Thursday, 28 May 2015

My Skincare Secrets For Staying (and Looking) Young | Nivea Q10 Review

Secrets to staying (and looking) young - the over 40s
I'm often asked on the blog and social media about my skincare routine and my secrets to staying and looking younger than my years. At the age of nearly 43 I'm lucky that I sometimes get mistaken for younger - and boy do I appreciate those compliments! - but it's not purely down to luck. Sure, genes do have a big part to play, but thinking about it there are a lot of factors that have contributed to keeping my skin from being excessively wrinkled.

I've gone (almost) bare-faced here to show my skin to you. I'm wearing very, very minimal make-up: Some powder to stop shine, a little mascara and coloured lip balm. You'll see that my skin isn't perfect; uneven skin tone is my biggest gripe, and it always worsens in the summer months. I have quite freckly skin and if I don't take care to wear enough sun protection it explodes into one giant mass of freckle. I love a smattering of freckles across the bridge of my nose but I'm not fond of the brown uneven patches of (what is effectively) sun damage along my jawline and on my forehead.

As well as having a good skincare routine I'm an advocate of a healthy lifestyle - I'm not a saint by any means (I do try and keep away from chocolate cake) - but I've changed so many things about my lifestyle in the last decade or so that I think they've all helped. I've shared my secrets here for you; nothing is rocket science and it may be things you've heard before, but this is purely what I do.

At the end I've reviewed the Nivea Q10 anti-wrinkle range, so I'd love to know whether you use Q10 yourself... how do you find it? What do you think of my tips and what do you do to keep your skin looking good - do share in the comments!

1. Drinking water
I drink a lot of water. I believe everything they say about water being good for your skin is true. It makes sense that a hydrated body means hydrated skin, which means plumper looking skin and therefore less wrinkles. For hot drinks I only ever have green or herbal teas or slices of lemon in hot water. I gave up tea with milk about 10 years ago after going on a detox for a month; I couldn't bear the milkiness of it after that. (I don't like coffee and have never drunk that either.) Unlike standard tea and coffee, green tea contributes to your daily water intake so it means I'm drinking lots of the stuff.

2. Being a non-smoker
I don't smoke, I never have. If you want evidence as to how smoking wrecks your skin, look at this photo of a smoker and non-smoker set of twinsYou can nearly always tell a smoker by the fine lines on their top lip from pursing all the time. It's never too late to give up...!

3. Moisturiser with SPF
I use a day moisturiser with a high SPF - even in the winter. I think I started wearing one with SPF15 in my mid 30s, and I wish I'd started so much earlier. To be honest I don't think any age is too early; we wouldn't let children go out in the sun without sun protection, so once we start a skincare routine in our teens I think that's the time to start wearing one with SPF. Yes, they're more expensive, but here's another great twin comparison: sun damage does this to you (the twin on the left had long term sun exposure).

4. A moisturised décolletage
I've never neglected my décolletage. I'm quite busty and have always been conscious of the skin in that area being dragged down and getting wrinkled by the weight of my bosoms. I swear by a good supportive bra and moisturiser with SPF (again) for the day and thick night cream all over my neck and right down to my bust every evening. I read once that "your face doesn't stop at your neck" and I've always included my neck and décolletage as part of my skincare routine.

5. Long-term eye cream use
I've worn eye cream every night since I was about 14 or 15; this alone I think has contributed the most to the good skin around the eye area. What I've always used is good old fashioned Vaseline. I used to read a lot of magazines and beauty books growing up during the 80s, and I remember reading that dry skin was more prone to wrinkling. I figured that a thin film of Vaseline round my eyes would prevent this, and I got so used to it that I now cannot go to sleep without a layer of cream around my eyes... it just feels weird. See below for a review of the Q10 eye cream if you're after something far less greasy - I know petroleum jelly isn't for everyone.

6. Make up removal at night
I could probably count on one hand how many times I've not taken off my make-up at night. There's nothing I can't bear more than the feeling of getting into bed with make-up on, no matter how tired (or, ahem, sloshed) I am. Thankfully I've let my skin recover every single night ever.

7. Sleep. A lot.
This is the one I'm the worst at - I need lots of sleep to function properly but I go through bouts of getting too little sleep. I always look haggered on the mornings I wake up after going to bed late or a bad night. They don't call it beauty sleep for nothing.

8. My pillow saves my face
You may or may not have heard about this before, but I have this strange pillow that's called the Save My Face pillow - it saves your face from getting permanently creased and smushed up if you sleep on your side. It's double-crescent shaped and supports your forehead and chin only, allowing your cheeks to be smush-free. It's a strange-looking thing but I highly recommend it - it makes perfect sense that squishing your cheeks into your nose every night for several hours will contribute to permanent creases on your face.

9. Exercise
I never did any exercise after leaving school and only walked to and from work until I was about 27. I then took up running and did it on and off till my late 30s, but I now run, workout and walk regularly. An early morning walk almost straight after getting up is the best thing for getting my circulation going, waking me up and making me feel like the day has started. They say that good circulation is vital for healthy skin, and we all know that exercise in general is everything for keeping yourself healthy. Not exercising shows in my face - I will always look tired if I'm inactive.

10. A little fruit and a lot of veg
You've heard the old expression with reference to a healthy diet: Eat lots of fruit and veg! That is true to a point, but it's becoming more well-known that a lot of fruit can be bad for you due to all the sugar fruit contains. Since finding this out I've cut back massively on the fruit and upped my veg intake. My diet is pretty healthy: I eat a varied diet that's also rich in fibre, protein and healthy fats - I just eat the naughty things on top (and would never stop if someone let me). But if I go a day without any vegetables I feel thoroughly vile and unhealthy and know that my skin will suffer with a breakout and looking sallow if I keep it up.

11. No fizzy drinks
Fizzy drinks (soda) is the devil's drink to me. I never used to drink much Coke or similar (though I'm still partial to a Dr. Pepper) but finding out a can of Coke has several teaspoons of sugar in it absolutely horrified me, and I haven't touched the stuff for years. In fact I don't put sugar on anything any more - once you wean yourself off it you'll never want to go back, it'll taste disgustingly saccharine to pour sugar on (or in) your food and drink. Read what Dayle Breault, skincare expert to the stars, said about the effects of excess sugar and how it ages you - you'll want to put down that Diet Coke straight away (and no, artificial sweeteners are not okay, if anything they're worse because they keep you addicted to sugar).

12. Sunglasses
This one's easy: Wear sunglasses and you won't crease up your eyes or frown as much. I've stopped worrying about looking like a nonce in the winter with sunglasses on. I find the sky can be so bright even if it's cloudy, and I can't bear walking around squinting. No squinting = less wrinkling.


NIVEA Q10 REVIEW
As part of a new campaign that Nivea are about to launch (with the involvement of myself and a few other bloggers), I was sent a set of Nivea Q10 Plus skincare products to review. You'll get to see the results of that collaboration next week on the blog, but in the meantime here are my thoughts about the Q10 range!

Nivea Q10 range
L-R: Eye Cream | Serum Pearls | Age Spot Day Cream SPF30 | Night Cream

Nivea's results/information listed for each product are:

Age Spot Day Cream SPF30
  • Contains SPF30 and an advanced UVA filter system 
  • Intensive protection against premature skin ageing like the formulation of wrinkles and dark spots
  • The appearance of wrinkles is reduced
Night Cream
  • Provides intense moisture during the night when skin is most receptive to moisture-intake
  • The appearance of wrinkles is reduced
Eye Cream
  • Minimises dark under-eye circles
  • Reduces the appearance of wrinkles around the eyes
Serum Pearls
  • Serum pearls deliver the highest dosage of skin's own coenzyme Q10
  • Enriched with Hyaluronic Acid helps visibly reduce the appearance of wrinkles and helps prevent the formulation of new ones
  • Smooths and softens skin's surface

I've been using these products for about a month, and whilst it's hard to say whether the appearance of my wrinkles is reduced after this amount of time, my skin has been looking pretty good and very smooth these last few weeks. What I like most about the day cream are two things: Firstly, the smell is subtle but really lovely - it reminds me of the sort of foreign sun cream you have to buy on holiday in Greece or Spain when you realise you didn't bring enough. It's got that delicious "on holiday" smell.

Secondly, the day cream is a great moisturiser for wearing under make up. It's not at all greasy - even less so than some I've tried that claim to be mattifying - and I don't get an over shiny forehead come lunchtime. The fact that it has SPF30 is the biggest bonus and the best reason to use it. Never underestimate how much daily sun exposure can damage your skin, and although 20 and 30-somethings may not think to wear anti-wrinkle cream until they're my age, I can only stress that you start NOW.

I really liked the other products too: unlike some other brands I've tried the night cream doesn't sting my face after cleansing and it's thick without feeling gloopy or heavy. I use the serum pearls in the morning and evening after cleansing (I love rubbing in the little bobbles of yellow goo) and although I still swear by Vaseline on my eyes, I use the Q10 eye cream when I don't want over greasy eyes.

The final bonus is that this range is very affordable. With prices between £10-£14 the day cream is worth it for the protection from the sun alone.

You can't beat regular sleep, exercise and a healthy diet and lifestyle for preventing premature ageing, but I do believe everyone needs a little extra help. Properly moisturised skin prevents dryness, and it's a fact that dry skin ages far more quickly. The same goes for skin without sun protection - please stay sun safe!

Let me know your skincare secrets and want you want to change about your own routine in the comments :)
Catherine x
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P.S. Like this post? You might also enjoy 11 Ways to Adopt Healthy Eating Habits!

Linking up to: Let It Shine, Brilliant Blog Posts, Friday's Fab Favourites, Sunday Funday

I have written this post in collaboration with Nivea. All content is original, however, and opinions are my own and 100% honest.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Blogging Tips | Branding For Your Blog in Quick, Easy Steps: #4 Colour Palettes

Branding for your blog in quick, easy steps | Branding #4 - Colour palettes
Time for part 4 of my blogging tips posts where I'm doing some quick, easy tips on branding for your blog! This week I'm talking about colour; it's as much a part of branding as everything else I've written about so far. Get the colours right and you'll be taking one more step towards a professional-looking, branded blog. So this week's tip is simple:

#4 THINK ABOUT YOUR COLOUR PALETTE

Why choose a colour palette?
Like choosing one particular font or using the same avatar everywhere, choosing a colour palette and sticking to it will give your blog that look of cohesion, reinforce you and your blog as a brand and make you more memorable and recognisable wherever you appear.

Take a look at these famous logos as examples:

Famous logos with distinctive colour palettes
If you replaced the lettering on each logo with some other words you'd probably still recognise the brand. This is because the colours they use (and the fonts) are so synonymous with that brand that they're recognisable as shapes, colours and fonts only. For example, if I'm looking for Coca Cola in the supermarket shelves I can see where it is from the other end of the aisle because I know to look for a mass of red labels. The colour we associate with the most well-known cola brand is red - it has nothing to do with the colour of the actual product itself.

How does colour affect how we perceive brands?
This fantastic article The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding states the following interesting facts:
"Researchers found that up to 90% of snap judgements made about products can be based on color alone.
"Purchasing intent is greatly affected by colors due to the impact they have on how a brand is perceived. This means that colors influence how consumers view the "personality" of the brand in question.
"Our brains prefer recognizable brands, which makes color incredibly important when creating a brand identity... it is of paramount importance for new brands to specifically target logo colors that ensure differentiation from entrenched competitors (if the competition all uses blue, you'll stand out by using purple).
"Nearly every academic study on colors and branding will tell you that it's far more important for your brand's colors to support the personality you want to portray instead of trying to align with stereotypical color associations." - Source
Read the part about men and women having very different favourite colours. Bear this is mind if, like me, you have a mostly female readership.

How can I put that into practice on my blog?
You might be thinking that because you have a black text logo/header and a white background for your blog you don't need a colour palette. I thought that too, until I came to rebrand my blog and thought about all the things that needed tweaking and redesigning. Please note mine is still a work in progress - my colour palette isn't being put fully into practice yet, so I need to take my own advice here (it's on the to-do list).

There will be times you may need (or want) to choose a contrasting colour or two, even if your header and background are black and white respectively; for example:

  • Text links that are a different colour to the rest of your body text to make them stand out
  • Your Twitter background colour in your profile
  • Dividing headers in your sidebar
  • Your social media icons
  • Your lead image on a How-To / DIY / pinworthy post (one with text overlay)

How do I get the exact same colours each time?
What you are looking for is the HTML colour code. You may think you don't know what they are but if you've ever seen a colour referred to as #489cdf, #c1b6ae or any other mixtures of letters and numbers (with a hashtag at the front) then that's your HTML colour code.

The website http://html-color-codes.info/colors-from-image will find the HTML colour codes from any part of an image on your hard drive. Below is an example of how it works:

How to get HTML color codes from any image - www.html-color-codes.info
You can just play around and keep clicking certain areas until you find exact colours that you like. I've never been exactly sure what my own colour palette should be, so as an experiment for this post I took my avatar profile picture to choose colours. (I used the eye dropper function in Photoshop, but it's the same principle as html-color-codes.info.) I came up with six main colours from my avatar image:

Not Dressed As Lamb - colour palette
I now have a cohesive, definitive set of colours that I can use for all my images, text overlay, links, etc. As my avatar appears in the top right hand side of my blog and is usually prominent on all my profiles and social media platforms, it made sense for me to use this image to pick out colours.

As a group of colours I really like them - they're reasonably muted but they're a nice contrast to each other; as far as expressing my personality goes I think they do well to reflect the bright colours I wear (plus my red hair is represented by that warm ginger colour). I'll probably use them in groups of two or three, depending on where they're needed, and I'll continue to use the purple-magenta colour as the main accent colour (for example for links). As purple was also shown to be a top tier colour for women it's a good colour for me to continue using.

Don't forget you don't have to choose several colours like I have; two can be enough. As you can see above, Ikea uses two colours and Coca Cola uses just one - all to great advantage.

Do you have a colour palette already that you use - and how simple is it? Are you considering choosing colours to use consistently to brand your blog? Do let me know in the comments!
Catherine x
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P.S. Like this post about branding? You might also enjoy Branding #1 Get a Favicon, #2 Use ONE Avatar or #3 Choose Just 1 (or 2) Fonts!

Linking up to: Let It Shine, Brilliant Blog Posts, Friday's Fab Favourites, Sunday Funday

Monday, 25 May 2015

Pretty Smart Pink and Navy With Antique Porcelain and Silver Earrings

Pink motif sweater and loose navy pants
Pink and navy is a very smart but really pretty colour combination - the former has that hint of girliness to it and the latter is your classic corporate colour. Put them together and you have the best of both worlds. The heart motif sweater and navy trousers are both offset beautifully by a few shiny things here: metallic woven loafers, a (not as tacky as it sounds) rhinestone-encrusted bag and a silver cuff all complement my beautiful new piece of jewellery...!

These 'full moon' silver and antique porcelain earrings are from 1P87, an online boutique which curates a unique collection of clothes, jewellery and accessories, all handcrafted by independent designers. The designer of these earrings, Yichuan, collects antique blue and white porcelain produced in the Imperial workshop in Qing Dynasty - the pieces are so delicate and pretty and I've not seen earrings quite like these before. Because they're made from antique porcelain each piece is one-of-a-kind... no two are the same.

I love that the silver tassels are just that little bit longer than you'd expect which makes them far more unique than anything you'd get on the high street (the tassels are different lengths too; asymmetric earrings are very on trend at the moment). They move like - and with - your hair and get blown around in the wind which makes them really tactile. I've become a bit of a sucker for fine jewellery lately, and I think these are so classic they'll still be something I wear for many years to come.

Do check out the rest of the collections by 1P87 (I also adore MICartsy's 3D florals and landscape prints)  - if you're into artistic, creative and unique pieces you're guaranteed to find something you love. Plus, you get a £10 voucher if you sign up to 1P87's newsletters - see the sign up form at the bottom of their site.

What fine or unique jewellery do you have that you cherish (wedding sets aside), and what makes it so special? I love to know the stories behind people's treasured jewellery :)

Silver and porcelain earrings
Pink motif sweater and loose navy pants
Pink motif sweater and loose navy pants
Pink heart motif sweater
Pink motif sweater and loose navy pants
Loose navy pants and metallic loafers
Earrings: c/o 1P87 | Sweater: c/o La Redoute | Trousers: Asos | Shoes: c/o Lotus | Sunglasses: French Connection | Bag: Paul's Boutique | Cuff: My christening cuff

Shop the look:


Catherine x
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Photos: Silver Londoner | Linking up to: Visible Monday, Let It Shine, Share in Style, Monday Mingle, Style Sessions, Turning Heads Tuesday, Trend Spin Link-Up, What I Wore Wednesday, Throwback Thursday, Passion for Fashion Friday, Friday's Fab Favourites

I have written this post in collaboration with 1P87. All content is original, however, and opinions are my own and 100% honest.