Mask it up

Last week I talked about how I am only just managing to keep my head above water when it comes to COVID-19 and my mental health. And face masks came in as one of the little things I have been doing to help me to find some headspace – and get bettr skin as a bonus.

Bubu skincare has a great selection of face masks to work their magic.

My favourite is hands down the #tspot Blemish busting sheet mask, and not only because it is glittery and so cool, but because it is hard to find masks to tackle blemishes and acne.

Especially now. I’ve been under a lot of stress mainly brought my anxiety and my hormones are all over the place. Result: my already problematic skin is suffering.

This glittery thermo sensitive hydrogel sheet mask contains niacinamide, vitamin B5, natural actives ingredients (including many algae extracts) and their potent secret serum.

It feels great on the skin and I particularly like the 2 part mask. The serum is well absorbed on the skin and it feels nice after. I did notice my breakouts started to calm down a few days after use and felt more settled.

I also tried the exfoliating sheet mask, #stripitoff and we all know I love an exfoliation – be it chemical or physical.

This fibrous mask base has charcoal, kaolin clay and AHA to buff away dead skin cells and purify.

Now, this is a more traditional sheet mask but I must confess I just LOVED the thick layer of clay this mask comes with.

Skin fells clean and clear after – this was also a delight to use, very different from the blemish mask, but I could not put one as better than the other: they both fulfil their brief so well.

Wearing a sheet mask is usually a mindfulness ritual for me. I usually read or have it when I am having a bath, resting on my bath pillow with plenty of salts to soothe my tired muscles.

Who can resist a lip mask? Exactly? My lips are always sooo dry that the #youpucker lip plumping mask was a god send!

Pretty in lip shape and shimmery, this lip mask contains botox (yes, that botox), which is as a topical ingredient, exclusive to Bubu, and hyaluronic acid.

It does tingle you plump and hydrated. Lips feel supple asoft after use. Love it!

Overall I was impressed with the quality of the Bubu masks and at £7 each for the face masks and £5 for the lip mask is great value for money. Plus they are cruelty free and environmentally friendly – even the sparkles.

You can get the lovely Bubu masks above on the Bubu site, together with their other products, and also on PrettyLittleThing – I say a lovely extra to any outfit!

written by Dani

You know the drill, but I’ll say anyway: this post contains PR samples as products were GIFTED, with no obligation to post. Opinions are honest and my own.

(Back)Pack it up!

Confession time: for a long time I resisted getting back pack. However in recent year the designs have evolved and you are not stuck with the “back to school”, “sporty” models. My Gaston Luga Clässy is the perfect example. And damn, they are handy!

Of course I am stuck inside but I can see how useful my Clässy will be: the sleeve in the back is a great size for my laptops (13′) and I am left with plenty of space for my other necessities: phone, purse, keys, headset, pen and notebook for work, a power bank and cables, some makeup and maybe a small makeup bag , comfortably. I am sold.

Also means weight is evenly distributed across my back, so healthier than lugging multiple shoulder bags around.

The straps are made of PU leather and adjustable to a good range and feel comfortable on the shoulders.

The body is made of durable canvas and it has a lovely branded lining, with a padded laptop sleeve (for 11′ – 13′ laptops) and a couple inner pockets (compact, perfect for phone, keys, lipstick) and their signature back pocket, big enough to fit a passport, a phone in a safe, but accessible place.

It has a PU leather tie through eyelets to close and a flap with a magnetic clasp to keep belongings secure! All hardware is golden.

I really like the details on this – the back pocket being the star, but then the little hook, the finishing is impeccable, and padding is really soft… even though the canvas is a tough material, the attention to details makes this a somewhat delicate backpack.

Gaston Luga is a Swedish company and they have a great range of accessories – all falling within the “fashion with function” category: clean lines, modern designs but with plenty of space (mine is 13l) and useful features. Gaston Luga is a carbon neutral company and use cotton canvas and vegan leather (which feels amazing, btw) on their bags and accessories (purses, travel bags, luggage tags, passport holders).

The lovely Clässy comes in three colours (mine, black, plus pink and black and navy and brown) and costs £89 with free delivery and returns – I was VERY impressed on how fast it arrived, even during the health crisis, lovingly packaged and in a dustbag.

You can explore the Gaston Luga collection on their site – use my discount code DANIDUTRA15 for a 15% off your purchase!

written by Dani

You know the drill, but I’ll say anyway: this post contains a PR samples as Gaston Luga kindly GIFTED me the Clässy backpack. Opinions are honest and my own.

Also, the pictures were taken IN MY BUILDING. I did not go outside, and the area they were taken at was EMPTY.

Clinging on to sanity

Weird, weird times. Before I start, I’d like to state how lucky I am in the current situation: I am healthy, employed (by a very decent employer), I can safely do my job from my house, I have a lovely home, some private outdoor space, wonderful boyfriend who temporarily moved into my house (and is still alive!).

That cleared, I must address the elephant in the room: how to cope with my crippling anxiety and OCD at this time of pandemic. Admittedly, it could’ve been or become much worse if not for the combination of blessings above. But it does not mean I am free from it.

We worry about the future, our loved ones. We long for the life we used to live. We miss close contact with family, friends, the places we used to go. The ones we were meant to go, the things we should be seeing and doing. How we took it all for granted.

We feel guilty we could/should be more productive. Maybe it is the time to be productive, or maybe we should just do whatever we can to cope and come out of this in one piece.

We worry about our image, our fitness, our habits. We keep being too hard on ourselves. What life will be like once this is over. Will this be over?

So what am I doing to (try to) cope?

For a lot of the time, I’m only just (and only just) holding it together. Anxiety and panic attacks sometimes take all of my energy and I can only crash after. I cry. Stress has re-triggered IBS my old friend and my already unhappy hormones are all over the place. My body, as well as my mind, as screaming for help.

When not doing that, I’m laughing. An awful lot. Sometimes until I snort. Trying to keep being myself – for bad or for worse. And the below.

Focus on what I love: I got myself a pull up bar and aerial hoop. Being an anxious scaredy cat means I am being extra safe when exercising indoors and outdoors.

Try to get out of the house: when your main anxiety is healthy anxiety, crossing the threshold in times of COVID-19 is torture. I can only manage a few times a week and the shops are a challenge. I haven’t been to one in four weeks, and lucky Dan has been doing that, but I try to do the most out of the time I am out.

Help someone: Anyone who needs. It’s good for them, but better for your heart. I got in touch with elderly neighbours and have regularly been delivering their little shopping list. Look for someone local. Among all the ugly, there is something wonderful happening in communities around you. Be part of it, a small of big, it counts.

Face masks: Yes. I’ve been abusing the wonderful selection of sheet and cream face masks in my beauty archives. Damn it feels good. But that applies to any pamper: a bath, a body scrub, foot massage

Read: I haven’t been to good at that lately but have just started again.

Establish a routine: I am fortunate to be working full-time and I used to work from home 2/3 times a week before the lockdown, so it’s the same but more rubbish, really.

I have my little desk and stick to working there. I wake up, brush my teeth and haitr, get changed (not full outside world outfit, but not PJs). I workout outdoors three times a week, early in the morning and away from people. I plan my meals, the limited food runs.

I make things: lockdown has produced one peacock hat, three disco balls purchased for sitting room decor (currently living on armchair), plans for a splashback in the kitchen are hatching.

Bring “normality” inside: we party. A fair bit. So we have been having DJing/dancing sessions on Saturdays. Dress up. Lights, smoke machine, drinks.

Live on insta, shared wit friends on Zoom/WhatsApp, etc. Keeps us close, helps build up the step count!

I went “out” for brunch. On the balcony. With prosecco.

Treat myself: not like crazy but liberally. Be it with food, buying something nice I’m lucky enough to be able to afford. To do something trivial but be a little bit extra.

I’m not counting my macros, but I’m not going too overboard. Trying to get a happy balance.

Support those who are less fortunate: friends or businesses might’ve lost their income. Support any way you can, if you can.

What I haven’t been round to do but want to:

Tidy up: don’t I always want to, but never, sort out clothes and create space? Although boy is a bit of an organiser and has already sorted a few kitchen cupboards. Here’s hoping he makes it to wardrobes.

Set a fitness goals: due to my injury I lost pretty much all of my flex. Would be nice to start getting back to it.

Meditate/find more headspace: a life long struggle for me, no blame on the old COVID-19.

Don’t be too hard on myself: kindness should be all round – to others and yourself. The latter a huge struggle of mine that has improved a lot, but still a lot of work to to. Sometimes, “enough” is just enough.

There is a lot out of our control. I am worried sick about my family who had to close their business. But there is nothing I can do, and they are ok for now.

I keep living my best “one day at a time” philosophy. It has never been more relevant.

But ultimately, STAY THE FUCK HOME. Don’t meet with people outside your household. Don’t take the piss with the tiny allowance of outside time we have. WASH YOUR HANDS. Be kind – to yourself, to others.

The more you stick to the guidelines, the quicker this will be over. And be safe!

written by Dani

All dolled up and nowhere to go (for now)

I don’t know about you, but in the current situation, dressing up, putting shoes and make up on have been really helping to keep me sane.

And Doll 10 really brought a big smile to my indoor face when they sent their latest and lovely makeup launches over.

The Doll Skin 6 piece perfecting collection, available at QVC, contains foundation, concealer, lipstick, mascara and a blusher which create a beautifully polished makeup look.

Their Hydragel Lipstick in Throwing Kisses is my perfect nude – simple as that.

It has a lustrous finish and is light, hydrating with good pigmentation, feeling super comfortable on the lips.

Wearing the foundation while in quarantine has become such a treat and luxury, and the Doll Skin Anti-Stress Skin Perfector foundation really fits the bill.

Its medium-high coverage helps smooth and even out skin texture, and covers a multitude of sins (not that anyone is looking!). It applies and blends very well, has a decent durability and polished finish.

Comes in six shades and I am wearing Medium, which is a good match for my skin tone, but needs a little bit of bronzer as I am (still) hanging on to a little bit of tan from Brazil.

Even though I should, I don’t often use concealer but the T.C.E This Covers Everything has put it back into my routine.

This heavy weight concealer indeed covers everything and it is great for under the eye. With a blend of silk pigments, it also helps leave the super delicate area with an awake look – and we all need that!

Although it has full coverage it is super light, applying and absorbing well, really adding to the foundation to more polished look.

It does not crease, I love the metal tip and comes in six shades and I am wearing Medium.

Surprise number one: a creamy blusher that suits my skin. The Dream Whip Multitasking Blush & Highlight Soufflé in You’re Making Me Blush is really a dream.

The super light gel formula blends really well and it does not sink on my scars, which is usually the problem with non-powder blushers.

The pigmentation is superb and this shade, a pearly pink-ish bronze, is really pretty, delivering a healthy flish to the cheeks.

Second surprise: a plastic bristle mascara that works for me. The Efforltlash XL mascara’s formula is jet black and shiny, delivering well pigmented separation to lashes.

I do struggle a bit with plastic bristles, but this delivered a decent finish, with good durability.

Finally, we all love a good brush. The No. 9 Eraser Buffing Brush is densely packed with super soft synthetic bristles to seamlessly buff creams and powders into its place.

The whole collection works together wonderfully, creating a great look, but every single piece is also very versatile in any make up bag. Also, how gorgeous is the packaging in blush pink and rose gold?

You can get the Doll 10 Doll Skin 6-piece Perfecting Collection gorgeous set from QVC. It costs £65 (plus £2.95pp) which is great value for six quality full size products at just over £10 each!

written by Dani

You know the drill, but I’ll say anyway: this post contains PR samples as products were GIFTED, with no obligation to post. Opinions are honest and my own.

Vitamin C, never too much

Many a times I have said I love vitamin C on my skincare so seeing the Super Facialist Vitamin C+ Brighten range really gave me heart eyes and I could not wait to try them all.

Most of us will know that vitamin C is fabulous to boost complexion glow and brightness and fight dullness – I find that great for this time of the year where seasons are changing. Also, in times like this, it might seem silly but little treats at home that make you feel better are more than welcome.

I’ll start with my favourite: the Gentle Daily Micro Polish Wash (£9.99). This medium granule gentle scrub clean so deep and skin certainly feels like that after use.

The gel wash has micro biodegradable beads that polish dead cells and impurities away and added Ferulic acid, vitamin C and E to help achieve brighter skin. I am a huge fan.

I’ll follow up with one of my favourite skincare product: eye cream (£12.99). Their Dark Circles Eye Cream contains vitamin C, caffein and a peptide to brighten, stimulate and help reduce dark circles and fine lines.

It is ever so light in texture and applies really well, even for day use under makeup.

A really cool product is the Brighten Booster Serum: magical 1% vitamin C drops you can add to any moisturiser to give it added glow and brightening properties.

The naturally derived pro-collagen vitamin C active and allantoin act as glow getters and the serum is very light and easy to blend withe creams.

Not gonna lie, I have applied it with a gentle massage neat to certain areas of my face.

Who likes a pre cleanse? I do and the Skin Renew Cleansing Oil (£5.50 100ml/ £10.99 200ml) is a bliss, with vitamin C and olive oil for refreshing cleansing. The very light oil turns milky in contact with water and leaves skin fresh and comfortable after use.

Last, but not least, the Glow Boost Skin Serum (£16.99) delivers vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and a lightening algae extract to replenish, boost collagen synthesis and enhance the appearance of skin. I really like its very light texture and been using as an add on to my night cream.

I’ve been using the range for over 8 weeks now and must say that, some unrelated, hormonal blemishes aside, skin is looking very bright and ready for the summer.

In times we are not even sure we will able to fully enjoy our summer, and how things will be, being happy with my skin does make a difference to my mood.

I must point out what a great price point and value for money Super Facialist products are. You can get the Super Facialist Vitamin C+ range from their website and also Boots, Sainbury’s and Amazon, safely delivered to you!

They have a great range of products addressing dryness, ageing, blemishes, dullness (this one), firmness and sensitivity to cater for varied skin concerns – you can mix and match (I do have their blemish face mask and it is great!)

Super Facialist also have a lovely travel collection, with minis in a pouch, great for when we can travel again or to sample the range before committing to a selection of full size products in the brighten (£20) and hydrate (£16) lines.

And please – stay home, look after yourself and loved ones. And remember the impact your actions can have on others around you.

written by Dani

You know the drill, but I’ll say anyway: this post contains PR samples as products were GIFTED, with no obligation to post. Opinions are honest and my own.

A delicious way to say no to waste

Chocolate is good right? Yes. Can it be better? Yes! Montezuma’s has a little surprise in Covent Garden on the 13 and 14 March – the “Waste not, want not recyclable shop” where you can take your empty food containers for recycling and swap for a taste of one of their wonderful, exclusive chocolate creations – FREE!

The tailor-made treats look like our lunchtime favourites ad are made of their signature white chocolate and truffle filling.

There is also a 3D artwork which is fully edible, to highlight the not recycled waste that ends up in landfills, hopefully to inspire more sustainable choices.

All that to celebrate the launch of their new packaging which is 100% recyclable, biodegradable or compostable: a first for a British chocolate company.

The installation also tells the journey to get to sustainable packaging .

Montezuma has a fabulous and extensive range of chocolates, from milk to 100% dark, white, milk free and vegan too, and amazing concoctions; my faves being Salty Dog (lime, sea salt dark choc) and Black Forest (cherry in dark). Their truffles are fab too; try American Idol or Tiger Tiger. Yum.

Their commitment to sustainability goes beyond the packaging, of course: they use best ingredients and ethically sourced cocoa.

If you are around in London’s Covent Garden for a quick lunch, pop over with your empties and get to taste one of their creations. Waste not, want not is open from 10-6 on Saturday 14 March at 67 Neal Street.

A delicious pit stop, I assure you!

Check Montezuma’s out and discover their tasty range.

written by Dani

I was invited to the preview and stuffed my face with sample chocolate. And I liked it. That’s all.

December in style

It has been a while since I wrote a style post. Let’s face it, losing a boyfriend wasn’t the hardest part of the break up – losing a begrudging photographer was. Now I annoy friends to take shots. And pay them in plus 1 to events. Nice eh? 

When I first heard of Femme Luxe Finery, I was a bit dubious – the clothes look amazing but at that price, can the quality be good? 
I am impressed. Not only the quality is ace, but also the cut and fit are great. 

My favourite piece has to be the Oxford blood faux leather set. The beautiful Amy corset top (£14.99 with 50% off) hugs in the right places and is very comfortable to wear. The Mimi trousers (£13.99 with 56% off) are super high wasted and have a great fit. And it’s sexy AF – not gonna lie, I felt like a hot assassin from an action movie the first time wore it! Versatile, it is great to mix and match.

I chose to wear with heavier boots and belt for a more rebellious look. Together or separately, these became keys pieces in my autumn/winter wardrobe. 

I’m a sucker for a jumpsuit so no surprise I picked the Evelyn (£14.99 with 56% off) up. This gorgeous wide leg, one shoulder, long sleeve number is perfect for this time of the year. 

Throw in some sparkly heels and belt, and you’re party ready. Wear with boots and it’s dinner and/or date sorted. Again, the figure hugging fit is fantastic as it really enhances the body and because the fabric is of good quality, it really hugs you in. Plus it comes in many colours – the croc is looking fab!

Finally, a frilly number. The Hattie bodysuit (£11.99 with 58% off) is amazing. Super sexy in sheer mesh, it has frills in a V at the front and back. The back is covered and the front plunges.

However, I prefer to wear it back to front as the naked V at the back looks stunning and I find the more covered front prettier on my body shape. Did I say versatile?

And Femme Luxe Finery has a fabulous selection for the festive season – think sparkle so you shine at any occasion. Check their website for amazing coords (I adore a two-piece), a fabulous selection of on trend PU clothing and gorgeous bodysuits and dresses

At the moment they have a huge promo with up to 75% off so hurry! The value for money is UNREAL!

You know the drill, but I’ll say anyway: this post was written in collaboration with Femme Luxe Finery and it contains GIFTED products, with no obligation to post. Opinions are honest and my own.

A little bit of makeup

How exciting is it to discover a new makeup brand? Well, let me tell you: very! Being round quite a few brands truly spoils me and there isn’t much I ah e t seen, but Catrice came about as a very pleasant surprise with some items added to my essentials kit straight away. 

From those, the HD Active Performance Primer (£4.99, currently on Black Friday for £4.24) is probably the top: a milky formula that turns velvety on application. It’s great for aid application, smoothing skin for a more even spread of product and also good helping lengthen staying  power. Oh, and it has SPF 30.

The Clean ID Mineral Bronzer (£4.99, currently on Black Friday for £4.24) has many good things to shout about. The share is neutral, giving a healthy matte glow, its impact and does not flake on application and it blends really well. It is part of their Clean ID range, made with 84% natural ingredients, talc-free, with a SPF 15 and vegan.

Moving on to the One Drop Coverage Weightless concealer (£4.95, currently on Black Friday for £3.82), which does exactly what it says – a small amount provides light, medium coverage. The extremely light liquid formula spreads and blends well, under or over powder.

The Brow Colorist (£3.79, currently on Black Friday for £3.22) is a nifty “mascara” that gives your brow a great tint. The formula is a fluid gel and it is semi-permanent, meaning durability is great. Really worth mentioning the flexible brush which is a delight to use and gets in all hairs for great coverage. It isone of their most popular products!

Catrice is a cosmetics brand well established in Europe and only recently came to the UK. I am really impressed with them as a brand: they are super trend aware (they update 25% of their products twice a year!), but also have high quality at the top of their agenda. Plus, they don’t test on animals – nor their suppliers; their price is exceptional value for money and they have a huge range of products for your beauty needs.

In the UK, you can get Catrice from justmylook – at the moment they have a 15% off offer on all products because, well, Black Friday! Hurry!

You know the drill, but I’ll say anyway: this post contains PR samples as products were GIFTED, with no obligation to post. Opinions are honest and my own.

Arctic skincare goodness

You know that brand that comes from something quite exciting and you think, wow? That’s Polaar, with a lovely family history of Arctic exploration and fascination, it brings the purest ingredients from the cold to help us achieve better skin. 

I am, as I said many times, a huge sucker for a great eye cream and their bestseller Polaar Icymagic Instant Eye Contour Multi Energiser (£29.50 for 10ml) is just that: a light gel formula delivered by a lovely metal sphere to massage and soothe the delicate area. 

It contains tonic Siberian ginseng to help revitalise, anti-oxidant tetrapeptides to work on reducing dark circles and fine lines, an advanced blend of peptides and provitamins are there for the helping lashes grow thicker and also to reduced hair loss.

Not only you get great eye skincare but also a little bit of a lash serum in one product.

It feels very light comfortable on the eye and the pump means you can control how much is delivered by the roller, meaning there’s no waste. It absorbs quickly and it makes for a fantastic day eye cream, not interfering with makeup and keeping the area moisturised. 

Another find are the Polaar Icymagic Eye Contour Multi Energiser Patches (£22.50 for 4 pairs) – basically little under the eye masks.

Infused with ginseng and tetrapeptides, they deliver that boost to tired eyes, helping revive, hydrate and nourish – a great treat not only for the skin for the mind when you take that time to pamper!

Polaar have the most amazing skincare range for all different skin types and concerns, always relying on a selection of arctic ingredients. Hand creams are rich but not sticky, keeping hands soft and nourished. 

And they have some fab Christmas packs and gift sets which are great value and a way to sample a range or a variety of products offering a skin solution! 

You can buy the Polaar Icymagic Instant Eye Contour Multi Energiser and the Eye Contour Multi Energiser Patches, plus their range of fab skincare at LookFantastic and also on their website.

Polaar is a brand committed to nature – sustainable, ethically collected and carefully selected ingredients, no animal testing, at least 95% natural products, no parabens, mineral oils or alcohol – they are an all-round good company.

Also, if you do have time check out their story, it is fascinating!

written by Dani

You know the drill, but I’ll say anyway: this post contains PR samples as products were GIFTED, with no obligation to post. Opinions are honest and my own.

All the fun and games

I partnered up with giffgaff to get some old fashioned offline times, which is getting harder and harder to get in this digital world of ours. To be honest, it is almost like a challenge nowadays.

Having a little weird family away from my family is wonderful, but the fact we mainly socialise (maybe a little bit too much) by going out means we sometimes we can lack in real connection in down time.

So I had no excuses, giffgaff kitted me out with online tools – their awesome sim cards were used (and abused) to organise our night in, map journeys from work, order some food and cabs home; a power bank to make sure we managed to do that; camera to capture the moment (even though my friends were, surprisingly camera shy that day) and some super fun offline gift: board games.

One evening after work we chose, in between courses, glasses of wine and chats about our upcoming nights out, to play Weird Things Humans Search For and Bucket of Doom, which was the most fun – the stories started shy but quickly escalated.

We picked the phone less. We laughed more (only marginally, we are usually hilarious anyway), we were present.

After a evening of good food, friends and crying-with-laughter fun, I went to bed with my belly and heart full, thinking how lucky I am to have these weirdos around me.

Resolution: do this at least once a month. And get that missing one in the group to come next time!

I also very surprised to find out how much flexibility giffgaff gives when choosing how to use your mobile.

They offer free sim (yes, FREE) where you can either get a “goodie bag” with some great value minutes and data – or just the sim to pay as you go and SIM only monthly plans from £6!

Flexibility to suit you is key – so you can change or cancel at any time!

written by Dani

You know the drill, but I’ll say anyway: this post contains PR samples as products were GIFTED, in partnership with giffgaff.