Some Like It Hot… (Pink)

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I love nothing more than the beauty of a slender, manicured hand. For absolute sophistication, the perfection and expert levels of a manicurist can’t be rivaled. Their steadiness and acuteness of their application is admirable and a level that DIY just doesn’t match up to. With self-application there’s always one smudge or one tiny missed bit that just drives me crazy for the rest of the week, and then they ALWAYS chip early on. Sadly we must ask ourselves ladies, who can justify such a luxury as having manicures done on a weekly basis in this current economic depression.

So you see my first-world predicament.To self-paint or not to self-paint that is the question? I decided in a bid to be frugal and savvy I will have a go at doing this all on my own. Knowing the beauty team for Asda quite well, I requested their Gel Pro nail varnishes which come in delectable, summer-is-round-the–corner colours (see my over-excitable instagram post below). Now I know you’re all being label snobs, and secretly I am too but trust me girls, theses varnishes are the bees’ knees! Easy-peasy, application with a silky, shiny finish they not only look super professional but they last a solid week. When the colours are these tasty, I already feel like I am coming round to DIY nails. With a push of confidence, I settled down to back-to-back episodes of Sex and the City and a spot light so I could be the most accurate of amateurs. See below my step-by-step guide to DYI, close-to-perfect nails.
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Pre-Prep
For a meager £2.00 you can buy a 4 Way Buffer Block from Boots, which is well, what is says on the packet. I do three out of the four steps, file, remove ridges and smooth not finishing with a polish which too shiny for paint but a nice sleek finish if you want your nails to go au natural.

Like My Base Down Low
Much like when applying my foundation a decent base is essential for optimum staying power. Mamma Santa kindly popped Rimmel’s Strong Nails base and top coat on my bedside table one night which apparently make all the long-lasting difference. Cheap and well-recommended I apply one thin layer and allow it to dry before I conquer the masterful art of perfect, nail colour- application.

Some Like It Hot
Pink. Or rather the inner Barbie in me does, I say inner, I wish she was outer with the sh*t hot body.  Find a nice, flat, steady surface and turning on the brightest lamp you have, like a surgeon in theater shine it down upon your prepped and primed hands. First time round I wanted to be big and bold so I opted for Asda’s Gel Pro in 06 Rose, and carefully set about applying my first layer using threes strokes on each nail. The best thing about Asda Gel Pro nail polishes other than the sumptuous selection of colours is the fool-proof perfectly sized brush which makes self-application as easy ABC as well as creating a smudge-proof finish. Making sure each layer dries before I apply another, I opt for three coats of polish on each hand to create that lovely, lacquered texture finishing with a layer of Rimmel’s Finishing Touch Top Coat. See above for the overall finish… not bad for an amateur eh?
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St Tropez Gradual Tan Mousse

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So firstly let’s start with the best thing about St Tropez’s Gradual Tan Mousse – it smells heavenly, a rare and almost unbelievable trait for a fake tan. Unlike most other products out there on the market, this beauty won’t leave you smelling like chips or biscuits – the ultimate ‘this isn’t my natural colour’ giveaway. Even those who are lucky enough to get up and close and personal won’t be able to trace the scent of your faux bronzage, they will simply think you have been dowered in sweet and delightful aromas of perfume.

The second best thing about this product and in fact, all St Tropez products is its fading abilities – oh–so–softly and natural like that of a real tan at which point you can top it up with an extra layer. I always find the biggest problem with cheaper fake tans is whilst they might give a good, overall colour on day 1, by day 3 as they fade they leave patchy marks of shame (less than ideal). I can say with complete honesty I have not once had a patchy St Tropez situation which is my justification for why it’s always better to spend that little extra on your fake tan.

When it comes down to colour, the Gradual Tan Mousse leaves a gorgeous, light, golden hint of tan, perfect for fairer skins. I myself am slightly more olivey so therefore always opt for two layers (broken up by one sleep) to give me a deeper all over glow. If you are a fairer friend then this is an essential buy and an absolute must for you Christmas wish list. Happy bronzing!

The Suitcase Experiment

After what seemed like a glorious and fully deserved holiday I have been back in the motherland for two weeks and I am still suffering from a severe case of holiday blues. As a few of you know, every year the Annable family and close family friend Mandy embark on a two week Club Med holiday which always turns into what I continue to call for the rest of the year ‘the best two weeks of my life’ as it is usually fun filled, alcohol fueled, full of laughs and jokes and serious sunbathing. Better still, the majority of the clientele are French so I spend 14 days vous-vousing and s’il-tu-plaiting which makes me feel like my whole degree was worth while.

This year was the first year away where I could technically call myself a beauty blogger so I used it as an opportunity to find what truly are my holiday essential beauty products. This didn’t mean that I cut down on what lotions, potions, creams and bottles I pack, quite the opposite. The idea behind the experiment was pack as much as products that baggage allowance would permit and keep a log of what I used ‘frequently, often, sometimes and never’. I was so dedicated to the experiment that I actually had minimal clothing and became what Lizzie McGuire refers to as ‘an outfit repeater’.

So I am aware that I probably use a lot more products than most. Not everyone has the time every day to remove their make-up, polish their skin, tone their pores and moisturise their body, oil their legs, wash their hair in the shower, then dampen in the sea for the beach effect, whilst trying to actually commit to some form of sporting activities as well as the  seven hour sun bathing stint. Thus the products that I used ‘frequently’ may not be a complete necessity for every gal, however for those who are interested please see below.

Avène

I kept to my normal skin care routine using Liz Earle and all the Avène Cleanance range products however for the day I replaced my normal Hydrance Optimale moisturiser with the SPF version which came in factor 20. Needless to say, it did not disappoint. Unlike most sunscreens for face, it was light weight, non greasy and gave maximum protection. I applied morning and mid-afternoon and didn’t burn once. All in all, a total win.

Hawaiian Tropic

 

The first products I used every day are obvious… sun cream. An absolute must for protecting the skin from those UVA rays. I used 30 down to 15 throughout the holiday to make sure I was getting maximum protection whilst getting the tan I spend the rest of the year trying to maintain. This year I used Hawaiian Tropic’s Silk Hydration which has THE most DELIGHTFUL smell I have ever come across in a suncream. Rich coconutty and tropical aromas filled the air as I creamed up next to the pool, so much so that the sunbather next to me commented on the heavenly scent. Furthermore, the lotion has ’12 hours of hydrating ribbons’ which not only create delicious candy-like packaging but seriously moisturise the skin leaving it soft and supple. Unlike a lot of sun creams, the lotion is easily absorbed, feels silky and lightweight rather than thick and greasy.
In addition to the suncreams I tried out Hawaiian Tropic’s  Silk Hydration After Sun. I’m always skeptical about after sun because whilst they promise to be ‘soothing’ I find they don’t offer as much hydration as a usual moisturiser. That is until I came across Hawaiian Tropic with those oh so clever ’12 hour hydrating ribbons’. As well as soothing my post-tanned (I did not burn once HURRAH) it provided excellent hydration and smelt just as divine as its sun cream counter-part.

Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse

A dark horse that trumped as a total surprise for ‘frequent use’. I’ve used this product from time to time at home when I fancied a little bit of luxurious TLC but I wouldn’t have ever said frequently. I thought the last thing I would have wanted in a hot, sweaty climate would be oil but it turns out my parched skin lapped up this nutritious mix of vitamin E and sweet almond oil. It gave a lovely dewy glow in the evenings, particularly on the legs.

Tangle Teezer

Before I went away I invested in what I would now call the best tenner I ever spent. Advised by Damien, the highlighting prince at The House of Rush, I bought a Tangle Teezer to get through my ALMOST nipple-length  locks. The disadvantage with trying to get my hair to this desired length is its incredible ability to knot up and tangle… queue the Tangle Teezer. This little beauty has moved permanently into my handbag and worked wonders at brushing the tangles out of my post wind-swept beach hair. Like magic, the tiny little bristles work through even the knottiest and matt hair (often the outcome of backcombing, Batiste and big nights out). Apply conditioner and brush through to achieve the silkiest, tangle-free, princess style locks.

To be honest the products I used frequently were the only products I used. Turns out I am low maintenance when on holiday… the sun clears up my complexion, I am make-upless in the day, my hair has genuine beach waves and lets face it everything looks better with a tan. The product I used often was Sudocreme which is a regular favourite of mine. I used this product less than I usually do at home, purely because for the first 10 days my facial skin was in tip top condition. However when a few blemishes struck and struggled to heal in the moist and exotic climate, like the good post drunk  girl I am I applied large patches to each blemish.

The products I never used were hair products, I simply didn’t need them. Being as vain as I am, I used to make sure I washed my hair post-pool at midday and then thoroughly rinse it in the sea and let it dry naturally. It was SO nice being such low maintenance and the overall effect was even better than all the lotions and potions I use back home. Flushed cheeks, a facial tan and real beach girl waves cut my evening getting ready time in half. I simply added a touch of bronzer to even me out, strokes of greys, bronzes and brown eye khols to accentuate my eyes, and finished with a slick of Chanel’s Le Voume De Mascara which truly is the business and a new personal favourite.

Unfortunately I don’t have a permanent year-round tan or a beach at my disposable to continue such an easy and low product ritual. In fact since I’ve been back I’ve been using and trying whatever I can get my hands to recreate that low-key, natural beauty look…next blog post to come 🙂

The Quest for Perfect Skin Continued…

 
‘It’s like rain on your wedding day… a free ride but you’ve already paid’ One song which perfectly summarised exactly how irony feels. Well maybe Alanis Morisette should have written a beauty blog… it would have certainly provided her with extra lyrical material. Ever since I wrote the blog The Quest for Perfect Skin it has been like an ominous dark, overconfident cloud hanging over me ready to thunder and pour at any moment. I knew as soon as I hit ‘publish post’ my radiant and what-was-then clear complexion would shove two fingers up at me and scream in my face ‘Not for long sucker’. Yet I wanted to share my advice and the results I had seen with my loyal and now growing (thank you ThisIsOurVillage.Com) readers. Whilst my skin on the whole has generally improved, I haven’t seen it look as glorious as it did when I wrote that what now feels like a doomed post.
I have attributed this to several factors. The first is the Pill. The Pill that was initially taken to clear up my skin somehow turned into a three year stint. After a long-consideration I decided now would be a good time to come off it. I suddenly felt all hippy and new age and worried about the amount of extra hormones I was putting in my body. Since I have come off however, whilst there hasn’t been a massive outbreak my body definitely seems to be trying to adapt and normalise itself which has come in the form of a few outbreaks.
The other factor I attribute to my skin is this RIDICULOUS but DELIGHTFUL change in weather. I love the sun as much as the next worshiping sun-goddess. A recent 5 day trip to Mallorca saw me setting my alarm for 8am and tanning straight through until sun-down. However the downside of not living on the beach in some glorious, poolside villa is that this hot weather in London mixed with pollution, the commute and topped off with a 6.20am rise is not doing wonders for my skin. The air-con at work is drying it out whilst all the other factors are making it perspire and oil up. I was in need of some serious game-changing skin care so got in touch with the good people at Avène and Liz Earle.
Avène
 Avene Micellar Lotion Cleanser and Make-up Remover 200ml  
So as a lot of you know I am completely sold on the French beauty brand Avène. Their Cleanance range turned my skin from from a dull and blemish prone nightmare to a glowing, clear fresh face. I loved the mattifying and smoothing effect the emulsion had however with air-con and sun exposure drying my face out I needed something a little more hydrating whilst baring in mind that the summer is my most ‘oily’ period. Katie at Pegasus PR recommended their Hydrance Optimale moisturiser in ‘légère’ which is super light and sheer but hydrating. As expected, I wasn’t disappointed. Combined with the Clenance toner (dedicated fan) this beauty provided the prefect balance of moisture vs oil and kept any threats of nose peel at bay. All in all, an essential summer buy!
In addition to this Katie recommended Avène’s Micellar lotion which removes make-up as well as cleanses and tones all in one. As part of my double cleanse routine I replaced my Bioderma with this product to see how they matched up. Far better than unhygienic make-up wipes  and far more accessible than France’s scared Bioderma the Avène Micellar lotion proved to be hydrating, refreshing and effective in removing all traces of make-up whilst leaving me blemish-free. Another triumph from Avène.
Liz Earle Hot Polish Cleanser
 
So whilst I am still seeing glowing results from Avène’s soapless gel cleanser, with this change in weather I need something a little more soothing and a touch less drying than a wash. However having that said, I can’t go to bed without washing my face in some shape or form. I have always read great things about Liz Earle’s Hot Polish Cleanser and hearing it is excellent for all skin types I requested a sample. The product itself is a cream cleanser that has spot-fighting and soothing essential oils such as eucalyptus, rosemary and chamomile which make a delightful pre-bed relaxant. Applying this all over and using the hot cloths provided I soak one under the hot tap and then checking the cloth isn’t scolding I place it over my face to open up the pores and let the cleanser sink in. Then, carefully rubbing around in circular motions the cloth and balm effectively work to gently exfoliate the face whilst leaving it super cleansed and soft. Nourishing my dry and slightly burnt patches whilst tackling the blemishes makes Liz Earle’s Hot Polish Cleanser a perfect bed-time cleanse.
NB: be sure to machine-wash each hot polish cloth after a couple of uses do they don’t collect a build-up of bacteria.
Oil Up
 
During a recent PR campaign I got to pick the brains of make-up artist to the stars Justine Jenkins and explained my current complexion issues. She took a good long hard look at my face and said that the localised blemishes on my chin are due to hormones which she claimed is no doubt due to my body trying to regulate itself now I have come off the pill. She explained that whilst the hormones will eventually settle, in the mean time I should use an oil, yes an oil, to balance out my skin. Justine firmly believes that oilier skins are just as much in need of a facial oil as dry skins are.
The way she explained the process is that if you feed the sebum glands (responsible for producing oil) a facial oil they start to produce less oil as they are already satisfied and balanced out, crafty eh? With this in mind I have been applying NUXE Huile Prodigieuse for body, hair and face every few nights or so which is a ‘unique concentration of 6 Precious Oils (Borage, St. John’s Wort, Sweet Almond, Camellia, Hazelnut and Macadamia) and Vitamin E.’
 As well as my face I apply it to my body which gives my sun-parched skin the nourishing hydration it needs. To top it off, the oil also has that rich, comforting smell that you tend to get from luxurious, high-end products!
So you see, whilst I am still slapping myself for my overconfident boast of clear skin, the change in climate has provided me with new blog material as well as offering me the opportunity to try a few products I may not have given a chance before. The problem with combination skin is getting the balance right. As I quote almost in mantra-like form, getting your skin care regime right is all down to trial-and-error. In the mean time, enjoy the weather even if your skin doesn’t!

The Definition of Beauty

When I got to thinking about what I could write for my next blog post I thought about the definition of beauty and what it actually is that makes somebody beautiful. The main focus of this ‘beauty’ blog has always been about using products and cosmetics to enhance or create beauty.  Other than my two week stint of drinking 2 liters of water a day, all the posts have been product-led. There is hardly anything on well-being and general happiness and health.

I struggled with this for a good twenty minutes because talking about health and happiness isn’t really what this blog is about. My blog is superficial. I don’t mean that in a negative way, but essentially make-up and cosmetics are about superficial beauty. I have never tried to be dishonest about that, there is a part of me that IS superficial. I like changing and improving my surface appearance but the person I am stays the same. However I then thought health is the first and very fundamental basic of being ‘beautiful’.

When I looked up the definition of beauty it said this:
•    A combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, esp. the sight.
•    A combination of qualities that pleases the intellect or moral sense.
I would say 75% of this definition is relating to appearance rather than anything slightly more profound. Yet there were words and phrases that couldn’t be translated as just physical. For example ‘moral sense’ and ‘qualities’ which got me to thinking.

I have a friend who is always harking on about ‘beauty’ on the inside. Whilst I know that people ARE beautiful on the inside I always thought it was a hippy thing to say or something parents tell their children to fill them with the necessary initial stages of confidence. However although I hate to EVER let her be right, I always had a secret inclination that she may be on to something. There is nothing more attractive than somebody genuinely laughing or smiling. Positivity and and general self-acceptance rather than over-bearing confidence can be beautiful. This often derives from a general sense of happiness. It may be that you are head-over-heels in love or you have a great, blossoming career. Maybe you have the support of an amazing set of friends and a loving family who stick by you… Maybe you have it all! Unlike cosmetics, these intangible types of happiness can’t be purchased or physically applied.

Whilst I may pay for my gym membership…the dedication and hard work it takes to get into shape and eat healthily is also something that can’t be bought.  Whilst the ‘junk food’ days come and go, I think I can finally say that I am currently at my happiest because for once I have gained some form of control over my diet. I am trying not to gorge on addictive sugars and sluggish carbohydrates but eating properly and regularly and spending a solid but not excessive amount of time in the gym. The hard work has paid off (it has taken 6 months) and I can actually see new sets of definition and muscles. I know this has contributed to my overall appearance, not because my clothes fit better but because it makes me happy and confident which no doubt shows on my face. There’s no amount of make-up that could fake that.

A friend of mine joked yesterday about the state many girls find themselves in post break-up or mid-depression, a welcomed loss of weight but with the gaunt, worried face that says ‘whilst I may look great on the outside, I’m screaming and crying on the inside’. And she’s right, you do look good… We’ve all been there. During moments of depression or upset, the appetite just goes and suddenly the weight drops off and your thin without even trying. Then the compliments come and for a moment you feel good about yourself.  Accept if you move your eyes upwards the face is full of angst and upset. When you compare this with the happiness of somebody who has a toned, svelte body that derives from working out it doesn’t seem so desirable.

So I guess what I am asking is if it isn’t the billion-dollar cosmetic industry that makes us ‘appear’ to beautiful then what is it?

It’s about loving the life you’re living and keeping good health. If you don’t love the life you live you need to figure out what it is that is stopping you from being the positive person that is laughing for no reason other than they’re happy. If you’re unhappy you probably aren’t in good health either so I guess the two go hand-in-hand. Once you’ve tackled truly tackled the inner (CRINGE) beauty it is only then you can purchase products that work to enhance that natural, positive, smiling face.

For The Babe with a Broken Foot

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So last weekend, four girlfriends and myself had a big, girly night out in Essex. We had it in the diary for ages… the plan was to get super dolled-up just for the hell of it and go and track down the cast of TOWIE. Whilst the prepping and getting ready was enormous fun the night itself ended in total disaster. Myself being drunkenly frog marched through the hotel in nothing but my pants and a crop top whilst Sacha embarked on a trip to A and E and a broken foot (I’m sure she will now seriously reconsider combing vodka with killer heels). Needless to say, prior to her trip to A and E we all had a great time. It also provided me with some great new photos and blogging material. It got me to thinking as to why lovely, naturally pretty girls go to all this trouble and spend all this money to look less like themselves and more like glamour models. And I then I worked it out… BECAUSE IT IS REALLY FUN!

Don’t get me wrong, I am a massive fan of the natural look. My favourite look is naturally bronzed skin, groomed brows, a touch of lip balm and beach-waves hair. However is there not something really exciting about being someone other than normal, lip-balmed, bronzer you for one night?

Well the same theory was applicable for Essex. We wanted to go all out and look the ‘part’ as it were. I spent nearly a whole week fake tanning prior to the actual night because I was intrigued to see just how tanned I could go. Vicki had her hair coloured and nails done that day purely for the night itself. The amount of sprays, potions, lotions, pots, trinkets and bags we brought with us was outstanding (see below) and I could even admit that as a complete beauty junkie, I was more excited about getting ready than the night itself. Sacha was my idol for the night. She spray tans weekly, has permanent fake lashes and at the biggest array of Mac lipsticks I have ever seen. In the words of Amy Childs, ‘well jel’.

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Once we all stopped gassing and giggling we got down to some serious business. First things first was the instant tan – not fake, but a wash-off instant hit of colour which is fine until someone idiot spills their drink over you. Whilst I used Asda Self Tan Bronzing Gel for extra colour and shimmer, my fair friend, Jess used Rimmel which I love for totally faking a deep, dark tan. Using a mitt for even application we bronzed up our entire bodies and let the colour dry.

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Next step was foundation and concelaer. Loyal to my brands, I used the Benefit Playstick in Tea Party and YSL Touch Éclat Foundation for a full even, glowing coverage, spending a good 20 minutes applying that and my Clinique Camouflage concealer with a brush and then setting it with Mac Studio Fix powder.

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Whether I am out in Essex or preparing for any night out, I always spend that bit longer applying more foundation than usual so it stands against the test of hot, sweaty clubs and lots and lots of dancing. The setting powder proves to be detrimental step in making sure my make-up doesn’t stray. I blot quite heavily round the shine crime-zones (the nose and chin) and lightly dust over the rest of the face. Rambling on as I do about how great x product is and how I couldn’t live without y product, both Jess and Aimee tried out the YSL foundation and loved it as much as I do.. I then applied two (!) types of bronzer, Benefit’s Hoola and my new fav, Boobie Brown ‘s Bronzing Powder in Golden Brown.

Next step was those seriously OTT smokey eyes. I am no pro when it comes to doing eye make-up, I have my staple looks but I tend to smudge the intricate smokey eye look. So I went for something simple and foolproof. Lining the top of my eyelids with Benefit’s Bad Gal Kohl Pencil I then smudged Barry M’s Old Gold loose eyeshadow over the top so it blended into a smokey shimmer, adding a shimmery dark chocolatey brown on top and making sure all was nicely blended together. I then lined my lower lash lines with my new love, Mac, Lord It Up which is a lovely chocolately shimmery brown liner… (clearly the look I’m going for is shimmery). Coating my lashes with ample mascara I was almost good to go… all left to do was apply the falseis. Again, this was something I really struggle with, I am just too clumsy and get glue stuck everywhere.

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Jess luckily is a pro and kindly applied them for me and Aimee. Surprisingly I used Primark’s Natural False Eye Lashes which only cost a £1. Since the overall look was bold and smokey, it really didn’t matter that these lashes weren’t of the highest quality… however having said that they did a rather good job. Impressed with the easy but successful effect I then applied the same eye shadow look to both of my Jess and Aimee.

I think along with the sheer fun of pretending to be someone else for the night, the girly unity in getting dolled up really kick starts the night.  I am a self-confessed girl’s girl. I have about 6 best friends who I talk non-stop with on the phone and who will share everything with, from clothes to heels to make-up and tampons! I think that is part of the beauty of beauty… it is something that girls can share (sorry that was really cringe).

After clouding ourselves in hairspray we were almost set to go. The next step was finding the highest heels we could (which proved to be counterproductive for Sacha) and the most flesh-showing, sparkly outfit.

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Whilst we all loved imitating the TOWIE look for one night, it isn’t something I would do for EVERY night out. I still love the easiness of softly defined eyes with loose wavy hair. Wherever I go, I always try and look my best because primarily it fills me with confidence and I believe in first impressions.

I would definitely incorporate a lot of the techniques we used to get our Essex look into my daily look. I actually wish I could afford and have the ability to apply false lashes every day because I hate the length of my own (a friend at Condé Nast is putting me in touch with a lady who does bonds).

However I don’t believe any girl needs to go to extreme lengths to look beautiful… Don’t get me wrong, I could spend a whole day beautifying myself, changing this, highlighting that but essentially no one is a blank canvas.

One of my favorite moments was when I was working for Benefit Cosmetics and this girl who seemed quite quiet and shy sat down for me to do her make-up. As I began applying her make-up I gathered that she really didn’t seem pleased to be in the skin she was in, she didn’t say much and didn’t smile once whilst she was sat down. I didn’t do anything drastic to her… a touch of primer, a dab of foundation, soft eye shadows and a flush of blush. Watching her face light up and smile when she saw herself in the mirror was truly gratifying. Needless to say she bought everything I put on her! But want I want to get at is that every girl has something to work with, whether it be naturally high cheeks bones, a beautiful pair of eyes or a perfect cupid’s bow.

The key is to highlight and work with what you have rather than try and fake something you don’t. If you have killer blue eyes, line then up with a dark khol. If you’re naturally fair embrace it and simply add a touch of golden shimmer. But most importantly be proud of the skin your in…. and don’t get drunk and fall over your heels.

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Bronzed Babes

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My favourite feeling in the whole world is having a tan…  a bit like the H&M girls above but without the to-die-for body. However, even having that healthy colour and glow makes me feel so much more confident. The tan stream lines the body and instantly makes me feel slimmer, as the light is absorbed by dark skin rather than reflected off your previous paler skin. White clothes look whiter, black looks sexier and bold colours can’t even be worn without a tan. My eyes are greener, those little marks I acquired from naughtily squeezing winter blemishes fade and generally my face is flushed with radiance… oh PLEASE JUST HURRY UP SUMMER!

From that little outburst you can imagine that come October despite all my best attempts to moisturise and cling on to the last of my summer colour, I fall into the depths of depression and urgently need to take action. Since recent statistics on the alarming facts of sun beds (using a sunbed before the age of 35 can increase your risk of melanoma by 75%, see http://www.sunsmart.org.uk/advice-and-prevention/sunbeds/ for more info) I have stopped even the very few I did a year and have invested in several fake tans to achieve a better, safer, bronzed glow. It’s actually a lot more fun too; I love going to bed and waking up like an excited child to see the results!

There are some very simple techniques in order to wake up to as a bronzed glamazon rather than a patchy satsuma. I personally believe, that getting the application right is half the battle. All fake tans essentially do the same job, it just comes down to preference and colour. For example, I still maintain that St Tropez offer the best and most real looking colour out there. However, there are also some great cheaper alternatives, which I have seen great results from.

There is a girl at work (RW) who like me, lives to be tanned. She in fact was my inspiration for this blog, as I started to realise that there are others out there who sink into a completely irrational state of depression when their skin takes a pale turn for the worst. She has an all year round permanent colour, because like myself, she sees it as a fundamental beauty basic. Being the sensible and savvy girl she is, she point blank refuses to use sun beds and in fact was the one to recommended St Tropez praising it for its colour. Being the fake tan guru she is she also offered some great tips for an even colour which I have included in the step-by-step guide.

Step-by-Step Application Guide

My mother knows a thing or two about re-upholstering old pieces of wooden junk and turning them into glorious pieces of furniture. I found myself one Sunday afternoon drawing comparisons between this and my fake tan ritual. In order to get the perfect fake tan, you need to metaphorically follow the same simple steps she does. Sand, stain and polish.

Sand

So most people know that the golden rule to a good tan is exfoliation. Follow the simple steps for exfoliating in Winter Skin so that your skin is nicely prepped for your ‘staining’ process, making sure that you have towel dried your body thoroughly. Unlike most advice, at this stage of the prepping, RW advised me NOT to moisturise as she argues that it makes the skin too greasy and less able to absorb the fake tan. I hesitantly put this to the test (I hate breaking tradition) and was actually pleasantly surprised to see an overall better and even colour.

Stain

The most vital tip out of all the fake tanning advice I have acquired is invest in a mitt. For as little as £2.99 you can find one of these beauties in all good shops (Superdrug, Boots etc) and you won’t believe the difference it makes. Firstly it hides the mother of all fake tan giveaways, ompah loompa orange hands. Secondly, it allows you to evenly spread the product over a large surface area. I begin by pumping a few squirts of fake tan onto the mitt and evenly spreading it up my arms, and back down again, making sure I’ve evenly rubbed over the elbows, back of arms and over wrists onto the hand. I follow the same careful process over the rest of the body, making sure I get right underneath the boobs as well (a less obvious place for patchiness!).

Once you have covered the entire body, enjoy a good 30 minutes of naked time, allowing it to dry, especially if the colour of the lotion is dark – it’s a great time to potter around your room tidying up the piles of clothes you’ve left draped around from the weekend. Never rush application, but if you don’t have half an hour of naked drying time to spare, whizz a hairdryer over your body! Now, get into bed, put on Made in Chelsea, go to sleep and wait for the morning’s results.

Polish

If you’ve carefully followed all of the above advice, fingers crossed, you should wake up with an even natural tan. Hop into the shower, wash of the excess colour, stickiness and that crisps smell that it tends to have and towel dry. As RW advises, NOW is the time for moisturising, which will not only disguise any last traces of that crisp smell (which I weirdly like) but keep the tan looking fresh and the skin feeling soft. If you’re in a rush for work and like me don’t mind the smell of crisps, you can wash off the colour that night. With certain fake tans, I also apply another layer the following evening, (not exfoliating this time as it will remove the previous night’s work) to get a real boost of goldeny gorgeousness!

 Fake Tanning the Face

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I have always been SO hesitant about fake tanning the face. Until recently I didn’t see the point, as surely that is what a bronzer is for without the perils of a stained, orange, patchy face? I always felt the stakes were too high. If it went wrong and everyone would justifiably point and laugh at me. However with an ever-increasing commitment and loyalty to this blog, I have accepted I at times need to put myself out there and test various techniques and products for the people who take the time out to read it. Anyhow, really not wanting the whole pointing and laughing situation, I knew in this instance I needed to opt for a reputable brand that I trusted. Thus I turned to the mother of fake tanning, St Tropez, and requested their Bronzing Lotion for the Face.

Like with the body, I knew a good exfoliation was key and opted for an oil-free moisturiser, which I made sure, was fully absorbed before applying the fake tan. Frighteningly, this colour was a deep, dark brown however I meticulously followed the instructions and carefully mixed a pea size amount between my hands and blended it onto my face like a moisturiser. I made sure I paid special attention to my hairline, eyebrows and lips. Non-greasy but creamy the tan was easily absorbed easing my fears. I unfortunately didn’t have the little complimentary mitt, so I made sure I vigorously washed my hands directly after. I then went to bed praying I wasn’t going to wake up looking like a cast member of Jordie Shores.

When I did awake the next morning, I was overjoyed to see a radiant, bright face looking back at me in the mirror. The result was a soft, gentle, lightly bronzed colour and glow rather than the fake looking orange I feared. It was also perfectly even, highlighting the quality of the product and the effectiveness of a good pre-exfoliation. Either a great base colour for foundation or just a simple glow for those who dare to bare, this is the new staple piece for my spring make-up bag.

Fake Tans – Tried and Tested

There are many, many fake tans out there to chose from which as I said, essentially do the same job. It just depends what you’re after. I am naturally quite olive skinned so am comfortable with quite a deep, medium colour however I appreciate fairer friends need to go easy and perhaps opt for a lighter or gradual fake tan (I have tried some of those for you too!).

St Tropez Self Tan Classic Bronzing Lotion

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Recommended by RW, I decided in order to get her enviable golden tan I needed to invest. At £20.43 for 120ml it is a little dearer than other fake tans, however seeing and hearing that it is the best I decided it was worth the money.

There isn’t much more to stay other than the fact that once you go St Tropez you won’t go back to anything else. A deep but subtle tone you get enough colour from one layer but can easily build it up for a darker tone with another layer. What has surprised me the most is just how long it has lasted. Hooked as I am on having a tan, I expected this to last no longer than two months yet I am on my third and it is still going strong. Combined with the actual quality of the product, St Tropez is excellent value for money. There are many, many alternatives to try from their website, if you are after something a bit softer, gradual or even darker! They also have a wide range of prepping products to choose from. As a complete convert, I can’t wait to try the other products. See http://www.st-tropez.com/ for more information.

 Asda Self Tan Gradual Fake Tan

(£3.50 for 200ml)

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I personally have never bothered with gradual fake tans as a) I am too impatient and b) I like the back-from-Barbados look rather than the English sun-kissed look. However baring in mind this blog isn’t just for me I have tried out George at Asda’s Gradual Fake Tan. Yes that’s right, Asda for my fake tan. Like me you’re probably thinking really? But you haven’t smelt it yet… IT DOESN’T SMELL LIKE FAKE TAN! It smells like a tropical beach transporting me to happy summer memories.

The colour is perfect for fairer skins, giving a hint of colour that can slowly be built up (I sometimes use it to tie my colour over between St Tropez sessions). For the ultimate test, I have popped some in the post for my fiery-red head friend who has that perfect, porcelain skin but is after a hint of tan before the summer approaches. I will let you know how she gets on.

Garnier Ambre Solaire Original No-Streaks Bronzer Self-Tan Velvety Gel Medium Skin

(£7.13 for 150ml)

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Like Asda’s crafty cover up of the crisp smell, Garnier have also attempted to achieve something similar with this delightful apricot smelling gel. The great thing about the gel is that it glides on easily over the skin and you don’t have to worry about staining your bed sheets! The only thing I would say is that with a gel, you can’t see clearly where you’re applying it so take time to make sure you’re covering all areas. A little sticky, this is one that will definitely need a wash off in the morning. The colour is natural yet deep and there is also a lighter option for paler skins.

So, hopefully I have given enough tips, advice, products and prepping information for you to go forth and be a bronzed babe rather than a patchy orange messes. Do let me know how you get on and if along the way you find any miracle fake-tans. RW and I are always on the look out!

Image credits:

http://www.johnlewis.com/ambre-solaire-no-streaks-bronzer-self-tan-velvety-gel-150ml/p241457?kpid=231204579&s_kenid=2c8ccd37-3840-7329-a268-00002dd5c8f1&s_kwcid=ppc_pla&tmad=c&tmcampid=73

http://groceries.asda.com/asda-estore/catalog/sectionpagecontainer.jsp?skuId=910000938133&departmentid=1214921923791&aisleid=1214921925983&startValue=%27%27

http://www.st-tropez.com/