Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Dieting with MyFitnessPal

With everything that's happened in the last five years, I have put on a lot of weight. A lot.
I won't tell you how much I weigh. What I will tell you is that the journey ahead will be long and anything but easy. In the first place, I have to battle my own laziness when it comes to preparing healthy lunches (Dinner is seldom a problem for some reason), and the fact that, being at home, I have a tendency to boredom eat (along with other emotions).

This weekend, I decided enough was definitely enough. I am at my heaviest weight. I can't buy nice clothes, I am always tired and all my joints hurt. I am so unfit that I am sore and out of breath after walking up just one flight of stairs.

It's madness.

I decided not to wait until Monday to begin. Monday starts have never worked for me and I figured if I was going to take my diet seriously, I shouldn't wait for even one day.

My diet is not overly complicated. I just limit my daily diet to 1400 calories, try to not eat junk food and have more fruit and vegetables; just your basic healthy food choices.

Several months ago, a colleague of Mr C recommended an Android app called MyFitnessPal.

It allows you to track your caloric intake and exercise. It also has advanced settings if you want to fulfill certain nutritional and exercise goals.

Right now, I am just logging calories, but my plan is to become a more advanced user over time.

The nice thing about this app that I find so convenient is its database of products and the barcode reader.

I have yet to find something that it won't read and recognise. I can even go to restaurants and eat a nice meal and the app can help me choose my meal.

So far, it's been three days and so far so good.

I'll keep you posted.
Bye for now

Thursday, 28 August 2014

What I've Learned - Nail Polish

As I may have mentioned once or twice, I never went through the high school experimenting phase and have had to learn everything in my thirties.

I am a nail biter. I have been battling this for a very long time and I have found that, while I relapse regularly, the best way for me to not bite is to wear nail polish. However, if I wear too much, or if I wear nail polish (like Essie) which can be a bit rubbery, I peal it off, which is not good for my nails at all.

I am also a cuticle chewer and have yet to figure out how to keep that in check and get that pretty, smooth edge to my nails. So if anyone has any ideas please do not hesitate to enlighten me.

I have been trying to perfect nail polish application for a while now and while I am getting better, not every effort meets success. I cannot tell you how many times I have removed freshly applied nail polish over and over again until I have given up.

These are some basics I have learned so far:

When it comes to application, always use a base coat. It prevents your nails from staining.
The top coat makes the polish glossier and makes it last longer.
Have good lighting.
Go slowly . If I go anything close to fast, it just smears and gets onto skin and, well, you get the idea.
Take your time. For me getting nails right can take hours. This is because I have not figured out how to get my nails to dry faster.
Putting your nails in cold water supposedly helps it dry faster. It has not worked in my experience.
Don't use to much polish on a coat. this is particularly difficult if your polish has lost it's brand new consistency and has gone a bit thick and gloopy.
Having a hot shower, even when you think your nail polish is 100% dry is not a good idea. It just smooshes off. This was a very unhappy discovery.
Do not try very carefully to open doors, get things out of your hand bag or pockets. It will end in tears. Don't do anything at all. Just stay still, as if you were hunting Wabbits.

If you are messy and clumsy like me, get some cheap latex gloves. Wear them to do your toes. Then, take one off and paint that hand. When that hand is smooth dry, put a glove on that hand and do the other hand.
If you have to do any corrections that require nail polish remover (or if you are removing nail polish from toes), wear the gloves to protect you current nail polish from being damaged. This was an idea I came up with and tried because I often have to touch up or wipe corners and it just gets messy. I really like this idea and encourage you to try it and share it.

I have yet to discover how to get edges perfect. I have watched YouTube videos about this and, well, I still haven't got it right.

I do not know how to fix gouges and stop polish from fading at the edges. There is a lot still to learn, but I will get there and I will eventually get really good at it. I have enough polish to practice on, so why not. I do think, however, that should invest at least a little bit of time finding out other people's tricks and such and not try to figure it out all on my own.

What are your little gems when it comes to nail polish?
Please tell me in the comments below.
See ya.

Friday, 22 August 2014

REN Clarimatte Clarifying Toner - All Finished

So last week I wrote about the REN cleanser I bought eons ago, but I didn't mention that at the same sort of time, I bought  the REN Clarimatte Clarifying Toner as well.

Now, I am quite sure that neither product was supposed to last so interminably long, but as I wasn't overly regular with my skincare, they lasted a super long time.

This toner was another recommendation by Mrs Hirons and if my face is anything to go by, I think we should all listen to her. I was told to use it as an acid toner to remove dead skin cells, balance out the skin and prepare it for the skincare that goes on top.

According to the REN website,  the REN Clarimatte Clarifying Toner is "a refreshing exfoliating toning lotion that unclogs pores and sloughs off dead skin leaving the complexion looking clear, smooth and even toned. Reduces the appearance of pore size and oiliness while its antimicrobial action minimizes the appearance of future breakouts."

Glycolic Acid from Pineapple Extract, Lactic Acid from Passion Fruit, Citric Acid from Lemon Extract and Tartaric Acid from Grape Extract
I am not a breakouty person, so I can't really say if this product made a difference there and I am not so sure about the pore minimizing, but again, I haven't been all that regular in my routine of late, so I can't judge that either.

The product itself has a herby, almost medicated smell but it is actually quite nice (to my nose, anyway). If you don't like the smell, don't worry, it goes away almost instantly.

I have dry skin and the Clarimatte range is for oily to combination skin, but this toner did not really dry me out. In fact, it left my face feeling smooth and soft. The cleanser toner combination have made a significant difference to my skin to the point that I have mostly eliminated dry patches from my face.

When I first started this skincare lark, I had a Clinique foundation that I could not use because it just clung to all those little patches and you could really see how bad my skin was if I was wearing makeup (kind of the opposite effect that one generally goes for.)

The other day, I wore said foundation and it looked really nice (so glad I didn't throw it away when I thought it was too drying for my skin).

Toner bottle warns of potential stinging. I never felt any stinging at all; it was just cool and calm and lovely.
Occasionally, when my skin feels a bit rough, I will use an exfoliator (Body Shop Vitamin C) then cleanse; tone etc. I am not too heavy duty on my skin, I don't think, and my routine is still pretty basic (I am still considering adding an eye cream to my regime), but I haven't felt the need for anything to drastic. The goal of this whole project was to minimise the first signs of ageing, which these products have done in a big way.

The price of this toner is also in the midrange, and at £12 for 150ml it definitely won't break the bank. As a first introduction to modern toners it has impressed me and set the benchmark really high for any other products I try, because, let's face it, I'm a girlie girl now and new things must be tried and tested. That is what this whole adventure is about. (and a part I really do enjoy).

So REN Clarimatte Clarifying Toner, effective, well priced and elegantly packaged (pretty sort of squeezy bottle). What more do you actually want?

I do confess that this is by no means an expert review, and in the years to come, I change my tune and know better, but somehow, I doubt it.

REN is a good brand. That is all.

What toners do you use and why?
What should I try next?
Comment below or tweet me @becomingiris to share your thoughts!

See ya later. Bye.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

REN Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk Review

Hello all the people.

I wanted to write a blog post today, but I wasn't quite sure what I would write about. This hasn't been a good week so far, and I have wanted to blog since Monday, but just didn't have it in me.

To get me going, I decided to write a little post about REN; a lovely, understated brand recommended to me by my skincare hero, Caroline Hirons.

As readers may know, last year I had the privilege of meeting Mrs Hirons and was able to ask her key questions on saving my skin.

One of her recommendations was REN Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk. This product feels more like a cream that a milk, with a smooth texture and a smell I really like.

It cleans beautifully and leaves your skin feeling soft, clean and clear, with no residue or greasiness.
My skin is dry and the older I get, the dryer it becomes. I also get easily dehydrated and this gentle cleanser does not dry me out or strip my skin in any way, quite the opposite really; when i use it my skin feels quite bright and nourished.

It is excellent for both morning and evening; whether you are wearing makeup or not.

I really like the packaging, which pushes the product up as you use it, rather than having that little tube thing that you have to aim around the bottle when you are running out, and the pump releases just the right amount of product. I usually use one to one and a half pumps, smoosh it all over my face and neck (dry or damp) and then take it off with a face cloth that I have rinsed in hot water. It all feels so nice and pampery.

I am not super regular with my routine at the moment but when I do it, I can feel the difference instantly. I remember being absolutely amazed when I first used it. It made such a visible difference to the texture and condition of my skin. I felt like years had been taken off. I cannot praise this product enough to be honest.

I do not have that much experience with a range of cleansers, but I have tried a few drugstore ones that have left the tight feeling or that have made no difference at all, and you may as well not have bothered. I have also tried the Lush cleansing balm that, while many people love it, I cannot bear that greasy, waxy film it leaves behind (not to mention how it stains my face cloths yellow.)

According to the REN website, you can get REN products at Liberty of London, Space NK, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, ASOS and some independent retailers in the UK (including Amazon). Priced at £16.00 form 150ml, you can't go wrong here.

REN have a selection of ranges for various skincare needs and the Evercalm range is designed for sensitive skin. For those familiar with this brand, the range used to be called Hydra-Calm.

As an added bonus, REN skincare does not put nasties in products so you won't find "Synthetic fragrance, mineral oil, petrolatum, sulfate detergents, synthetic colours, animal ingredients and parabens," according the website.

"REN products do not contain potential irritants including: glycols and diglycols (such as propylene glycol), PEG's, PPGs, urea, D.E.A, T.E.A, PABA and other synthetic sunscreens, aliphatic alcohols/hydrocarbons, phthalates, fumarates, amines, alkanolamines, synthetic AHAs/BHAs, polyacrylamide, metacrylate, elastomer, poloxamer, styrene, vinyl, polyquaternium, synthetic chelating agents, nylon, nitriles, nitrates, nitrosamine releasers, bromates, fluor, aluminum and alumina et al."

So there you go.

I suppose I should be giving this some kind of rating. How about a Newbie Seal of Approval. Start as you mean to go on, best foot forward and all that. It's basically a winner for me.

What's your winning skincare product?

Comment below or tweet me @becomingiris to share the newbie knowledge!