So the only time I normally add salt to anything is with my poached eggs in the morning.

But over the last few months I keep hearing more and more about bath salts, salt scrubs and the power of the Dead Sea.  After a couple of my chums came back from Israel raving about the Dead sea benefits I decided that I’d look into seeing if there’s any salty goodness (erm…) around that doesn’t affect people with sensitive skin.

Que my discovery of West Lab Mineral Bathing.  As a sensitive little egg I always try and do my research before I splash out on something I’ve never tried before and I’ll admit I’d never even heard of them.

The benefits of sea salts isn’t a new commodity.  They’ve been used for centuries.  West Lab hasn’t quite been around that long, they were established in 2014, but they pride themselves on the quality of their products.   They are a UK company and I was really impressed when I discovered that they have a batch suitable for people with Eczema.  There’s no bleaching involved or use of harsh chemicals in their products and it’s refreshing to find a range that can be used by us sensitive shells.  When you have sensitive skin adding any old thing to your bath is a no-go, and you can forget those beautifully scented bath bombs!  I’m normally more of a shower person (usually because I’m in an eternal rush) and more so because there’s just not much you can add to your bath when you have Eczema.

To begin with I bought the 5kg bag which you can buy online for the sale price of £12.99 here.  The benefits of the salts is
that not only are they relaxing but their mineral content is absorbed through the skin as you soak in the tub.  Potassium balances moisture levels, Calcium is cell-renewing and anti-oxidant and Magnesium soothes and helps balance and repair the skin.  Alongside this Bromides help make that bath even more enjoyable- by relaxing the muscles.

As recommended I added about 1kg of Salts mixed with warm water.  The advice is to bath in water between 37-39 degrees.  I literally have zero idea how hot my bath was but I’m not burning my ass for anyone!  I’d like to be able to say I relaxed with a large Gin, however I was so hot I just nailed a pint of water in the bath instead… I did light one of my favourite candles though- I just adore all the Lilly-Flame range, this time I used their Lavender and Lime scent, which you can purchase here.

Normally if I have a bath my skin always feels really raisiny afterwards (that’s SO not even a word), unless I soak in oil- in which case I normally slip on the floor and vow to use showers forever more.

As a very wary customer I was half expecting to come out of the bath looking like I’d either been dipped in acid, or with no effect whatsoever.  When in fact it was completely the opposite!   This left my skin feeling AMAZING! Even the next morning I felt like my skin was a little less dry. I still moisturised as normal but it wasn’t that frantic ‘grab-the-cream-before-your-skin-falls-off’ scenario.  Anyone with dry skin knows all too well there’s only a short window between bathing and moisturising- miss it and hello lizard skin! I’ve been using the salts for the last couple of weeks, twice a week and I definitely think it’ll become part of my skincare regime.  Plus it forces me to have a bath and actually relax- something I NEVER have time to do.

J xx

Changing my hair happens about as often as a lunar eclipse.  I blame a VERY dodgy crop cut during my uni days which took a LONG time to grow out and scarred me for life.  I also blame the fact I’m just a bit of a ditherer when it comes to making any sort of hair style decision, that and also the fact I get a bit of scissor fear!

I’d been banging on about getting a bit of Balayage for months, and after many hours scouring Pintrest and a chat with my hairdresser I took the plunge and just thought, fuck it!

It’s been over two years since I’ve has any sort of dye on my hair and it’s been 14 months since I had a haircut (I can almost hear the shocked, sharp intake of breath of anyone reading this) I guess I’m just kinda lazy.  Before my accident in January I was a very active person and as a camera operator you can’t be swishing your hair around so it’s normally a messy bun or a couple of braids for me and that’s about it.

I think it’s so hard to find a good hairdresser, and I do love mine, I just don’t go very often! I am really pleased I gave my hair a good rest from the dye; in fact it definitely helped with the Balayage as it gave my hairdresser a clean slate to start from.  I’ve been going to the Aveda salon Joshua Tree in Nottingham for quite a few years now, I fell in love with Aveda products and salons after I purchased a Groupon deal (remember those?) about 10 years ago and never looked back.  If there was anyone that could sort out my tresses it’s the guys at Joshua Tree!

My usual stylist is Emma but she recommended I used Charlotte for my colour and what a recommendation!  I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted, even after the initial consultation, but seeing as my stressed out tresses were in need of some SERIOUS TLC I just thought sod it and I knew I was in capable hands.  Charlotte is the kind of hairdresser you can’t stop starring at, for all the right reasons.  I had instant hair envy when I met her and she’s so bubbly and funny the four hours I spent there felt like an hour hanging out with a chum.  I still had some very faded Red colour in the ends of my hair so this had to be sorted first before the free-hand colour was applied.   Despite my scissor fear I still managed to get a good 3.5 inches chopped off and it felt liberating.  It’s not like my hair is mega short now but it’s certainly made a difference in drying time!   I’ve never really gone lighter before so I think this was just the change I needed ahead of summer, if summer ever arrives in Britain!  As someone with naturally very dark hair I was so nervous about going lighter.  I opted for more caramel tones rather than a bright, yellow,  blonde, and I’m so happy with the results.  I think using several colours works so well, it’s less harsh and they blend together for a warmer colour.  No brassiness here thanks!  I don’t think my milky skin tone or my dark brows could handle anything else to be honest and this is where the value of a good hairdresser really shines through.

Before and After…

Charlotte was completely honest with what would and wouldn’t suit me and I may be biased but I think she got it bang on.   Having the ‘grown out’ Balayage look is great for me- no regular top up colour needed and seriously low maintenance.  Perfect for a lazy hair girl like me!  Just need to keep those ends trimmed now…

During my visit I paid extra for a nourishing conditioning treatment, and while I was in the mood for looking after my tresses I treated myself to a couple of new products.  I think wavy hair looks so good with Balayage, but styling your hair with heat always comes at a price.

I’ve invested in a couple of new products to give my frazzled ends a fighting chance to be glossy and silky.  You’ll never have locks like Rapunzel if you treat them like an ugly sister!  The Aveda Smooth Infusion styling cream was recommended by Charlotte to protect against frizz, humidity and to general make my locks look nice and smooth.

As it has been a while since my last cut my ends were in need of some help and to avoid them getting in the same state as they were I bought the Aveda Dry Remedy Daily Moisturising Oil.  This hydrates and nourishes the hair.  You just add a few drops into your palms and work through your hair.  I usually just apply this from the mid section to the ends.  I was always a bit worried about going lighter as I think when you’re dark it’s easier to get nice shiny locks, but this bad boy definitely adds shine and it always make my hair feel amazing.  It smells INCREDIBLE too!  Don’t be put off by the ‘oil’ tag either, unless you slather your hair in this there isn’t even a hint of grease.  BOOM.

I wouldn’t necessarily say I have thick hair, I just have a LOT of it.  The last thing I purchased was the Aveda Thickening Tonic.  Again this smell lush and it leaves your hair feeling really full and soft.  I apply this to damp hair and work through with my Aveda paddle brush, which you can buy here.  I haven’t been using this long enough to say that my hair feels notably thicker.  However it does feel fuller and a LOT smoother.

Hopefully now I’ve changed my locks a little I’ll be inspired to look after them.  I love the Aveda brand, not just all their plant-based hair products but also their make up too.  Even for sensitive skin it just works.  If you’re umming and ahhhing about getting Balayage just do it!  If you live in Nottingham I’d definitely recommend paying a visit to Joshua Tree, you can guarantee you’re in safe hands with the best products.  Besides, you can always dye in back…in a couple of years…

J xx

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I need this more than ever right now! Life is odd and just when you think everything’s ok it’ll throw a massive curveball at you.  I try so hard not to be negative or sad but sometimes it’s an impossible task.  There are just too many things going off that are bringing me down right now and it’s all too easy to just slide down that slippery slope.  So during (another) sleepless night I tried to think of all the things that would cheer me up and put a smile on my face and I made this little list.  Hopefully it’ll help you guys too!

Positive vibes people….

1. Find a photo you love from a moment when you were truly happy.  You CAN be in that place again.  The photo above was taken during a pretty crappy time, and for my friend too, but it was a really happy moment. I was carefree, with someone I love, and loving life.  It’ll happen again.

2. Exercise.  Do anything to get your heart rate up.  Run, walk, dance, kick a ball.  Do whatever you can.  Those endorphin’s are real.  Enjoy them and the knowledge that you are looking after your body.  It’ll reward you with happiness, trust me.  Since my accident I’ve not been able to ride or do pretty much any sort of sporting activity.  I’ve never felt so low.

3.  Eat well.  It’s so easy to skip meals or over indulge when you feel low.  Do yourself a favour and fill up on nutrients and all the superfoods you can find.  Your body will thank you for it and you won’t have to face the guilt after scoffing that family sized bag of Galaxy Counters.

4.  Go outside and go somewhere different.  A change in scenery always reminds me how small we are and how vast the world is.  Make the most of it.  There are so many interesting people out there and fascinating places to go to.  Life is too short not to explore.

5.  Change your hair.  Sounds basic but the feeling after a new haircut/colour is a real booster when your self esteem needs a pick me up.

6.  Clear out.  Nothing helps cleanse a clouded mind like having a good sort through all the clutter you have.  Sell your old things you no longer need, make room for new items and relish anything you find that reminds you of a happier time in your life.

7.  Find a new hobby.  Start a project, learn a new language, and take on that thing you’ve been meaning to do forever.  The time is now.  You’ll never be this young again, so just do it.

8.  Call that person you’ve been meaning to.  You never know- they might need cheering up to.  Equally surround yourself with friends, they CAN make you laugh and they will.

9.  Do something good for someone else.  Let’s not be selfish people, helping others will help yourself.  I’m not suggesting you give you every free minute in your life to volunteer but even a small act of kindness is one of the quickest ways to instantly feel good again.  Don’t forget to say thank you when someone else returns the favour.

10.  Look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are a GOOD person with a good heart.  Quit all the bitching and gossip and enjoy life. Being respectful to others will only breed happiness onto yourself.  Think about how you see yourself and how you want to be seen. Try and stop comparing yourself to others, you can only ever be you.  That’s why you need to be the BEST version of you possible.

Tell yourself that you’ve got this, a positive attitude can overcome a negative mind.

Don’t forget to SMILE : )

J xx

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 1. The end of summer

Despite Game of Thrones-style warnings that ‘winter is coming’, anyone with sensitive skin knows it doesn’t make a damned bit of difference.  You can arm yourself with enough balm to clog up the Parisian sewers but once that dry skin of yours decides to crack then there’s nothing you can do.  Brace yourselves…

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2. You leave a part of you wherever you go

If you have Eczema/dry skin you will always be followed by that little magical dust cloud of skin.  Peeling off your skinny jeans, you’ll wonder how you’ve any skin left judging by the atomic mass billowing in the air.  Remember when someone brought in that snakeskin to show off at school?  You could TOTALLY relate.  Gross but you hear me right?

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3. The inevitable questions

‘’What have you done to your ______?!’’ *insert ‘face’ ‘hands’ ‘leg’ or whatever has decided to flare up this time*

It’s like when someone tells your six-foot-three friend ‘’ooh you’re tall’’.  No shit.  I am sure they already knew this.  As I am more than aware that my hands could provide Zombie close ups in the Walking Dead but you don’t need to tell me because, guess what?  I’ve already seen them. I don’t understand why people I barely know think its ok to mention anything at all.  Unlike the communal mugs at work, not everything is for sharing.

I find it equally frustrating when people try to ‘fix’ you.  It’s amazing that doctors can train for years but your colleagues can become dermatologists in seconds.  I’ve tried every trick and every product, so don’t even bother.

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4. You’re so cynical but you just can’t stop spending

It’s always a game of skincare-roulette when it comes to trying new products.  You’ve just spent half a month’s salary on the latest moisturiser for sensitive skin; slather it on only to find the next day your epidermis looks more like a painting by Pollock than a Vogue cover.

Yep, we’ve all been there.  Taken in by the promises schmoises of the latest wonder cream that will turn us all into Victoria Secret models. Over the years I think I’ve become wise to these ‘success stories’.  The day something really changes my skin forever will be the day I ride away on my pet unicorn.

However, anything that DOES make your skin feel anything slightly smoother than sandpaper requires you to remortage your house or rob a bank.

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5. Thinking that diet will save you

You’ve been eating that many Blueberries you’re starting to resemble Violet Beauregarde (if you have to Google her then shame on you!) Then weeks later you come across a blog post warning that if you want the skin of an angel you need to steer clear of all berries!  When my skin is bad one of the first things I blame is my diet, but how the hell do you know what you’re actually SUPPOSED to be eating?!  For every ‘safe’ food that will help sort out your skin there’s a conflicting opinion telling you the opposite.  I still have no idea whether I’m supposed to bathe in a vat of tomatoes or avoid them like an 80’s mullet.  The only real way of testing foods is an elimination diet, and to be honest who has the patience for that
shizzle?

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6. Tanning is a no-go

Ahhh, the Sun.  That glorious Vitamin D provider.  If you’re paler than a pint of milk AND your skin is more sensitive than a Westlife album then it’s pretty much game over.  The sun is either friend or foe.  It’ll help heal your skin, or you’ll get that prickly rash and the only option is to slather on that much sun lotion the chance of getting any shade of brown is slim to sod all.

Equally trying to fake tan is COMPLETELY out of the question- you’ll either blow up from an allergic reaction or end up looking like you suffer from ringworm when it sticks to all those sneaky dry/sensitive patches.  Ugh.  The tanning struggle is VERY real.

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7. You just can’t trust yourself, your clothes, or your washing powder

Ever woken up with blood under your finger nails?  Even if you’re the healthiest person in the world, use the best skincare products, and only wear clothes crafted using cotton hand-picked from clouds, what your body decides to do in your sleep is the one thing you can’t control.  That itch will won’t scratch itself…

I’ve gone to sleep thinking my skin isn’t so bad only to wake up looking like I’ve been in bed with Wolverine.

When it comes to buying clothes and washing powder- who the hell do you trust?! And you can forget buying that woollen jumper, you might as well wear a cape of fire.  You can also forget that sweet smelling fabric conditioner.  You’ll look more ‘elephant in poison ivy’ than ‘Amazon rainforest’.  Anything that smells remotely pleasant must be avoided at whatever cost.  This includes perfume, body butter, and those bath bombs I shudder at the mere thought of using.

Only last week I was scorched by the liquid venom of a perfume promoter in Boots, spraying carelessly in my direction blissfully unaware of the hell I’d be in later.

All you can do is ask yourself- will it make me itch, will it burn me from the inside out, and is it worth it? Probably not…

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8. From the lowest self-esteem to extreme vanity

Yes it might be a ‘first-world problem’, and there are far greater issues than a bad skin day!  But when it’s more like a bad skin year you REALLY start to hate yourself.  Sometimes, when it’s only acceptable to walk out the house with a hat covering my head,  I think I’d actually rather be bald than have skin that rejects everything it comes into contact with. At least I could wear a wig!

On the other hand it’s PERFECTLY acceptable to flounce around like Beyonce Barbie leaving the salon on those few, and far between, occasions where your skin and body decide to work in perfect harmony and actually look like they should.  Take a bazillion selfies, put on those hot pants and pour yourself a glass of champagne.  Just be ready for the next morning when your outermost organ will decide it actually hates alcohol now too…

Owning a shell that is of the sensitive persuasion means the things you want to take part in- trips to the beach, running through fields (because, let’s face it- we all wanna do that), cuddling your best friends new dog/cat/rabbit- all come with serious risks and more often than not running your red raw hands through the hair of a Guinea Pig is simply not worth the
hours of pain and itchy misery.

There are few benefits of having an outer layer of hell but it’s vital to milk every single one!  I use my pathetic dermis as an excuse for all sorts of things.  It brings an end to all those crappy shower gel sets at Christmas, which leaves room to suggest something you actually want.  I can also avoid cosmetic counter slaves, washing up, cleaning, weird food, bad cups of tea, and it allows me to be a complete bedding snob (350 thread count minimum) and also adorn myself in only the best skincare I can get my itchy little mits on.

For anyone with sensitive skin- it’s tough out there.  You have my deepest sympathies.

J xx

I am a moisturising addict. I go through more pots, tubs and tubes of the stuff than any other beauty product.  Having Eczema never makes skincare easy but anyone who suffers from sensitive or dry skin knows that skipping on your moisturiser is never worth the pain.

Admittedly sometimes at night  I slather so much on if I had silk sheets I’d probably shoot right out the other side of the bed!  So finding a good quality, natural product, that isn’t too greasy, is always on my hit list.

I’ve used Aveeno hand cream for years but I’d never tried their moisturising cream and I was pretty surprised when my dermatologist actually prescribed it to me.  Firstly I was ecstatic because it means that I get two massive bottles for the cost of one prescription, which means a mahoosive saving on the usual price.  Right now at Boots (UK) you can buy Aveeno moisturising cream for £14.46 for 500ml and there’s a 3 for 2 offer so you can stock up

I reckon a 500ml tub lasts me about 6 weeks, but I’m slathering it on every day religiously so it’s good value!

If you read Sensitive Shell a lot you’ll know I’m a huge fan of natural products.  It’s really important to me that I’m not just coating my skin in a load of chemicals.  The ingredients list on the back of the simple cute packaging is pretty short (always a good sign) and it’s gentle enough to use on babies.  I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s helped get rid of my Eczema but my skin is in the best condition it’s been in for ages and I’m sure this bad boy is partially responsible for this. I’ve seen all of my usual dry patches disappear, it’s the best cream I’ve used in ages and definitely does what it says on the tin!

I am a massive fan of oats, although I normally like my porridge first thing in a morning not on my skin, but Aveeno have been using oats in their products since 1945 so why not?! Go through pretty much any homemade skin scrub blog and oats will usually always feature heavily so I think it’s no secret that they are actually pretty good for us, inside and out.  The Aveeno moisturising cream smells so fresh, and even though their products are fragrance free the oats make for a deliciously delicately scented cream.  Almost good enough to eat, almost.

There are so many benefits from oats: moisturises- restores dehydrated skin, soothes, creates a protective film on the skins surface, and helps to return skin to normal PH levels.  I also love love LOVE the fact that this doesn’t leave my skin all greasy.  A lot of products for dry skin are very thick, heavy and you need to leave them to sink in for an eternity.  The Aveeno absorbs super quick and feels SO good.  Nothing like any of the moisturisers any of the doctors/dermatologists have recommended for me before.   I’m definitely going to give their shower oil a try, in fact I’ll probably be buying most of their range in the hope of swapping things up a little, but this love affair with the Aveeno moisturising cream won’t be ending any time soon…

J xx