The one skincare step that reduced my melasma

Ok, sounds like a clickbait headline, but it is true: there is one consistent action that pretty much vanished melasma from my face.

For the record, mine was never that bad. Low level, it was always there, on the edges of my eyebrows, patches on forehead and around the bottom of the eyes.

During the warmer months or a nice holiday, the pigmentation would become very visible, and harder to hide with usual make up.

They’d fade in the colder months but always be there. For my already acne scarred face, that was yet another reminder of my terrible skin and I wasn’t quite sure why.

If my make up had SPF and I was wearing 30+ on holidays, with frequent application, why was it still there???

Once I read that the light from laptops and electronic devices also cause ageing and all made sense.

I started wearing “real” SPF 30+ and not make up or skincare with added SPF, which usually are low 10-15, even on the days I wasn’t leaving the house, my hormonal pigmentation vanished, and never returned.

It became a fixed step in my morning routine, regardless of the exposure I was expecting for that day, or time of the year.

While I appreciate some cases are more severe than mine, this was life changing in my skincare routine.

I’m constantly trialling different ones as sunscreen can cause even more havoc to my acneic, sensitive skin.

So far I’ve been very impressed with Skinceauticals Sheer Mineral UV Defense SPF50, Bioderma Photoderm Max SPF50 (also available with a light tint), Image Skincare Prevention+ SPF32+, (surprisingly) Nivea Cellular Luminous anti dark spot day fluid SPF50, Sunsense daily face invisible tint finish SPF 50+, Garnier Ambre Solaire Over makeup Super UV SPF50, La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL tinted fluid SPF50+, Piz Buin Mountain Suncream SPF50+ (great for the winter) and a few more gems I encountered since I adopted the new habit.

Next on my list to try? SOS Serum SPF 30 and 50 and the Bioderma Photoderm Anti Melasma tinted SPF50+ both great value for money at under £20. What’s not to love?

written by Dani

You know the drill, but I’ll say anyway: this post contains some mentions to PR samples as products were sent to me free of charge, with no obligation to post, but the majority were purchased with my own money. Opinions are honest and my own.

The beauty of boreal algae (AD/PR)

Polåar Polar Night Revitalizing Elixir and Body Milk

Ok, let me start explaining the title: for a few weeks now I have been using the gorgeous Polaar Polar Night Revitalizing Elixir and indeed it is a beaut. It’s main ingredient? Boreal algae.

Polåar Polar Night Revitalizing Elixir dripping from pipette

The oil is very light and applies really well to the skin, sinking in in seconds and leaving no greasy feeling. It smells divine (I mean, DIVINE) and after using for 3-4 weeks my skin has felt consistently hydrated and plump in the morning. A real gem.

Polåar Polar Night Revitalizing Elixir back of bottle

It’s main ingredient is boreal algae (Rhodhiménia Boréalia) which is rich in nocturnal cell regeneration booster phyto-melatonin. This enzyme is similar to melatonin, a hormone secreted at night by the brain, which activates all the biological mechanisms that cause cell regeneration at night.

It also contains another regeneration supporting ingredient, organic criste marine bio which contains minerals that also help feed the skin, and organic red micro-algae which’s beta carotene and fatty acids help protect skin moisture and restore suppleness. The ingredients are 99% natural.

All that in a mostly recyclable, simple but lovely packaging – glass and paper box.

Polåar Polar Night Moisturizing Body Milk

I have also been using the Polaar Night Moisturizing Body Milk and what a delight it is. It feels so silky on the skin and body feels amazing upon application and in the morning, with lasting hydration. It is 98% natural.

Polåar Polar Night Moisturizing Body Milk back of package

Polaar is a lovely brand with a beautiful Arctic exploration story to boot, so well worth checking them out. Their passion for pure, exclusive ingredients and protecting the environment those come from is really second to none.

They have a fabulous range of products covering many skin needs and concerns. I really like their Lapland cream range with Arctic berries – it is so beautiful on the skin, a light and supple thirst quencher suitable for sensitive skin. Currently in a great value Polaar Lapaland set Christmas cofret, hurry, it’s £45 but you get £66 worth of products!

It is not my first time trying Polaar: I am a MASSIVE fan of their best-selling Icy Magic range. The eye cream and patches are truly amazing!

Dermatologically tested, all natural ingredients, with no parabens, alcohol, phenoxyethanol or mineral oil, vegan, cruelty free and made in France, it’s available in the UK via Look Fantastic with free delivery over £25: the Revitalizing Elixir costs £39 (30ml) and the Body Milk £32 for 200ml.

written by Dani

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

On sleep and relaxation

Pukka Night Time tea
AD/PR post

I am a hyper person. If you do know me, that is not a revelation. I find quite hard to relax, to stop, to breathe. Anxiety, my old friend, feeds off it, and vice versa.

Sleep however, was never a problem for me. I never needed loads of it, and rarely struggled to sleep.

Recently though, with the new waves of worry brought by COVID-19 and lockdown I found myself struggling to fall asleep, waking up in the middle of the night and being unable to sleep again and/or just having terrible quality, disturbed sleep. And feeling exhausted.

Pukka Night Time Tea

I then reached for a few aids to help me sleep better and Pukka teas, a variety of which are regular in my cupboard, came in very handy.

I had been a fan of Night Time for quite a while so it was no effort to say yes to a couple more boxes sent in. Night Time contains oat flower, licorice root, chamomile flower, lavender flower, lime flower, valerian root, tulsi leaf to help you unwind, settle and enjoy a moment of calm before bed.

Its taste is quite delicate, with the liquorice, a flavour that is definitely not my favourite, being quite subdued. I usually drink it half an hour before bed as part of my settling down routine.

And they have a really nice 7-day Sleep with Ease programme to help us create a sleep space, pattern and routine naturally, with a digital diary to document the journey to better sleep.

Pukka Love tea

The programme touches on usual suspects like avoiding distractions blue light from electronic devices before bed (which was and is my main struggle!), avoid caffeine (THE biggest struggle), meditation and relaxation techniques applied during the day to steps we may take for granted: create a relaxing sleeping environment and surroundings, a sleep schedule and a post sleep routine – especially when we are have our usual work routines disrupted by the pandemic. For me, that was really important.

And of course, introduce relaxing natural ingredients like the ones in Night Time: valerian acts like a natural sedative, with lavender, oat, chamomile and lime flowers acting as soothing, calming and grounding ingredients.

Pukka teas, a relaxing selection

I must admit that after a little while my sleep pattern was almost back to its optimum.

If you want to follow the tips, go to the Pukka website to access all the free Sleep with Ease resources they made available to help you get better sleep.

Pukka teas are widely available at the best supermarkets and retailers, RRP £2.80 for 20 bags of Night Time.

And they have a fantastic selection of high quality organic blends for all tastes and needs – look how pretty and delicious – trust me – they are! A delight!

written by Dani

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

My first CBD face moisturiser

Dermavive CBD moisturiser

In the last year or so, CBD skincare has been all the rage. Initially only from small boutique brands, we now see mainstream giants launching CBD based lines.

Dermavive Ultra Cream from Nutrivive was the very first one I tried, and I have to say I won’t be looking back.

I am already a big fan of CBD balm and muscle rubs as they give my sore and tired muscles and joints great natural pain relief and inflammation reduction, especially for my lower back and thumbs, which are plagued by ongoing niggles.

After using the Dermavive Ultra cream as my only night cream for over 3 weeks, my skin feels calm, pre-menstrual breakouts seems less angry and overall texture and tone is great.

Moisturiser texture is firm and quite rich but it absorbs well and quickly upon application. It smells rather nice – a mix of deep herbal and sweet jasmine which is prominent but not intrusive.

On top of the great concentration of 1000mg cannabidiol (CBD) it contains the goodness of well known ingredients like unrefined avocado oil, sunflower, olive oil, apricot kernel oil, shea butter, tea plant and oat extract and meadowfoam seed oil, lemon peel oil, jasmine, sandalwood oil.

It is manufactured in the UK and they disclose the origin of their ingredients.

Dermavive CBD moisturiser

Cannabidiol is not psychoactive, non-toxic and it has many properties such as helping pain relief, anti-inflammatory, aiding reduce anxiety and depression and it is known to help alleviate cancer-related symptoms.

Nutivive is working to be a carbon neutral business by 2022 and is part of the One Tree Initiative meaning that for every product sold, one tree is planted.

The moisturiser is cruelty free, 100% organic and suitable for vegans. The Dermavive Ultra CBD cream costs £39.99 for 50ml; a little goes a long way here! You can get it from the Nutrivive website, where you can also get various concentrations CBD pure oil and blends.

written by Dani

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

Enchanting potions

AD/PR

Frangrances… Many a times I have written about how my memory has smells: I always associate fragrances to a time of my life, a place I used to go, a person I loved, a song, and so many others. My memory seems to have a fantastic sense of smell.

When the Potion Paris box arrived, I was intrigued: seven exclusive fragrances to try, all new to me and with the notes on every single one really tickling my fancy.

Overall, the fragrances have a good staying power and a great story: they all develop well and the top, heart and base are distinct and complementary.

I probably like Addiction the most; it has peony and nutmeg. It does contain quite a few other floral notes but bourbon vanilla, tonka, patchouli make it deep as well as slightly spicy.

Then for me comes Seduction – of course it does. Amber, praline and wood are quite the combination. The sweetness of the praline breaks the harshness of the wood and a warm aroma lingers.

Looking for a delicate, enveloping day fragrance? I’d pick Creation. This surprised me as it is not usually my “type” on the the top, but most of its heart (hi toffee) and base of vanilla, musk and praline really do it for me.

Then to Sensation as oud is one of my favourite scents. This fragrance has deep notes and it develops into a strong scent with a cedarwood, patchouli, vetiver and musk base.

Rose, peony and wood make Temptation also quite delicate and somewhat fresh, but the wood and musk deliver a bit of the strength I like in my perfumes.

Deception is just borderline ok for me, as I am mesmerised with jasmine (reminds me of my childhood), together with rose and patchouli. It feels fresh, but I prefer a punchier scent. It does get better as it develops.

Devotion brings white flower and patchouli scents, but its grapefruit is a bit too much for me!

Potion Paris is a sustainable refillable boutique perfume brand that offers traditional, rare high quality ingredients with a refill and re-use programme. They are cruelty, paraben, ptalates and sulfate free.

With the collection boxes, you get a beautiful luxurious vial and case plus the chosen fragrance to fill the vial – can be the full collection (7 x 10ml fragrances for £130), your choice of 2 or 3 fragrances, mixed or the same (for £120 and £100 respectively).

You can also get the vial separately (£30) and refills cost £35 for 2x 10ml. If you send 10 empty glass refills back to them they will get sanitised and re-used, and you get 2 of your chosen fragrance back!

Potion Paris also has soy wax candles on the same fragrances – £35 for 540g (45h burn time), currently at £29.99 for Black Friday.

There are some Black Friday sales across the site at the moment and the collection boxes also have some good discounts.

I got the Potion Paris Discovery Sample set, which costs £24.99 and comes with a £20 voucher redeemable against your 40 or 60ml choice (2 months expiry) – perfect to explore all the fragrances and pick your favourite before committing!

written by Dani

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

Living up my princess dreams

Ok. Confession: “princess” my dresses were never really my thing, so I was surprised by how drawn to this beautiful ombré shoulder wing maxi dress I was. 

So I am living up the princess dreams I didn’t even know I had!

From the three I got, this was probably my “least” favourite and as such the one which surprised me the most. 

As soon as I received it, I had to try it on and I knew immediately I’d shoot it because it is magical. 

The blush and navy ombré reminds me of when the fairies in Sleeping Beauty are fighting over the colour of her dress – pink and blue. The glittery tulle with some added sparkly stars really looks like magic was cast over it.

The dress flows and shines beautifully. The apt princess neckline together with the drop sleeves just make it even more wonderful.

Goddiva dresses sizes start at an 8 and it’s a tad big for me on the chest and waist – nothing a belt and a strapless bra didn’t solve!

I also accessorised with my beloved Christian Louboutin pailette caresse all turned to silver. Id probably throw in a lips clutch in silver mirror to wear for an occasion. 

I decided to shoot it at the stunning St Dunstan on the east former church with was bombed in the II world war abs is now a beautiful garden open to the public. 

I highly recommend you pay a visit if in London, it’s a haven of tranquility and peace, on top of its beauty and history. 

I am usually a fan of sequin dresses, a bit more skin tight, but this dreamy dress has definitely got my heart!

Only regret? I should’ve worn a tiara.

Goddiva has a great selection and I hear their new season dresses section is growing considerably for the party months, even if it is to party from your sitting room.

written by Dani

This post contains PR products and was created in collaboration with Goddiva with no obligation to post. Words are all my own, opinions and images too!

The joys of brunching

One the joys that (kinda) remained during the pandemic is brunch. I am a massive fan of brunch, but to be honest, it is not the hype around brunch itself.

For me, what is better than having a lazy, late delicious breakfast/lunch with friends, to chat away your week and indulge in (always) bottomless day drinking?

One of my favourite spots is Sea Containers. Around London’s South Bank, in this lovely restaurant on the bottom floor of the equally lovely namesake hotel, you’ll find great food and fab service.

Favourite order: the mac and cheese. Trust me. around £40pp will get you well fed and on the bottomless prosecco for 1.5h.

Pre COVID-19, I spent a whole day in there: went for brunch, then to the cinema and finally closed the day at the cocktail bar. How not to love the place?

Don’t think it is technically a brunch, but as the name does not matter, for me it falls within the category: the feast at The Ned.

What a glorious place The Ned is, and the feast follows it through. No longer a buffet due to the pandemic, rest assured you still get plenty of food and the same variety, all conveniently brought to your table.

The live music adds to the ambience and the indulgent choice to add bottomless champagne for 2 hours to your bottomless eating is dear, but worth it at £130pp.

There are many other places I like to go for “brunch”, impossible to list all.

I love the D&D restaurants for example, Skylon providing a great brunch also on South Bank with music and a lovely Thames view.

Another one worth keeping on the radar, as I’m REALLY hoping they will re-open post-lockdown – they haven’t yet, although I noticed bookings are open for November so fingers crossed – as their brunch is probably the best value for money EVER is Nobu in Shoreditch.

As much as you can eat sushi, a main course and a buffet of desserts, with the Nobu quality and expertise, plus bottomless drinks option is dreamy. My bum will be on a chair as soon as they open their doors.

Admittedly, now London is in Tier 2 brunch indoors will only take place with my boyfriend, but alas, I cannot wait to get back to it with the ladies!

I am always looking for new places and always have a few on my hit list, waiting to be tried. What is your favourite brunch spot?

written by Dani

Just what the Dr ordered

Don’t get me wrong, obviously what’s inside IS what matters the most but who can resist to colourful packaging?

When I saw the Dr Botanicals colourful tubs at an expo some time ago I was instantly drawn to it. Then I found out they are a natural, free from toxins skincare brand that delivers vegan, cruelty free products created with great ingredients, for all skin concerns, I was very much sold.

And I left with a colourful selection to give it a go.

The Pomegranate Superfood Regenerating Sleeping Mask is a treat. I love an overnight mask, especially at this time of the year that temperatures drop, the wind cuts the skin causing extra grievance. Products like this just sit on it helping the overnight regeneration process.

It contains pomegranate, rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants, coconut oil to hydrate and soothe, fatty Omega 3 acids to help plump. Honestly, a treat. Applies ad absorbs well as it is not stick or too thick and it has practically zero fragrance so a bliss to wear at night.

I usually pile on top or a lighter moisturiser and/or serum for that extra boost at night and my skin loves it! A bargain at £9.99 for 30ml, also available in bigger sizes and a pretty pink tube.

The Cocoa & Coconut Superfood Reviving Hydrating Mask is also a treat. A very light mask sometimes I forget to remove (!!!), it does give skin that hydration boost, again, great to introduce at this time of the year, when I tweak my skincare regime.

Cocoa butter is a rich skin “smoother” and moisturiser and coconut oil is hydrating and has fatty acids and antioxidants. A lovely 10-minute ritual my skin thanks me for. It costs £9.99 for 30ml.

Finally, their Lemon Superfood All-in-one Rescue Butter which is a multi-tasking wonder as a moisturiser and a treatment.

It contains lemongrass oil which aids healing and have antifungal properties plus coconut, almond, sea buckthorn fruit and grapeseed oils, which together help nourish, moisturise, replenish skin.

A bit richer than the other two, this has a delicious subtle scent of lemongrass and it is great in the drier parts of my face (forehead, hairline, high cheeks) and hands. It costs £15.99 for 60ml.

Overall, their products are affordable and they have lovely gift bundles and different collections: Apothecary, Dr Botanicals and Organic & Botanic.

Some of their serums (from £16) and oils (from £20) are extremely well priced and the range of concerns they address plus ingredients, are impressive.

Check the Dr Botanicals website out – I doubt there won’t be something for you!

written by Dani

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

Am I going to the ball?

Goddiva dresses

Given the current pandemic situation, this should be the least of my worries but I cannot help but wonder about festive balls this winter. Although chances are slim, it won’t stopping me dreaming about the most beautiful gowns.

Goddiva is an old favourite of mine, especially this time of the year: they never fail to stock the most glamorous dresses for all celebratory occasions.

I might be celebrating Christmas in a very small group, if any, this year, but I am hoping I will give these beautiful dresses an outing.

Goddiva label

Of course they will be styled and posted as they deserve, but for now, I cannot help to think how much I will be able to dress up and show up.

Will I don gorgeous evening maxi dresses that shimmer when the light hits?

Am I going to fall into the exhaustion of multiple Christmas dos? Spoiler alert: don’t hold your breath.

Goddiva evening dresses

I will miss all the festive struggles below and the many questions that come with it:

Am I going to struggle to transition between seasons choosing between autumn and winter dresses? Could I get a multi-tasking one?

What colour to pick to stand out? Are my accessories popping? Dress up or down? (Always up btw)

What is going to be that dress everyone has this season?

Goddiva navy and blush ombre princess maxi dress

Will I have enough dresses to cover he events in my diary? How far can I get away with shorter, lighter dresses before moving completely to winter dresses?

Hell, the only question I can ask at the moment is: “will I even be in a situation requiring me to squeeze into a pretty dress in the foreseeable future?”, as there not many answers at this uncertain times.

One thing is for sure: I am prepared. And as the magpie that I am!

Goddiva silver dress

I got these three beautiful dresses from Goddiva: one straight from a fairy tale, sparkling navy and blush ombrè, a flowy silver sequin number that screams studio 54 and a sexy dark red gown with a fish tail that wouldn’t be out of place on Jessica Rabbit.

And I am ecstatic with my selections. I have worn quite a few of their dresses before and they are always a hit: the designs, the fit, the material, the quality – all with great value.

However the end of 2020 turns out to be, I promised myself I will drape myself in sequins, sparkle and happiness. Even if it is dinner for one, but hopefully we will all be able to have loved ones around – that alone, is worth celebrating!

This post contains PR products and was written in collaboration with Goddiva. Words are my own, opinions and images too!

written by Dani

Maskne. Are you serious?

Think about my sheer terror when I first heard the word maskne. 20+ years (no, I won’t disclose how many over 20. Rude!) suffering from acne and now you’re telling me the sensible way to help protect myself and other in the middle of a pandemic is actually causing, lo and behold: ACNE. 

Jokes, right? No, it is true. The coined term #maskne the beauty industry has been throwing right left and centre refers to acne related by the use of face masks.

I mean, everyone and their dog is talking about maskne. Even the BBC talked about it and given my 20+ years experience in acne (and 10 at the BBC, ok?), I thought I’d share my afflictions and my (trial) solutions. Ok, mainly my afflictions. 

Apparently our lovely mask also “suffocates” our skin a bit – think a little greenhouse of oil and sweat, plus the areas of contact which also contribute to contact acne, on top of the gross sebum ones. You’re welcome.

All avenues had been exhausted as the obvious (for me) is already part of my routine (and then some): wash face regularly with a gentle cleanser, use a clean mask every time, stop touching your face (good advice for COVID-19 and breakouts).

Side note: I actually wear reusable face coverings with a cotton layer inside (that sometimes I sew an extra in for added protection). I wash at 40 degrees with detergent at every wear. I don’t have to reuse a mask even if it was worn for a 10 minutes run to the shops and having a selection means I am never caught short, and I always carry extra ones and filters.

Masks in all the colours and shine of the rainbow (is that a thing?)

My usual routine (morning wash, toner, SPF, vitamin C booster, moisturiser + eye cream, eve: wash, toner, moisturise, serum/oil, eye cream) plus my medication, Spironolactone, that helps keep skin in check didn’t seem to be doing their trick so I went on the search of an efficient and pocket friendly option to help me tackle it. 

When I noticed little spots and serious congestion around my chin and jawline, as well as around my nose, I had enough. How dare you, acne. 

I changed my night toner to a blemish prone skin specific, reduced the use of more aggressive retinols and glycolic acids and added a (not so) secret weapon: salicylic acid. 

I got this one from Superdrug and it is extremely affordable. The Me+ Salicylic Acid + Cica booster cost me £6.99 and I have to say, is working well so far. 

I’ve been using twice a day and also on the chin and around the nose area under light make up when I go out and know I will be wearing my mask for a longer period of time. 

Salicylic acid was probably the very first ingredient I tried when I started to have acne in my teenage years. Due to the severity at that time, it did very little to keep it at bay, but being reunited with this old friend was a surprise with pleasant results. 

However, it’s main property is to get into the pores and breaks down dead skin cells and oils, help prevent them to clog. This also contains centella asiatica, which is calming and soothing, so for me it has been working a treat!

Benzoyl peroxide is also highly recommended and available over the counter – I’ve been using that for years and it is a great way to prevent, less to rid of, blemishes. A thin layer daily on the affected area is also known to help.

Spots come and go, it’s been like that all my life. Am I ok with them? NO. However, for the safety of those around me, I’ll just grin, and bear it – behind my mask of course.

Have you noticed maskne? How are you tackling it?

written by Dani

For the sake of skin condition disclaimer, I didn’t edit the pics and had minimal makeup on: light under eye concealer, mascara and sheer lipstick. On the rest of my face, only moisturiser, SPF, vitamin C serum and salicylic acid on the chin+jawline area. Face pics taken with iPhone.