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!

Brighter smile

Glo32 teeth whitening strips
PR sample

There is nothing better than a smile. Actually, nothing better than a bright smile!

Glo32 has a lovely range of teeth whitening products to help you get that lovely smile even brighter.

I tried the strips, which are very easy and quick to use and come pack of 28, suitable for 14 uses.

The strips come in individual foils of 2, for upper and bottom teeth. The strip are easy to place and once on the teeth, the generous amount of whitening gel of them softens around the teeth.

It contains coconut oil and is enamel safe and peroxide free.

It is very comfortable to wear for the 30 minutes and afterwards I rinse and brush lightly with my beloved electric toothbrush.

Glo32 teeth whitening strips review - Dani holding box

You are meant to apply it for 14 days for optimal results but my teeth are not too stained or dark and are quite sensitive.

When I got it, I used 5 days in a row for a first whitening and I noticed a subtle, perhaps one shade+ improvement. Sensitivity was low, but I did feel some. Now I am using every few days/a week to maintain, keep stains away and am very happy with the results.

I had used trays and strips before – trays are good if you get them professionally custom made as I did and have a good source for the gel. The ones you bite into are not as good, so I’d go for strips as they are easy and quick to use at home.

Overall, Glo32 strips are great value for money, at £20 per pack, and even better at 1/2 price at Boots with the rest of the range – whitening pen and toothpaste to boost up the glow.

Plus, on this week’s Boots £10 Tuesdays flash deals (25 August 2020) you can get the Glo32 Teeth Whitening System which contains the strips and the whitening pen for only £10 instead of £30, so now a great time to stock up!

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.

The wonders of magnesium

PR products

Ingredients: they fascinate me. There is nothing more exciting than to find out about the actions of ingredients in my products and how they interact with my body, working their wonder.

And magnesium has been a favourite for a very long time. For me, the muscle recovery aspect is key due to my hoop adventures, age and previous injury history – any help I can get, is welcome.

However that’s not all magnesium brings to the table; apart from supporting muscle repair and relaxation, it also helps improve rest and recovery by contributing to a reduction in tiredness and fatigue, electrolyte balance and supports normal energy-yielding metabolism.

If that wasn’t enough, it is also vital to support calcium absorption – especially important for women my age.

I have been using Better You Magnesium products for a while. I had the sports spray oil, now the Muscle Spray and was delighted to try the Magnesium Sleep range which comes with added essential oils to promote relaxation, with some added flakes from the “normal” range.

I use the products in the evening, after showering. The Magnesium Oil Sleep Spray, which is the new name for the photographed, Goodnight (£12.95), with Bergamot and Clary Sage oils (for me, interchangeable with the Muscle spray as they deliver similar quantities) comes out to apply on my “problem” areas (lower back and shoulders) when they feel more tender.

I really enjoy the tingle it causes when your body “needs” that application – the lower back ALWAYS tingles, but it is not uncomfortable and subsides soon after.

The Mineral Sleep lotion (£9.95) is a great full body product – I apply to legs, arms, abdomen for an overall magnesium delivery.

On the mineral bath flakes, I think I don’t need to go on forever; the benefits are widely known and what a delight it is to bathe on those. It is available from £3.95 (250g) but I recommend a 5kg bag for £39.95.

I struggle remembering to capsules and magnesium actually has a very better absorption through the skin so it’s a better way to remineralise. Plus it’s a nice self care ritual – a bath and a welcoming massage on application.

Afterwards, body does feel heavy and seems to sink into the bed for better sleep. To be honest, I am a good sleeper, but usually don’t feel sleepy, so using magnesium works as a lovely relaxing send off, mentally and physically.

At the moment, Better You have 25% off all magnesium products (clicks away on site to re-stock) – you get a huge £10 savings on the 5kg bag!!!

Get to their site – apart from magnesium you’ll also find an impressive range of other high quality, trusted pill free supplements to cover varied health/wellbeing/lifestyles needs.

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.

Practical tips to help you get out of debt

In the current climate, it is more important than ever to look after our money. Many of us have lost income and the future seems very uncertain for most people, so how do you even begin to tackle a seemingly impossible task of getting out of debt?

Getting into debt can be pretty easy, but a lot harder to get out of. Quite often, when we find ourselves in any level of debt it is easier to pretend it is not happening, but of course that only aggravates the situation.

We all have different circumstances, especially with the current pandemic, levels of debt and incomes, so it’s hard to say that there is one way to get out of debt; however, here are some things to consider.

If you are really struggling and need some professional help, you could check out places like Creditfix.co.uk, which can help people get out of debt problems.

List everything you owe and everything you earn

It’s hard to make a plan to get out of debt, without knowing precisely what your money situation looks like right now. As painful as it might be, make a list – and I have a monthly spreasheet – of everything you owe and all of your outgoings, no matter how small.

Then make another list of your income. This will help you see the extent of the problem, and also highlight areas that you could really cut down on. For example, do you have subscriptions to a magazine that you never get around to reading? Do you need a big takeout every week, or could you cut
it down to every other week? What non-essentials could you space out or even stop for a while?

Don’t let your money get swallowed up

It’s so easy to spend a fiver here, or a tenner there on little bits throughout the day – a coffee, a meal deal, a taxi when you’re feeling a little lazy.

If you’re cutting down on luxuries to save money, put that aside to pay off some debt immediately, otherwise, you’re not actually saving anything – you’re just spending it somewhere else! It might not seem like much, but it all adds up and anything you can pay over the minimum is going to make a huge difference.

Planning ahead is a great tool – I plan meals, shop accordingly and batch cook, take money out weekly to stick to a spending budget, not touching cards, for example.

Can you earn a little more?

Maybe you could take on some overtime hours at work, start a side hustle, or simply sell some of your unwanted belongings and put that money towards paying off your debt.

It’s essential to look after your health (mental and physical!) and not do too much, but any little extras you can make and put into the pot is going to help you reduce your debt quicker.

Recently I finally got round to listing some clothes and accessories I didn’t wear and suddenly I had an extra £100.

Lower your interest

When paying towards debt and most of the money is taken up by interest, it can feel as though there is no end in sight. By moving your debt onto an interest-free credit card, you will be making more of a dent in the debt with each payment.

A money transfer can sometimes cost a percentage of the amount you’re moving, even if the card is 0% interest, so factor that in, and these are often promotional rates so they won’t last forever.

I got myself a “cash card” where I transfer the spending money for certain events (drinks, picnics, weekly extra food), so I don’t spend unexpectedly.

Of course, there are many other practical ways to start – and all success stories of people getting out of debt are peppered with some change in behaviour and re-assessment of priorities. They all show a shift in focus and lots of determination.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, take the first steps, as small as they may feel and keep your end goal in mind.

This piece was written in collaboration with CreditFix.