor-final.html ]

Shoe photo credit: Linda Hobden

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An Interview With Bling Art

Talking nails this week…false nails to be exact.  I do love my nail enamels but my nails are very short – not bitten – but short on purpose.  I like to type and use my iPhone using the pads on the top of my fingers and long nails just get in the way.  I’ve tried growing them and I did succeed. I have had the shellac treatment and my nails looked lovely, however I couldn’t use my phone properly, and besides, I prefer the convenience of having short stubby nails that I can paint on a whim.  False nails never crossed my mind. I did try false nails once, in April 1988… they were long, awful looking and a relief when they fell off. So when my guest, Sophia of Bling Art, sent me some of her modern false nails to see if she could change my mind, I wasn’t very confident.  I reasoned that stubby nails don’t look right on an evening out, so I agreed to give them a whirl.  Here is a rather unflattering picture of my hand in its usual state:

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I had 3 evenings out to try the new nails.  The kits themselves are nicely packaged and apart from nails, there’s a file and plenty of glue.  Finding a false nail that corresponds to the width of my own nail, I applied a small blob of glue onto my clean nail and onto the false nail, and pressed them together, holding for a second or two to set.  As easy as that. I was able to file the nails like you would do to give them a natural shape and look – these nails were a “medium” length – long enough to look elegant, short enough to look, dare I say it? ….Natural.  The nail photos are all my own nails. What do you think? So was I converted?  For a special evening out I would definitely consider them.  The nails stayed put – they last around 5 days, and are scratch resistant. No chipped nail polish! 

Let’s welcome onto my blog Sophia ….

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Hi!  I am Sophia Aziz. I am a mother of 2, married 20 years. I have a passion for nails and I am the founder of Bling Art. We are more than simply a seller of false nails, we not only design but manufacture our nails under our brand Bling Art.

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What was the inspiration behind setting up Bling Art?

I have always loved nail art. As a child I would play dress up with friends and I would always know which colours or styles would suit who. Unfortunately, as I aged I realised my hand eye co-ordination was nowhere near as good as I needed to pursue my passion as a full time career. At this time, false nails were only really available at salons, having your nails done was an “experience”, a chance to catch up with friends and unwind. However over the years I noticed not only more and more cheap Chinese imports of false nails being available in markets and on stalls but also exponential growth in the number of nail “booths” opening. The demand for nail art was growing but the selection of false nails, particularly with regard to design and quality were few and far between. There were so many unanswerables e.g. glue safety, staff training and qualifications and to be honest the booths made me feel like cattle, with rows of us sitting and waiting to be “processed”. So I decided, there must be more women like me, who loved nail art but didn’t have the time to maintain nails that would look glamorous with nail varnish and were not prepared to pay budget prices in salon booths. Instead, I took the view I would prefer to do my own nails and if only I could make designs that were not only amazing and appealing but could be perfectly reproduced so women like me could sit at home, enjoy “me” time and not worry about safety and quality, instead focus on adding the nails and recapturing the childhood girly innocence of enjoying the nail art experience.This time with a stunning design and made from superior quality.

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Have you always had a passion for nails?

 YES….always, from as far back as I could remember. I am the little girl who would be doing something to everybody else’s hands during sleepovers.  I wish I could have been a nail technician with the skill to create what I see in my mind. True nail art is spectacular and I believe the artists (yes, I see them as “artists” and not simply nail technicians) are not credited as much as they should be.

Why do you think false nails have come back into fashion?

Personally, I believe it is due to a number of factors:

  •  the number 1 reason I think is the internet coupled with mobile phone photography technology, apps like Instagram, Facebook and social media in general have had a direct impact on what I call “social media friendly products”.
  • Nails are social media friendly, e.g.: post a beautiful set of nails and the chances are people (women) will click more than if you showed a bottle of milk.
  • Nails have benefitted because they do not require a woman to “dress up” for her selfie or be conscious of what else is in the photo. She won’t be judged on her appearance but rather she is complimented / critiqued on the nails she is showing.E.g.: take a few minutes out from a busy day, apply nails in me time, simple to use, easy to follow instructions, quality, consistent and durable product. Take a pic on my phone, share with my friends and hey ho I feel good and off I go J
  • Improved designs and production techniques. The quality of the nails has significantly improved over the last decade. All our nails are made from abs virgin plastic and our products have been subjected to numerous tests and procedures before being classified as safe.
  • Price – The massive growth in booths in towns and cities across the UK and market nail salons has not only driven prices down but by competing at the prices they do, but by dropping prices as aggressively as they have done, they unwittingly bridged pricing gulf that used to exist between false nails and professional salons.

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I particularly like the Bling Art False Nails French Manicure Metallic Light Green. What nails are proving popular so far?

I am glad to know you love our Light Green. I LOVE our gel nails in particular, Athena, Valentina, Fuchsia and Andromeda. If anybody has shied away from false nails and prefers gel nails, then you must try our new ready-made selection. These nails are extremely glossy and to add the extra sparkle we have embedded glitter into the finishing process. This not only brings the nails to life but gives them an ultra-smooth finish. Our most popular nails are Red 4 Danger and Purple for Joy. These nails are gorgeous, it really has to be seen to be believed. My favourite is Our Matte Black Nail, this is the most popular nail globally, it is chic, elegant and I guess black is the universal colour.

I left my nails on until they dropped off naturally, but how best do you remove a nail if you cannot wait for it to drop off naturally?

There are a number of ways to remove the false nails, I prefer to soak them in hot water after 5 days or so and they gently come away. You can use any acetone based cleaner and it will do pretty much the same thing but given the number of other “removers” I have in my life, I am happy with soaking my hands in warm water as it feels good.

Can they be re-used?

Yes, but would I recommend it…NO, the time, energy and effort you expend to clean the old glue off etc. . I think it is more cost effective to purchase and wear a brand new set

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Hypothetically speaking, which famous person would you pick to be the “hands” of Bling Art nails?

I don’t have to do hypothetically, thank god Adele said “hello” after 3 years because if you watched the Brit awards she was wearing the most spectacular stiletto nails! I choose Adele as our perfect role model because she loves nails and is amazing. You listen to Adele because her songs take you places, her voice is unbelievable and everybody recognises it. She does not play up to the unattainable standards the media expects of women. She does not pretend she is super slim and always looks perfect unlike women like the Kardashians portray/ project. Instead Adelle is a talented singer and songwriter and she is respected for this. I  think women like the Kardashians, the wags, the Instagram models and others are unhealthy for the girls of today, ladies of tomorrow. Adele gives girls/women who have not been blessed with today’s version of what beauty is, the confidence to pursue their dreams and see her as living proof that talent is what counts. Our nails, I hope give women that same feeling, a way to express themselves and use medium like social media in a positive woman friendly way. They can simply apply them and if they feel like, take a picture and share (if they wish). No need to add makeup, pout like a goldfish, dress up and worry about everything else a visual selfie might entail.

Where can people buy your nails and do you deliver outside the UK?

Our Nails are available to buy online from our website as well as on Amazon and eBay. We have managed to amass a loyal following globally and in order to improve service standards and particularly delivery times we have our nails in the Amazon depots in US, UK,DE, FR, IT, and ES. Therefore any orders placed in these countries means women can enjoy the same delivery times as our UK customers enjoy. In time we hope to work with strategic partners and make them readily available in retail environments globally.

Any new nail ranges coming out soon?

We have a brand new selection of 25 + Stiletto Nails to our range. It has taken us years to perfect and I am very excited as I know not only have we cracked it on the design and quality but the quality is out of this world. My only worry is getting our pictures to do the nails justice. I think for this collection we will need to show them using hd video.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I wear business attire during the day, smart black pants, white blouse topped off with a coat and boots. I know I should wear comfortable shoes but boots do it for me (and I am the boss) so I wear black suede ankle boots.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I must confess I am lipstick mad and my favourite online store is Mac. I find the site so engaging and the colours on offer are so rich and intense. If I have a busy day I often find myself looking through their offerings and treating myself to the latest colour.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe/ bag wish list?

Most probably red boots with a shade of lipstick to match!

Boots or Shoes?

Boots most definitely. I am passionate about beautiful designer boots. Not the sky high heels( I’d break my ankles and neck ) just the ones that at first you don’t notice but when you do you can’t take your eyes off of them. Beautiful boots complement most outfits and if possible I will wear them over shoes any day. They give me confidence, a little more height and are perfect for the British weather.

Links you would like to share:

www.blingart.co.uk

www.artplus.uk

Thank you for persuading me to give false nails a try Sophia!  Dear readers, look out for the new nail styles coming out later this month – stiletto nails no less! Have you any nail tales to tell?  Have you tried false nails or are you a proud owner of natural long nails? Do tell!

Linda x

Photo Credits:  Nail pics – Linda Hobden

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