Category Archives: Reviews

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 workforce 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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Kinky Boots Weekend

It was all about boots last weekend in my household – a trip to London to see the West End smash hit musical, Kinky Boots. Wearing my favourite boots (not kinky, but stylish) – cowboy boots by Jeffery West – my husband and I set off to be wowed!

First stop was Piccadilly Arcade and a visit to the iconic Jeffery West shoe shop. Although my boots are by Jeffery West, the brand is mostly male orientated. The shop oozes sophistication from the shining array of leather shoes and boots on display, the comfortable snakeskin sofa to the iconic rock posters on the wall.

Jeffery-West is the brainchild of Mark Jeffery and Guy West, who both hail from the shoe making capital of the UK, Northampton.  Using an array of colours, leathers and imagination not often found in men’s footwear – if you’re looking for classic English brogues, then this is not the shop for you. The shoes and boots are inspired by actors and rock legends, such as Keith Richards, Oliver Reed, Peter O’Toole, Jarvis Cocker, Bryan Ferry, Roger Moore, Bram Stoker, Richard Burton. The footwear all have the signature red lining and even their men’s accessories, eg the leather gloves are red silk lined and the men’s briefcase is fashioned in black snakeskin and lined in red suede.

However, I was not here to merely window shop or to buy boots for myself.  My husband has had a pair of Jeffery West boots on his wish list for a while.  He was all smiles when he opted for some black snakeskin boots. They did look fab! As all the boots and shoes are named after icons, it was great to discover that the boots he chose were named after one of his favourite musicians, Phil Lynott.

If you fancy checking out Jeffery-West shops, you can find them online or visit their shops – they have 2 in London (Piccadilly & Cullum Street, part of Leadenhall Market); Barton Arcade in Manchester; The County Arcade in Leeds; and at 19 Christopher Street in Manhattan, New York.

Having changed into his new boots, my husband and I toddled off through the crowds that were celebrating Chinese New Year onto our next port of call, the Adelphi Theatre, to see the musical Kinky Boots. The musical, written by Harvey Fierstein, is based on the 2005 film of the same name.  The film is a big favourite of mine so I was looking forward to seeing how the story would act out on stage, so to speak.

The basic plot: “Price & Son” is a fictional traditional menswear factory based in Northampton.  Although Mr Price was into his shoes, his son Charlie did not have the same enthusiasm.  He ups sticks and moves to London with his fiancée – then he gets a phone call telling him that his father has died.  Charlie returns to Northampton and immediately everybody in the factory assumes that he’ll be taking over. Charlie finds out that the company was verging on bankruptcy, orders had been cancelled but as Mr Price couldn’t bear to see his workers suffer, he continued to make stock that was virtually useless. He thought about making the workers redundant, he thought about taking some stock to an old friend in London to shift at his store.  Whilst in London, Charlie spots a lady being accosted in an alley and goes to rescue her, but he wasn’t prepared for the lady’s deadly right hook.  The lady was drag queen, “Lola”.  Moaning about her cheap useless boots whose heel kept falling off, Charlie & Lola collaborate to save Charlie’s factory  by developing a line of high heel fetishwear sexy enough for a lady yet strong enough to support a man’s weight.  There were hiccups along the way – “it has high heeled, it has to be red, and scream sex” as Lola was trying to convince the straitlaced Charlie that was the way to go. Especially as they want to make inroads into the Milan footwear catwalk show! Interlaced with the main story, was factory prejudices, “Lola’s” story and a moral ending that is not exactly what you would at first think.

My verdict:  The show stuck to the plot of the film, near enough – a couple of variations that did work better on stage, for example,  the background of the factory & Lola’s story featured in detail at the start of the film was condensed in the show; in the film there was a hand wrestling match – this was replaced with an awe inspiring choreographed boxing ring bout.  Oh, the live drag show was spectacular – how do those blokes dance in heels? And, they were all utterly gorgeous! The songs/music were written by 1980s pop star  Cyndi Lauper (remember “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”?) so the 1980s vibe was alive and kicking.  I was mesmerised from start to finish – I laughed, cried, sang & danced.

Purchasing a T shirt to remember my fantastic day – I urge you all to Keep Calm and Buy Kinky – buy the DVD, buy tickets to see the Show or Film – honestly, you won’t be disappointed.

Finally I want to thank my gorgeous husband, Adam, for buying me the DVD & show tickets for Christmas – and for a brilliant London trip!

Linda x

All photos are by Linda Hobden

Disclaimer:  I have not been paid or sponsored to feature either Jeffery-West or Kinky Boots.  The boots were purchased by my husband. I’m such an avid fan of Jeffery West that I just couldn’t let this post go by without mentioning their website!

 

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Ozalia Australia Review

Welcome to part 2 of my spotlight on Ozalia Australia, the makers of totally luxurious sheepskin boots.  Part 1 concentrated on my interview with Aaron, the founder – to read his interview click HERE.  Part 2 is my review of the Ozalia Australia boots themselves, putting Aaron’s claims to the test! DISCLAIMER ALERT: The boots have been supplied by Ozalia Australia for the purpose of this review however all opinions expressed are 100%mine.

First of all, the website – www.ozaliaboots.com. It came across to me as an easy to navigate website, clear descriptions  and placing an order is simple.  Although the prices are not cheap – we are talking luxury sheepskin boots of the highest quality – they are, nevertheless, very competitive, working out to roughly half the price of similar style boots by fellow luxury brand competitors.

Delivery of the boots:  After you’ve placed your order, you’re provided with a tracking number. Despatch was pretty quick, arriving within 2 days.  Having warehouses in both the USA & UK (for UK & Europe deliveries) as well as in Australia, makes a speedy delivery possible. Best of all, the company offer worldwide FREE shipping.  When I received my package, I was impressed.  Inside the large logo clad shoe box, was a logo clad tissue paper cover enclosing a sumptious black velvet bag housing the boots themselves. In with the package was a “social media” envelope enclosing a welcome card to the Ozalia Australia community and a two-sided banner card so that you can pose on Instagram and other social media places. It’s a feature that I wouldn’t take advantage of personally, however I do think that for younger Instagram fans it is quite a cool addition.

The Boots.  They look luxurious, are well made and have the thickest fleece lining I have ever seen.  Aaron explained that the fleece has natural lanolin which, when the boots are worn with bare feet, moisturise and soften the feet.  Absolute bliss.  

All Ozalia Australia’s boots come with a “warmest boot guarantee” – in other words, if the boots are not the warmest you’ve ever owned, then they will send your money back. My feet are snug as a bug in a rug! I couldn’t believe though how thick the fleece lining was and so I compared the lining with similar boots from a different brand ….

My last test was the water & stain resistant test.  The boots, whilst not recommended to be worn during a blizzard or a torrential downpour, have been treated to make them water & stain resistant for at least 6 months. Aaron assured me that if I poured a glass of water over the outside of the boots, the water will just roll off. So I reluctantly took my boot, filled a glass with water and poured it over the boot. Well, what happened was …. In fact, I took a video so that the experiment could be conducted live:

Water Demo IMG_6345

My Verdict:  Very snug & stylish boots indeed. Although they are not recommended for long walks in deep snow, they will certainly keep your feet warm whilst doing ordinary day to day activities. On long journeys by car, plane or train, these boots are ideal slipper substitutes. I wouldn’t recommend wearing them with thick socks and jeans – but I would recommend wearing them with a knitted dress & tights OR with leggings OR even denim shorts.  I must add though, that if you are used to wearing heels, the completely flat sole will take some getting used to.  I kept tripping over my own feet when I first wore them!

STOP PRESS!

If you fancy these snug boots for yourself, or perhaps some moccasins, then Aaron at Ozalia Australia is offering readers of this blog 15% discount off everything in their store (www.ozaliaboots.com).  Just quote the special promo code “bootsshoesandfashion15” at the checkout.

Happy boot shopping!

Linda x

All photos by Linda Hobden

 

 

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6 Discoveries I Made In 2016

As 2016 comes to a close, I’ve decided to make the last post of 2016 one which I share with you some discoveries that I have made across  the board – fashion, footwear, beauty, food, etc.  These discoveries might not actually be “new” but they are new experiences for me 🙂 So, in no particular order, here are 6 things I discovered this year….

1. The Jack-it Bag   –  I love it as a jacket but it can easily convert into a bag.  Catch my interview with the brand HERE.  The jacket I’m wearing is made of velour and has a strong satin lining.  I’m looking forward to wearing it more in 2017.

2. Salted Caramel.  Since the end of 2015 when I discovered Tesco Salted Caramel Cream Liqueur and Wilkins Salted Caramel Spread, I have had an indulgent love affair with salted caramel throughout 2016 – cheesecakes, ice creams, chocolate – and then, at the beginning of December, I found this ultimate shower cream from Avon ….. Yes, it’s “salted caramel & almond” …..

3.  Chocolate Red Wine.  This year, courtesy of my darling husband, I discovered chocolate red wine.  It is a combination of 2 of my favourite things – chocolate & wine!  It is pretty sweet, smells divine and tastes heavenly – it is akin to port rather than your standard glass of red.  My new favourite “liqueur” to date.

4.  Contouring.  I was a little late in embracing this make up look and couldn’t quite “get it” until I came across this delightful contouring stick by W7.  It is a 2-ended stick with a highlighter at one end and a bronzer at the other – plus clear and handy instructions on how to apply on the box. 

5.  Slippers.  OK – not quite a “discovery” BUT I used to hate wearing slippers as I always received furry ones or memory foam style slippers which I felt were uncomfortable, made my feet sweat and I couldn’t walk in them! I needed to find a pair that I could wear indoors – and I found these leather Moroccan style ballerina style slippers from NEXT.  They not only look stylish but they fit well, are comfortable and I now wear slippers indoors! No more stubbed toes that used to occur when I walked about barefoot.

6.  Fitbit.  Coming home on a flight from Madeira in August I was listening to a podcast on my phone that was talking about the health benefits of walking 10,000 steps. It motivated me to move more.  A Fitbit was on my Xmas list but my lovely husband treated me to a Fitbit beforehand.  I love it.  I have gone from being a slob to being on the move and although I don’t always hit 10,000 steps every day I am pleased with the 8000 steps + a day I  do currently hit and my twice weekly 10,000 steps +. Love the turquoise colour strap too.

What did you discover in 2016?  Do tell, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos by Linda Hobden

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Five Go Sparkly

Recently I’ve come across on Amazon adult spoof books written by Bruno Vincent based around Enid Blyton’s old children’s books of the adventures of the Famous Five  … such as Five On Brexit Island,  Five Go Gluten Free,  Five Give Up The Booze…. and they do look like fun books, so I decided to base my blog title around Bruno’s idea.  That’s where the similarity ends…. well sort of….

The number 5 is certainly true and my post takes place on Brexit Island (UK) …. But the giving up booze part… Nah, not happening! Here’s the story….

I kindly received some sparkly fashion jewellery from the delightful  Belinda of Belinda’s Handbags & Accessories to review. Belinda sells some really nice handbags and shawls too as well as some fun, sparkly fashion jewellery – ideal for parties, dates, gifts, weddings … and for nights out on the town with the girls.  So with the wine in full flow, my  5 friends and I road tested the fashion jewellery on our recent night out…

Becky favoured these sparkly earrings  – and they were the overall favourite earrings of the evening as voted by all us girls.  Becky liked the way the earrings blended well with her other studs – a bonus if you have more than one piercing on an ear.  Very stylish for a glam event!

Vicky chose the long, long  goldtone necklace and it really did look super with her black dress.  It was one of those necklaces that looked better once on  and was certainly not for the shrinking violet!  A really fun fashion piece.

Ella chose the sparkly flower & teardrop earrings which were very cute and elegant looking.  Ideal for the party season and beyond!

Harriet’s choice of earrings were these large goldtone ones with a  green simulated gemstone.  At first glance, I must admit,  I thought they were rather big and OTT …. but they have now wheedled their way into my affections.  I do love the colour green – and the green/goldtone setting of these earrings make them a good choice especially when worn with black.  Again, maybe not for the shrinking violet!

Tracy has beautiful hands and nails, so I wasn’t surprised that she chose to model the sparkly cluster ring with an adjustable band.  Stunning on, it wasn’t obvious that the ring was a totally affordable fashion jewellery item.

There are still a few days left before Christmas and New Year – if you need a gift for somebody or if you need that sparkly item for that works party or New Year Ball – or you would just like to treat yourself –  have a look at Belinda’s online store and see if something tickles your fancy! You can find Belinda’s full range here:

Website is www.belindashandbagsandaccessories.co.uk

Facebook business page is https://www.facebook.com/belindashandbagsandaccessories/?fref=ts

Facebook group is https://www.facebook.com/groups/75930301624/

Twitter https://twitter.com/BelindasHandbag

Pinterest https://uk.pinterest.com/bagsandjewels

My thanks goes to Belinda for sending me the pieces of jewellery to review (all opinions are my own)  and thanks to my friends who agreed to model the pieces for me … Becky, Vicky, Ella, Harriet & Tracy.

Linda x

All photos were taken by 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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An Interview With English Rose Cosmetics

I love to wax lyrical about a product or company that I’ve discovered that has made a big and lasting impression on me – it’s even better when the company agrees to an interview! I first came across the English Rose Cosmetics last year – my skin is extremely dry and prone to itchy eczema occasionally around my eyes during my hay fever season ( Feb – June  – tree pollen) – and I spotted a post on Facebook about English Rose Cosmetics night cream.   Luckily enough Karin was looking for people to review the product, I applied and got my chance to try this cream. Thus started my love affair. So here’s a quick review on the Night Cream along with two other products I’ve used over the last few months:

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Nighty Night Cream –  on the tin it says it plumps out wrinkles, reduces age spots, controls oiliness & improves skin texture.  I am used to putting on thick cream in an effort to combat the dryness/eczema.  In contrast, this cream is light and very lightly fragranced – it soaks into the skin well, without leaving a sticky residue nor does it tighten the skin.  It feels refreshing and soothing on the face.  It has hydrated my skin and has improved my skin texture – as for the wrinkles, well, they do seem to have been smoothed away.  9/10

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Bright Eyed & Bushy Tailed Eye Cream –  I had noticed dark bags appearing under my eyes over the last 6 months or so, despite wearing make up to try and camouflage the effects.  Combine that with my itchy eczema, I was at the end of my tether as to what to do.  However, once I tried the night cream I decided to purchase the eye cream (it says it reduces dark circles, bags  & puffy eyes whilst plumping out fine wrinkles). Dabbing the light cream around my eyes twice a day for the last 2 months I have found that my dark bags under my eyes are not as pronounced – in fact they’re barely noticeable; the skin around my eye area is smooth and virtually line free, no hint of dryness; and best of all, no sore eczema patches on my eyelids! Very pleased! 10/10

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Fair of Face Facial Cleanser –  I’ve only recently tried this cleanser.  It is said to combat oiliness, soothe acne and inflammation without drying the skin.  As my skin is dry, oiliness and acne has never been an  issue.  The cleanser is a light foam, which exudes a pleasant ginger  aroma which is very refreshing and uplifting. A little goes a long way, and leaving it on your face for a few minutes before rinsing off, really wakens up your skin. It certainly made my face feel clean, no itching and no dryness. A fab base before applying moisturiser, foundation and make up.  My face felt so clean that I bypassed the toner stage altogether. 8/10

Without further ado let’s meet Karin, the lovely lady behind English Rose Cosmetics… hi Karin, welcome…image

Hi! I am Karin Mckay, and have worked 17 years in the cosmetic industry. I’m based in Reading and I do pretty much components, packaging, designing the packaging, the social media, sales and marketing.

What was the inspiration behind setting up English Rose Cosmetics?

It literally started out of nothing. My sales & marketing career had ended as due to neck and back injuries in 2009, I’ve had 2 back operations and several neck injections. So I really could only work 3 days a week, without commuting and needed adjustments made in the work place, so that basically made me unemployable. I had been out of work during 2012 and was getting more and more despondent as to what I could do with my life. So when I had the inspiration for the English Rose character, I drew on all my knowledge on ingredients, formulating, manufacturing of cosmetics and contacts in the industry and started working on my own products.

Have you always wanted to be in the makeup /skincare/ beauty industry?

The trends and innovation start with the cosmetic manufacturers, they train their agents around the world and then people like me would present the new ingredients/trends to cosmetic scientists and marketing personnel at the brands. We would make really fabulous example formulations to demonstrate new ingredients. Sometimes the marketing department didn’t “get” the science and sometimes the Cosmetic Scientist were on a tight budget or were under pressure to use existing approved ingredients. Really amazing ingredients never made it through, as brands continued on with the same old formulations and boring ingredients because they didn’t want to be innovators. So all this time I was thinking about the “perfect” skincare and what it should contain.

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What products seem to be most popular with your customers?

Bright Eyed & Bushy Tailed eye cream is the biggest seller, as there are not many eye creams that tick all the boxes with under eye problems and customers are really seeing results, some instantly but the majority after a couple of weeks. Customers with more prominent eye bags really notice it’s working when they run and their problems become more noticeable. A lot of people try the concealer route with under eye problems, and this is fine up until the point when eye bags develop. I cannot stress the importance enough of using this eye cream to clear up dark circles and puffy eyes quickly, as in addition, you are putting back elasticity into the under eye area, which will help prevent bags in the future. For customers aged 38+ ideally you should be using this eye cream daily, as our skin loses elasticity and this can lead to under eye bags. The second best seller is Nighty Night Cream – I probably have more customers for Daily Defence Cream, but the ladies that use Nighty Night Cream usually buy 3 at a time online. This can be used day or night and I highly recommend starting at the décolletage and sweeping up the neck to the face. Mature skin needs more moisture and it needs actives that stimulate the cells in the dermis to improved firmness and elasticity and this cream really delivers in that area. I usually recommend to customers to try it on their neck and then feel that area where they applied an hour later. What they notice instantly is how quickly it sinks into their neck; any cream that sinks in quickly is a good indication at how compatible with your skins own oils it is, and how desperately your skin needed a ”drink”. Feeling the area where the cream was applied an hour later, gives a good indication on the ongoing benefits which high quality ingredients deliver.

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I love the Nighty Night Cream – it smells fresh and makes my skin feel delightfully soft. What’s your personal favourite skincare item from your range?

Well, I do love them all and when I create them I think about how to make it the most perfect product in its category and use innovative ingredients with strong evidence behind them. My 48 year old face is a really good advert for my products. If I had to choose only one, I would have to say Fair of Face is very unique and I’m really impressed with every aspect of it. I rarely wear mascara, eye shadow, foundation or powder so I didn’t need an oil based cleanser, but I like to use a good product on my face in the shower as I’m a lazy cleanser. I used to get cyst like spots on my chin every couple of months that would last for about 7 days. Since using Fair of Face I have not had any spots, despite occasionally forgetting to remove make up. Also when I’ve washed with it in the morning and spritzed with Rose Kiss floral water, I have sometimes forgotten to put on moisturiser because my skin does not feel dry. Every other cleanser has left my skin feeling dry, but not this one. I have also put it to the test and used a makeup remover after Fair of Face to check that it’s removing grime thoroughly and it is. I have got into a routine of turning on the shower, applying Fair of Face and then rinsing it off in the shower, as that bit of contact time on the skin allows the plant actives to work.

In a nutshell, what ingredients have you used to make the Nighty Night Cream so effective at plumping out those wrinkles and softening my skin?

Bidens Pilosa (Revinage) is the hero ingredient in Nighty Night Cream. When I developed the night cream I knew I wanted to work in the dermis to boost collagen and elastin production (Extra cellular matrix), and that Retinol/Vitamin A was a good benchmark with proven deep wrinkle reduction. So when I came across a plant with retinoid properties that had strong evidence behind it, I was very interested. The problem with Retinol is it can cause irritancy, so it’s used at very low levels, or customers need to get a prescription to get a higher level and hope they don’t get a reaction. Bidens Pilosa doesn’t cause this type of reaction, which means it can be used at a higher level and therefore be more effective. In addition to plumping out wrinkles its’ been clinically proven to inhibit melanin cells that form age spots. Hyaluronic acid is also in Nighty Night Cream and this is something that’s present in our skin and its function is to hold water, which makes it good at plumping out wrinkels too. There are also a lot of plant oils; rosehip, shea, linseed, cottonseed, evening primrose oil, wheat germ oil etc. and they will provide essential fatty acids to the cellular wall in the epidermis, keeping that functioning optimally, healthy, moisturised and supple. The skin is the biggest organ in our bodies and its important to work with it and give it what it needs to keep it balanced and functioning optimally and this is t he theory which underpins English Rose Cosmetic products.

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

If the funds were there I would bring out 7 new products a year, as I really love researching and developing the best possible product. But it takes investment and faster turnover of existing products.

There are three formulations that are ready and they are:
1. Mermaids Cleansing water – a micelle water to remove make up with a seaweed active that calms inflamed skin
2. Moisturising lip gloss in 3 amazing shades, this feels like a molten lipstick and the base makes the colours look vibrant
3. Facial oil with trio of Omega oils and some collagen firming properties – I’m undecided about whether to add a fragrance or not.

These are ideas as I haven’t got the formulation right yet:

1. Land Girls Face Mask with honey, oat and apple                          

 2. Powder Cleanser/Mask – that forms an interesting texture when mixed with water and has potent Vitamin C and fruit acids.

English Rose Cosmetics has been approved by PETA and is licensed to carry their logo. How important was it for the company to get this approval?

As animal testing on finished cosmetics was banned in the UK back in the 90’s, it was misleading to put on packaging “Not animal tested” as a UK or EU company would be breaking the law, and it inferred that other UK cosmetic companies were. The key thing is and always has been the ingredients selected, some products that have been in use for decades would have been tested decades ago, but the majority of EU and US suppliers do not test new ingredients on animals, which is why I prefer to source from them, so I can get declarations at the development stage. In recent years a lot of brands entered the Chinese market and the government there requires finished products to be tested on animals. I believe this will change as the Chinese industry catches up with EU testing techniques which have been adapted to deliver good results without using animals. However A LOT of brands have lost their PETA and BUAV status because of this. I like PETA as they don’t just focus on cosmetics, they focus on animal welfare in all areas, and it’s thanks to their newsletter that I made the decision to stop eating meat (I do have the occasional lapse) as I didn’t feel comfortable about the industrial farming of animals for human consumptions. I don’t judge meat eaters, as I acknowledge that some people love the taste of meat, I never really liked meat so it was easy for me to stop, but I do think it would be wonderful all round if everyone reduced their meat intake.

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I love the names you give to your products – e.g. the Fair of Face Gentle Foaming Cleanser. Where does the inspiration come from when naming your products?

I try and stay true to British phrases that we all know and have a nostalgic feeling towards and try to make it relevant to the product. Example:-
Bright Eyed and Bushy Tailed eye cream – gives us the impression of looking fresh and wide awake, exactly what one wants from an eye cream, but I make no guarantees on the Bushy Tail!
Lay Back and Think of England is a cheeky reference to the aphrodisiac properties of rose fragrance.
Rose Kiss Spritz – spraying pure Rosa damascene floral water on the face is like a kiss from a rose, with fresh rain drops on it.
Cocoa Ration Body butter references rationing during WW2 and contains cocoa butter as well as shea and avocado.
Daily Defence Moisturiser – I didn’t manage to come up with an old fashioned name, so I focused on the benefits of the day cream which are: protect against urban pollution and free radical damage.
Nighty Night Cream – most of us remember being told as children, Nighty Night sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!
Fair of Face – this comes from the Monday’s Child Poem, and as the Soap tree bark is very effective in regulating oiliness and clearing up spots, without drying the skin, thus users will have a clear, unblemished face.

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

Pretty much all of my jumpers seems to have glitter going through them! Everything I wear is well fitted and has some interesting detail to it. I like tailored suits and feminine tops. Because of back problems I mainly wear flat shoes now, brogues, loafers and patent leather or animal print flats. I also quite like a bit of camo and military looking jackets and have the most amazing camo handbag in the shape of a dog, even the zips look like dogs bones. It’s very unique but doesn’t really go with anything.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Online I like Campbell Crafts, I really admire Lindsay’s style, and she has a really good collection of vintage reproduction that is very wearable. On the High Street I like TK Maxx as you can really pick up something a bit different but affordable. Unfortunately I don’t have the finances to spend much money on clothes, so I often check out charity shops and Vintage Events for something wearable and Made in UK.

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

The Edith dogtooth wiggle dress from Collectif! I ordered online before Christmas but it was too big, so I’m waiting for my size to come in! I’m always on the look-out for new outfits at Vintage Fairs, I have a love of Made in UK – good quality clothes in tartan, tweed, Prince of Wales, Herringbone, Dogtooth, and of course I would love to find a beautiful Dior Couture outfit from the 50’s, the epitome of feminine elegance.

Boots or Shoes?

Unfortunately I have large calves so battle to find knee high boots that fit, so for me it’s shoes. My favourite pair of shoes is a turquoise/gold Irregular Choice with swans and a Perspex heel. The first time I wore them was to a wedding and I was tasked with looking after the camera to take photos, but apparently when my friends looked at their photos they were mainly of my shoes!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/Facebook/twitter etc. so that readers of the blog can learn more about you and your products

www.english-rose-cosmetics.com
https://www.facebook.com/english.rose.cosmetics
https://twitter.com/karinmckay1
http://beautyinsiderreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

STOP PRESS…. English Rose Cosmetics will be at the RHS London Rose Show 2015 at the RHS Horticultural Halls 29 – 30 May 2015.  Do go & say “Hello” if you are there!  As usual, let me know if you’ve fallen in love too with English Rose Cosmetics – what products tickled your fancy?

Linda x

Photo Credits: Linda Hobden; English Rose Cosmetics

 

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Spotlight on Arbonne

This week I bring you a review and an interview!  I have been looking for a decent mascara for ages – one that’ll make my eyelashes look lush both day and night – the ones I have tried go all clumpy on me!  Megan Thompson from Arbonne came to my aid.  Arbonne are known more for their skincare than their make up – and Megan was telling me that the mascara was fab – so she kindly gave me the mascara and some primer to review for you (and hopefully put an end to my lush eyelash quest).

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“It’s A Long Story Mascara” – looking very chic, the applicator is a long thin brush that coats the eyelashes really well – and no clumps! The claim is that the lashes not only look longer but actually do grow longer.  Not sure how true that is as I didn’t measure my eyelashes before I started using the mascara – all I know is that I definitely love the look that the mascara creates.  It is pricier than a lot of mascaras but it is the best mascara I’ve tried.  9/10 

“Make Up Primer” – I’m not a fan of the matt make up face look – I like my skin to illuminate and I find that primer dulls my skin.  Although I do not use primer under my foundation, I do use primer on my eyelids as a base for my eyeshadow and it also doubles up as a skin soother as I do get a bit of eczema on my eyelids and primer seems to stop the itching! This primer leaves your skin with a soft peachy feel and was easy to apply. For a flawless, matt face this primer is superb. 8/10

Thank you for introducing me to these products Megan and welcome to the blog:image

Hi! I’m Megan Thompson – I’m an Independent Health and Wellness Consultant for Arbonne. 

What made you decide to become a representative for Arbonne?

I was asked two questions: If you continue to do EXACTLY what you are doing right now, where will you be in 5 years? And If you were to lose the main source of income in your home, how long can you live on what you have saved? This made me think deeply about what I really wanted out of life. I decided to become an Independent Consultant for Arbonne as I want to build my own business. I want time leverage, independence, financial stability NOT have financial worries. I saw the opportunity in the UK was monumental! There is nothing better than spending a day with friends and family, meeting for drinks and/or lunch or dinner, and sharing business ideas. My dreams have become reality in a way that I’d never have imagined and I am overjoyed. I do not want to have to work full time for someone else,making them money nor do I,as a mother, want to be working and missing out on my children. My Arbonne business will enable me to give up work and have this as my sole income. When I become Area manager (in the next 2 months) my income will become willable for the next 8 generations of family of my choice! What company offers that? If I worked in a bank they wouldn’t carry on paying my wages to my family would they? My income also doubles. The business opportunity that comes with Arbonne is amazing! I am always looking to expand my team. I want to help others build their own successful business whether it be for a little extra income each month or to build a full time business with a willable income and other amazing opportunities. Full support and training is given throughout. The products are also necessities – things that we all use on a daily basis – hair care, skin care, cosmetics, fragrance, weight management, nutrition, sun care starting from the ABC baby range to the RE9 anti aging range and covering everything in the middle. Having this business will enable me to see the world, I get to educate people on what they are and are not putting into their skin and body! Knowing what I know now about daily products that we all use, I shall never use anything else other than Arbonne! I love how my life has turned so much brighter as well as my future!

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Have you always wanted to be in the make up/skincare/ beauty industry?

I wanted to use products that are pure, safe and beneficial as I do not agree with testing on animals nor using animal by-product(s). I have always wanted to be in the health and wellness sector but finding the right products has been quite difficult until 4 months ago when my personal trainer introduced me to Arbonne. I had already tried a range of products and was very sceptical but thought I would give Arbonne a trial as she swore by using them! I’VE NEVER LOOKED BACK! This has changed my life.

What products seem to be most popular with your customers?

My customers have various favourites but the best seller and most popular with the majority of customers is the RE9 Anti aging skin care range, the It’s a long story mascara and the Primer.

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What’s your personal favourite item from your range?

Oh my, where do I start??? My favourite items (I can’t pick 1….) I would say has to be the toothpaste, the pure vibrance hair care range, primer, cc cream, RE9 corrective eye cream and the mascara. These products I use on a daily basis. The difference in my skin, my complexion, my hair and the way I feel and look are amazing. I have daily comments from people on how good my skin is looking, how radiant I am and how nice my complexion is!

Is there a preferred way to purchase from you – online, through personal consultation,via home parties?

There are various ways you can purchase from me – I offer personal consultations face to face, online consultations, skype sessions, telephone call, spa evenings on a 1:1 basis or you can invite friends/family (these are very fun – we play games and try the products.With the cosmetics, I teach contouring and how to colour match your perfect colour). It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, I can help you and all consultations are FREE! I also offer free try before you buy product samples.

What advice would you give to somebody looking at perhaps joining Arbonne as a representative/consultant?

The products are brilliant and it is great to be able to build up a business to suit you and around the kids (if you have any)! I’m happy to chat to anyone who is interested in the products, swap ideas as a consultant or just chat. I love nothing more than being a part of this amazing company and the leader of my forever growing team. The relationships and friendships that I have built building this business are absolutely invaluable. You’re able to choose who you work with and when you work! It’s up to you who you wish to spend time with and this is paramount to your happiness. I can honestly say there has never been a period of time where I have been happier than now and I have never looked backed from the day I joined Arbonne! You also have amazing discounts by joining Arbonne that comes with the business opportunity.

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In your opinion, how does Arbonne differ from other skincare brands?

Arbonne formulas are based on botanical skin care principles and formulated without animal products or animal by-products, parabens, formaldehyde, PABA, mineral oil, petrolatum and phthalates toluene.  Arbonne delivers its products in a timely manner, everything is packaged nicely, with sufficient usage instructions. Arbonne claims the range contains high concentrations of advanced ingredients that support collagen and restore the skin’s youthful appearance. Arbonne Re9 contains nine anti aging ingredients, including Vitamin C and Algae Extract. The percentage of active ingredients is reasonably high compared to other skin care brands. Arbonne is not as heavy handed as other skin care companies when it comes to marketing claims. Arbonne lists its ingredients clearly on its website and describes the function of each ingredient.

Although you are based in the UK you are able to ship overseas. Can you give further details for those non-UK readers?

Although I am based in the UK I can ship worldwide! Arbonne is a global business so no matter where you are in the world I can deliver right to your door.

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

Depends on the day I am having. If I am at home then I will be in some jogging pants and a t-shirt and slippers for the winter and for the summer I’ll be out in the garden in a bikini and sunbathing. At work I will be in office attire – skirt, tights, top and blazer. If I’m going out on a lunch/dinner/coffee date, I always dress smart casual but comfortable and fashionable.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

My favourite clothes shops are Lavish Alice and Silk Fred. I love a bit of Ebay for some unique clothing to fill my wardrobe.

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

Some thigh high boots and a jumpsuit are on my list of what to buy next ready for an evening to dance the night away with friends, and a couple of dresses to wear, one for the Ascot races day in June and another for a wedding in March.

Boots or Shoes?

Can’t decide on boots or shoes because I love them all. I have an amazing collection of different styles of footwear. It all depends on the outfit I choose to wear.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can order from you and/or read up on Arbonne’s range of products.

Email – arbonne_meg@yahoo.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Megan-Thompson-Arbonne-Independent-Consultant/585963948205009
Twitter – @Arbonne_meg
Website – www.arbonneinternational.com – when visiting the website and purchasing you need to enter my identification number which is 441269459.

When using the website shop for what you want and add it to your trolley. When it comes to checkout it will ask you to register as a new client (left hand side of page) enter all your relevant credentials and then you will be asked for an ID number enter my ID number as above. It would be best that customers contact me as I am able to offer you discounts and we can talk about what products would be best suited for you!

Linda x

FREE PRIZE:  Megan will give away £100 worth of products of your choice but you have to sign up as a preferred client and hold a spa evening! (Spa evening UK based only at the moment). Mention this blog when claiming the prize.

Photo Credits:  Linda Hobden; Megan Thompson (profile pic)

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A Night At The Museum

It was a cold but clear night. Travelling from the wilds of the Essex salt marshes to the heartland of England’s shoe industry – Northampton – went myself and my husband, on Friday 23rd November 2012.  Our destination was the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery home to the world famous shoe collection – the second largest shoe collection in the world (the largest being in Ottawa, Canada), no less.

We had been invited to the Press and Celebrity Private Evening Viewing of the fabulous collection of Milly J Shoes and I had been looking forward to this evening for weeks!  Milly couldn’t have picked a better place to launch her exhibition – Northampton Museum is “Heaven on Earth” for shoe lovers and I fell head over heels in love with the place as soon as I stepped over the threshold. As well as shoes, the museum also has a prestigious collection of Italian and British artworks, including work by John Collier and David Hockney.  But let’s get back to shoes….as I was saying, the ground floor of the museum looks at shoe fashions, shoemaking and the significance of shoes and in the comfortable Shoe Lounge, currently exhibiting until 6 January 2013, is the fantastic artwork shoe creations of the delightful and unique Milly J.

Milly J Shoes – one-off art to wear shoes and shoe sculptures are unique and the work and creativity that goes into each and every item needs to be seen in the flesh, photographs cannot do them justice. I found myself looking at each and every shoe with awe and wonder – I have seen them before in photos on Milly’s website – but up close…well, the details blew me away!! The shoes are works of art, no doubt about that, but wearable too …and ever since Jodie Marsh stepped onto the This Morning’s set in her “teapot” shoes designed by Milly J …other celebrities and non celebrities have been clamouring to own their own unique pair and be part of the Milly J Shoe  Envy Club.

So, which were my favourites?  I loved the Red & Black Vampire Diaries court shoes that matched the dress I was wearing that night…but they are owned by a lovely lady called Emma, who won’t part with them (understandably!) I also had a crush on the green lace up army boots …little army figures climbed up the heel and around the shoe …they would look fab with my jeans although my husband did point out that one trip and the little man at the front would probably come to a sad end!

 My husband Adam loved the boots made for TV personality and MMA Announcer Bret “Hollywood” Freeman …they started life as a pair of Jeffery West white boots and with a little magic from Milly they have been transformed into boots full of skulls! Designer Guy West (Jeffery -West) also admired the transformation! (Jeffery – West are also exhibiting their 25th Anniversary exhibition in the adjoining room until 9 February 2013 – to the delight of my Adam and Bret who had a quick mooch around that exhibition too!)

Bret “Hollywood” Freeman opened the proceedings with a toast to Milly J and her achievements in just less than a year.Milly J presented to the museum a special exhibit called the Tap Shoe – this was a shoe in a black/white check (reminiscent of traditional bathroom tiling) with a tap and plug on it….hard to describe but it is a fab piece of artwork….

 

Milly J is certainly a talented lady …apart from wowing us all with her creative shoe artworks, she is a lovely chatty and friendly lady with a proud, supportive and equally lovely fiancé Mark, and her main forte is actually being an actress and classically trained singer …and she blew me away with her fantastic rendition of In The Summertime ...it was just a fantastic evening and the fabulous cupcakes with edible shoes on them also deserve a mention … these were provided by Cuppies ‘n’ Cream …delicious Natalie, thank you.

So, here are some of the gorgeous Milly J Shoes creations…made with lots of love…

Wedding boots with a difference…and the Birdcage…

Liquorice All sorts …Breast Cancer Awareness Shoe..

For photograph enthusiasts…these were another favourite of mine…

Oranges…ideal if you’re feeling fruity…

At the Cafe – look at the detail – menu board, tablecloth, crockery…

Rubik’s Cube…

Secret Garden…

Another pretty one…ladybirds and roses…another favourite contender..

 

 

Dotty Tea Pots..

 

 

 

 

 

These have removable candles on the front with faux flames …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now I’m pleased to welcome to the blog the unique lady that is Milly J. Hi Milly, I really enjoyed meeting you and seeing your creations close up… so please introduce yourself ..

I am Milly J, aka Emily J, the shoe artist

Your shoe designs are amazing! Where do you get your ideas from?

My inspiration comes entirely from my belief in what is possible. I do not hinder myself and I am not scared to take a risk and surprise myself. I am from a theatrical background and this has put me in good stead to truly go out with an idea and see it to the end process. My skills in communication, my love of surrealism, my upbringings abroad, culture, society, anthropology and food. Though what really inspires me are the people that come to me. By talking to them and building a rapport of what makes them tick is very important. By having a hook in any form of work, your work will breath life.
In your opinion, what has been your wackiest design?
To be honest, to me I know that those that perhaps are more “middle” of the road would see my designs as “whacky”, though it’s when you read the titles and start to understand the meanings behind the shoes, they make complete sense. Though in terms of un-conventionalism, I’d have to say, the Mad Hatter’s teapot. Not just due to the actual design, but also due to the whole psychology of the Mad Hatter Character. A totally bonkers entity that sees elements where perhaps elements are not apparent. I took this mentality and tried to create this through a shoe.
Have you got a favourite out of all the shoes you’ve designed?
Yes, the Guardian Angel Shoe. This shoe was created almost straight after the passing of my brother. It is a shoe that is steeped in sensitivity,  based on “real” situation that is so very dear to me. A shoe that speaks of taking flight and letting what will be rest.
What do you like best about being a shoe designer?
The uninhibited nature of being an artist is so very liberating. Be able to realise that art is simply what works. Being able to create for not just yourself, but others too. The non selfish aspect of designing is so very special too, sharing your work with the world.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing  ?
I am at heart not someone who is hindered by what the market perhaps may subtly tell us to wear.Like my work, I like to be free in the notion that there are so many possibilities for me to fit in to. So it could Boho, Rockabilly, preppy… what ever works for me.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?
I love etsy. As it’s an avenue where you can really enjoy hand made creations that are created by fellow artists and designers, from the heart. None of that manufactured, processed malarky!
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I want to own a really nice Boho coat. I already have one, but another wouldn’t hurt! The type you can find in Camden. With silks and embroidery that speaks of craftmanship and skill.
Boots or Shoes?
Any works for me :-). I after all am a shoe person full stop. I love demonia boots to look at but I also love a dainty shoe to ponder over.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc
Thanks Milly …it was lovely to meet you …and don’t forget if you are in Northampton pop in to that gem that is the Northampton Museum and be mesmerised, as I was!!! In the meantime, check out her website and have a look at all the other creative works not shown here…Milly J surprises me daily with new creations!!! 
Linda x
Photo Credits: Adam Hobden Photography; Linda Hobden
 

 

 

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High Flying Urban Scene

Women’s Hip Hop Clothing/Urban wear first came to light in the 1980s when it was predominantly a style seen in America..but now since the start of the 21st century it has become more and more popular worldwide. Like all fashion trends, new styles have entered the melting pot…. and whereas men tend to wear the standard uniform of baggy low rise jeans and oversized tees…women do mix and match more!! Showing the navel is common, along with the piercing …by wearing sports bras under baggy shirts worn like a jacket, bikini tops, crop tops,tube tops,tank tops or cropped t -shirts. Then comes the trend along the lines of the men’s style –  graphic tee usually accompanied by a hoodie and baggy jeans and, for winter, a padded puff jacket. Celebrities sporting this style include Missy Elliott ( who sports her baggy tees and baggy jeans with chunky shoes and expensive hats) and Tulisa ( especially in her music videos, with plenty of added bling). Celebrities such as L’il Kim and Foxy Brown have popularised glam high fashion hip hop styles, for example, Kimona Lee Simmons fashion line of Baby Phat.  Nowadays, modern hip hop fashion also includes low rise skinny jeans, graphic tees, sportswear, basketball and skateboarding shoes, hoodies, leather jackets, polo shirts, baggy jeans,  cropped/bikini tops and t shirts, and chunky bling jewellery.

I was pleased recently to review the t shirts from up and coming UK urban clothing company, High Flyers Clothing.  This new company has a lot of designs and ideas up their sleeves to keep abreast evolving trends for both men and women!
As you can see from the photos, the t shirt modelled by Amy, look fabulous on! I was impressed with the quality of the t shirt – made from 100% Turkish Cotton, it is thick and soft to touch. There is no label on the neckline, which eliminates itchiness. The design itself isn’t printed – it is a heat applied transfer – the colours are vivid and I would advise using a cool iron (avoiding the design) after washing and line drying. I was impressed that the textile manufacturers used to make the t shirt are part of the Fairwear Foundation (www.fairwear.org) representing ethical trade and justice for workers.  Prices are very reasonable, the quality of the clothing is high and they look good – what more could you ask for?

And now, let’s welcome the first guys to have graced our blog and the brains behind High Flyers Clothing! Hi! Introduce yourselves:

We are a clothing brand named Highflyers Clothing. We originally started as two people in the company but there are now three of us. Us three are known as Shaf, Sal, and Sumi. We all have different roles within the business, but we all share the same dream. We are equally as passionate about artwork; talking about artwork, this was one of the reasons we got together.

What gave you the inspiration for your t-shirt designs?

We all have different inspirations; to name a few that we all have in common would be the love for artwork. This includes any type of artwork such as the simplest design but catches the eye to the most creative art, which may have a bigger meaning behind it. The way we see it is that the designer presents his thoughts and image ideas onto a piece of paper. This for some is an easier way to express themselves than by words.

Have you any plans to expand your clothing range? What’s in the pipeline?

Yes. We have many plans to expand our clothing range. We are bringing out unique and different designs and making sure we stay different to other brands out there. We believe that to be unique amongst other clothing brands we will have to keep bringing out fresh ideas and concepts that have not been used before. What’s in the pipeline? Hmm ,we don’t want to give away too much but so you would have to wait and see…we are at the moment sponsoring a music artist called Liquidsilva who has worked with d12,who are a very well known Eminem’s group from the United States. Also we have a project in the pipeline with Don Mega from D-Block. Watch out for what’s to come…

To date, what has been your most popular item sold?

The most popular item sold to date has definitely been the teddy with a chainsaw design.

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?

We love them all so it is hard to pick which one is the best, but if we had to then it would be the teddy design. We are going to have just a teddy collection – so something for all our beloved followers to look out for.

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

We have a few…Big cartel, Karmaloop, Asos and Threadless come to mind first.

Boots Or Shoes…what do you guys like to see a lady wearing??!!

Definitely shoes!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/Facebook etc

Please support us by liking our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/HighFlyers-Clothing/35497740791087

Follow us on Twitter @Highflyersc

Follow us on Instagram – Highflyersc

Subscribe to our YouTube channel @theofficialhf

Check out our online website: www.highflyersclothing.bigcartel.com

PEACE!!

 

Thanks very much guys!  Don’t forget for more ideas on footwear and accessories, join Boots Shoes et Al on Facebook (press the icon)…..

Linda x

Photo Credits: Adam Hobden Photography; High Flying Clothing

Model: Amy Hobden

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