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.

We were on a break!!!

Yes, I’ve been having a break. In fact, a series of breaks from the blog; it does seem to come in waves. Does this post mean it is over? I am hoping it is the beginning of the end. Again.

Might be a funny headline but the actual matter is not so much. Even though it is not the first time I talk about it, it is the first I offer an explanation for having irregular hiatuses from something I love so much: my blog.

Sadly, when things get tougher, and days a bit darker, SMLT is the first thing that will suffer. It feels the only expendable activity to help create some head space. Hell, most of the time I cannot even find it, and that “space” is taken by the sheer apathy and deep exhaustion that comes with my anxiety disorder.

Usually at those time, my writing mojo also vanishes. And cue to the “impossible task”. Or taskSSSSSS.

I have been diagnosed with chronic general anxiety disorder (with some added bonus ones, such as health anxiety) and obsessive compulsive disorder (which seems to reach its peak form when anxiety is high).

It has been my dark companion for many years and earlier this year I got a memory of Facebook that really triggered more memories of the darkest of times. It was March 2014, and I remember being at my most despairing state, but still trying to smile and do things. But it was so empty – I was withdrawn, avoided going out, socialising and (believe it or not), was NOT drinking.

Therapy helped a lot, but the work outside (or inside yourself), relentless as it may be, is what will really build you. Aerial hoop, I joke in a serious way, saved my life.

The continuous support an understanding of those around me carried me through. And still do to this day.

And shift in attitude is what keeps me there.

I often tell my nearest and dearest I live a day at a time when it comes to my mental health. Current status: mostly well.

Good days largely outweigh the bad ones, and the bad ones are safely put away as being “over”, with an opportunity of a great day coming tomorrow. If another bad day comes, we deal with it. A day at a time, as they come.

Most triggers I can avoid and work through. Some I can identify but they will throw me off me anyway, and it takes me some energy to shake them off.

Rare are the others that are just so deep rooted that will consume me and all I feel is symptoms: that knot in my throat, the sick pit in my stomach, the tight pain in my chest, the dry mouth, the slight dizziness, that racing heart, the staring at the wall for hours, the procrastination, the escalating thoughts, the relentless checking, the irritability, the anger, the guilt, the frustration at the tiniest of things. Breathe.

Sometimes culminating in the dreaded, hopeless panic attacks of blinding tears and breathlessness. And the weeks it takes my body to recover: the IBS flares it brings, the lower back pain, the nausea, the sheer exhaustion.

So that’s what pulls me out and makes me go on a break. I write when I feel joy, and sometimes I struggle to find joy. The pandemic has refocused quite a few things for me, and I am trying to redirect some of my joy in these weird times. It is tough.

I am fortunate to have been in a good position throughout all this: healthy, in a job I can do from home, with a supportive manager and a fair employer, amazing friends that even at a distance were there. A boyfriend who REALLY helped me keep it together, a home I love and makes me happy, a hobby that looks after my body and soul. I count all those blessings and am forever grateful.

So, I might just be back.

written by Dani

For the love of (my) skin

Recently I posted a pic on Instagam stories I never thought I would. It was my face. You say – doh-oooh Dani, I see that face of yours a bit too much on stories.

You have a point. But this one was not as it is usually presented. Apart from SPF, it had nothing.

No priming. No foundation. Zero concealer. Not a dusting of concealer in sight. Nothing on my eyes – shadow, liner, mascara. Not even colour on my lips. No filter. Just the morning light that bathes my sitting room.

And for the first time in all these years, I found that it was ok. My skin looked alright. I actually thought it looked…. good? Could it?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never be that person with great skin. Think severe acne with deep angry red cysts on cysts (on cysts) all over for many years. Now think about the deep scarring it leaves behind. Not the more common pigmentation acne scars that appear once the inflammation heals and frequently fade on their own time.

I am talking sulking scars – ice pick, rolling and atrophic, mainly, pitted marks all over my cheeks, temples and forehead. The kind makeup does not erase. Tone, people told me, not texture, is what you can conceal well. And I knew – a lot of the time even with the most flawless make up all I saw in the mirror were scars.

My face had a huge impact on my mental health, and I have written about it before. In the past years I have learnt to like, dare I say love my skin, finally, after a life long battle to make it be what it never was.

Acceptance (and good, consistent skincare) has made it flourish, if not into “perfect skin”, into one that makes me finally feel good about it. Not all the time, it’s true, but the fact I don’t feel like I have to hide it (with a fringe, and/or 8567554 layers of the thickest product you’ll find), feels amazing.

I feel I really care about it, and no longer want to fight it, and the more dramatic, professional procedures I had in the past couple of years really kick started this change – the 3 sublative and ablative laser treatments I had so expertly delivered and tailored by Dr. Ariel Haus worked as a foundation that has finally surfaced.

I have been wearing less makeup, not just at home but when going out(ish) and although I still think I photograph better with a face of foundation, I am no longer anxious to wear less. I am, in fact, happy.

I always said makeup helped me look outside the way I feel inside. And this is still very much true – wearing less only means the discrepancy is decreasing.

As as a loved one said this week: here’s to growth – and skincare.

Now, where’s that botox at? Hit me up, I am ready for you!