The pedicure diaries

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I have a weird thing about my feet. I think they’re quite nice as far as feet go and absolutely don’t mind touching them or anything myself, but when it comes to other people going near them? URGH. But after three years of slightly awkward DIY pedicures, I decided that enough was enough and I booked myself in for a pedicure.

To say I was nervous would be a bit of an understatement – I even washed my feet before walking to the salon, just in case! - but after asking around in the office, I settled on a place that I was assured would be really nice, not too expensive and was close to the office. So, armed with an iced chai latte, off I went.

As soon as I spied the endless array of nail polishes lining the walls, I was sold. Having taken a good 20 minutes to pick a colour – I arrived early for this specific reason and eventually picked out a delightfully vibrant pinky-toned Essie red - I settled into the snazzy pedicure chair (complete with footbath don’t you know!) and we were off. To begin with, I admit I was a bit squeamish and when the pedicurist(!?) started pointing at my foot and chuckling, I wanted the ground to just swallow me up (#toeshame) but on the whole it wasn’t an unpleasant experience and I’m actually already contemplating a return.

In terms of staying power, the polish is still remarkably chip-free – I’ve been wearing open-toe shoes all week so this is surprising! – but I think next time I might opt for a gel pedicure, just to make the whole thing last even longer and perhaps avoid having to make pedicures too much of a regular thing. What do you guys think?

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Famous five #109

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* #tbt to my romantic holiday in paris with lils *

HAPPY SUNDAY Y’ALL. And what a week of ups and downs. Some great, some less great and a lot of generally downright busy stuff which has occupied a helluva lot of my time. But at last the weekend has arrived and I’m thrilled to be enjoying some much-needed time at home with my family and friends. Hope you’re all having a good ‘un.

Five favourites

Place: Kensington Gardens. Located close enough to work that I can sneak into the sunshine for a full five minutes before having to make a hasty return, they’ve provided something of a sanctuary for me recently.

Food: Ok so really it’s a drink (I need to change the name of this category, clearly!), but the Rebel Kitchen 100% Dairy Free Chai Mylk has been my go-to whenever I’ve had a sweet craving this past week.

Experience: My first pedicure in, well, a while. Other than some initial embarrassment – I hate my feet and feel oh-so sorry for anyone else who has to go near them – I settled into what was actually a really enjoyable experience. The fact that I can now wear open toe shoes and sandals without cringing in shame is also a big bonus.

Read/watch: Jack Harries’ YouTube video A Film For Ella. It is one of the sweetest things I have ever seen and yes I may have shed a tear while watching.

Beauty bit: The Maybelline Color Sensational Shine Gloss in Fabulous Pink has been my favourite lip colour recently. It offers so much more colour than you would think just looking at it in the packaging and gives you a good ole boost of shine without a hint of stickiness. Perfect for these hot summer days. 

Don’t forget to follow me over on Instagram @CharlieLanks!

* decisions, decisions *

* decisions, decisions *

* gone, but not forgotten *

* gone, but not forgotten *

* new obsession *

* new obsession *

* best. present. ever *

* best. present. ever *

 

 

 

 

 

My top 5 iPhone apps

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Hi everyone, my name is Charlie and I am an iPhone addict.

A bit drastic perhaps but I’m sure that a number of my nearest and dearest would be quick to tell you that I spend far more time on my phone than I should. So, I thought what better than to share with y’all some of my tip top apps that help to keep me oh-so-occupied for so long.

My Fitness Pal

In an attempt to try and maintain more of a healthy lifestyle, I recently downloaded My Fitness Pal, a healthy lifestyle app which does pretty much everything, from calculating your daily calorie/fat/carb/sugar intake to monitoring the number of steps you take in a day. You can even add your friends and share motivational messages with them as you both strive to be fit and healthy. Ideal for anyone out there who needs a bit of motivation when it comes to cutting out those naughty foods *raises hand* it has already done a huge amount to help me get a bit healthier.

Instagram (@charlielanks)

I’m thinking it’s quite likely the majority of you will have heard of Instagram, but for those of you that haven’t – where have you been!? - let me explain quickly. Essentially this app is like a photo-sharing version of Twitter but in place of cute and clever 140-character word posts you’ve got a series of super snazzy photos edited and filtered to utter perfection. Filter-wise, I’m a big ole fan of Sierra and Valencia – each have some seriously brilliant photoshopping qualities – while the blurring technique has fast become my favourite way to add an extra dimension to my images.

Hailo

Ah Hailo, where would I be without you? This app has revolutionised the way that I use London’s black taxi service. At the quick click of a button you can order a cab to your door, pay for it on your card and even book a fixed-fee trip to the airport. Aside from the occasional few glitches – sometimes it struggles to find where you are – it is one of the handiest apps in my iPhone arsenal.

Afterlight

If you thought Instagram was good, wait until you get a load of this immense image editing app. Full to the brim of features – the majority of which would be more at home in a photoshop program than in an app – it provides you with the perfect opportunity to add a bit of extra pizzaz to your pictures. It even comes complete with its own filters file. What more could you ask for?

WordPress // Bloglovin

I run my blog through WordPress and use it to upload iPhone photos on the go, finish editing copy and to read through some of the other blogs that I’m subscribed to, although for reading I tend to rely more on Bloglovin which brings together all of my unread posts from my favourite blogs into one amazing place. Aaaaaaaah.

What apps do you guys like using Any others I should download?

The ‘beat the heat’ skincare edit

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Holy moly has it been HOT recently. I know we Brits tend to kick up a bit of a fuss when the mercury rises above 15°c but believe me when I say, this time has been different. We’re in full on heatwave mode y’all and as a result I’ve had a bit of a skincare shake up, swapping out some of the heavier formulas in favour of light, cooling products that help to leave my skin feeling fresh and bright even in the face of some serious heat. Did I mention it’s been hot?!

Cleanser-wise, I’ve shelved my favourite balm cleansers and instead have turned to lighter-weight oil formulas like the Dermalogica Pre-Cleanse to take off my make up. In the morning however, I have been using the Garnier Fresh Radiance Boosting Scrub (which is a pretty ace dupe for the Origins GinZing Refreshing Scrub) which gives my face an immediate boost of citrus-y freshness and leaves my skin feeling so fresh. And apparently there’s a bit of a citrus theme going awn in my beat the heat line-up because I’ve also been using The Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Reviver which is an incredibly lightweight serum that smooths your skin while giving it a good ole boost of radiance. It doesn’t feel heavy at all but still manages to leave your face feeling nice and nourished.

In an attempt to battle any heat-induced puffiness around my eyes, I’ve been relying heavily on my REN Active 7 Radiant Eye Gel, which I’ve actually been keeping in the fridge so it has even more of a cooling effect and feels marvellous when applied. Similarly, my Indeed Labs Hydraluron Moisture Jelly has joined my eye gel in the fridge, alongside the milk and cucumber, obviously, and together these products have fast become my favourite skincare step thanks in large part to the cooling gel effect that they both have. Trust me, it’s incredible. Both are such lightweight, yet nourishing, formulas that they are the perfect product option for warmer weather days.

If I’m feeling a bit of a bead during the day, I whip out my La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water for a quick refreshing spritz. If you find yourself in need of a make up touch-up during the day, this will also really help to freshen up your face before you apply any additional product. If you’re lucky enough to have a fridge on-hand in the office or wherever else you might be during the day, this is another fridge-friendly product that will prove all the more cooling when chilled.

Last but not least, SPF, a must have for any warm weather day. I try to wear an SPF on my face every day – I don’t always remember, but I do my best - and the Soap & Glory Make Yourself Youthful Sunshield Superfluid SPF50+ is the lightest formula that I’ve found so far. It works really well under your make up, won’t clog your pores and thus far, hasn’t resulted in any break-outs or blemishes.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to take an ice bath *melts on floor*

Pretty in pink, purple and peach

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Last week Clinique added some new brilliant products to their incredibly popular Chubby Sticks line, not only rounding out the lip line-up with some sheer balm tints, the Clinique Chubby Stick Baby Tint Balmsbut also adding a small selection of cheek colours (four to be precise) to the collection.

Available in four shades, the Clinique Chubby Stick Cheek Colour Balms (the first swatch photo) offer amazing pigmentation, a really blendable formula and fairly fool-proof application, making them the perfect product to use while out and about and on the go. When it comes to application, you can use your fingers to blend in the colour, but I find that a bit messy - and potentially a bit unhygienicparticularly if you’re out and about in London! - and prefer to use a brush. The Real Techniques Stippling Brush is pretty ace for this.

Having put these bad boys to the test over the past few days, I have to say the staying power isn’t the most brilliant I’ve tried, but won’t let you down if you’re looking for your blush to survive for just a few hours, as opposed to a whole day. They’re so handy when it comes to on-the-go application however that I’ve just been carrying one – or all! – around in my handbag so that I can whip it out whenever needed.

Moving on to the lip products and I have to admit I’m head over heels for these Baby Tints. They give your lips a really sheer wash of colour, but unlike a lot of similar products the colour is really visible and can be built up to create more of a bold shade if desired. They’re really nourishing on the lips without being overly slick or shiny. A serious winner in my eyes *claps hands*.

The products are due to launch in stores at the start of August but are available online now if you’re keen to lay your hands on ‘em early. Needless to say I’ve already got some more Baby Tints lined up in my basket…!

Maybelline neon nails: yay or nay?

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While browsing through the aisles of Boots the other day - one of my favourite lunchtime activities - I couldn’t help but be drawn in by the the latest launch from Maybelline, which features a seriously impressive selection of summer brights, from neon green polish to fuchsia lip colours.

As far as I could see there weren’t any new products of note included in the selection, but rather an amazing variety of old favourites in new mega watt shades, a range which just so happened to include one of my all-time most-loved Maybelline products, the Maybelline Forever Strong Super Stay 7 Days Nail PolishI’ll admit I wasn’t so hot on the lime green shade – call me crazy but it just didn’t look like it would suit my nails – however I was immediately intrigued by both the bright pink - Pink Volt - and the bright orange - Orange Punch

Both colours serve as brilliant dupes for two of the current Essie summer shades - Too Taboo and Serial Shopper – and come complete with an incredible chip-free formula that can easily last up to a week when paired with the right top coat (which for me is the Nails Inc Kensington Caviar). But despite my initial excitement over the amazing shade range and incredible vibrant colours, I have to admit I was a bit hesitant when it came to actually applying the polishes. They’re really just that bright.

But as you can see, I put my fears aside and decided to completely embrace the neon nail, a look which has actually grown on me a lot in recent days. Provided I don’t allow my nails to catch any direct sunlight, it’s all good. Right?

Pre-tan // pre-holiday prep

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With the UK currently being bathed in a rare, but incredibly-welcome, few days of warmth and sunshine, it’s honestly felt a bit like being on holiday recently, even through I haven’t actually left London. But with the warmer weather comes bare legs and there are a few little pamper type products I like to whip out pre-leg flash in order to ensure the state of my pins don’t have people running away screaming.

Whether you’re lucky enough to have a natural tan, plan to indulge in a little sunbathing (please use SPF!), or prefer applying a bit of fake tan before you head on out, this quick pre-tan pamper will have you ready to roll in no time at all and ensure that your tan lasts a hell of a lot longer.

To get your skin ready either for a long-lasting sun-kissed tan or for a streak-free fake tan, using an exfoliator to slough away any dead or dry skin will work wonders and leave your legs looking healthier and happier, with or without a bit of colour. My favourites are the Soap & Glory Smoothie Star Breakfast Scrub for the body and the Origins Never a Dull Moment Skin Brightening Face Polisher for my face. I follow that up by shaving - TMI? - with the Gilette Venus Olay Razor which doesn’t dry out my skin or irritate my legs in any way.

Post-shower, it’s time for a mega moisture session. Legs, arms and body get a generous helping of the Garnier Intensive 7 Days Softening Nourishing Lotion while I like to treat my feet to a serious dose of hydration courtesy of the Scholl Velvet Smooth Night Mask which helps to tackle any dryness and er less than attractive crusty foot bits. Sorry, but it does. Elbows and knees get an additional helping of hydration - a must if you’re going to fake tan - with the Boots Coconut Body Oil which leaves them feeling so smooth, you’ll find it hard to resist stroking them. Just me? 

Last up is the Essie Apricot Cuticle Oilas I’ve mentioned before, I suffer really badly from dry cuticles and hands and I find that a good dose of this really helps to combat that and ensures that my manicure lasts a lot longer.

Granted I’m not due to jet off on holiday until September, but if this amazing English weather continues, this routine may have to become more of a regular thing in my house. *Crosses fingers, grabs SPF*

The best blemish-busting masks

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My skin has been a bit tricky recently and it’s felt like, no matter what I do – drinking loads of water, eating my greens, double cleansing – I’ve had to endure some pretty vile blemishes during the past couple of weeks and really the only thing that has helped to calm them down is my various assortment of brilliant blemish-fighting face masks.

When it comes to calming down my skin, reducing redness and helping to clean out any nasties, I turn to the Liz Earle Deep Cleansing Maska great clay formula mask which really helps to get rid of any and all dirt and grub, while helping to reduce redness. Similarly, the Origins Out of Trouble Mask is another ace option when it comes to cleansing and soothing the skin and I find it slightly more gentle so probably a better choice if you have sensitive skin.

When it comes to battling the blemishes themselves, I have two top masks that I turn to. The Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Purifying Mask and the Aesop Chamomile Concentrate Anti-Blemish MaskBoth work either as an on-the-spot overnight treatment, which helps to reduce the size of the spot and stop any pain or swelling that might have come along with it, or as an all-over 10-minute at a time mask which will work to tackle blemishes and fingers crossed prevent any more from appearing.

Last but not least is the Nude Miracle Maskan exfoliating face mask full to the brim of AHAs and rice beads which help to slough away any dead skin and ensure that you aren’t left with any dry, flaky bits around the spot - TMI!? It’s my go-to when it comes to clearing up any mess that the blemishes may have left behind and always leaves my face feeling brighter and healthier.

What products do you guys turn to when you’re suffering a blemish-y break-out?

Famous five #108

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* the best mug ever *

Can we please talk about this heat for just a quick tick? I don’t know where this impressive 30 degree heat has come from but holy moly do I hope it hangs around for the whole summer. Or at least long enough to top up my NYC tan..

Five favourites:

Place: Anywhere outside in the sunshine. When you work in an office all day, being able to escape into the sun, even if it’s just for a few minutes, is just the best thing ever

Food: Nature Valley Dark Chocolate Macadamia and Cranberry cereal bars. I’ve eaten an entire box in the last week. They are too tasty

Experience: Seeing The Cat Empire perform at Somerset House last week. The weather was ace, the setting beautiful and the band amazing. It was a great evening

Read/watch: I’ve just started watching American Horror Story (ever so late to the party) and I’m completely hooked. It’s seriously freaky but really addictive

Beauty bit: I’ve been putting my Hydraluron Moisture Jelly in the fridge in an attempt to combat this heat and it has the most amazingly cooling effect on my face. It’s my favourite thing to use every morning

Don’t forget to follow me over on Instagram @CharlieLanks!

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* my oh-so mature desk decorations *

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* double trouble *

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* the new topshop metallics range is ace *

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* casually hanging out at the bottom of my bag *

Then and now: Pixi Glow Tonic gets a makeover

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One of my all-time favourite beauty products, the Pixi Glow Tonichad a cheeky makeover quite recently (don’t worry, it’s just the packaging that has changed, the stuff inside is just as ace as ever) and I thought what better time to chat to you all about what it is that makes this product so whiz-bang special.

For those of you that don’t know much about acid exfoliators, I’ve done a whole post on ‘em which you can read here, but essentially they buff away your dead skin cells and all that other nasty stuff you might normally scrub away using natural acids like salicylic, glycolic, lactic and so on. Rather than being abrasive on your skin like a beady scrub can be, they work in a different way to leave you with radiant, glowing skin and this marvel from Pixi is, in my opinion, one of the best ones out there.

Full to the brim with good-for-you natural ingredients including aloe vera, witch hazel and horse chestnut, it does a brilliant job of ridding your skin of any nasty bits, while ensuring it isn’t left feeling stripped or dry. For anyone out there who is a fan of the P50 Biologique Recherchethis is a much cheaper alternative that will leave you with very similar, superb results.

In terms of its snazzy new packaging, I’m actually a big fan. While I always love a pump on a product, the new pump-free bottle is far more easy to transport – plus you don’t lose a single ml of product. In other words, while the Glow Tonic continues to be one of Pixi’s best-sellers, they haven’t tried to grab an extra buck from you by changing the packaging and giving you less product, or by whacking up the price; it still rings in at a very reasonable £16.

Thanks Pixi people, this one’s a real winner.