Thursday, 17 August 2017

Beauty for Less–Pixi Beauty - New Skintreats and Glow Enhancers

Pixi Beauty is one of those brands that sits between the expensive super beauty brands and the cheap and cheerful.  Which is why it has become my go-to brand when I want a treat that I know is good quality and isn’t going to break the bank.

In the UK you can find the Pixi Beauty store in Carnaby Street, London, and in the US it’s widely available at Target.  It’s much easier to find online, both at Lookfantastic.com and also at HQHair.com.

Pixi Beauty Glow 02 Oxygen MaskPixi Glow TonicPixi Beauty Peel and PolishPixi Glow Peel Pads
The new Skintreats range by Pixi is well worth investing in.  The emphasis at Pixi is enhancing your natural radiance and I haven’t been disappointed by anything I’ve tried.

Pixi Beauty Flawless Glow PrimerPixi Beauty Skin TintPixi Beauty Illuminating Tint and Conceal SPF 20Pixi Beauty eye Bright Kit

Particular favourites this time around are the refreshing Glow Tonic, Glow-O2 Oxygen Mask and as always the Illuminating Tint and Conceal SPF20 partly because I love double/triple duty products and partly because this one is such an excellent product on each level.

Pixi is well worth considering the next time you want a skin treat that doesn’t cost the earth, and one which you know will work.

Monday, 14 August 2017

10 Things to Look For Before you Join a new Gym

Baylor Tom LandryLast year I joined and left three gyms.  Which was disappointing, frustrating and a waste of time.  And ended up going back to where I started. 

If you’re thinking of joining a new gym you need to keep certain things in mind, it’s not just about how much you’re going to use it – it’s more about the little things that make all the difference between staying and…er….wanting to leave but having impediments placed in your way.  I’ve written about this before but as I moved on since that post (don’t ask) I decided a re-write was in order.

1.  Location
If the new gym you find, however attractive it looks, is out of the way either from where you live, where you work or in between don’t bother.  You may manage the odd visit at the weekend but you want somewhere you’re going to go to regularly and believe me, if it’s out of the way, you won’t.

2.  Opening Hours
Most gyms are open most of the time.  Don’t just think about when you’re likely to use yours the most, think about Bank Holidays, early mornings and late evenings when you suddenly feel like going for it.  Most people are either a morning or evening workout person but you never know when the urge is going to hit you.

3.  Equipment – Is there enough?
Cardio machines, weights, resistance machines, floor workout areas, gym balls, resistance Landry 2bands, bars, kettlebells, mats, the list goes on and on.  What would you like to see there and is there enough?  This last is vital – you don’t want to be queuing to use the elliptical at a busy time any more than wait for a space to do floor work.  Also TRX and Power Plate – These are less available but forward thinking gyms will probably have them.

4.  Changing Rooms – Towels – Lockers
The gym that I go to has a plentiful supply of towels, regularly cleaned showers (and enough of them), enough hair dryers and well lit vanity areas.

The lockers are also full height with hanging space.  Having been to several gyms where I couldn’t hang anything and didn’t have enough room to store the ridiculous amount of stuff I take with me  I wouldn’t swap these facilities for anything less.  You may be rushing in and out of the gym in your gym clothes after a yoga class or you may need to wash and dry your hair, re-do your makeup and change into something completely different.  Without decent facilities you don’t have the options.

5.  Relaxation area
There’s no coffee machine or cafe at my gym which would be great (are you listening?) but there is a large area for relaxation within the changing rooms with big sofas and chairs.  So if you’re waiting for someone and you have half an hour to relax and watch the last episode of Suits on your iPad you can, in comfort. 

6.  Free Wifi
Most gyms have this now, don’t go to one that doesn’t.  I like to do Pilates workouts to a YouTube video in the gym and watch TV shows while incline walking on the treadmill not to mention using email, skype and watching Netflix later.  We tend to take wifi for granted.  Don’t before you sign up.

7.  Friendly Staff
I don’t think I’ve ever been to a fitness center where the staff haven’t been friendly but catch people’s eye and smile when you visit.  You want a smile back. 

8.  Classes and Trainers
Are free classes included in your subscription or will you have to pay extra to join a class.  How much do they charge for one on one training.  The prices differ considerably from gym to gym so it’s worth getting the facts first.

9.  Get a free pass for a week and try before you sign up.  Pretty much all fitness centers now offer this.  Don’t join a gym that doesn’t.  This gives you a chance to really check out all the essentials before you commit.

10.  The ContractHow Long do you Have to Commit? Maybe I should have put this first but you need to be aware of everything else you should look for before you join.  Read it from start to finish.  Most importantly how long does the contract last for, how can you cancel if you want to without losing a fortune – if you move, for example or you’re going to be away for a long period of time.  Are they going to be flexible.  The best gyms allow you to join month by month, although a longer commitment will frequently be less expensive.

More and more fitness centers are run by bureaucratic people whose only responsibility is to the bottom line. In most respects this makes sense, however flexibility is a strength, not a weakness – no pun intended – and if you want something to be written into your contract they should listen to you.  Make sure they do.  And when you join is the best time.

Finally if in doubt.  Don’t.  As always.  There are plenty of fitness centers all waiting for you to join.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Lauren Ralph Lauren and the New Figure Flattering Dress Collection–Wear Now and Wear Later

If you’re looking for a super-slimming figure flattering dress look no further.

Lauren Ralph Lauren is now firmly established as the label for figure flattering dresses that’ll suit anyone, pack perfectly, in a soft matte jersey or high quality lace and at a non bank-breaking price.

The real brilliance in these dresses is not just the fabric, but the fact that on most the subtle side gathering makes them super-flattering on anyone, particularly those more curvy than not.



There’s a dress for any and every occasion from city lunch to a full on evening. However many times I try and stray away from this brand – after all there has to be choice, doesn’t there? I return, and I’ll freely admit that I’m a collector. Which is another case in favour as although modern in detail these are not just 'now fashion' dresses, but dresses that don’t date.



They’re slightly more expensive in the UK but still extremely good value and the choice is growing all the time.



One word – the greatest choice for Lauren Ralph Lauren dresses is to be found online and because they’re in a stretch jersey you can, if in doubt, go down a size.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Why I'm Still Firmly Attached to my Fitbit One Activity Tracker

 Fitbit One
I wrote this review originally three and a half years ago, and my Fitbit One is still my activity tracker of choice, mainly because I can wear it other than on my wrist.  The proliferation of 'do it all' activity trackers and Apple Watch hasn't changed this a bit.

Fitbit One Review - I decided to give this activity tracker a go not just because I enjoy working out etc but because as I do so much travelling I suspected that there were times when had my bum parked on a chair much more (UK) then when away and thought it would be interesting to have some proof.....

You may well have read about activity trackers and thought they weren't for you - after all who wants to be tied to wearing a plastic wristband all the time?  The Fitbit One doesn't do that, you have a little clip to attach it to your bra, or waistband, or it'll read your steps etc even if you just keep it in your bag, provided your bag is with you all of the time of course.

 Fitbit One with clipI'm now closely attached (no pun intended) to my Fitbit One  most of the time - although I draw the line at night - because not only do I find that it give me lots of information, it also acts as a motivator.

Ignore if you can the day I climbed my stairs an extra few times to score points, or marching up and down my house to get to the 'o joy' of 10,000 steps.  But it does put me in a position of being to challenge my last results, with the ability to add activities such as running, rowing or walking uphill on a treadmill during the day and it has, actually, reduced my occasional inclination to be a couch potato sitting at my computer all day without moving other than for another cup of coffee.

 Fitbit One ReviewThis is not all singing all dancing and I'm sure there are activity trackers coming out (or have come out) that will measure your heart rate all of the time - which would mean a wrist band and some kind of strap which I wouldn't want) and that would be more accurate.

In this Fitbit One review I want to be honest and say that you have to treat everything as an approximation and not expect it to be 100% accurate.  But what you are doing is getting a good idea of your activities in terms of steps, calories burned, active minutes and floors climbed and then you can use the information as a motivator to do better tomorrow.  Or not.

You link your activity tracker to an app via bluetooth on your smartphone and it will sync automatically.  You can also see your details on your PC.

The Fitbit One is not just for those who are seriously athletic - definitely not me, but for anyone who wants to be healthier and more active and enjoys a challenge.

Just a note:  The Fitbit One according to some is not being discontinued, but it's not being stocked at very many stores.  In the UK you'll find it at the main Fitbit website, and in the US it's on Amazon.com (at a higher price) and also again at Fitbit.com.  It's easy to get spare chargers and clips if you need them.  I wouldn't be surprised if Fitbit didn't discontinue the One in the nearish future.... you have been warned.


Monday, 7 August 2017

15 of the Best Face Serums for Brightening and Hydrating

Do you remember the days when ‘cleanse, tone, moisturiser’ was the mantra for skincare? I certainly do, it doesn’t seem that long ago.

We seem to have moved on since then. Cleanse and tone are still pride of place, but now there’s the serum. That apparently essential – and most expensive layer – to apply after your toner and before your moisturiser.

Most people have skincare concerns, whether it’s fine lines, discolouration, dry skin or a combination, and the point of a serum is that it provides a much more concentrated remedial layer than a moisturiser does. A serum will sink into properly cleansed skin faster and should offer greater benefits. One good thing, despite the cost, is that you need very little product and so a small vial costing what seems to be a fortune can last a very long time.

To a large extent you’re going to be getting higher quality ingredients in a more expensive serum (I’ll qualify that later with my comments about The Ordinary) than you will in a cheaper brand.

So it’s established that a serum will benefit your face. You can either choose a serum which promises to ‘do it all’, or you can go by specific action such as brightening, or hydrating.

5 Serums designed to brighten your skin.

5 Hydrating Serums for added moisture


5 Serums that cover many issues



The Ordinary Serums
There’s been a tremendous amount of hype about Deciem’s brand The Ordinary, which offers basic skincare formulations at what at first seem to be ‘too good to be true prices’ But they’re not.

Having won ‘Best Anti-Ageing Brand’ at last year’s The Sunday Times Style Beauty Awards and with India Knight calling it ‘the future of skincare’, not to mention Lisa Armstrong of the Telegraph writing about The Ordinary and warning you that it’s about to sell out (which it did…for a while) this is obviously a brand you should pay some attention to.


The prices are mind boggling. So low, in fact, that you might question if the products are any good or not. But this is no-frills skincare at it’s best, and many of the products give premium skincare, not to mention serums a real run for their money.

The Serums I’ve tried so far are The Ordinary Hyaluronic 2% B5 Serum, which rivals any with the same ingredients and which is aimed directly at improved hydration. Then there’s The Ordinary Buffet Serum, slightly more expensive at a whopping (sarcasm) £13 and designed to target multiple signs of aging.

Finally I added The Ordinary Moisturising Factors, although I’ll confess I use this for travelling because the tube and size make it perfect for just that. I have no complaints about any of the products so far and will go on using, and would buy again, both the Hyaluronic Acid and Buffet. Two of the best serums I've tried, ever.

My advice is to give these a go. Why wouldn’t you? They are beautifully priced and the ones I have tried are extremely good.

Essential reading – Popular Active Ingredients in Serums for those who really want to be informed.