Double Espresso Please

Mega Matte liquid_web_imageSo, now you have your luscious lips all you need is a great lip colour to finish off your sexy new persona.  I consider myself a lipstick aficionado.  But, as much as I love a bold beautiful colour even the superstars have let me down in the stamina department.  Often the bolder colours either peel off or just don’t have the staying power of the more natural shades.  So, when someone challenged me to try an extremely dark colour in a brand that I had never heard of I did not hold out much hope.   Enter Acti-Labs a French company that makes a whole host of products including a vast make-up range.  Now I need to say at this point I had sworn off writing about products that would be classed as “multi-level Marketing”.  Not for any other reason than up to now I have found that many of them are not great and it can be awkward because you are often dealing with someone trying to make a business from their home rather than a faceless PR.

lipss.PNGBut, after speaking to the gorgeous Kertrina I was convinced to give it a try.  I was sent some lip colours that blew me away.  I had purposely chosen very dark colours as they are often the most difficult to sustain over an entire day.  To my shock they looked as good at 9pm as they had at 6am when I first applied them.  As someone who is most indelicate when eating or drinking I definitely put them through their paces.  My favourite colour was the Mega Matte espresso.  Very dark with a dark reddy hue.  As it was so dark I thought it would probably start peeling by mid-day.  But, I was wrong, wrong, wrong!!  It was perfect from beginning to end.  They are all gorgeous and I would definitely recommend this lippy lot for your next beauty haul.

Just a little side note Kertrina sent me some the Acti-Labs Whitening Toothpaste and at it worked better than anything I have used before.  So, Acti-Labs is certainly worth little look!!

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A “Perk”fect Pout

I once had a friend who described the first impression I make when entering a room as “here comes Melissa’s lips”.  I have stuck with that over the years as I think there are few things that make a bolder statement than a fabulous set of freshly plumped lips.  I know you natural beauty fans are cringing.  But, honestly I don’t believe that genuine natural beauty exists in anyone over the age of 12.  Now put down your torches and pitchforks anyone can be beautiful, but let’s not delude ourselves.  At 46 I need all the help I can get! As we age lips get thinner and all that lovely collagen we took for granted in our 20’s has done a runner.  I, being a big fan of white coats and needles am quite happy to get regular fillers in my race with Father Time.  I am referring to time with a male pronoun not because I am being patriarchal, but because surely only a man would have the audacity to steal your collagen and impose the menopause on you in one swoop.

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But, I know that many of you are looking for a less invasive way of giving the old girl a bit of a boost.  There are some genuinely ingenious ways of getting that pout just right.  I was invited to the multiple award winning clinic Juvea Aesthetics to have a treatment called “Perk” Lips.  This treatment is from the company that brought us the Rolls Royce of facials, Hydrafacial.  Perk is literally a lunchtime lip boost.  Performed by the gorgeous and amazingly talented El If Ay I was in great hands.

Perk involves putting a tingly minty serum over your lips and using what I can only describe as a mini hoover over your lips.  It exfoliates as well so it leaves you with a gorgeous pillowy finish that is perfect if you want to test drive some super lush lips before committing to more invasive treatments.  You take home the peppermint oil and peony extract that lightly plump your pout.  So, you can give your lips a little boost anytime.  This little roller ball of freshness is now a staple in my handbag.

The Perk Lips is an amazing treatment for anyone, but particularly if you are considering lip fillers. Perk will give you a little preview of what you would look like with fuller lips.

There are a whole list of Perk treatments that can be done over a lunchtime without any downtime and the only side effect is fabulousness!

Multitasking Miracle

Like any busy mum I find it hard to incorporate a solid beauty routine into my already jam packed day.  That’s why I appreciate products that have multiple uses.  So, discovering DermaEraze Miracle Oil was an absolute boon!  This little bottle of fabulousness can be used on the skin and hair.  Although it is an oil, it absorbs like a lotion.  So, it is the perfect primer under my make-up for my dry skin.  I use it at night as a moisturiser and absorbs so quickly your skin feels soft and smooth from the first use.  But, it can be used over the whole body and is particularly good for scars and stretch marks.   I obviously have extensive scars over my entire body due to plastic surgery and have noticed a visible difference in the last three months of use.

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Created by world renowned Skin Repair Specialist Lorena Öberg, This formulation is made from the purest Olive, Almond and Avocado oils.  The healing properties of the oil make it an ideal product to use alongside aesthetic procedures such as micro-needling as it aids the skins ability to repair itself.

The Miracle Oil has done a beautiful job in keeping my hair extensions in great condition.  I use it prior to straitening and any other heat treatments as it keeps my ends smooth and shiny.  Again because it absorbs so well there are no issues with it causing the extensions to slip or the bonds to break down.

This is certainly a product that will remain a staple in my beauty routine.

Coming soon I will be revisiting Lorena in clinic to try her world famous DermaEraze Stretch Mark Removal Treatment. Just in time for bikini season!

Click here for more information on the DermaEraze Stretch Mark Removal Treatment.

The Big Boy Room

The thing about proper gym training is that the relationship you build with your trainer becomes so much more than that of a task manager.  The thing about being with someone who really knows what they are doing is that at a certain point they know your body and its limits better than you do.  Darrell stepped up our training by taking me to the area of the gym where the big boys train.  That part that I dared not tread in the past as I felt this area was off limits to me.  I am not sure if this is the former fatty talking or just someone who happens to have a vagina rather than a penis.  But, there is something about the testosterone fuelled weight lifting floor that scared the hell out of me.  But, full of excitement and a bag of nerves I followed Darrell into belly of the beast, also known as the body building floor.

Today we were going to do dead lifts.  I was going to do deadlifts!! My form was good and I felt stronger than I ever had my whole life.  That’s the thing about living in a fat suit, when you are in it though you are pushing every possible physical boundary with the sheer mass you are carrying you don’t feel strong.  Quite the opposite, you feel weak and at the mercy of something you need for survival yet can’t control.  So, this new feeling of strength was something almost spiritual.  Having spent the better part of my life hiding my body the idea of lifting weights was a bit cathartic.  The “big boy” room thick with testosterone and heaving with the kind of men that I feared would judge me actually respected my effort.  It was another stamp to add to my “passport” of places I felt I was not allowed to enter as a fat girl.  Whether societal or self-imposed there were just some things that were off limits to me in my old body.

But, this wasn’t all about my head.  Under Darrell’s expert guidance my body so beaten and scared from weight loss and plastic surgery was toned and taut.  The results were hard to dismiss and furthered my original hypothesis that it was all about excuses.  Once the barriers were dropped and I really took on board what Darrell was teaching me I had complete faith in the process.

Since this was written Darrell has moved.  What is a huge loss to me is a massive gain to clients in Leeds.  Darrell is so much more than a trainer.  He helped me in ways I could not have imagined.  You see the last thing I had wanted in the beginning was a male trainer.   Men in the gym generally had been something I tried to avoid at all costs.  But, the idea of working one on one with a male PT was something of nightmares.  It was my own jaded view of men in general I suppose, but in my mind they represented everything that kept me weak.  These were the kind of guys that mooed at the 16 year old Melissa.  I suppose I stereotyped all “fit” men in this way.  But, Darrell changed all that.  He showed me that my only limitations were self-imposed and anything was possible.  He pushed me continuously and encouraged me to lift more and was always there to spot me when I needed it, whilst at the same time knowing when to hold back and let me take care of business.  The sessions we had were about pushing the limits I had and helping me attain a strength I didn’t think possible. We had many a conversation that started with me saying “I want to be able to do Tough Mudder or I think I want to enter a charity boxing match or I want to be able to do pull ups unaided.”  His reply was always “you can do it” “we can train for that”.

So, Darrell I can’t possibly thank you enough for what you have given me.  You are a credit not only to your profession, but more importantly to your gender.

I will continue this journey with a new trainer.  So, this is not over yet!

Watch this space…

#NoExcuses

14721649_669567459868728_1004468577750512185_nSo it begins! I have never made my advocacy  for the Abby Pell’s of this world a secret. Those amazing super humans who embraced the “no excuses” hashtag with both hands and got mostly hate for their effort.  I remain an advocate for all body shapes.  But, why is it that these women who have chosen to push their physical limits get so much hate?  As anyone who has followed me knows I used to weigh over 350 pounds.  I am certainly not the poster girl for gym bunnies by any stretch of the imagination.  But, this topic intrigues me, particularly in light of the recent controversy over Eugenia Cooney’s YouTube channel and the petition to ban her.  Now I do agree she certainly has an eating disorder.  But, has the pendulum swung so far that it is now ok to body shame those we consider too skinny?  There are super sized (by their own description) fashion bloggers that if they were experiencing the same vitriol as Eugenia we would be going out of our way to defend them.  Are they not just as much of an example of an eating disorder as Eugenia? I don’t know the answer.  But, I digress.  This is about really digging deep and saying NO actually there is no excuse for this middle age spread.  Yes, I have lost a lot of weight and have been incredibly lucky to have been able to have the extensive plastic surgery to remove loose skin.  But, that just put me on a more level playing field with the majority of women.  I am an extremely busy mum of seven year old twins.  I don’t want to get up at 5am to do crunches in my living room any more than anyone else.  But, having lived most of my life in a fat suit feel I would be doing myself the ultimate dis-service by not finding out what is possible.

7d8d319de325f162b18b58dfdf687460So, my question was; what happens when an average mum drops all excuses and hits the gym?  Well the first step like most of my body transformation would require expert help.  This would seem the easy part.  But, I soon found out that picking a personal trainer is very much like finding a therapist or partner for that matter.  You need someone you trust and that you can work with.  I searched for months before I found Darrell Wilson of DW Holistic Fitness.  During our first meeting he blinded me with the science of exercise.  It’s not that I expected a personal trainer to be dim.  But, I suppose we all hold silly stereotypes of the super fit perhaps being more muscle than brain, to which I profusely apologise.  Darrell has an incredible knowledge of not only the science of behind exercise, but also knows everything you can possibly think of about the nutrition needed to lose weight and gain muscle. His ability to explain the reasons behind every movement is nothing short of astounding.

Over my many years as a serial dieter I have possessed many a gym membership.  For the most part it was the usual story.  Following the obligatory “New Year’s resolution” I happily handed over my bank details to a very pushy sales person and for a month or two religiously went to the gym losing that same two stone repeatedly each year only to gain it back the second I eyeballed a cream cake. But, the fact is walking halfheartedly on a treadmill and pushing around a couple of dumbbells for an hour does not a six pack make.

There is certainly much more reason to be motivated when you have someone at your side to tell you exactly what is happening to your body during exercise.   Having thought I knew quite a lot about the topic myself soon learned I didn’t know much at all.  So, having found “the one” we started training. I think the best part of working with a great PT is that you are really motivated to make progress.  Was I sore the next day?  Yes!  I found muscles I didn’t know existed.  The feeling of satisfaction following each workout cannot be put into words.  The truly amazing thing is how quickly I felt the results.  I am obviously a work in progress, but having been working with Darrell for just over a month now the difference in my body is very noticeable.  The satisfaction in seeing the free weights go up each week is an awesome feeling.  He is a ball buster in the nicest possible way!  The workouts are always challenging, but the fact that I am seeing the results is such a great motivator.  I started out with a marked weakness on my left side as compared to the right.  But, over the last few weeks I have seen such a big difference that my left side has nearly caught up.

I have certainly come a long way from the “Davina” hand weights collecting dust under my bed.  Having that support from someone at your side each session is extra motivation to stay on track.  I have been resistant to having a trainer in the past because I felt self-conscious.  But, Darrell in addition to knowing what he is talking about is a genuinely nice person that spurs you on in such a positive way.  I can’t think of a better cheerleader in this very foreign territory.

So, I remain without excuses and on the way to finding out what is truly possible.  This is chapter one of a series on building a better body.  Will I end up with a six pack? Don’t know! But, what is certain is that building a better body is so much more complex then losing weight.  So, with science, good nutrition and a truly inspirational Trainer there are no excuses and no limits!

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The Magnificent Melanin

As someone who is historically melanin deficient I had become used to haunting the High Street with my ghostly whiteness.   I remember many, many moons ago at University having a crush on a very blond boy from Sweden. I had no chance anyway, but always thought if we did get together our collective paleness would create a litter of transparent babies that would have to be kept in brightly coloured babygros so we didn’t lose them.  I attempted to tan over the years. Occasionally trying actual sun, sunbeds (shhh don’t tell anyone) and of course a variety of oddly smelling concoctions that meant I left Mel shaped orange outlines in my sheets every time I slept.

Following years of trial and error I could only come to one indisputable truth and that is I do not tan.  I pink! I red! I orange! But, I do not tan.  So, when an extremely enthusiastic Lisa Stewart and Lisa Helena contacted me about trying their Star Tanning, I thought what’s the worst thing that can happen?  I’d been orange enough times to know how to ditch a fake tan in a hurry if it went wrong.

The bottom line is the sun is not safe.  Real or fake, cooking yourself for a bit of colour at the worst will give you cancer.  At best will leave you looking like a bit of naugahyde. Which is fine if you are a sofa. But, although I occasionally have too much junk in the trunk I would rather not be mistaken for furniture or someone’s handbag.

The two Lisa’s I have to say at this point are very inspirational in their own right.  Amazing women with a truly entrepreneurial spirit.  The passion and enthusiasm they have for their products is absolutely infectious.

11040441_10153275500085955_1891270427_oThe first thing that makes Star Tanning different is the smell.  It is a gorgeous watermelon.  The formula in Star Tanning products are vegetable based and all natural. Amazingly, I did not orange!  Actual bronze!  I was amazed by the results of this product.  There are three parts to the system;  The  PH Balancing Preparation Spray, which is exclusive to Star Tanning adjusts the PH of the skin reducing dry patches and uneven tone.  Part two is the tanning mousse which could not be easier to apply.  It is brown so you cannot mess it up. From my experience it is pretty idiot proof.  Part three is a finishing spray that helps prolong the life of the tan.

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The system is easy to use and the results are amazing. I have been using it religiously all summer.  I have even been experimenting with using the tan for contouring.  It has definitely become a regular part of my beauty routine.  I love it and have not been to a tanning salon for a spray since receiving this system.   

I have news that the girlies are launching an after tan tracksuit!  This is huge!! I cannot wait to get my hands on one!!  Watch this space for the review.  But, I have no doubt it will be amazing.

Date With Dr Victoria

I think it has never been a better time to be “a woman of a certain age”.  From Botox to Butt lifts there is something for every possible age related issue.  The current non-surgical options are endless.  But, when looking into clinics it is important to find a safe practitioner that has had the latest training as well as being someone with the appropriate background.  Personally, although I am aware this can be a grey area I believe that only those with medical backgrounds should be carrying out such procedures.

I realise it is obviously no secret I love a bit of youth in syringe form.  So, you can imagine how excited I was when I received an invitation to visit Aestha Clinic at 25 Upper Wimpole St in London.  Following an extensive consultation with the gorgeous and talented Dr Victoria Virtosu it was decided that I would have some Juvederm in my lips and a bit (well more than a bit) of Botox to rid my face of the previous six months of worry lines I had developed.

Botox being my favourite neurotoxin, smooths out those “road hard and put away wet” areas of the face like nothing else can.

Juvederm is a range of fillers containing injectable hyaluronic acid that when injected by a trained professional can provide nine months to one year of fullness to your lips as well as correct moderate to severe wrinkling on certain areas of the face.

Lip fillers are an instant gratification kind of treatment, which I love!  Botox tends to take roughly five days or so to see the finished result.  When done correctly the forehead should not appear frozen, just noticeable smoother, giving a subtle more plump appearance to the skin.

The skin on your lips in particular over the life span is constantly moisturised from within by hyaluronic acid which is a naturally occurring sugar. However, as your skin ages you lose hyaluronic acid causing lines to appear and the thinning of the lips.

Having a bit of filler when done correctly can dramatically improve the appearance of the lips.  Obviously, it is up to the individual in consultation with an aesthetic professional how plump you want them.

Dr Victoria was very conscious of making sure that my results were balanced and symmetrical.  Some of the biggest complaints I hear is around asymmetry which is why it is so important to see an experienced professional. Ultimately, it is up to you how big you want your lips.  There are a lot of arguments online about this and honestly it all comes down to personal yet INFORMED choice.

Knowledge is power people!!

Bingo Wings Baby!

I suppose there is a point in every woman’s life where they reach a certain age and realise that their arms in particular start looking a bit, well there is no polite way to put it.  They start getting a bit saggy and even with muscle tone just don’t have that spring back they used to.  This is a particular issue if you are carrying some extra weight or like in my case you have lost a lot of weight.  There is only so much exercise can do!  I was incredibly lucky that following my weight loss I was able to have an arm reduction.  But, realistically this is out of range for the majority of women.  However, even following surgery my arms are still something I am a bit self conscious about.

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Enter Wingz! This company makes a range of “sleeves” that are worn with sleeveless clothing to give you some extra coverage when you are just not feeling sleeveless ready.  I was gifted a set of white wingz to test drive and review.  The concept is brilliant.  I do think that the black is probably much more versatile as it is easier to match the darker sleeve.  But, that is just me.  I don’t tend to wear lighter colours.

The line itself has a range of styles that are really beautiful and I think are an absolute godsend for those of us who are not comfortable with showing our arms. The fabric is lightweight and ideal for the summer which can be a big girls worst nightmare.  Part of the range includes a Chiffon Flare style which I think would be perfect to dress up those summer numbers instead of the old standard bolero.  They fit discreetly under your bra.  So, they really do end up looking like a part of your outfit.

p-2818-big-cat-wingz-280x175Wingz are a great addition to your wardrobe and certainly would allow anyone that has issues showing their arms to expand their wardrobe as there is a set of Wingz to fit any style.

Lip ApPeel

There is nothing more fabulous than a fancy new lippy.  But, when it has an added bonus of a funky new way of applying it, I am definitely in!  For years I have been on the hunt for that perfect stain.  I bit like that good old too much Koolaid lip I had when I was a kid.  Not quite lipstick, but not gloss either.  That hint of colour that says “I woke up like this”.  So, when I spotted these weird and funky lip stains from China that claimed to do all of the above, plus had this bizarre peel off method of application I had to try them.

The first hurdle was they had to be ordered from wish.com, which if you have ever ordered anything from them you will know things are not always as they seem and they taScreenshot_2015-12-31-08-48-01ke forever to arrive.  Okay, three weeks isn’t forever, but I am an instant gratification kind of girl.  What made these particularly interesting was not so much the product, but their description.  So, far from putting me off with the prospect of wounding myself with caution with happens in a horny number of cases I order the Cherry Red.

13198990_10154241271425955_1317249725_oThe application is a bit fiddly, I would recommend using a lip brush.  It needs to dry before peeling it off.  So, the best method is to apply it and carry on doing the rest of your face.  The longer it’s left the better the colour.

It is more a novelty than a serious contender in my make-up regime.  But at roughly £1.50 a tube it is a bit of fun and the peeling off process is particularly satisfying.  Just remember that “in a horny number of cases the effect is not very satisfactory” 21627_10154137476715955_2858983321068429677_n

 

Body Positive Bling

20160216_213311.pngI often think about how difficult it must be for young girls in particular. There is so much pressure to be like Kylie or whoever else is this weeks must have “bod”. So, when someone approaches me with something so beautiful and generous as Fiona De Buitlear of Trinkets Jewellery in Ireland I can’t help but be on board.

Fiona Is using her bling business as a platform to promote a body positive “real model” message. The plan is simple, she will give away a gorgeous bit of sparkle in return for a “selfie” and message that reflects a positive body image.

 

Fiona sent me what I can only describe as magpie heaven! My payment was a selfie and an agreement to be one of her “real models”.
IMG_20160204_162923.jpgWhat strikes me about this campaign is this isn’t rhetoric and is not a bunch of well-meaning words for self-promotion. She is literally putting her money where her mouth is. I am absolutely in awe of what she is doing. It takes great courage to put convictions over money. I always find it intriguing that some of the most provocative business decisions come from those with the most to lose. As a small business owner she is taking a huge risk. For this I feel it is our obligation to not only support her, but pressure other businesses to do the get on board.

The bottom line is every woman deserves to feel beautiful and femininity does not have a size!

IMG_20160204_163139So, I would ask everyone to support the amazing work that Fiona is doing. She is an inspiration and if all of us were willing to wear are ovaries on the outside once in a while the world would be a much more accepting place.

Off to put in my order for one or ten bling bangles!