Wednesday, 31 October 2012

My hamam (Turkish bath) experience

My visit to Istanbul would not have been complete without a Turkish bath experience. Also called a hamam, historically, the baths had a functional (cleansing) role as well as a social role with women in particular using it as a place to escape from daily life.
I visited the Cagaloglu baths, which is listed as one of the 1,000 places to see before you die and boasts a selection of famous visitors over its 300 year history!
Entrance area and men's changing rooms, which looked very similar to the women's section
After selecting an exfoliation and massage experience I made my way to the women’s section, where I was directed into a private cubicle to change. I stripped down, wearing underwear only, and covered myself with a towel and was directed to the hot room (which is slightly cooler than a sauna) and told to relax for 10 minutes before my treatment.

The room was beautiful with marble floors and walls, pillars and beautifully decorated sinks. The lighting was very dim and because of that very flattering. In the middle of the room was a large marble slab, which is where the scrubbing happens!
Obviously I couldn't take photograph while having the bath, but hopefully you get the idea! 
I had expected that the towel we were given would be used to keep key areas covered during the treatment so to see so many women walking around completely nude was a surprise. It was even more of a surprise when my towel was stripped off me and I was splashed with warm water before being told to lie on my back on the marble slab.
The exfoliation was something like this!
Using an exfoliation mitt, I was scrubbed down front and back and directed to feel all the dead skin that had been removed. With my hand held I was walked over the sinks and splashed with water again before being massaged using a soapy water combination. The massage was very gentle and should have been very relaxing; however, not knowing where the hands of my attendant were going to be made me a little uncomfortable as she jumped between body parts!

The final part of the experience was a another splash with water and then a hair wash, which took me back to the days of being a child washed in the bath my mum. I was directed to sit on the floor in front of the attendant as she poured water and soap suds all over my face and I did my best to breath.

Finally a few more splashes of warm water and one of cold and the treatment was finished. At this point I was led to the cool room and my hair and body wrapped in towels. After the treatment you are free to hang around in the baths as long as you wish but I headed out.

Men's experience
Having gone to the baths with a man I couldn't help but ask whether his experience was the same. Men usually completely strip down and wear nothing underneath the bath-wrap but their modesty is maintained throughout the whole treatment. The massage was described to me as "more of a physiotherapy experience" with a lot of being bent around being involved and pressure applied for a deep muscular treatment that also included joints being cracked! Being a dry massage made it even less comfortable. This was then followed by a rinse and exfoliation and finally some chill out time.

We both agreed that although we enjoyed the experience, we wouldn't be rushing back any time soon. That being said, not knowing what to expect made the experience more uncomfortable so if there was a next time I would feel more prepared. Also my skin does feel amazingly smooth now, which I am hoping I can maintain that with my usual exfoliation products.

If you are thinking of heading to a Turkish bath, here are my personal tips:
  • If you aren’t comfortable going completely nude, bring spare underwear or bikini bottoms to wear as they will get soaked,
  • Remove your makeup, I went in with a full face, including a perfect flicked eyeliner I intended to share with you, but of course the treatment means you will come out with a bare face and it would have been better if I had properly cleansed,
  • Bring toiletries, in particular a deodourant and moisturiser,
  • Tip the attendant.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Discovering Beauty in Istanbul

Later this morning I am heading east for 10 days in Istanbul. I've never visited the city before so I'm looking forward to seeing all the sights as well as seeing the link between east and west. I will have my laptop with me but if you don't hear from me much over the next 10 days that is why.

At the moment I'm feeling completely overwhelmed with packing and trying to organise myself. I hate having to limit my wardrobe especially when I'm not too sure how the weather is going to be.

Make-up wise I was really stuck, I know more than likely I'll end up doing neutral looks but rather than limit myself I decided the Victoria Secret palette was the best option. I might even try to come up with 10 looks in 10 days, so watch this space! I also checked in a few extra blushes and lipsticks....just in case.
For skin care I decided to keep things simple and take products that can be used day and night. Most of them are new so, fingers crossed, I won't have any adverse reaction and I'll have good things to say about them when I return. The Dirty works wash bag I received from #LiveBloggers has been really handy since it fits a lot more than I expected and I’ve been able to cram in lots of little goodies to test while I am away.

If you have any tips on make-up, clothes and, if you have been to Istanbul before, what to see in the city, I would really appreciate the advice!


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

KeraStraight intense boost treatment

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to be invited for an ‘intense boost' treatment by KeraStraight at Salon international.
Being a natural curly head my first question was 'what will this do to my curls?' Once I was reassured that my curls wouldn't be affected, I decided that I wanted to go for the moisture boost, which as the name suggests, adds moisture to hair and should help to tame frizz.
The before shot

The treatment started with a clarifying shampoo, which opens up the hair follicles ready for the moisture mask. The mask is applied in sections to damp hair and then combed through. To 'activate' the mask, the hair is then dried and any remaining mask is rinsed off.

After the treatment I had my hair blow dried with some bouncy curls added for volume. My hair feels really soft and looks incredibly shiny. The treatment seems to have revived my colour too, which is an added bonus.

My stylist advised me to try to not wash my hair for three days, which will help the treatment last even longer (it is already meant to last a month!) and to use a natural shampoo. I'm looking forward to seeing how easy my curly hair is to manage.
and after

There is another form of intense boost treat available, a keratin boost, which is most suited for people with weak hair. I was pleased to find out that the products are available to buy from Salons that offer the treatment so that you can do it yourself at home. The cost of the treatment varies from salon to salon, but my stylist told me that her salon offers the treatment for £20, including styling, which I was much cheaper than I would expect.

I also had a chat with her about the regular KeraStraight treatments, she explained that because there are different levels of the treatment, by using the lowest one, I could achieve frizz-free hair for 3 months without losing the curl..... but at around £160 for the treatment, I need to start saving.


Sunday, 14 October 2012

First impressions: Elizabeth Arden peel and reveal

It is not often that I make impulse purchases, I like to search for reviews on products (and a cheaper price) before I commit to anything. But when I was told that with this mask it I would peel it off and every blackhead will come out with it and that it is ‘like peeling off layer of skin,’ I was sold.
I’ve used it a few times now and I come to the conclusion that the sales assistant was exaggerating . . .  a lot. That doesn’t mean I don’t like it but I was expecting a drastic and immediate result. At the moment I am mixing and matching it with other facial treatments so before I can decide whether this can actually improve my skin I need to get into the routine of using it regularly.
As the name suggests, Elizabeth Arden’s Intervene Peel and Reveal is a peel off face mask, which is meant to minimise the appearance of pores and fine lines as well as gently exfoliate. It is extremely sticky and comes with a sponge to make application easier. After the mask dries you simply peel it away. How long the mask takes to dry depends on how thickly it was applied to begin with (you only need a line layer) but this is usually between 10 to 15 minutes.

In my opinion peel off masks are the least luxurious to use but if I eventually end up with no blackheads and baby like skin, I won't be complaining.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Boots cold sore machine!

I know this is an unconventional item to review on a beauty blog but as a sufferer of cold sore attacks, I hope that any of my readers who suffer from the same issue will find this post helpful.
Personally cold sores make me feel more self-concious and uncomfortable than any scar or spot ever has. They may only last a week at a time but its position on my lip means that it can hurt to eat, drink and even talk!

When I woke up on Saturday morning with that familiar tingle and a wedding to look forward to in the evening I knew I didn't want to go through the week long process of the sore appearing and then healing. So after a quick internet search I rushed down to Boots and picked up their cold sore machine.

The machine has to be the dodgiest product I have ever purchased. First off it is £35.99, much more than a tube of aciclovir. It works by producing an invisible light, the frequency of which is meant to enhance the local immune response to the cold sore virus. Other than the beep at the start and end of the three-minute treatment cycle, I had no idea if it was doing anything at all. There is no heat or tingling.... nothing!
So the proof really is in the fact, that 3 days on, my cold sore dried up and never formed the large blister I was expecting. The instructions state to use the device once every 12 hours but that it can be used more frequently, which of course I did!

I hope that in the future I can just carry this around in my bag and with any hint of a tingle, use the treatment and stop the cold sore from appearing at all. My only advice to anyone who owns this device is that, when not in use, remove the battery since it is far to easy to turn on accidentally especially if it is in your handbag.


Sunday, 7 October 2012

What I will…and won’t spend my money on

After attending the #LiveBloggers event and talking about our best budget and high end buys I started thinking, rather than looking at which brands, on the whole, offer good budget and luxury products — what do I think is worth spending my money on?

For me, anything more than £15 is considered a luxury product and anything over £10 has me pause and think about whether or not I really need it and has me online checking blog reviews and looking for a cheaper price! 

I definitely consider myself a bargain hunter and I love 3 for 2 deals, QVC and of course sales and Christmas box sets because they offer the best value for money and usually the chance to try out products that I wouldn't necessarily consider buying other wise.

Skin care
I will spend almost anything on my skin care. I spent years making my way through everything that is offered in Boots but ultimately my best results have come with the higher priced items. On the whole my cleansers, serums and treatment products tend to be the most pricey but I can get away with drug store products for exfoliators and makeup remover. I'm yet to find a moisturiser that I can't live without but I would be willing to spend a little more on something that I really felt made a difference.

I’m also going to chuck makeup primer in under this category as sometimes they actually offer skin care benefits and for that reason I would be willing to pay more for a good primer that will help my makeup stay in place all day, as well as improve my overall skin condition. 

Body washes and moisturisers

I always go for cheap and cheerful with these. I have been fortunate enough to try samples of more expensive brands but they haven't done anything remarkable that has made me feel the need to repurchase. I would love to try a shower wash and lotion combination that leaves my skin scented but usually the scent stays in my bathroom.

Nail polish
I have tried brands like OPI, Ciate, Nails Inc and frankly have been disappointed, so my go to nail polish brands are Barry M and Rimmel. They have great formulations, dry quickly, a good colour range and stay chip free longer than the aforementioned brands! I would be willing to spend money on a decent base and/or top coat especially if it makes my manicure last longer.


My Bella Pierre mineral foundation costs £35, which is a lot but it lasts me a year and, other than the occasional dip into BB cream, I don't use anything else. So if you are someone who likes to break things down into costs per wear, it works out at 10p per day! I happened to get really lucky in TK Maxx recently and found a kit containing my exact shade for £30!

 I took quite a jump from purchasing high street foundations, which were around £10, to the mineral foundation I now use but considering that a regular foundation needs to be replaced every 3-6 months for hygiene reasons, overall the annual spend is the same and my skin feels and more importantly looks better for it.

 Lip products
I can't bring myself to spend a lot of money on any type of lip products. I don't use them enough for a start and I am not sure what benefit a £20 lipstick has over a £5 one?


With brands like Sleek offering a good selection of blushes for less than £5, I don't see the need to spend any more than that. I do own a few Benefit blushes, and although I love them, I do think they are pricey. My all time favourite bronzer is actually from VIVO at Tesco.

Eye makeup 
As a rule I only buy palettes, I think they offer the best value for money, can be organised neatly and take away the need for me to figure out what colours work together! Also, as I found out on my recent trip to Amsterdam, a good palette can save a lot of space in the suitcase. If you do break the price down into cost per shadow then it can work out cheaper than buying lots of individual pots, even from more affordable brands. I do have some of the more high-end eyeshadow brands in my collection but brands like Sleek have great palettes that are really good value and offer a similar colour pay-off.

As for mascara, so often I end up with them as freebies from multi-buy offers or in value sets that I haven't yet needed to buy one, so I don't really feel that I can comment.

The one thing I would pay almost any price for is an eyeliner pencil that will last in my waterline all day, but I am yet to find it!

Hair care

I want to do a separate post about my hair care, but in general I do not spend a lot of money. With shampoo and conditioner I tend to opt for whatever is on offer or I head to the £1 shop. I am willing to spend more on a curly hair styling products (that is anything between £6-£9). The exception to this is argan oil, but I have been able to find this cheaply from small Moroccan stores in London. 

Feel free to treat this as a tag (especially my fellow #LiveBloggers!) or respond in the comments below, I'd love to know, what will you, and won't you, spend your money on?


Saturday, 6 October 2012

Nails of the week: Essie Charleston

I had my nails done this week as part of a Wahanda deal. The manicure was so-so but I was excited to try two products I haven't tried before.

The first thing was an Essie polish, this is the shade Charleston, which is a pretty brown and very autumn appropriate. The colour wheel actually made this look a lot lighter but because it falls into the neutral class of shades in my opinion I was happy to go with it.

After two coats the technician applied Seche Vite top coat, which has been on my wish list since the start of the year. She then immediately applied cuticle oil, which apparently helps the polish dry faster.

The top coat does seem to give a really glossy finish, so all that remains to be seen is if it lasts chip free any longer than my usual top coat.

Of course because I didn't apply the products myself I didn't get a feel for the application but at least now, I can have a rough idea of what to expect before I splash out.


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

How a beauty deal should work....

I have just arrived home from the best facial I have had in a long time. I fell asleep — twice — waking out of my massage coma only after starting to snore and then having one of those involuntary muscle spasms that also had me making a weird noise...…I chose to pretend it didn't happen.
The facial was an hour long and where in the past I have been left alone for the time that the steamer and face mask is applied, the beautician I had organised everything so that at no point was I left unattended or feeling like I wasn't having a treatment.

The steam was applied while my face was cleansed, followed by extraction, exfoliation and then the massage that put me to sleep. A little later I had a neck and shoulder massage and then a face mask was applied and left as I enjoyed a head massage.

The atmosphere was perfect. The music playing in the background seemed to coordinate with the whole routine, although I’m not sure if that was just coincidence or my imagination.

The reason I labelled this post 'how a beauty deal should work' is because I purchased the facial as a package (which included a manicure) from Wahanda. I love having facials, but I don't always love the price, so Wahanda and other deal websites allow me to treat myself. The risk with that is you really don't know what you are going to get in terms of service because the pictures and the description can be deceptive. It doesn't help either that reviews can be so mixed.

Putting all that aside, if you do go ahead and book and make it to your appointment you can end up feeling like you are getting a lesser service than full price customers — something I experienced at a well known beauty clinic that allowed me leave with bits of face mask on my skin that I only noticed when I got into the car.

This wasn't my experience today and that it how it should be because now I would actually consider returning and paying full price, which after all the point of running a promotion?

In case you are wondering, I visited was The Retreat based just off Oxford Street in London, which uses Dermalogica products. I found some of the products very strong smelling but this is a minor point. If I had to find a fault it did take me months to secure an appointment that was in the evening (the team appears to be very small) but it was worth wait. 

Monday, 1 October 2012

September empties

I didn’t get through too many products this month but I am glad they are a few I have been wanting to finish for a while.
Aussie luscious long leave in conditioner — I really disliked the smell of this and it wasn’t a scent that grew on me with time. I didn’t notice any significant difference in the condition of my hair whilst using this either so, needless to say, it is not on my repurchase list.

Soap & Glory Greatest Scrub of All — I have mentioned this product in the past and it was something that I enjoyed using, however I’ve built up a collection of so many face scrubs that I just keen to testing out news ones and I don’t like having too many products open at once.

Molton Brown vitalising vitamin AB+C bath and shower gel — This came as a Glossy Box sample and as much as I did enjoy using it for its smell I don’t tend to spend a lot of money on shower gels.

Liz Earle Botanical Body wash — This was thrown in as part of a QVC TSV I purchased and as above it was nice but I won’t be repurchasing it.

Benefit They’re Real mascara — I realised that I have had this open for almost a year, since it was given to me for My Birthday, last October! I have loved using it and have reviewed it previously but it is time to go!

I hope that my October empties will be a bit more plentiful since I have a lot of products down to their last squeeze.

I am contemplating trying ‘blogtober', I have just made it to posting this in time for October 1, but we will see how I am feeling about that tomorrow. Let me know, would you like to see a post every day this month?
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