19/05/2015

Kadria Skincare - Balancing Face Oil with Chia and Blackseed *

Face oils are serums are something I am getting a lot more comfortable with these days; when I first started really getting into skincare, the thought of slathering oil on my face made me squirm. That and the fact that I had no idea how to apply it properly (I thought I was supposed to apply a 10p sized dollop of oil and massage in as though it was a moisturiser) meant my skin was pleading with me to stop with the serums. Fast forward a couple of years and I've finally worked out how they are supposed to be used. I've written a bit more about that here.
Kadria Skincare is a natural skincare range made in London by Sarah, an aromatherapist and massage therapist. Sarah has enjoyed dabbling in the art of aromatherapy over the years, and has spent time researching the real science behind the use of the essential oils, and after having her first child decided to take a course in massage, and subsequently formal study of aromatherapy. As an expectant mother, Sarah worried about what she was putting on her skin, unsure what damage the ingredients would be doing to her unborn baby. Whilst practising aromatherapy and massage, Sarah discovered that she had quite the talent for blending oils, which lead on to her developing a range of skincare which is safe, effective and beautiful. All products are 100% vegetable derived, and there is not testing on animals, which is a definite thumbs up from me.
The Balancing Face Oil with Chia and Blackseed* is said to nourish, restore, and protect uneven skin, whilst reducing inflammation and promoting natural healing. Blackseed oil is said to rejuvenate, whilst rose geranium and frankincense calms and relaxes. This oil smells delightful, and exactly as claimed, it really is a soothing and relaxing scent. The pump application dispenser certainly makes it easy to dispense the oil without mess, although it does apply a little too much for one application. I apply this sparingly to the tips of my fingers and then tap across my face until it is absorbed; fortunately the oil soaks into the skin remarkably quickly, and you're left with smooth, satisfied skin without that feeling of grease which often comes with serums or oils. This isn't something I apply every day, as my skin is fortunately fairly normal and doesn't need a lot of help to maintain it, so once or twice a week I apply this before bed, after cleansing. A very tiny amount of oil goes a long way, so I imagine this 30ml will last me quite some time.

You can shop Kadria Skincare here, or pick up the Balancing Face Oil with Chia and Blackseed for £36, here. 

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15/05/2015

Dusty Girls - Natural Mineral Blush *

I posted a little while ago about one of my new favourite tanning products, MooGoo's How Now Brown Cow. Dusty Girls is the sister company of Moo Goo, which specialises in natural, safe cosmetics which don't damage the skin, whilst looking healthy at the same time. Dusty Girls products contain clays and minerals of the earth, said to improve skin tone, all the while avoiding the chemical nasties often found in cosmetifcs.
I was fortunate enough to get to try out the whole range of Dusty Girls products at the London blogger meet-up back in January, and there were a lot of products I would have liked to take home with me! The range is fairly small at present, however given that the products are so friendly on your skin, I imagine it takes that little bit longer to hone the products. The thing that really impressed me about the products was the packaging; the country theme gives a nod to the Moo Goo roots of Dusty Girls, having been started up on a farm with skincare products aimed at soothing cows' udders!
The Natural Mineral Blush* comes in two shades, Pink Ladies and Golden Delicious. Although Pink Ladies is a gorgeous, sweet pink, I chose Golden Delicious due to my current obsession with muddy-toned blushers (click!). Each of the blushers comes in a little box with instructions printed inside, which I think is a great touch. It certainly makes you feel like you're getting more for your money! Also, the clear lip allows you to see at a glance which product you're reaching for in your makeup bag; I find it a bit of a pain to have to open up my products to see which products are inside, so transparent casing always scores points with me!
As for the blusher itself, it's absolutely delightful. It feels so light on the skin, yet despite its highly natural composition of ingredients, the pigmentation is just WOW! You really need to apply this with a light hand else you'll end up with a dirty face! As you can see from the below swatches, the swipe on the right is a normal swatch, whereas the one on the left is me trying to apply it much lighter. I find the key to subtle application is to tap the excess off the brush, apply lightly to the face, and then use a buffing or blending brush to rub away the harsh edges.

You can view the whole range of Dusty Girls products here, and if you're interested in the blushers they retail at £15 for 15g, giving you £1 per gram. I have my eye on a few more products at the moment, particulaly the kabuki brush (the softest brush you will EVER use), and the bronzer.

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14/05/2015

ExanteDiet - Diary of a Working Week

Previous to my holiday to Turkey, I tried out a few items from the Exante Diet range. For those of you that aren't familiar with Exante, it is a range of meal replacement foods, with the idea that you switch out a meal for an Exante product instead. You can choose whether you switch for all, some, or just one of your meals, with the aim of helping you to control your portion sizes and eat fewer calories. Exante products are all calorie counted, and so if you want to lose weight fast, eating three or four Exante products a day instead of your usual diet will see you eating at a calorie deficit, and therefore losing weight. The idea is simple. However, what I was interested in was how well the Exante Diet would fit in with my daily life, and in particular my working week. Here's how I got on...
Diet Shakes* - The shakes come in a huge range of flavours, some more appealing than others. The Lemon and Raspberry, although it sounds delicious, was actually horrific. It was so sickly sweet that I couldn't even finish it, but that may just be because I prefer simple, unfussy flavours such as vanilla and chocolate. In terms of convenience however, the shakes couldn't be easier. You simply add the directed amount of water to the powder in a shaker, and shake shake shake! These were easy to have on the drive to work, as I'd just mix them up before I left and drink them during the drive. These are just as easy to have at work, as you only need water and your mixer to be good to go. However, using the shaker alone will undoubtedly leave your shake laden with lumps, so if like me you prefer a smoother texture you may find it better to use a blender and save these for when you're at home.
I was really impressed by the range of products Exante has to offer, as from the looks of it there really is something for everyone, including sweet puddings - exactly what I need for my sweet tooth! The  Cheese & Bacon Breakfast Eggs* are great, and surprisingly simple to make. 80ml of cold water whisked together with the contents of the packet, and then cooked up on the hob and you have a low calorie equivalent of scrambled eggs. Unfortunately this isn't something you could knock up on the go seeing as you need to use the hob, so these types of Exante meals are best eaten before work. 

The soups on the other hand simply require 250ml of hot water, whisked into a mug along with the sachet contents, making them a great meal for busy lunchtimes at work. The consistency is a damn sight better when the soup is mixed with a blender, but I find that a fork does a good enough job to whisk the hell out of it and get rid of most of the lumps.

I was most surprised by the Shepherd's Pie*, which actually tasted like a fairly good susbtitute for full-fat, wholesome shepherd's pie. It requires a microwave to mix up, something which I don't always have access to. I would imagine however, that most workplaces do actually have a microwave!

A special mention goes to the Gooey Salted Caramel Pudding*, something which tastes similar enough to treacle sponge to satisfy my sweet tooth in a fraction of the calories I otherwise would have wasted. This only needs a microwave, so this one's nice and easy. The only downside is I really wanted to serve it with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream, but that completely defeats the point, right?!
The final Exante product I got to try out was the one which excited me the most, the Pizza Kit*. I am unashamedly a Dominos lover, and not much else comes close in terms of indulgent, greasy pizza. I was prepared to give the Exante version a go though. You get enough sachets to make seven pizza bases and seven lots of tomato sauce topping. The topping requires a microwave to make, although the dough is made with cold water and then popped in the oven. I had hoped to be able to make the pizzas in advance to take to work cold the next day, but unfortunately the instructions tell you to 'consume within ten minutes'. I can only assume that's because the consistency of the food changes, thanks to the process the ingredients have to go to in order to be reduced to powders in a packet. That aside, I had great fun making up toppings for the pizzas, although you have to be careful not to overload it with calorie-laden goodness!

If you're looking for a diet solution that's work-friendly, Exante could be it but you need to be selective over what you buy. The shakes are perfect for taking to work, and if you have access to a microwave your options are widened significantly. There are a lot of options, so I'd recommend having a browse of Exante to see what takes your fancy!

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