Insta Naturals Review: Eye serum, Skin Clearing serum and Age Serum

I’m a frequent user of moisturiser, pore refining fluid and beauty oils but serums? Not so much. So when Insta Naturals invited me to trial three of their serums I enthusiastically agreed because it’s always a leap of faith to buy a new product – that will hopefully become part of your skin care regime – without knowing if it will work.

Age-defying Skin Clearing Serum

Skin Clearing Serum

I’m in my early thirties, that age where skin gets rather confused. Yes, it’s starting to show signs of ageing such as uneven texture but it’s still prone to some spots and an oily T-zone. C’mon face, make up your mind already!

Active Ingredients

20% Vitamin C, 3.5%Niacinamide, 2.5% Retinol, 2%Salicylic Acid

Application

As recommended I’ve been using this serum in the morning (using a sun cream if leaving the house because retinol can make skin sun sensitive) and at night (only once a day for sensitive skin), before applying my usual basic moisturiser. I used the handy pipette to disperse a very small amount onto my palms and fingers and gently pressed the serum onto my face as it’s difficult to massage serum into skin.

Result

I’ve only been using this product for 7 days but my skin has CLEARED UP COMPLETELY! My skin is balanced, no more oily T-zone. My skin appears a little plumper but it doesn’t look particularly radiant. If I hadn’t have used plenty of my daily moisturiser over the top of the serum my skin would have become very dry and applying foundation would have been pretty impossible. However, all serums are meant to be used in conjunction with moisturiser so this didn’t surprise me.

Rating 4/5

Youth Express Eye Serum

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Active Ingredients

Vitamin C, Plant stem cells, Astaxanthin, Kojic Acid, Passionflower, Caffeine, Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide

Application

I used a small amount around my eyes morning and night. I put a small drop onto my ring finger and gently patted around my eye area. This is the best finger to use as it applies the least pressure but with good accuracy. Don’t let the unusual orange colour put you off!

age defying eye serum

Result

I used to have permanent bags, which were so big they came down to the top of my cheekbones and they were really puffy but now they are ALMOST GONE, after using this for a mere 7 days! Wow! In the past I’ve tried cutting down on salt, different eye creams and gels, drinking green tea and plenty of water with zero results. This product is amazing! Ok so the gentle tapping helped morning and night but I had tried this before with other products, with only minimal results.

Before

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After

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Rating 5/5

After incorporating these two serums into my skincare regime, it looks like I won’t be using the ‘retouch’ function on my photo editor much anymore ^_^

Age-defying Retinol Serum

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Three serums is a lot to try in the space of two weeks and a lot to ask from someone’s skin to adapt to different products, so I passed this one on to my Mum who’s in her early 70’s to test instead.

Key ingredients

2.5 Retinol
20% Vitamin C
10% Hyaluronic Acid
Fruit & Plant Acids

Application

A small amount of this serum should be applied to skin night and day (using sun cream as retinol can make skin sun sensitive) but only once per day for sensitive skin.

Result

After two weeks of applying the serum I asked Mum if she had seen any difference. “It makes my skin appear slightly plumper and tighter. My face feels too tight though, which I’m not a fan of. I feel like I need to use a much thicker moisturiser than my normal one, afterwards. It does have a slight superficial temporary effect, so If I was one of these women that’s so desperate to look young they get covered in mud then wrapped in cling film so they can be a few centimetres slimmer for an evening, then I might be impressed with it. Anyway a fortnight is too short amount of time to test if there are any long lasting results, to be fair.” Gotta love my Mum!

Rating 2/4

Above products gifted to me for review purposes. This does not bias my opinion of them in anyway

Chrissie xx

Avalanche Restaurant Review Manchester

I was invited to the re-opening of Avalanche, the contemporary Italian restaurant and bar recently so I brought The Bloke as my plus1 for a treat. The decor has some modern features especially the lighting design but the art has much more of a classic feel. I hate restaurants where you are crammed in like cattle but here the tables are widely spaced and the chairs are incredibly comfortable. The restaurant has three bars in total so it’s a place where people can pop into for lunch and drinks a well as a meal in the evening.

Avalanche restaurant manchesterI also loved the open kitchen as I’m nosey but mostly because it shows their food prep is spot on.

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As soon as we arrived someone offered to take my coat (amazing how many restaurants don’t do this) and we were asked if we had any allergies or specific food requirements. That was the first time we stated we are vegetarian. We were given a bottle of Prosecco and a chiller for the table and our glasses were topped up by the wait staff frequently. We were told our food would arrive shortly and I asked “Just checking, you know we are both vegetarian don’t you?”. Somehow this hadn’t been convayed but I was told it would be sorted out. Another waiter came over to us in due course and asked “You are the vegetarians?” At this point we were starting to feel like an alien species, only recently discovered by mankind. After a long wait and being presented with a dirty serving plate which was immediately returned to the waiter, our food arrived. I’m actually glad there was a prawn staring up at The Bloke. If it hadn’t have been so evident he would have enthusiastically tucked in, only to be disgusted that he was eating flesh after being veggie for 17 years. According to the press release we were expecting a main course each and desert each so it was a nice surprise we got to sample a starter of tasty vegetarian bruschetta between us.

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Avalanche are bucking the tradition of only stocking Italian wine and instead offer a selection of the best wines from around Europe. I was asked which type of wine I like and I asked to sample an Italian red which had rich and spicy (rather than fruity) characteristics. I was poured several glasses of wine which I really enjoyed (unfortunately I can’t find the wine on their menu and I only know how to pronounce it, rather than spell it).

When the main arrived I had such an appetite I dived straight in and forgot to take a photograph! Bad blogger! We had a dish of ale dente vegetables with thinly sliced perfectly cooked potatoes to share and a dish of roasted aubergine topped with mozzarella each, served in hot bowls on little smooth wooden palettes. The mozzarella was really baked and rather chewy, which is how I prefer cheese to be cooked (some might say means it’s actually over done). The aubergines were baked so that they were soft in the middle but still had a bit of crunch on the outside, again exactly the way that I prefer my food.

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For desert we were given a selection of three mini deserts to share between us. Cheese cake which was perfectly balanced, tiramisu which was luxuriously rich and creamy and chocolate cake which I found to be quite dry. As I was still a little hungry at this point (it was late in the evening and I’d not eaten since lunch) I rather cheekily asked if I could have a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Both of us were served with two big scoops of ice cream each!

The atmosphere on the night was very relaxed with a blues singer performing classics such as ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’ and more contemporary Amy Winehouse songs (live performances are every Friday) and the lighting was low creating an intimate atmosphere. We’ve been to quite a few restaurants over the years but it’s been a long while since we’ve been to one with a classic romantic feel. I’d really like to give Avalanche the benefit of the doubt and assume that on a normal night – possibly with less wait staff and less people all arriving at once – there wouldn’t be so many communication problems and misunderstandings. Having looked at the menu on Avalanche’s website I am really impressed with the amount and the quality of the vegetarian options which they offer.

I was invited to this event as a guest and was not charged for food or drink.

Chrissie xx

 

 

Here’s Some Tom Hidleston To Brighten Your Monday

He could simply feel relieved. He may be surprised he’s forgotten something simple. Or maybe he’s surprised at how much he feels relieved ;0)

I’m starting to like how a giff can take a moment totally out of context lol

Chrissie xx

LUSH Popcorn Lip Scrub & Vanishing Cream Face Moisturiser

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Popcorn Lip Scrub

I said to the bloke in the shop “I better not get the bubble gum flavour as I’ll really want to eat that one.” to which he replied “Well they are edible, if you have to.” Hahaa! I still chose the (only slightly) less more-ish flavour of popcorn. The scruby bits are really fine but effective. The oils in the scrub make it a pleasant experience, without it feeling scratchy. I had a LOT of dry skin on my lips but non of it was peeling, it was just sat there. This scrub got rid of the lot and left my lips smooth with a wonderful moisturised shine. Gorgeous product! £5.50 for 21g

Ingredients: Caster sugar, organic jojoba oil, fine sea salt, polenta, extra virgin coconut oil, popping candy, natural flavouring.

Rating 5/5

Vanishing Cream Face Moisturiser

If you require a really light moisturiser which will sink in quickly leaving your skin looking naturally radiant then this is the one for you. This cream also has the most beautiful fresh flower scent. Oil regulating creams, skin balancing serums and facial oils all have there place but if you are after a simple face cream which soothes and moisturises then this is the perfect one. It’s just a shame how expensive this is for such a small pot – bearing in mind most people will be using this as their daily moisturiser. £18.75 for 45g

Ingredients: Linseed infusion, water, rose water, lavender honey water, organic cold pressed grapeseed oil, honey, stearic acid, organic jojoba oil, witch hazel extract, fair traid shea butter, cetearyl alcohol, triethanolamine, camellia oil, lavender oil, neroli oil, geranium oil, glycerine, tincture of benzoin, geraniol, limonene, linalool, (natural) perfume, methylparaben, propylparaben.

Rating 4/5

Chrissie xx

Pure Thoughts Tangerine & Jojoba Whipped Shea Body Butter and Mint & Avocado Foot Repair Balm

‘We proudly hold firm to our founding beliefs that natural soap and skincare starts with the very best ingredients, good old fashioned methods and that it shouldn’t cost the earth in any respect! Pure Thoughts range now includes an indulgent collection of products, every one still made by us in our Derbyshire workshop.’ Pure Thoughts.

Here’s why I respect this little independent brand: No artificial colours or fragrances. No parabens or chemical preservatives. No SLS, SLES or harsh detergents. No synthetic additives or petroleum. 100% natural.

Pure Thoughts skincare

Tangerine & Jojoba Whipped Shea Body Butter

The texture of this is a lot more solid than the the term ‘whipped’ implies, in fact it’s more like a balm. I found it best to warm up the butter between my fingers and to apply it to damp skin to spread it more easily. This butter leaves skin with a slight sheen and a very subtle waxy feel, which I really like. I kept stroking my hands, like a weirdo! The scent is so energising and uplifting I started the day in a really positive mood. £11.95 for 85g (or 2 for £20 until 24/03/2015)

Ingredients: Shea butter, jojoba oil, tangerine oil, limonene.

Rating 4/5

Mint & Avocado Foot Repair Balm

This balm is very similar to a lip balm stick in texture and it gave the dry skin on my heels and the balls of my feet were given a new lease of life. I’d been on my feet all day and they were aching and a little swollen and a massage with this calmed them right down, so I could get on with my evening. It totally transformed the way my feet looked as well, so I will be using a lot of this throughout summer, before baring my feet in sandals. The peppermint scent is so strong I couldn’t detect any avocado but the fruits moisturising qualities are obviously there. £7.97 for 50g.

Ingredients: Olive oil, avocado butter, beeswax, castor oil, peppermint oil, Rosemary oil, limonene.

Rating 5/5

Chrissie xx

Souk Souk Beauty Box (limited edition) Relax and Dream un-boxing

Rather than paying £5.00 a month and automatically getting little green boxes from Souk Souk and having a pile of beauty products mounting up in my bathroom, I’ve decided to treat myself to one-off boxes costing £20 every now and then. I had a choice of a bespoke box, compiled just for me or I could pick one of the five limited edition boxes Off To The Gym (yeah right!), Happy Mothers Day, Skin Introduction, Pamper Boutique and the Relax and Dream box that I chose. So, what products did I get in the Souk Souk beauty box?

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I was really pleased that some of the products were actually layered on top of one another so that they could fit as much as possible into the box, instead of bulking it out with with masses of paper.

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Looks intriguing doesn’t it! I will be reviewing most of the products in more detail when I’ve had a chance to use them properly but here’s a quick run through through.

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Holy Lama travel mini’s: Yogi Soap, Conditioner, Shampoo and (a pleasant surprise) hair oil in a beautifully woven and sturdy case.

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Orchard View Naturals Rose and Geranium Facial oil, Sranrom – Urban wellness – Sleep Tight Body Cream, Alva Handcream, Pure Thoughts Tangerine & Jojoba whipped Body Butter, Pure Thoughts Mint and Avocado Foot Repair Balm, The Green Balm Healing Balm.

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Tisserand Aromatherapy Sweet Dreams Rollerball and Badger Balm Lavender and Bergamot Sleep Balm.

There was also an orange oil rollerball perfume. I found the inclusion of this strange as orange oil is known to be quite an invigorating rather than relaxing scent. I’m used to more complex perfumes and didn’t fancy walking around smelling like I’ve just eaten a tangerine! There was also Ruth Romano Lavender Soap, which I gave to a friend as I’m not a huge fan of the scent of lavender on it’s own but she was pleased with it.

Some of the products appear to be sample sized and others are just naturally small. I’d much rather have this great range of products than 3 or 4 larger sized ones though. I think this box is definitely worth the £20 if you are into discovering independent cruelty-free brands ^_^

Have you ordered a Souk Souk Beauty Box before? What did you think?

Chrissie xx

 

 

Book Club – Geek Girl All That Glitters by Holly Smale

The Geek Girl series by Holly Smale has become so popular, All That Glitters is already the fourth book in the series, which only started a year ago with From Geek To Chic. Loosely based on the authors miss-adventures – the books follow the character of Harriet Manners as she tries to navigate modelling (accidentally) and being a teen geek.

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All That Glitters catches up with Harriet a week after she returns from New York where she is looking forward to starting 6th Form college at her old school in the UK. She has to deal with making new friends, avoiding the old bullies and wondering why her old friends seem to be drifting away from her. Then there is her continuing heartbreak after the split with her adoring model boyfriend and a few rather unexpected add campaigns to deal with.

This is a book which you will fly through as it’s written in the first person so there is no lull in the story because you always want to know what the utterly adorable and witty protagonist is thinking. Harriet comes up with the most informative and funny smilies I’ve ever heard. The story is very original with some hilariously bizarre moments and characters but it’s also full of little awkward everyday moments which most people (not just geeks) will be will be able to relate to. Accidentally going into school as a kid on teacher training day? Yup!

There were a few things that didn’t sit well with me though. 1) It becomes clear very quickly that everything that can go wrong, will go wrong, which means it’s hard to get carried away with Harriets enthusiasm before any event, although it does compel you to read on with rather morbid fascination to see exactly how wrong it will go. 2) This means quite a bit of the book is really cringey because you are left in that uneasy place of feeling like you are meant to be laughing but mainly just wanting to reach into the pages to rescue Harriet and give her a big hug. 3) I do think there is a real difference between someone who’s awkward and quite geeky and someone who is painfully naive and unaware for their age. Harriet seems to have the intuition and judgment of a ten year who’s had the misfortune of being plonked into a group of (mostly) judgmental 16 year olds.

However, it’s these qualities, which mean we are in Harriets corner every clumsy step of the way, that and her unwavering humour in the face of adversity.

All That Glitters is hilarious, poignant, surprising and heartfelt all in equal measure and it’s that equation that makes it worth adding to your reading list immediately.

If you want to find out more about Geek Girl head over to the Facebook page here!

This book was sent to me free for review purposes. This does not affect my opinion of the book.

Chrissie xx