This morning I woke up and it was pitch black outside!  We’re well into hat and mittens season now- the heating is cranked up and the kettle is on constant boil to keep up with tea demands.

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It’s cold and grim out and I wished it looked like Lapland…

I work outside a lot and my skin is really starting to suffer.  When you have Eczema winter can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand you can hide your lizardy elephant-skin hands underneath a snazzy glove and layer yourself in tights, long sleeves and any amount of clothing!  On the other hand the winter also brings the wind and cold to attack your skin from the outside and central heating and the temptation to eat all kinds of crap from the inside.

I am trying to take action to prevent my skin from going full lizard, which has meant the VERY difficult task of shopping for some new beauty products (what a chore hey…) and also just trying to be a bit more pro-active in terms of prevention rather than cure. We do have sensitive shells, and they need all the help they can get- it’s a crazy world out there!

Here’s my six top tips!

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DRINK!

I would LOVE to be typing ‘Gin’ in this section but alas no.  In winter we tend to drink lots of hot drinks (and alcohol- especially at this time of year) and forget about hydrating our skin with water.  Ditch the coke and try and up your H2O intake.  Yes tea contains water- but it also contains caffeine, which dries your skin out.   I am guilty of not drinking enough water so each Monday I buy a few bottles to keep in my work van and try and drink two a day at least.

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EXFOLIATE

As I have sensitive skin exfoliating is often the last thing I want to do but it actually makes a difference.  Taking the time out to give your skin a little scrub really helps- as long as you moisturise straight afterwards.  All that moisturiser can’t get in if you don’t slough away dead skins cells- which all build up over winter.  Having Eczema is horrific- your followed around by a constant skin cloud (gross yes) so everything I can do to help my poor skin I will.

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I recently reviewed the TruSelf Organics face mask in this blog post and I’ve been using this once a week and it is really helping.  I’ve also invested in the Caudalie body scrub and it’s AMAZING!  It hasn’t irritated my skin at all and it smells incredible.  I love Caudalie so much.  I can’t speak highly enough of their products.  Exfoliating also means lips too! Lipstick on several layers of peeling skin has never been a good look.  Try Lush’s Bubblegum lip scrub, which is a godsend and a right bargain!

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MOISTURISE

OBVS.  I was told by a dermatologist that in winter it’s better to shower and bathe in luke warm water rather than scolding hot.  I can’t handle boiling showers and often make the mistake of not turning the temperature down after my house mate (who must have asbestos skin) has been in.  Apparently really hot water strips the skin of vital protective oils, which are needed in winter more than ever.  I really up my game with moisturiser in winter.  I swear I should be sponsored by a moisturising brand the amount I use!  I always moisturise straight after a shower. It’s better to go with oil based moisturisers rather than water based and stick to natural products rather than slathering chemicals all over yourself!  At the moment I’m using my FAVE Elemis SOS cream (You can tell how much I use it by the pic- it goes everywhere with me), Lush Dream Cream, and Salcura BioSkin Dermaspray (review to follow soon!) Don’t forget winter sun can be just as damaging as in the summer so slather on the SPF. If there was ever a reason to splash out on quality skincare the time is
now!

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DAY TO NIGHT

In summer I steer away from heavy night creams.  I bought an Elemis one this year and had to save it until last month as it brought me out in spots.  It’s my life saver now though!  A little extra help at night can really make a different.  Kiehls Midnight Recovery Concentrate is amazing too and well worth a try.  I can also recommend for sensitive skin Decleor‘s Aroma Night Rose balm.  Smells so good and leaves your skin felling incredibly hydrated in the morning.  It also lasts AAAAGGGGESSSS!  Sensitive skin in winter is so fragile so I avoid as many chemicals as possible. Steer clear of any allergens and switch your products to really gentle, organic or chemical-free skincare.   Ben’s Rosa Centifolia No1.Purity cleansing balm is amazing as a cleanser.

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Protect your shell

Wearing a hat and gloves will keep you warm and protect your hands.  Even when I’m cuddled up to my Fjord I wear a hat in winter. Carry a good hand cream, such as the Aveeno oatmeal  version.  Mine is getting rinsed at the moment.  Hand creams are a pain if you have eczema.  They’re normally full of perfume and too thin and watery.  This is a great cheap cream to keep in your bag.  I can’t operate my camera with gloves on and my hands REALLY suffer for it, but where you can keep them wrapped up.

If you’ve got sensitive mits like me try dolloping on the hand cream last thing before you go to bed sleep in cotton gloves. Mine never stay on but they do help, although a word of warning- the temptation before you go to bed to do a Michael Jackson dance wearing just one white glove is just too much!

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EAT FOR YOUR SKIN

You are what you eat and all that… This is so true.  When I was training for the London Marathon this year I couldn’t eat burgers every night and expect to make any progress.  Equally you can’t stuff your face with selection boxes and Christmas treats you’ve actually bought for someone else and then expect your skin to be flawless (other people do this right?)  If you’re more Victoria sponge than Victoria secret model then it’s time to switch things up a bit.  Eating hydrating foods will help look after your skin- such as melons, apples, celery, cucumber, tomatoes and carrots.  Don’t forget your greens for vitamins and fish or flaxseeds for Omega 3.

Good luck out there!  Stay healthy and happy : )

J xx

Not many sleeps to go now! I LOVE Christmas so much; I love the entire build up.  The food, the shop windows, the music, the mulled wine, seeing old friends, partying into the small hours and buying something special for the people you care about the most.

I tend to do 90% of my Christmas shopping online.  Since losing my Mum Christmas shopping just isn’t the same.  To be fair when we went shopping it was more about the coffee and cake stops than the actual shopping but she was always the most excited person to be around when it came to Christmas.  Her attention to detail was second to none, as was her ability to buy really amazing gifts.  Most years Mum would buy me some sort of skincare.  She practiced aromatherapy and
was really into good quality, organic products. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in that department!

There are a bazillion beauty products and gift sets on offer at Christmas but if you’re shopping for someone with extra sensitive skin (like moi) then it’s always a bit trickier. There are so many high street store products that CLAIM to be for sensitive skin, but will rip your epidermis off faster than a bad wax.  Or those ‘natural’ products that, despite containing every plant extract found in the jungle, leave you feeling like you’re on fire.

So here’s my top ten sensitive skin festive gift sets for all budgets; and for good measure ten gorgeous Christmas decorations worthy of replacing that ten-year-old tinsel.  All links included below.

Happy shopping- don’t forget to treat yourself too ; )

J xx

Ren gift set, £34 (35% off!), ASOS

Emma Hardie Moringa Gift set, £8.90, Feel Unique

Aveda Sensitive starter pack, £15.30, Look Fantastic

Sensitive Essentials Collection, £83 (worth £127), Elemis

Sweet Cecilys skin care gift box, £25.95, Not On The High
Street

Burt’s classics pomegranate tree hanger lip set, £6.99,
Burt’s Bees

Beauty Elixir, £11.50, Caudalie

Eczmaid ointment, £15.50, Feel Unique

Moo-Zing skin
holiday gift pack, £35, MooGoo skincare

Prime and define lip collection, £25, Green People

Lily Lolo palette, £19.99, Lucy Rose Organics

I’ve been trying to up my exercise before Christmas, and make progress with my goal to eventually be able to do an unassisted pull up.  This has meant getting a gym pass and hitting the weights.

I definitely feel the benefit of doing weights almost instantly and as I have such an active job that involves carrying heavy stuff and holding a heavy camera- my guns need all the help they can get!

I also seem to have less time for a decent breakfast so I’ve been making this banana smoothie for an easy on-the-go boost.

INGREDIENTS: 1x banana, 1x Whey Better Banana scoop, 2x spoons of  dairy free yoghurt, few ice cubes (for extra hydration) and ¼ pint of oat milk.

You literally can’t beat exercise for lifting your mood, making you feel good and helping you to stay focused and happy.  I always feel so happy and motivated after any form of exercise- horse riding, running, yoga, or a great gym sesh.  Even though the weather is pants this is even more reason to boost your mood and work up a sweat!

You can either use a fresh banana, or if you want to be super organised chop a banana into slices and freeze the night before for an extra cold, thick smoothie.

I use oat milk but you can use any type of milk.  My body hates regular milk (dairy in general) so coconut milk or Oat milk is my choice of liquid.  I’m using coconut yoghurt so wanted a plain base.

As this is either a pre or post workout smoothie I’ve been using Bio Synergy’s Whey Better Banana Protein.  I LOVE this brand of protein.  My gorgeous super-fit friend Natalie introduced me to the brand when I was training for the marathon.  Check out her amazing healthy twitter feed here! Their Cookies and Cream flavour is THE BEST and it’s not too sugary or sickly or leaves that horrid powder taste.  My skin hasn’t reacted to it either, so it’s a winner in my eyes!

I also add a couple of tablespoons of dairy-free yoghurt to thicken up my smoothie.  I’m in LOVE with this Aplro soya coconut flavour at the moment.  I used it in my bircher recipe and it’s still a fridge staple.

Add all your ingreidients together in a blender and mix together.  I bought a Ninja blender from a Costco sale last year and it’s insanely good.  It’ll blend ANYTHING. (You can buy one from Amazon here). I use it for all sorts- drinks, Guacamole, dips, soup.  It’s really solid and powerful and not crazy expensive.

That’s all there is to it-simples.  You get enough for two portions too!  OooOooh I bloody love bananas.

I’ve read so many different stories about how bananas are great for Eczema and others saying how bad they are.  I’ve never tried eliminating them from my diet, maybe I should to see if it makes a difference- but I just love them so damn much!

Until next time, happy slurping!

J xx

“Don’t be alarmed, Cinderella,” said the fairy. “I know you would love to go to the ball. And so you shall!” “How can I, dressed in rags?” Cinderella replied. ‘’Don’t worry’’, said the Fairy ‘’I have the perfect outfit for you- for less than £100!’’

OK, so the last quote wasn’t DIRECTLY from the script and you might not be in the same predicament as Cinderella, but if you need some Christmas party or Ball dress inspiration, for a fraction of the cost of a glass slipper, then you’ve come to the right place!

As Christmas gets nearer so do all the exciting events at this time of year- festive gatherings, shopping trips, meals out, Christmas parties, and the annual Hunt Ball.

Christmas can get SO expensive, but your party outfit doesn’t have to!

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Shop the look (links at the bottom of the post)

This was my second year at the annual Hunt Ball in north Nottinghamshire and it’s always a glitzy event. I already knew what kind of dress I wanted- long sleeves (hides any winter lizard-Eczema skin I may have) and a nice deep open back.  I normally go for really bright colours but when I spotted this Zara number I couldn’t resist an absolute bargain!  I’d already looked at several really expensive dresses online and in stores but some of the fabric was really itchy or just an odd fit.  I’m really small so I’m not very successful when it comes to a maxi dress purchase, apart from petite ranges they always seem to have been created with a 6ft giraffe in mind!  However, once I’d added my heels this (for once) didn’t need any alterations at all!

The fabric on this Zara dress is really flattering and stretchy- not too hot either, and it has two slits up either side so you can easily bust those shapes on the dance floor without tripping over your outfit! (Although this OBVS depends how drunk you are!)

It’s also a great outfit if you’re going for a night out with a man in a tux.  I took the Bear with me so we looked really coordinated in Black together.

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The shoes were an absolute bargain. Kurt Geiger is my go to shoe store for party shoes and they didn’t disappoint this time.  Not only were they perfect to add a bit of glitz and sparkle to the dress but they were also less than half the original price!  They’re also a great store for ALWAYS having size 3’s in the sale.  Shoe heaven : )

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(Optional extra accessories…)

I styled my hair using my friends Mark Hill wild waver hot wand.  It did take quite a while as my hair is quite long and thick and to get the waves to hold I had to use tiny sections of hair and hold for quite a while, but I was really happy with the result and the waves lasted all night thanks to a good dose of hairspray!

Add your accessories, make up and a Hollywood hairdo and you’re away.  Ball fabulous for less than £100!

Jem x

SHOP THE LOOK:

Shae ‘Gold’ shoes, Miss KG, were £80, now £39, Kurt
Geiger

http://www.kurtgeiger.com/shae-gold-fabric-41-miss-kg-shoe.html

Backless dress, £29.99, Zara

http://www.zara.com/uk/en/woman/dresses/maxi/long-dress-with-slits-c733888p3053531.html

Avon top coat Opal glitter, £2.50, Avon

http://reviews.avonshop.co.uk/9028-en_gb/39065/avon-avon-nailwear-opal-top-coat-reviews/reviews.htm

Essie nail varnish ‘Cashmere Bathrobe’, £7.99, Boots

http://www.boots.com/en/Essie-Fall-Nail-Polish-Collection_1365301/

Human Hair thick density lashes, £3.50, Eyelashes Direct

https://www.eyelashesdirect.co.uk/false-eyelashes/human-hair-lashes/human-hair-eyelashes/human-hair-thick-density-false-lashes-3369.html

Eyeshadow pallete, L’Oreal, £14.99, Boots

http://www.boots.com/en/LOreal-Paris-Color-Riche-La-Palette-Nude-Eyeshadow-Palette-Beige_1679746/

Mark Hill Magic wand, £29.99, Mark Hill  (not the same as the one I
used but that is no longer available, try ebay?)

http://markhill.co.uk/products/magic-wand/

If you want your face to feel baby soft then this is the product for you!  I’ve seen a TONNE of hype around this mask on Instagram and YouTube and as I’m all about the organic products it was time to see what the fuss is about.

I’m always super wary of organic products as even though they’re made of the good stuff my skin is rather picky about what it’ll agree with.  I’m not normally a mask person (apart from Halloween) but I do think as I’m working outside a lot in winter my skin is really starting to suffer.

As I do with any new product or brand I always do a bit of research into them (must be the bi-product of hanging around with all these journalists at work!) The ethos  of Tru Organics is amazing.  They’re all about self-loving and were created by a wonderful woman who just wasn’t satisfied with slathering her skin with hundreds of chemicals a day. Sounds familiar…

I’m a moisturiser maniac but when it comes to my face I’m kinda lazy at looking after it, which is definitely something I need to adjust as the years go by and the wrinkles *gasp in horror* start to show.  Prevention darlings, prevention.

The product claims to restore blemish-prone skin.  My skin is more dry at the moment but I’ve had quite a few break outs recently, and anything that offers to help reduce discolouration and fine lines leaving me with a glowing complexion is definitely worth a go!

I’m obsessed with inspecting the pores on my face too (gross but we’ve all done it) and this mask will help clear out those clogs and shrink your pores- perfect!  It also is free from all the crap I hate- no parabens, no fake scents, no preservatives. Just a lovely blend of clay, Epsom salt and collagen Hydrolysate (I strongly recommend you google the latter.  I was amazed at all the things it’s linked with- including a dairy-free diet!)

The face mask is a lovely clay like texture.  It smells natural without being overpowering, unlike so many ‘natural’ products, which leave you feeling like you’ve left your nose in a garden centre.

The product is so easy to mix, the instructions say to mix equal quantities of mask and water, you can use their detoxifying mask solution, but I just used water. Maybe treat yourself and grab a bottle of Evian!

I kept with the organic theme and mixed mine in my little handcrafted wooden teacup I bought from Thailand.

The advice is to leave it use it twice a week for up to ten minutes and then once your skin is used to it leave on for 30 minutes until it is dry.  As I don’t trust my skin to literally not fall off after using something new I only used it for 5 minutes the first time.

OH.MY.GOD My skin felt INCREDIBLE straight after using this.  I washed it off with warm water and a muslin cloth and splashed my face with cold water afterwards.

I have really noticed a difference in the texture of my skin since I’ve been using the mask.  It’s definitely softer and although I wouldn’t say my pores have shrunk my face feels so healthy and clear and It’s a firm fixture in my skin routine now.

I would advise you though not to use it for the first time before a special occasion- after my first run I came out in two spots but I’m guessing this is just my skin either reacting or from the mask clearing out all the crap!

Another lovely Organic brand to add to the list- perfect : ) #loveyourself

Jem x