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!

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…

Shot of Sleep, Straight Up

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Before

I’ve heard people talk about something called sleep. I believe it’s something I used to do before children and the weight of the world got the better of me.  I try my best with make-up and what can only be described as industrial grade concealer to hide the stress and lack of sleep that has taken residence under my eyes.  With bags big enough to hold all my luggage and dark circles that would be the envy of most raccoons there is only so much a mere cosmetic can be expected to do.  I have tried all the light reflecting magic, miracle potions out there and don’t get me wrong they can make a difference up to a point.  But, the 24/7 hustle of being a working mum who’s building a brand, writing as well as 9 to 5’ing takes a toll.

I am obviously very open minded when it comes to aesthetics and plastics. So, when I learned about the use of fillers to treat Tear Troughs, the area around the eyes, I was more than intrigued.  Now, don’t get me wrong the idea of having a filler, in this case Teosyal injected into the eye socket sounds a bit frightening. However, I was incredibly lucky to have had a Teoxane Trainer carrying out my treatment.

Dr Linea Strachan is trained dentist, but has been doing aesthetics for nearly 10 years.  She is the clinical director of A&L Clinics, which is one of the best and busiest cosmetic clinics in Suffolk. Luckily for me she has recently started running a clinic from Harley Street.  She is the teacher for intermediate and advanced filler techniques for Teoxane UK.  Dr Strachan is an award winning practitioner having won in two categories in facial aesthetics in the Aesthetic Dentistry Awards 2016.

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Before

I met Dr Strachan in Harley Street on the day of the treatment. As a rule of thumb people will often tell you that the best way to judge someone’s aesthetic skill is by looking at them.  Well Dr Strachan is certainly an amazing advert for her work.  She is as brilliant as she is stunning.  Following in intensive consultation and taking a set of before photos she explained that she would be using a new bit of technology for the treatment called a Teosyalpen.  It is basically an electronic dispenser that distributes the filler into the area being treated.  Dr Strachan first put in a small cannula which was then attached to the Teosyalpen.  I have had filler on many occasions and even with a numbing cream there is often a sting.  Not overly painful but usually enough to cause the eyes water a bit.  But, with the pen there was literally nothing.  I did not have any numbing cream and the only thing I felt was the tinniest scratch when the cannula was put in and just a bit of vibration as the teosyal went into the tear trough.  This was hands down the least painful treatment I have ever had.  It took no more than 15 minutes per side and the results were instant.  Because of the technique Dr Strachan uses there was no bruising and I couldn’t even see the entry point from the needle.

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After

Following the procedure you look like you have just come out of a week long nap! I was in awe of the difference.  There was minimal swelling which was pretty much gone within the week.  No down time whatsoever and a result that lasts up to a year.  Seriously, what’s not to love?

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After

Time for a safety lecture and some words of caution about this and all aesthetic treatments. A tear trough should not under any circumstances be administered by a non-medically trained practitioner!  Now I realise there are a number of people who are happy to be injected with any number of things by beauticians, I am not one of them.  Every single one of these procedures have the ability to cause serious and life altering side effects in the wrong hands.  Prior to any procedure an extensive consultation should be carried out to ensure you are suitable and safe to have the treatment. In addition the person injecting you should have the training to deal with complications should they arise.  I know a “bit of filler” seems like no bid deal.  But, if you were to have an allergic reaction to it does that beautician injecting you in the backroom of a salon have the medical training to deal with an anaphylactic shock? Will basic life support even be something he or she is trained in much less the injection of adrenaline in an emergency.   I say this as a nurse not just a blogger. These are things you need to consider when undertaking a “bit of a tweak”.   Beauticians are amazing at their jobs and in no way am I putting down their skills for “beauty treatments”. Injecting chemicals into the skin though done for non-medical reasons are still medical procedures and should be respected as that.   I believe that aesthetic treatments should be regulated in such a way as to make it illegal for anyone other than medically trained professionals to inject them.  With the treatment of your Tear Troughs in particular the experience and education of your practitioner is absolutely your number one priority.

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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.

Fatty

love a bit of cakeI have been thinking lately about why my relationship with food is so bad.  I think that for much of my life food has been my method of self-harm.  Instead of cutting myself I have chosen to fill the cracks in my psyche with fat.  Sadly, there is little sympathy for those with my particular method of self-destruction.   If I were jones’in for a line or syringe of something a bit more rock and roll I believe there would be so much more help available.  I wish it didn’t hold so much power over me.  To a certain degree I think that had so much of my journey not been public I probably would have gained it all back by now.  It kills me that I struggle to see myself as I am and not as the little fat girl that everyone hated so much (or at least that’s how I felt).

I cannot pinpoint the exact point it started.  But, I can still vividly remember being bullied to the point of peeing myself so a teacher would send me home.  I must have been around 9 or 10.  An older girl pushed me to the ground and got right in my face.  She said you make me sick fatty!  This was one of many, many episodes that sadly dominated my most formative years.  I would do literally anything to stay home from school.  Throwing myself into a ditch, riding my bike into a wall, anything I could to cause enough damage to warrant a pass from school.  Finally, when I was 11 my mum finally relented and I was home schooled from that point.  I look back and wonder if by doing that I allowed the bullies to win.  But, I suppose nobody knows what to do in that situation.  All I craved was respite from the daily cruelty and abuse.

szwet4rh7yjtrtdgmqrmBut, by leaving school I am not sure the outcome left me any better.  I had very few friends and I soon learned adults could be just as cruel as children.  I suppose this is part of the reason I crave some of that youth I missed out on.  I have the body I so desperately wanted at 18 and feel like I need to recapture the many, many moments I missed out on.  Is trying to cheat Mother Nature a little really the worst thing in the world?  Surely not…   There was so much pubescent loneliness.  I remember hearing about the various dances and school events I missed.  I tried to tell myself it didn’t matter, that I didn’t care.  But, I did and I do know I can’t get those things back.

I realise there will never be an opportunity to go to the prom.  Although if anyone should be interested in a slightly over the hill prom date I probably wouldn’t say no.

The Anti-Ageing Matrix

20999_954452254605038_1864708531383285239_nOk, so I am the first to admit I am really rubbish with skin regimes.  I do use moisturisers, eye creams, serums, etc.  But, I am a terrible cheat and have a difficult time sticking to one product line.  I am a bit of a “player” in the realm of skin care.  I may use an Estee Lauder eye cream with a Lidl moisturiser or a tub of Astral with a super posh tube of retinol.  You know what it’s like right?  Busy Mum skin care and all that?  It is about convenience and what I have to hand at times.  My priorities aren’t about me.  So, sadly my skin ends up being a bit of a mash up of products.  But, I decided as a middle aged woman my skin needed something a bit more intense.  Following a conversation with the Super Skincare Diva that is Lorna Bowes of Aesthetic Source, I would make a commitment to follow a specific regime and see if it truly made a difference in my skin.  Lorna recommended Neo Strata’s “Skin Active” Intensive Eye Therapy, Bionic Skin Cream, “Restore” Matrix Support Moisturiser and Facial Cleanser.

I used the Intensive Eye Therapy and Bionic Skin Cream at night and the Matrix Support which has an SPF of 30 during the day.  Both the Bionic and Matrix Support had a beautiful creamy texture that absorbed into my skin beautifully.  The first thing I noticed using the day products is that my need for a make-up primer quickly became unnecessary.  The Matrix Moisturiser was enough to make my foundation go on smoothly, whilst at the same time not leaving my face feeling like an oil slick.  It is so difficult in your 40’s as with many products they make the assumption that you are a dried up old prune that needs to be slathered in oil. But, that is absolutely not the case.  In fact I am still prone to the occasional breakout with the wrong combination of products.

The Bionic Skin Cream left my skin feeling so smooth at night and I never woke up with that icky product residue that you get with other night creams.  I love the Intensive Eye Cream.  It absorbed quickly and never irritated my skin.  The best part was the reduction in those tiny lines (I am not saying crows-feet).   Luckily Neo Strata knows what women need on their skin!  This combination left my skin dewy and I have noticed a marked difference in my lines. Oh God did I actually refer to my lines again?  Oh the humanity!!  But, in all seriousness my forehead in particular is looking much better and I am seriously past my Botox’s expiration date.  So, the change cannot be put down to a needle!   My skin as a whole from keeping on this regime for three solid months is amazing.  I am definitely a convert to using a proper skin care routine.

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Neo Strata are certainly on the cutting edge of anti-ageing skin care.  They are nominated in several categories in the My Face, My Body Awards and The Aesthetic Awards 2015 It is not difficult to see why.  I am looking forward to trying their Skin Active Triple Lifting Neck cream next!