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The Sleep Challenge: How Did I Do?

 

Tired of, er, being tired, I set myself a challenge last month to get eight hours of sleep or more for four weeks and see if I felt like a new and improved woman. Well those four weeks have flown by, and I promised to let you know how I got on. So did I sleep like a log, party like an animal, or count sheep all night? Well…
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.
I didn’t always manage to get the full eight hours that I was after. I remember for the first few days, I’d go to bed at a decent hour with the best of intentions – and then toss and turn as I tried to get to sleep. Either that or I’d stay up talking to the lovely Mr.D.

 

And the really bad news is that there were a couple of weekends (especially the long weekend) where I was very naughty! And there were a couple of week nights were I probably got my usual five to six hours of sleep.
Oh dear. Slapped wrist for me!
Now here comes the good part.
Although there were some nights where I did get the full eight hours, I’d say that on average I managed about seven and a half hours most nights which isn’t bad for someone who barely used to get any sleep at all and would walk into work a total zombie who could only be revived by the sweet taste of caffeine (and lots of it!)
And has it made a difference? Hell yes it has!
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I sprang out of bed every morning, but it definitely wasn’t a struggle either. I looked and felt a lot less tired and there was no need to plaster on the make-up so another plus point is that I no longer looked like a toby jug! I’ve also noticed that my skin appears to be so much better and healthier, and even without the make-up, I definitely look a lot less haggard and, dare I say it, a little more youthful!
I felt more alert and my performance at work had improved. There were actually some days where I didn’t really need my morning cappuccino which I had previously  depended on to help me open my eyes and could have forgone it if I wanted to – but hey, it’s one of my few simple pleasures in life so I went ahead and indulged. And outside of work, I feel as though I got a lot more done – especially in terms of blogging which is great.

 

However I think it’ll take a few months of early nights before I see an improvement in my memory – if at all!
So I didn’t quite meet the challenge of eight hours, I’m disappointed to say, but I got closer than I thought I would. Best of all, I’ve experienced for myself the great benefits of a good night’s kip  – I look tons better and feel more energetic – and that’s something I don’t want to give up ( the days where I only got my once usual five hours sleep, I felt even more rotten than I had done before  so I’m definitely getting used to more sleep.) So I will be aiming to get, at the very least, a minimum of seven and a half hours sleep from now on, especially as from next month I will be starting work earlier than normal which means I’m going to have to get up extra early.
I’m totally thrilled that I did this challenge. I’ve (almost) gotten rid of a bad habit, and experienced lots of positives – with the only drawback being that I’m now going to be the one slumped in a corner at parties come eleven o’clock – I suppose I’m just going to have to blame it on the shandies!

 

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Land Of Milk And Honey Hand Treatment

 

My hands are really in a shocking condition and I can’t understand why. Despite applying twice my weight in hand cream, and taking my vitamin E capsules religiously, my hands are extremely dry, rough and look as though they’re in danger of starting a fire if I rub them together! It’s actually quite embarrassing. My hands get used quite a lot in my job as they are always on show so I’m starting to feel more than a little self-conscious.

Feeling low at the dry condition of my hands, I’m considering hitting the bottle.

The milk bottle that is!

 

I’ve had dry skin pretty much my whole life and when I was in my late teens I developed a mild form of eczema. I only have flare ups maybe once every couple of years so I’m quite fortunate. But during periods when my skin is very dry, I use milk on my skin instead of water. It’s very moisturizing and hydrating, and I really notice the difference. After about two days, my skin comes back to life again.

So I’ll be resorting to this treatment for my dry hands but I’ll be using honey as well which is another ingredient I’ve found to be very effective for dry skin. And of course this treatment isn’t just limited to your hands. You can use it for your face, feet, elbows, knees, lips… anywhere where you’re skin’s a bit parched, isn’t looking it’s best and needs a much-needed moisture boost.

 

You can use any kind of milk or honey that you prefer. I generally stick to my favourite manuka honey. This treatment is so simple as it only uses between two to four ingredients, so it’s well worth giving it a go.

MILK AND HONEY  TREATMENT FOR DRY HANDS

 

YOU WILL NEED:

1 tbsp. honey

Enough warm milk to fully submerge your hands in

Pure rosewater

METHOD:

  1. Apply honey to your to both sides of your hands. If you wish you could gently warm the honey before applying it to your hands.
  2.  Leave for around ten minutes.
  3. Then place your hands in a basin of warm milk. Remember the milk should be warm not hot. You want to revive your hands not scald them!
  4. Leave them in the milk for about five minutes or until all the honey has rinsed off.
  5. Once you’ve taken your hands out of the milk, you can either give them a super quick blast with cold water to remove the honey-milk residue (with the emphasis being on super quick.)
  6. Or  you could remove all traces of milk and honey with cotton wool soaked in rosewater.
  7. Slap on lashings of hand cream.
  8. Use this treatment once a day for as many days as you need.

HANDY HINTS:

  1. If you have any discolouration on your hands, rub a slice of lemon over it before applying the honey.
  2. If you are using this treatment for a part of your body that you cannot simply just dunk in a basin of water, wipe the honey of with milk-soaked cotton wool pads.

 

Begin With That Summer Skin In Seven Simple Steps

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Summer is just a matter of weeks away and it’ll be here before we know it. And despite the fact that it’s very cool today, no one could have failed to notice that the temperature has been rising these last few days. And as the temperature starts to soar, there’ll be lots of legs, arms, shoulders and tums on display, so it’s important to start getting your skin looking it’s very best. The winter months means that we’ve cranked up the central heating and indulged in long, hot baths which aren’t the best things for your skin. In addition to that, our bodies have been kept under wraps during the winters months and our skin hasn’t been getting the TLC it needs.

Well now’s our last chance to get our skin looking and feeling in tip-top condition before the big reveal in the sweltering heat of the Summer.

1. EXFOLIATE

It’s super important to exfoliate before you tackle anything else as it makes hair removal easier, and the moisturising and tanning products more effective. Exfoliating is also important for removing and preventing ingrowing hairs, getting rid of scaly skin, and preventing blocked pores. For those of you who shave as part of your hair removal regime, exfoliating means that your razor won’t get clogged with flaky skin.

If your skin is a bit on the parched side, it will be more effective for you to use a scrub on dry skin rather than wet. Pay particular attention to heels, knees, and elbows.

I swear by using my loofah but I don’t have a particular favourite scrub although I generally prefer to use one which has lots of lovely natural ingredients and is cream based rather than oil based. Find the scrub that works best for your skin but remember NEVER use a scrub designed for your body on your face – it’s much too harsh.

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2. HAIR REMOVAL

I still can’t get over the shock of seeing a lady on the bus wearing a short skirt with seriously hairy legs. It was definitely a case of ‘what were you thinking?’ in conjunction with ‘are my eyes deceiving me?’ Unfortunately they weren’t but it goes without saying that summer clothes generally mean fuzz-free skin, paying close attention to legs, underarms and bikini line – especially if you’re hitting the beach.

There are a whole ton of hair removal methods – shaving, waxing, epilating, depilatory creams,  or laser hair removal – so choose what works best for you.

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3. MINIMISE CELLULITE

Urgh the dreaded dimply, orange-peel skin that strikes fear into the hearts of women everywhere! Cellulite has been the bane of my life for more years than I care to remember but I know that my unhealthy diet and lack of exercise is to blame so I can’t really talk. The key here is to stick to a diet that is rich in wholegrains, raw fruit and vegetables and oily fish and low in salt, caffeine, and processed fatty food (yes, all the things I love!) Oh yes, and to get exercising!

There are also a lot of cellulite creams that reduce the appearance of cellulite by eliminating the toxins under your skin. And of course body brushing is fantastic for eliminating cellulite and getting rid of dry skin. Sadly it does feel like you’re being attacked with brambles but once you get passed this stage the results will be worth it!

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4. MOISTURISE

I know, I know – we’re all a little lazy when it comes to moisturising and I must confess I’m no different. But if you want to keep skin looking young, supple, hydrated and flake-free then it’s a must so regular moisturising is a stage that should never be skipped.

There’s some fantastic products out there in the form of lotions, oils, body butters, whipped body butters etc. but if you’re a bit neglectful with the old moisturising, then try adding some oil in your bath water for some much needed hydration.

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5. ELIMINATE DARK PATCHES

It would be delightful if we all had an even skin tone but in reality a lot of people don’t. Toes, knees, elbows and knuckles are just some of the areas that typically tend to be a little bit darker than the rest of our bodies. There are creams available which even out skin tone, and you can naturally lighten these areas by rubbing  half a lemon over them for fifteen minutes a day. Yes, you’ll feel a bit of a lemon while you’re doing it but it does work! If you find lemon to be a bit harsh, try potato slices.

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6. BANISHING ACNE

I really sympathise with women who have acne on certain parts of their bodies. I was lucky as a teen in that I didn’t have facial acne unlike a lot of my schoolmates. But life had a bigger surprise for me in store, and as I approached my twenties I got hit by the acne stick all over my chest, upper arms, and worst of all my back. It was not a pretty sight and quite embarrassing, and I was stuck with it for years.

Thankfully I was spared a visit to my doctor. Changing to organic bath products that were free of SLS, using a body wash that contained tea tree oil, and cleansing, toning and moisturising these areas the same way I did my face (yes, even my back which might explain my super long arms!) helped tremendously and now, apart from the odd spot every now and again, my skin is very clear. And I have to admit, I do love wearing, sleeveless, strapless, off-the-shoulder, or backless clothes because there was a time I could never get away with such outfits.

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 7. TAN

I have to admit that I’ve never used a fake tanning product in my life as I’ve never needed to so I can’t pretend to be the world’s greatest expert in this area. But I know that for some ladies, the appeal of a fake tan is that they feel healthier and look slimmer. Tanning products work best with smooth skin, so if you’ve followed all the previous steps, your product should go on easily and effectively with minimal risk of streaking.

Build up your tan gradually every day or use one that develops overnight and lasts several days. And don’t forget areas such as feet, ankles and fingers.

And I have to say, I’ve seen some awful fake tan jobs in my time (who hasn’t!) so go easy on the product and aim to get a gorgeous, naturally-looking, sunkissed glow.

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Bring on Summer!

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The 8- Hours- Or- More Sleep Challenge

 

 

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Last year I set myself a challenge where I wanted to see if I could cope without using my hair straighteners for a month. I’d discovered the benefits of straightening my untameable waves since my mid-twenties and couldn’t live without them. But years of using the heated hair appliance had left my locks parched and frizzy so I decided to abandon my straightening regime for a while. Over the course of a month – with the exception of straightening the front sections of my hair (I just had to!) – I found that I didn’t need to use my straighteners all the time and my hair got it’s va-va-voom back. A challenge well worth doing.

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Well now I’ve set myself a new challenge. And it’s one that’s much more vital than forgoing the old hair straighteners…

I’m not sure if I’ve ever been one for getting a good night’s kip. We’re supposed to be getting, on average, eight hours of good quality sleep a night but I can’t remember when was the last time I’d slept for that long. I currently get on average around five to six hours sleep a night. So naturally I’m shattered every day. Furthermore, I’ll be starting work an hour earlier in two months time which will mean getting up even earlier in order to begin the long commute into work. Not good!

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When I was younger, I was often told how tired I looked (and quite often I felt it too) and things got worse when Mr.D. came along because we were long-distance for quite some time, and the nine hour time difference meant that I’d either go to bed really late after talking to him or I’d have to get up mega early to Skype him. My sleep patterns became quite erratic and I’ve never been able to regulate my sleep schedule. And I definitely, definitely need my sleep. Without it I can’t concentrate, can’t string a sentence together, cab be rude, snappy, and irritable. In short, I can be a right bitch! And I can also see the toll that lack of sleep is taking on my face.

Lack of sleep makes me feel like tearing out my hair!

Lack of sleep makes me feel like tearing out my hair!

 

It doesn’t help that I’m something of a night owl and can stay up for hours. But then it’s an ordeal having to get up in the morning. Is it any wonder that coffee is my best friend? But even then coffee can only do so much and it definitely can’t work miracles. It can’t banish my under-eye circles, or illuminate my tired-looking face. I don’t think make-up can hide my tiredness. I just look tired with a whole ton of make-up on! And it can’t make me focus better or improve my memory – but I believe sleep can do all these things and more which is why I’m challenging myself to get eight hours of sleep (or more) every night for a month.

Sleep makes you feel healthier and fitter

Sleep makes you feel healthier and fitter

 

I’ve been sacrificing sleep in favour of other things I feel I need to do but sleep should never be ignored as it’s so vital for our overall health and mental performance. The health benefits include:

  • Improved memory
  • Less fatigue
  • Increased stamina
  • Sharp attention
  • Less stress
  • Increased immune response
  • Feeling happier
  • Less depression
  • Decreased dependency on caffeine
  • Better judgement
  • Reduced chances of developing certain illnesses and health problems
  • Improved efficiency and productivity
  • Reduces risks of accidents and making errors
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Better sex!

And let’s not forget the beauty benefits – after all, it’s not called beauty sleep for nothing:

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  • A radiant complexion
  • Bright eyes
  • Smooth skin
  • Look more youthful
  • Gives your body a chance to renew, restore and rebalance
  • Reduced dark circles and bags
  • Gives overnight beauty products a chance to get to work
  • Look better in photos and not like a Toby jug!
  • Less make-up  needed!

Now with all these fantastic benefits isn’t it worth getting a little extra shut eye. Hopefully the new and improved me will be reporting back exactly a month from now feeling like a whole new woman.

Wish me luck!

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Double-Cleanse, Tone, Moisturise: However Did I Go So Long Without it?

 

 

 

MRS. D’S SKIN PROFILE:

– Eczema prone skin in recovery (using prescribed cream, vitamin supplements, suitable skin-care products etc )

– Suffered from slight acne during teens and early twenties.  Outgrew acne.

– Combination skin: slightly greasy T-zone, dryness around cheeks and mouth.

– Starting to get first signs of fine lines on forehead and faint smile lines.

 

 

I was brought up on the ‘cleanse, tone, moisturize’ mantra but nobody ever told me to ‘double-cleanse, tone, moisturize.’ I have recently discovered the benefits of double cleansing and I can honestly hand-on-heart say that my skin has never looked so good. Being the kind of girl who has never been blessed with perfect skin – and never will be – I have to work harder than most to keep it looking as healthy as possible.

 

THE PROBLEM:

But about a month ago my skin looked – how shall I put this – bloody awful! It was dry, tight,  blotchy, itchy and a very unflattering shade of grey. As I suffer from a very mild form of eczema, I was having flare-ups in very quick succession despite using my prescribed cream. I was also convinced that I could see the faint traces of lines beginning to form. Nothing I used or did seemed to work. I’d be applying more make-up than usual, and I knew I still looked horrendous. It’s times like this, I wish I wasn’t so anti-Botox!

THE REASONS:

Unfortunately I commit way too many skin sins: I go to bed way too late; don’t exercise enough; wear make-up every day; drink coffee every morning; drink alcohol but not enough water; eat way too much junk… the list just goes on and on. This summer I committed the cardinal sin of not wearing any sunscreen. Terrible! I also have been guilty of using facial wipes to remove my make-up which doesn’t effectively remove all the impurities. And admittedly there were times I actually went to bed with my make-up on. It’s no surprise my skin looked horrendous.

However, I’m not a complete skin sinner. I have started to make an effort to eat healthier; I don’t smoke; I limit myself to one cup of coffee a day; I take vitamin supplements; use mainly organic products and being habitually late for everything means that I get regular exercise in the form of power walking! As I wear make-up everyday (although not a lot) I’d gotten into the habit of giving myself mini-facials every Sunday in order to get my skin feeling really clean.

THE SOLUTION:

So after a considerable amount of time feeling sorry for myself, I decided to spring into action.First of all, I decided to get rid of anything that I thought might be making my skin look bad and feel irritable.

  • I stopped the mini-facials as I felt that the frequency of these might actually be doing more harm than good.
  • I ditched my wash-off cleanser even though it’s organic as I figured that water might be drying out my skin.
  • I then used a mixture of manuka honey and cream to cleanse my face – until I found a more convenient substitute.
  • I started drinking more water.
  •  Cut back on alcohol.
  •  Upped my intake of fruit and veggies.
  •  Started going to bed early (well for me anyway!)

Slowly I started to see a difference.

THE MIRACLE:

Then I heard about the concept of double cleansing. It basically involves using an oil-based pre-cleanser before applying your usual cleanser and then toning and moisturising as usual. I wasn’t sure how effective it would be with regards to my skin problems but decided that I had nothing to lose by giving it a go – and seeing all the amazing products that are available  made the decision even easier! The aim of the pre-cleanser is to get rid of ‘nasties’  that your normal cleanser alone may not be able to handle on its own such as excess sebum, sunscreen, waterproof makeup, environmental pollutants and residual product build-up.

GETTING STARTED:

I eventually settled on a pre-cleansing oil and wipe-off cream cleanser by Una Brennan which is available from Boots. I chose the hydrating rose variety as I felt that my skin would benefit from it the most. It’s not organic but it does contain many wonderful skin-friendly goodies such as shea butter, rose oil provitamin B5 and marshmallow.  And although I know it makes sense to use products from the same range, I had already bought some argan oil day and night creams which I had felt would be beneficial to my skin so I didn’t bother buying a new moisturiser. I really liked the description on the pre-cleansing oil that stated that we should leave the oil on our faces for a while before wiping it off just to enjoy the aroma and this was my inspiration to turning my night-time cleansing ritual into a real pampering treatment.

 

THE DOUBLE CLEANSING METHOD:

  1. Warm 2-3 drops of Una Brennan’s Miracle Makeover Facial Oil  in the palms of your hands.
  2. Slowly massage oil onto your face and  in slow circular movements.
  3. Leave for a few minutes.
  4. Then dampen a flannel in warm water before carefully wiping off oil.
  5. This is followed by using the Calming Creamy Cleanser, applied with fingertips in slow circular movements.
  6. Remove using a flannel dampened in warm water.
  7. Pat face dry.
  8. Tone skin using pure rosewater.
  9. Apply vitamin E oil.
  10. Apply argan oil day/night cream.
  11. Apply eye cream.

It may seem like a lot of steps but it really is quick, simple and effective. If it works for someone like me who is always pushed for time, it’ll work for anyone!

 

THE RESULTS:

In one word – amazing! My skin feels so soft and smooth and looks clearer, radiant and healthy. The dry, tight sensation has gone and I’m now having to hunt the fine lines I saw! It itches a lot less and my skin feels less rough and bumpy. I’m getting fewer spots and I feel that the double-cleansing treatment is really effective as I feel that my moisturizers are being absorbed into my skin much more. I have been using this method for only three weeks and can already see the difference which surprised me because I thought I would have to wait a lot longer to see results. The state of my skin used to depress me but now I feel confident going make-up free.

 

Obviously everyone’s skin is different and responds differently to different products. The secret is in knowing your skin and understanding what works best. I believe that the combination of rose, vitamin E and argan oils are working wonders for my skin but others may find that different products work effectively for them. I also believe – for me at least – that it’s necessary to change products every so often as I’ve found that it is possible for your skin to become immune to products that were once very effective.

 

Right now I am loving my skin. Great skin is an excellent base for make-up and if you haven’t got that then no amount of make-up is going to improve the appearance or condition of your skin. And double-cleansing has also meant that I’m getting the most out of my moisturizers as it absorbs a lot faster and leaves my skin feeling moisturized for longer. It seems that lots of people have cottoned on to the concept of double-cleansing long before I did (always was the last to find out!) but now that I have discovered it, I will be putting it to good use.

 

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