Tuesday, 18 April 2017


For the past few years I've been an avid fan of gel varnish, what's not to love? Colour that stays put until you take it off, a high variety of shades and glitters to choose from, nail art to let your imagination run wild and of course the biggie, no drying time. Gel nails have never been so popular as they are now, with almost every nail brand bringing out their own range.  So as I said what's not to love?

Well if you saw the state of my nails today, you'd probably be rather shocked. Having picked away the last few gel polishes (acetone is time consuming and it stinks), it's left my nails in quite frankly a complete and utter fragile mess.

Shockingly, when I removed my toe nail gels (having been on for nearly a month), 2 of my nails lifted completely from the bottom of my cuticle bed - hence panic as I'm trying to locate Steristrip Plasters to protect the nails from completely coming off (albeit as both are lifting from the nail bed there's not much hope there).

If you're nails are dry, brittle, breaking and thin from all the over-filing, UV/LED light, polish and general wear and tear, check out these tips!
  • When removing gel nails, never pick as I do. I've recently tested the new elliona Gel Off, a brilliant innovative gel remover, without acetone to gently lift of colour.  (Check out my review below).
  • Always remove gel polish after 2 weeks, the longer you leave it on the harder it becomes to remove.
  • Give nails a break from any gels or acrylics at least one week per month. In fact expert nail technicians and dermatologists suggest only applying twice a year!
  • During this time treat nails to a strengthening treatment, and regularly massage oil into the nail bed. You can buy specific oils but I keep a huge jar of Coconut Oil next to my sink and bed, and just massage a dollop in twice a day.
  • Always wear gloves to protect nails from harsh detergents when doing the cleaning etc.
  • Personally I avoid any salon, which chooses to use harsh drills etc to file nails - these often damage the nail beds and can cause injury to the cuticles before any polish is applied.
  • Always choose a reputable salon to have your nails done. There is no legal requirement at present to have qualifications or health & safety certificates to be a manicurist. Always check the hygiene levels too as cross-contamination can cause a variety of skin disease such as fungal infections. 
  • UV light as it does with skin, can raise the risk of skin cancer - yes you can get cancer under the nail bed.
  • When choosing a strengthening treatment look for products, which contain protein (Keratin) and calcium to bond the nail layers so they make them tougher.
  • Supplements again can help speed up the process of strengthening both nails and hair (again look for Keratin). 
However, the most important step is removal of nails.  I was sent the new elliona Gel Off to test. This gel sits on the nail bed and unlike acetone doesn't sink into the skin.  It's being hailed as the safe method for removing gel, and lessens the likelihood of dermatitis and skin sensitivity like other methods.

It was simple to use, but did take a few trial and errors to get maximum benefit. Firstly with a nail buffer, gently buff the nail gel colour to take off the sheen. Then apply a small amount of the nail gel directly to the nail, ensuring the whole nail is covered. Wait about 45 seconds until the gel goes slightly cloudy, and then removing with the remover tool (elliona have their own elliona Gel Polish Remover Tool, or you can use a wooden hoof stick), gently push the colour away.  I was left with some colour on my nails, but not much and this can be buffed gently off. 

The elliona Gel Off is available for £4.75 from www.tesco.com and QVC.

I also have been testing the new Leighton Denny Bio-Build Shield Kit for weak and fragile nails. This was an answer to prayer and already my nails are thanking me for applying just a couple of coats a week. The system contains a polish remover, which preps the nails without drying or damaging the nail plate; a serum treatment to help strengthen the nail beds and combat dehydrated and dry nails and finally a base coat that can be worn under nail colour or alone to seal in the serum. The unique ingredients contain a complex of Bio-Active glass for strengthening, Argon Oil to help thicken nails and Sumatron Benzoin again to help nourish and give a healthy appearance.

The Leighton Denny Build Shield Kit costs £23.50 and is available from www.leightondennyexpertnails.com 

As I mentioned earlier, I'm giving my nails a break from gel-nails and so have since had to resort to wearing normal nail varnish. Now I admit I can't stand the upkeep of nails smudging etc however, on my toes I've been painting them with Toma nail colours. I love the huge range of metallic spring colours on offer, and as nail varnish is easily removed I can swap as my mood dictates accordingly (usually changes with the weather).  I love the Toma range as you will see from the website, that the colours are pigmented to a high metallic sheen, look ultra classy and incredibly pretty in an array of pinks and deep mauves, ideal for spring and summer

You can buy Toma from www.madbeauty.co.uk £7.50

On my toes today,  I'm wearing Crystal by Joan Collins Timeless Beauty. I've tested a couple of the shades before and like how the brush easily coats the nail with one swipe, and you only need one application for solid colour.  The deep red is perfect for holiday toes and with a tan, but also is a colour that suits all skin tones from pale to dark.  It's worth mentioning that the 'pearl glitter' polish in this range is the best I've tested (and I've tested many), as it leaves any colour with a slight iridescence rather than full on glitter and ideal for transforming any shade into a sparkling, eye-catching colour.

Check out the full range at www.joancollinsbeauty.com £13.50

If you're heading out for the evening, or want to simply inject some fun without the commitment acrylics have, check out House of Hollands new range from Elegant Touch. Choose from this seasons gingham pattern, nudes or grungy metallic foils.  Treated with care they can last up to 10 days (my daughters tested these and on day 3 there's been no pinging off) and come provided with the glue. My favourites are definitely the Foil Fade, an eye-catching graduated nail with a spectrum of dark teal, navy edging towards a deep, shimmering magenta. You can also purchase 'Nail Guards' that prevent nail damage and make removal easier (note I haven't tested these).

With many styles to choose from, and for every occasion you'll be spoilt for choice, and an easy way to update to this seasons trends.  Check them out at www.eleganttouch.com. Prices from £8.50. 

Tuesday, 4 April 2017


I've recently been quiet on the blogging front and with good reason. Having recently endured a hospital stay where I was consequently diagnosed with Colitis, my poor mother being rushed to hospital by ambulance with chest pains and sciatica, and lastly my elderly father who smashed his face falling down some steps, it's fair to say my family has been keeping the NHS busy.

So it was quite apt that my return to blogging starts with this fabulous new skin care line called My Trusty as it's been developed by the NHS.  Before I start writing about the products, which in themselves are fantastic it's important to note that all the profits taken from each purchase are directed back into the NHS.

So on to talk about the products themselves. Well I've always been a huge fan of Aqueous Cream, as I was once advised by a nurse that it's the only product that at that time, they used in hospitals as was so gentle to use.  Now the NHS have developed their own line of products and as you can probably guess, has been formulated for the most sensitive of skins, especially those who suffer from acne, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. However, extensive research has gone into the the ingredients to make sure that the products don't clog the pores, that they hydrate the skin and can be used on burns or scarring.  The key ingredient was to use sunflower oil due to its linoleum acid properties, which is ideal for the above skin conditions and complaints. The range is ideal for the whole family including pregnant mums and babies from 8 weeks old.

The range consists of:-

My Trusty Sunflower Body Lotion RRP £6.00 250ml - This lotion is ideal for dry, flaky skin types and perfect for those who've been in the sun. It sinks in easily and leaves skin softly hydrated and feeling smooth. For very sensitive skins this can be purchased fragrance free or with lavender oil, which soothes and calms.

My Trusty Sunflower Hand Cream RRP £4 100ml  - Many people, often hairdressers suffer from eczema on their hands and so this intensively deep moisturiser provides instant comfort. Ideal for gardeners and unlike many others on the market, doesn't leave skin feeling greasy. Again like the above comes in fragrance free or with lavender oil.

My Trusty Sunflower Body Butter RRP £9.00 200ml - This delightful, rich body butter contains bergamot, neroli and orange essential oils and transforms parched skin into silky soft skin.  Bergamot oil has many benefits from relieving muscle tension to calming irritated skin. Neroli is good for reducing scarring, wrinkles and stretch marks and like orange essential oil is good for rejuvenating and brightening dull skin types.

My Trust Sunflower Face and Body Oil RRP £9 50ml - Likewise this has similar essential oils and benefits to the Body Butter but also has rose and rosemary oil added.  Rose oil is an excellent ingredient in skincare as it calms the skin from flare ups of acne as well as reducing rosecea.  Rosemary is a good addition as it kills bacteria and strengthens capillaries so can slow the ageing process. This oil can be used under make up or applied at night, as the oils have a wonderful calming effect.


I love the products and would've marketed them as the 'Emergency Service Skincare Brand', as they do indeed help a huge variety of skin conditions.  The products are so reasonably priced and I would definitely advise just having a couple of them (certainly the face oil) in my medicine cabinet, especially for my hormonal time of the month!

Available from Tesco, Superdrug independent pharmacies and health and whole food stores nationwide.  Alternatively for a list of stockists visit www.mytrustyskincare.co.uk

Thursday, 9 March 2017


I entered into the world of online dating a few years back after a 20 year marriage and a subsequent relationship for over a year. At first it was incredibly daunting and I was seriously naive however, I knew I didn't want to end up with a ton of cats and also needed an excuse to still buy clothes other than Primark loungewear.

I threw myself in and signed up to quite a few dating sites, some paid for and others free. I had one time dates and others that lasted a good few dates. Some were utterly bizarre and others I thought wow he's really into me - until I discovered his profile picture on Facebook was that of his fiancé! Whilst currently in a relationship, I learnt a lot and so if you want to wise up here's a few things to remember.

Which dating site is best for me?

As mentioned above in the past I joined quite a few out there. First you have the paid sites such as Match, E-Harmony and upgraded membership on POF.  Obviously these are the ones where people are 'serious' about meeting a potential partner.  However, I did find that the ones where administrators were suppose to match me on my personality, didn't take into consideration many important factors such as distance, despite choosing the relevant settings.

Despite it's reputation for sometimes being a site for casual 'meet-up's, Tinder actually works quite well, as you can see if you have mutual friends via Facebook.

There are some signs to look out for on these sites to weed out the genuine daters to the ones that just want a one night stand.

  • Always make sure there is a photo, at least one. Make sure that there is also a full body one, and one of someone smiling (you want him/her to have teeth)!
  • If the photo looks slightly blurry, you can bet your bottom dollar he/she is not what they say they look like. Tread cautiously!
  • If a photo is just a head shot then copy that image into Google images and make sure it's not some random famous actor the other side of the world (yes it happens a lot).
  • Don't have a type, go with someone that you click with as often attraction comes after spending time together.
  • Photos that include other friends or someone's hobby is always a good indicator they're an interesting person and interesting to others.
  • Try and get a surname and do some investigations, type that name into Google and check out any LinkedIn or other social media profiles. This is not stalking this is safety!
  • Avoid men who say they are 'separated'. This is purely because divorce is a messy business and very often the ex will start to manipulate if she/he thinks they have someone serious on the go.  I know this seems unfair, and I was on there when I was separated however, it's best to choose someone who has their life sorted so to speak.
  • Saying that, if the other persons ex partner has moved on and it's simply financial resolution then take the green light but go slowly.
  • If writing your profile always include something personally fun about yourself. You want your dating profile to stand out, so mention hobbies but also something random you've done in your life. 
  • Again with your profile pictures, a head shot, full body shot and especially for women one without plastering your face with make-up on. Photos that show you 'natural' are best, so that you resemble whom you are when you meet. As for men never lie about your height!
  • Don't write too much about yourself, but don't make it too general. You're profile is there to entice someone in, without revealing too much about yourself so as to make the other person want to know more.
  • Check your grammar, this is hugely off-putting if you don't know your 'you're from your' etc. 
  • Make your profile fun, but be clear if you want a serious relationship. Remember there are people out there that want a genuine relationship. This doesn't mean to say you put up marriage and babies, but if you don't want a casual encounter then state that this doesn't interest you. It's best to be honest from the start and save some time-wasters. 
  • Humour is good for both men and women, it encourages banter and that's key in a relationship.
  • If they have children, especially young children then expect the children to come first priority - always. If they don't put their children priority it says an awful lot about the person they are - often selfish. 
  • Don't be too 'needy', you want the other person to have the impression that you've got self-esteem and confidence so that you don't come across as desperate. If you don't have self-worth then go and get it before you start dating!
  • That said arrogance is a huge turn off, as is pretentiousness. 
You've got a date now what?
  • Whilst texting is great, I suggest a couple of texts then suggest to meet up - you don't want a penpal. If they avoid meeting up then they're probably hiding the fact they're married or in a long term relationship.
  • Always meet up in a public place and let someone know where you are going. 
  • Have a get out clause and get someone to call you pretending to be the babysitter, or a work call so that you can make the excuse to leave if you are not feeling comfortable. In fact I always got someone to call me regardless and used a code word for 'get me out of here'. 
  • When deciding on where to go for a date, don't choose the cinema as you want to be able to chat. A drink or coffee is good and not too time consuming. If the date is going well, then you can always go for something to eat after.
  • Whilst having a drink calms the nerves, don't get drunk, it puts you in a vulnerable position and makes you take choices that you otherwise would have done if sober. 
  • What to wear depends on where you going, but for women never show too much skin. Something slightly fitted will show off your figure without giving too much away.  A skirt, dress is usually suitable over trousers although skinny jeans are an exception if you're meeting up casually. As for men just make a slight effort, clean jeans or smart trousers and a shirt go a long way in making an impression and make sure your footwear is clean. 
  • Again hygiene is imperative, nails should be clean and smelling fresh is better than being suffocated in perfume or aftershave. Girls avoid too much hairspray and as mentioned don't plaster yourself in tons of make-up.
  • A good indicator of a person is how they treat others. Is he or she respectful when they order food? Do they hold the door open for you - men should always do this. Manners go along way and are incredibly attractive. 
  • On the date make sure you listen, ask questions and above all have a giggle. Relax as this is supposed to be fun. If it doesn't work out then use this as practice for the next time. 
  • Do you invite him back or go in if he invites you back. Personally no, men will have more respect for you if you simply kiss them goodbye and then follow up with a goodnight text I had fun.
  • Don't drag it out, if you didn't enjoy your date be honest and say you had fun but didn't think you were compatible.
On that note good luck and if all else fails, get a dog - the best way to meet people are on dog walks, especially as the dogs usually introduce themselves first!