Wednesday 11 March 2015

The Baby Show at Excel London - my review!

A couple of weeks ago with my Mum and sister (also pregnant!), I visited the Baby Show at the Excel in London. Previously my exhibition trips with them have been to the Clothes Show, so this was something completely new for all of us and I had no idea what to expect! The exhibition itself wasn't too big or busy for a Saturday and after a warm welcome from the lovely team in the Press Office, we set off to explore!

I have written a summary below of my opinion of the show and what I found useful or not so useful. Hope it helps you decide on whether to attend a Baby Show in the future!

Good for....

  • Selecting a buggy. All the major big players there all under one roof so makes researching what you want much easier, plus there were some great show discounts from brands like Chicco. My Cosatto Giggle buggy was cheaper online than their show price, so glad I already purchased it after Christmas and it was shipped to Germany.
  • Finding out information on all the baby gadgets and actually trying them out in person, you soon realise what is worth buying and what is tat! Seeing moses baskets in real life also put my sister off purchasing one, as she thought they looked cheap
  • Excellent speaker programme. We didn't actually have time to attend any of the talks but topics included breastfeeding advice, first aid for babies and work and family
  • Great show discounts if you know what you are after! I purchased my Cosatto Isofix base to accompany the Cosatto Hold Baby seat I already have, for £99 - saving £30 compared to the online price so a genuine discount there. MAM had some good offers on their products, 4 items for £10 which is a bargain when you see the prices of their dummies in Mothercare and Toys R Us
  • Discovering smaller brands you may not find outside of Mothercare or Mamas and Papas. It's nice to have something unique, rather than what the masses have. I was given a Cocoonababy from a French friend and was delighted to visit the stand and get some advice on how it works. Looking forward to trying that out!
  • Freebies! I went home with 7 different types of baby bottles that I was given in various goody bags and at the stands, plus a million dummies from brands such as MAM. I also purchased the Prima Baby magazine bundle which came with a great goody bag full of baby essential items to try!
  • Doing something nice! I had a photoshoot with my mum and sister from Bumpkins Baby and Family studio. Although I don"t live in London and therefore had no intention of buying a bump photoshoot from their studio, the lovely friendly staff still took some great shots of us all - for free!

Not so good for ...

  • Baby clothes. As a clothes lover, I was a bit disappointed that there weren't more baby clothes brands on offer. Normally a highlight of shows like this is discovering new brands you can't find on the high street and splashing out on some cute outfits
  • There are A LOT of non-essential baby items for sale, which can be a bit overwhelming as everyone is trying to sell you the latest, best baby device on the market. I didn't fall into any traps but judging by the amount of bags I saw some people carrying, a lot of mums-to-be did!
Overall I would say the Baby Show is a great day out with your partner or friends/family, with lots of genuine offers. It is also really helpful to have every major brand under one roof so you can do some serious research. It saves a lot of hours traipsing around busy department stores with your tired husband! I have uploaded a selection of photos from my day out below, let me know what you think!

Busy at the Bugaboo stand! 
My sister, Mum and I in our Bumpkins photoshoot! 

My sister and I on the Cosatto Instagram page! Love their social media channels, so much fun :)

34 weeks pregnant belly shot!

Everything I took home with me from the Baby Show - most of it was free!

Friday 5 December 2014

5 months pregnancy update: The best things and the worst things!

I have kept my news relatively low key so far, but for those of you who don’t know I am just over 5 months pregnant and due a baby boy on 9th April! I thought I would write about my top 5 best and worst things about being pregnant so far. Touch wood I have had a really easy pregnancy, with no morning sickness at all, no real pains or cravings. I think a  combination of good genetics from my mum and lots of exercise/healthy eating has helped my pregnancy be stress free so far. Let’s hope it stays this way for the next few months!

My baby boy at 20 weeks!

Best things about being pregnant
  • Bonding with my baby. Having a bump and feeling baby kick all day, it’s such an amazing feeling, totally surreal! The scans I have had are pretty cool as well, love seeing my baby on the screen. Still doesn't feel real though! The daily excitement of checking my pregnancy apps (my favourites are Glow Nurture and Baby Centre UK) to see what is going on with baby that day is pretty cool, I love it!
  • My hair – it’s so much thicker and softer. Also not had to shave my legs very often either. Normally I have to do that every other day, but my leg hair feels like it has stopped growing! Which is amazing! Apparently my  blood is carrying more estrogen, progesterone, and more testosterone right now than it usually does which stops body hair growing as quick. Women do have higher testosterone levels when they're carrying a baby boy compared to a female so that may explain why I have less leg hair!
  • My boobs – they are now MASSIVE which is a good thing, and also a bad thing as I have had to buy a load of new bras! Luckily Primark do some good maternity bras and also good non wired bras to save on costs. 
  • Topshop maternity leggings and jeans. Elasticated, stretchy waistbands that don’t dig into your belly and give you love handles– genius! Why doesn’t everyone wear these! On the downside I have found maternity ranges really rubbish and so hard to shop on the high street for good, stylish maternity clothes. 
  • A bit of a cheeky point here, people looking after you! My friends and family have been great so far, checking I am okay and carrying any heavy bags I might have when out and about. Skipping the longest queue at Berlin airport to board the plane first was great, I hate standing in a long queue when I am tired! Getting the pregnant seat on the tube is also a plus point on busy rush hour tubes.
My bump in my gym kit at 23 weeks!
Worst things about being pregnant
  • Can I, can’t I. looking at every food/drug/drink/product wondering if it’s safe to consume with no concrete advice or research. I hate this. Take at your own risk or consult your doctor, what every time I have a question on something I need to call the doctor! Seriously?! Pregnancy advice is misleading and confusing and gives me a headache daily. Google at your peril as well, or you won’t eat anything. Eat in moderation is my philosophy in life and one that I am following in pregnancy. Touch wood everything is going ok so far!
  • The tiredness. I feel pretty good now, but the first trimester I just wanted to sleep all the time. Plus not drinking or socializing as much makes you more tired I think!
  • Waking up a LOT! Needing to get up twice a night to go to the loo sucks. Plus the pain of needing a wee is almost unbearable! Oh and the urine infections that I seem to pick up super easily now!
  • The in-between stage – is she pregnant, is she fat? I am still at that stage now and just look a bit lumpy in some outfits! I can’t wait to have a defined bump!
  • Not drinking alcohol. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful to be pregnant and can’t wait to be a mum but I realllyyyy miss having a few drinks after work, or a cheeky cocktail or two. I just feel like the boring one always driving who wants to go home early because they are tired. Also not drinking on my best friend’s hen do in Barcelona was TOUGH, they worked it out pretty quickly that I was pregnant!

I can’t wait to start buying things for the baby and preparing the nursery. Waiting until we have hit 28 weeks and after Christmas before I make some serious purchases, but enjoying browsing and searching for baby stuff so far! What are your experiences of being pregnant, the best and the worst – let me know! 

Monday 13 October 2014

Bobbi Brown Smokey Nudes collection

Hi everyone, here is another guest review from my sister Sophie on the new Smokey Nudes collection from Bobbi Brown! I am massive fans of nude shades so can't wait to get my hands on these! 

 If there’s one beauty brand I love to use it's Bobbi Brown, any major event - my wedding day, bridesmaid duties out comes every Bobbi Brown product I have. On a daily basis I wouldn't leave the house without a quick sweep on each cheek from my shimmer brick! Although Bobbi Brown tends to have quite a neutral colour palette anyway their new Smokey Nudes collection has more must have products for everyday to evening use.

The collection is made up of just three new limited edition products with varying shades all absolutely perfect for coming in the Autumn & Winter months. Including a new Shimmer Brick, eye palette & four beautifully creamy matte lipsticks.

I have two top favourite Bobbi Brown Lip products that I use - the first is a lip shine treatment (lipstick) in sunset beach and the second is a lip crayon in dusty nude. These are always my go to lip products and I have always had such great compliments when using them, so I had quite a lot of expectation for the new lip sticks. Also I must admit that I'm not a great fan of matte lipsticks - I often find if I'm suffering from dry lips (especially in the winter) a matte lipstick highlights your dry lips. 

So I am very pleased to say that on first applying the lipstick it does exactly what it says on the tin- it has lovely creamy, soft texture to it that you can feel moisturising your lips when wearing. The colour is subtle so I did require two applications to begin with but longevity wise this lasted all through my morning and simply needed a quick top up after lunch. 

My beautiful sister :)

The new colours include Nude, Soft Nude, Pink Nude and Warm Nude – I’m wearing Warm Nude, which along with Nude is a slightly browner based colour the Pink Nude & Soft Nude are slightly pinker based. My look yesterday was quite minimal with a simply eyeliner flick and mascara for my eyes and I think the lipstick compliment the look really well - I honestly think you could wear with any look and will definitely be making its way into my daily make up bag! 

Thursday 9 October 2014

Garnier Ultimate Blends & The Saturdays Greatest Hits tour in Bournemouth

Guest review from my lovely sister Sophie's VIP experience with Garnier, where she was backstage at the Saturdays Greatest Hits tour in Bournemouth!

I was lucky enough to get invited for a VIP experience with Garnier Ultimate Blends & The Saturdays Greatest Hits tour in Bournemouth. The girls each have their own range in the Ultimate Blends collection to treat different types of hair from colour protection to a sleek restorer, with shampoos, conditioners and treatments in each individual range.

The evening started with a backstage hair styling session from the Garnier Ultimate Blends backstage team. We both went for some lovely curls with my hair pinned up at the back into a lovely design and my cousin Emily's pushed to the side with the curls falling down loose. We were both so happy with our hair styles and even got a compliment from Molly & Una when we were lucky enough to meet them for a quick photo.

The products were all displayed backstage so we could have a look at each range and we also got a signed bag with a Marvellous Glow Oil to try at home. This can be used on wet or dry hair; I decided (on the advice of the Garnier Backstage stylist) to try on dry hair only on my ends and leave for an hour before washing off as an intense treatment. It not only left my hair feeling super soft but really nourished on the ends. This product also protects your hair against heat, just to give keep those ends as healthy as possible. 

As I said we were lucky enough to met the girls for a quick photo before the show, they all looked beautiful with flawless make up and perfectly styled hair. Although we did feel a bit tall in heels next to them (they were in flats before the show as they had to dance in massive high heels for the next hour and a half!) 

The show itself was brilliant with all of the Saturdays hit songs and a few extras thrown in! The stage outfits were great and even Una with her baby bump who looked especially radiant kept up with all the dancing!! Thanks to Harry from Garnier for the invitation, we had a great time!

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Win a trip to Paris with the Montagne Jeunesse #MakeYourMask competition

 Have you ever thought you could create a face mask that offers skin benefits and makes you feel great? The face mask experts at Montagne Jeunesse have launched a competition to find the next big thing to join their face mask range, and they want your help!

Which ingredients would you put in your dream face mask? Avocado, berries, coconut, cream? Share your secret with them by snapping a photo of your ingredients and uploading using the hashtag #MakeYourMask to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! 

The winner could end up having their very own mask joining the MJ range as well as see themselves off to Paris! No pic, no worries! Just tell us what you'd use to #MakeYourMask in the caption box on Facebook here. Good luck!

I have listed my entry below, which contains dark chocolate with pomegranate and acai. A superfood, antioxidant surprise. 

Dark chocolate
Cocoa hydrates your skin, making it firmer and more supple. And dark chocolate contains high levels of flavonols, a potent type of antioxidant. 

They're packed with polyphenol antioxidants which fight free radicals and regulate skin's blood flow, giving it rosiness. When applied to skin, the fruits' antioxidants help smooth lines and moisturise

These tiny purple fruits are one of the most potent forms of antioxidants in the world, and as such, are fabulous for skin health, as they help to eliminate toxins and free radicals in the body

*Sponsored post

Wednesday 9 July 2014

The story of my wedding!

I can’t believe over a month has passed since my wedding day! We had the most fantastic day at the stunning Villa Kennedy Hotel in Frankfurt, Germany with 65 of our friends and family, plus a "minimoon" in the Rheingau and Spain. After months of preparation, the day flashes past in a second. It’s so emotional and special having all your favourite people around you to share the day, a totally unique experience that will never happen again. Especially very grateful for my friends and family travelling over to Germany and experiencing a German wedding. 

I thought I would share with you more details of our big day, plus some photos of my makeup and outfits. I kindly received some bridal makeup from NARS, which I kept unused until the big day as I wanted it to be special and different from my normal look. I met with Jenny my make-up artist a few weeks before the wedding and asked for a violet bridal look, inspired by a feature I saw in Brides Magazine. It also matched our purple theme of the wedding. I've listed below all the products used to create my look, that’s not even include the hair products used by the hairdresser! My advice to anyone getting married is allow an extra hour on top of what you anticipate and use a professional makeup artist if you are unsure. That’s what I did, having that time to relax whilst having my makeup done was so nice and stress free - and I managed to arrive at the church on time! Everything seems to fly by and you want your make-up and hair to be perfect and not rushed.

The NARS products I used were fantastic and lasted throughout the whole 14 hours, with just two extra products used to top up throughout the day. It’s worth spending that bit extra on a makeup artist and having quality products that will look perfect for the camera. Everyone commented on how flawless my makeup was – and these photos haven’t been edited yet! At first I thought I had a bit too much makeup on but it was perfect for the photographs and long-lasting. Finally I had Shellac nails done a week before the wedding and they were fantastic as I knew they wouldn’t chip and matched the bridesmaids’ dresses perfectly just for that splash of colour.

A close up shot of my make-up! Selfie from the wedding car! I'm so glad I whitened my teeth before the wedding as well!

Individual false lashes (make-up artists own)
Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in shade “Native”
Make-up Forever eyeshadow in Purple

Products from NARS:
Oil free primer
Santé Fe sheer glow
Radiant Creamy concealer in vanilla
Light Reflective Loose powder
Empire soft touch shadow pencil in Empire
Brousse Duo eye shadow
Volumising mascara
Blondie Eye shadow (for brows)
Laguna bronzer
Orgasm blush
Biscayne park satin lip pencil

Touch up face products for throughout the day
Maybelline Fit Me Shine-Free Foundation Anti-Shine Gel Stick. This was amazing to keep in my bag and touch up any shiny spots during the day. Very important especially as on your wedding day you are constantly photographed!
Mac Fix + - perfect for keeping refreshed and ensuring you keep that fresh faced look. After 14 hours of celebrations, this isn’t always easy!

Shellac in Grape Gum, Liz from Romsey Holistic 

Let me know what you think of my bridal makeup and photos! Hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I do. A big shout out to my sister Sophie Cox who is so talented and designed all our wedding stationary, plus our lovely photographer Kirstin who captured some great shots for us. All my other suppliers for the wedding are also listed at the end of the blog post. a mixture from the UK and Germany. 

We designed the table decorations ourselves - very proud of these!

Frankfurt Cathedral

Wedding reception
Villa Kennedy Hotel, Frankfurt


Opulance ‘Anjou’, from Bridal Gown, Bella Bride and a Ball Southampton
Altered by Chrissie at Clever Sew and Sew, Southampton

Hair and make-up artists
Jenny and Aileen from Famous Face Academy, Frankfurt

Blumenroth, Offenbach

Wedding cake
Hotel Café Kinnel, Offenbach

Bridesmaid dresses
Amanda Wyatt, Wedded Bliss, Southampton 

Friday 7 March 2014

My story with braces!

I thought I would share with you my long braces story, after FINALLY getting my fixed Damon braces off last month. I still have a few months to go now with Invisalign, which will be 2 whole years after first getting braces. But I am happy now they are off, in time for my wedding in May. I am so glad I went through with the treatment though, as the end result is totally worth it. So if you are thinking of getting braces, go for it! You won't regret it in the end.

Why get braces and what braces to get?

My teeth weren't bad enough as a teen to qualify for "free" treatment as I was never really under much pressure by the dentist or my parents to get them, so I didn't. This is something I really regret now, as obviously you don't want braces as a teen but at least then the treatment is over and you have perfect teeth by the time you hit your 20's! Hey ho. So I carried on throughout my early twenties not really having an issue with my teeth or being that bothered about straightening them actually. However it all changed when I started working for a dental insurance company and started writing and reading about teeth all day. The whole team were obsessed with teeth! Then I visited a private dentist through my company and I was told that my teeth, especially my bottom teeth, were overcrowded and I would have problems later on in life with gum disease as I couldn't clean my teeth properly due to lack of space. So I was told I could either have teeth out, or get a brace. This was the main reason, not cosmetic reasons why I opted to get a brace. The NHS do a fantastic job and we are lucky to have their services, but for me it is really worth investing in a private dentist who will look for preventative options rather than just if you need a filling right now. If I had not visited the private dentist, my teeth would still be crooked and crowded now. 

My teeth before treatment (I am on the left!)

 I spent some time researching on the internet and opted to go to Denise Taylor Orthodontics, who is so lovely and based in Southampton. I loved her no pressure attitude and have trusted her totally from day one which is so important when choosing an orthodontist. She recommended Damon Braces,which are fast, fixed cosmetic braces that use a unique low friction mechanism that minimises the friction and binding associated with conventional braces. These not only result in quicker treatment times for fitting braces but the lighter forces associated with damon braces make them a more comfortable form of treatment.

As you can see below, the braces are clear which I loved, plus unlike Invisalign they work 24 hours a day so you get your result much quicker. My teeth were too overcrowded for Invisalign anyway, so my recommendation is if you want to see quicker results and have more than a few teeth to move, go for Damon. People honestly didn't notice my braces much at all, which I know most people are worried about when they get a fixed brace. Being 26 and having braces can make you feel embarrassed but I always felt that my clear braces didn't show up as much on photos and enabled me to carry on as normal confidence wise. The best part about Damon is you don't have to have painful tightenings like traditional braces, just a new wire which is so much less painful!

My fixed Damon braces
What it like when you first get braces?

I am not going to lie, the first few weeks are difficult. It is painful and your teeth do ache a lot to start off with, but that is a sign they are moving! I had the bottom wire put on first, two weeks before the top teeth, which I totally recommend asking for. This means you give your mouth time to get used to having braces and I was actually able to eat fairly normally. I know my cousin who had normal braces at the same time had to eat soup and through a straw for two weeks as it was so painful when she had both fitted at the same time. You also need to cut out food like crunchy bread and apples as you don't want to break your brace. I think Damon is easily broken compared to traditional braces, as I ended up breaking the brackets and the wire several times! Or maybe I am just really clumsy?!

Once you get the first few weeks out of the way and get used to talking with braces in it is totally fine trust me. The only problems I suffered after that were brace sores, they hurt like hell especially if I didn't drink enough water before I went to bed or had been drinking that night. This Gishy Goo brace wax was a godsend to me that my orthodontist kindly gave to me - keep using it on sore parts even as a prevention overnight. I really suffer with mouth ulcers as well, so I think that is why my mouth might be extra sensitive.

The end result!

The last few months I was DESPERATE to get the braces off, particularly as I am now living in Germany so was unable to have as many orthodontist visits as before. After nearly two years here is the final result! It felt amazing after the braces were removed - my teeth felt really slippery and huge! I still forget I can eat apples and crunchy food again and chop up all my food ha ha! I am now wearing Invisalign for a few months to finish off my look in time for the wedding. The first few days with my aligners I really struggled and couldn't even take them out, let alone talk. I also hate having to keep taking them out, cleaning them etc after every meal. They are a good short term solution for minor orthodontic issues, but I spend way too much time eating clearly so my aligners are not as effective as the fixed brace was!

My orthodontist Denise also kindly gave me some Polanight teeth whitening gel to wear in my retainers at night and I love the final result! I have used the syringes for the past few weeks and it is so easy to use as part of my nightime routine. I love how sparkly and white my teeth look! The only problem I have encountered with the gel is sensitive teeth but that disappeared after a few days. I definitely recommend finishing off your look with  professional teeth whitening but definitely make sure you visit your dentist first to get the treatment. 

So there you go, my braces story. Let me know if you have any questions or what you think of my new look. Hopefully if you are considering braces this will help you make your mind up. My advice is don't look back, it is the best thing you will ever do and I love smiling now and showing off my teeth. 

Friday 23 August 2013

At home gel nail kits - a full guide

I have been trying out at home gel nail kits for the past few weeks, after spending a lot of money in salons on OPI gels. I am addicted to gel nails now as you don’t have to worry about chipped nail varnish and they look so shiny!

The two kits I have used are both under £70 - Belle Gel Starter Kit (£59.95) and Sensationail Starter Kit (£69.99) which my friend Gemma owns. I tried at least two different colours for each kit, so it is a fair analysis. Before testing at home kits, you must make sure your nails are filed equally and roughly (so the gel can stick to your nail), cuticles pushed back and trimmed if necessary. This will ensure your nails last as long as possible. I also protected my nails with hand cream and cuticle oil to make the manicure last as long as possible. Both manicures lasted two weeks, without any major chipping which is excellent for home kits.

Here’s a bit more about each kit:

BelleGel Starter Kit is an at-home gel nail care range that provides a shiny and strong finish, creating a professional gel manicure or pedicure that unlike many other techniques will not damage the natural nail. The gel will shield your natural nails and allow them to grow and strengthen. The gel is as easy as applying nail polish and provides a long-lasting high gloss colour and can last for up to 2 weeks without wearing or chipping.

The SensatioNail™ Deluxe Gel Nail Polish Starter Kit contains all the tools you need for 10 beautiful gel polish manicures. The gel nail kit includes the unique Pro 3060 LED Nail Lamp, which has been specially designed to set and dry your favourite SensatioNail™ Gel Polish in no time – safely locking in the colour to give your nails a glossy, long-lasting finish. I love the range of colours as well Sensationail offer for just £10 in Boots and online, lots of choice! Belle Gel colours are limited to just a few colours.

The Belle Gel kit looks fantastic and I love the gel nail pots and separate brushes. This ensures you can always keep your brushes clean to get the best finish. The formulas are also solvent-free and contain no Toluene, Formaldehyde and Dibutyl Phthalate, providing a gentle gel polish that is kind, preserving the integrity of the natural nail without sacrificing quality. This is important to me as that’s one of the reasons why I like the OPI gels as they don’t damage your nails at all.

However the main big downside to the Belle Gel kit, is the time it takes to do your nails. It takes AGES! If you look at the step by step guide below you will see each step, per hand takes 5 minutes! I was nearly 2 hours doing my nails and that’s just too long for me to spend on my nails. Other kits like Sensationail only require you to spend 30 seconds maximum curing the nail, each step. That’s a huge difference.

So my final conclusion of the two kits I tested:

Best for your nails – pick the Belle Gel nail kit
Quickest and best range of colours – choose Sensationail

What do you think of at home gel nail kits?

Friday 9 August 2013

L'Oreal Superliner challenge

Last week I was invited by L’Oreal Paris to try their new range of eyeliners and brow pencils, and also take the Super Liner challenge #LineofBeauty. I love the gorgeous box they arrived in and presentation of the Super Liners.

Here is a bit more about the liners I received, which I have been trying out over the past week and love them all.

Super Liner GelMatic (£5.99) – Gel intensity and shine and the first 1st Gel liner from L’Oreal in an easy application pen format. If you like using kohl pencils but prefer the liquid eyeliner look then this new liner is for you! This is my favourite from the box of eyeliners and one I will definitely repurchase. It doesn’t smudge either which is a pet hate of mine with some non-liquid eyeliners.

Super Liner Perfect Slim (£6.99) – I have used this liner for a few years, as it offers precision for lines as fine as 0.4mm. It’s a great daytime eyeliner for a neat, simple look.

Super Liner Black Buster (£6.99) – I love this chunky felt tip style pen, for bold, stand out eyes that’s easy to use and leaves you with a great look.

Super Liner Brow Artist – (£5.49) – This is the first 3-in-1 eye brow pencil by L'Oréal Paris. I am currently using the Clarins Brow Kit so need to try the Brow Artist out properly to give it a few review but first impressions are good so far! I like that it defines and shapes brow but then you can finish with the wax.

L’Oreal Paris products are also 3 for 2 in Superdrug at the moment, so get down to Superdrug and take the Super Liner challenge!

Friday 19 July 2013

Press events July 2013 - Urban Decay and Smashbox

Last week I attended two press events – Urban Decay and Smashbox, showcasing their Autumn collections. Despite the searing heat in London, I managed to get in the mood for Autumn collections and darker colours. I'll be reviewing the items in depth as it approaches Autumn, but check out my sneak preview below of the upcoming launches. 

Urban Decay's Revolution Lipsticks £14 - launch on August 5th 

Smashbox Autumn collection - I can't wait to try the Liquid Halo Foundation which launches in September
Love the gorgeous purple eyeshadow palettes from Smashbox
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