SIMPLE SKINCARE


For anyone who has been following along, I started off 2018 on a crusade to improve my skin and get a skincare regime in place that was simple, using products I trust.

As a busy mum with a hectic schedule, looking after ME is way down the list of priorities but I had become increasingly disheartened with my skin and really wanted to make some time for this small act of self care.

Enter The Skin Health Clinic. I was invited along to visit Victoria and her team early in January, see my blog about it here.

My skin care regime following that visit  has been so simple, using my Dermaviduals cleanser morning and night, followed by the moisturiser, which Victoria blended especially for my skin. 



Using these products has been so simple and easy, the baby wipes have officially been banished!! I always envisaged a skincare routine to be time consuming with  loads of confusing products. How wrong I was. 


Victoria’s mantra is that Skincare should be simple. And it has been!!

My skin has felt cleaner, clearer and I have had some compliments about my skin looking great. My makeup has been going on better, has more staying power, but also, importantly for me, I feel confident to reduce the amount of makeup I wear, as my skin feels better and clearer already !

Again, if you have been following me lately, you will know I have been poorly. The winter months take it out of your skin at the best of times, but for me, after being ill for weeks on end and after a few courses of antibiotics, my skin was in need of some TLC.

So my visit on Saturday back to The Skin Health Clinic couldn’t have come at a better time.

Victoria treated my skin to an enzyme treatment to gently exfoliate my skin. 

Next she applied a vitamin infusion including Vitamins A, B and CM Glucan which strengthens the skin barrier and isgood  for skin compromised due to illness. With the vitamin infusion in place, Vitoria then applied an Alginate Mask which helps the vitamin infusion penetrate the skin.

The whole treatment was so peaceful and my skin felt amazing after, not tight or sore, just rejuvenated and glowy.

Victoria also took some fresh skin imaging and it was amazing to compare pictures and see the improvement to my skin in just 4-5 short weeks. The overall skin tone had improved, my oily t-zone had balanced out and my skin looked plumper. All that from ditching the rubbish products and using the SIMPLEST cleanse and moisturise routine daily.

Ladies, I am not one to rave but honestly, this has been a game changer for me!! 

If you would like more info on booking a skin consultation, or about the treatments and products on offer at The Skin Health Clinic, click on this link. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

I will continue to share snippets in my stories and don’t be afraid to ask any questions. 

As a side note I’d like to say that I am lucky to have been gifted these products, with no expectation, from the team at The Skin Health Clinic. I am genuinely writing from a place of honesty and enthusiasm about the experience and results!! I don’t partner with or advertise brands or products often, but I am firmly in their camp and couldn’t recommend Victoria more highly. If you want to ditch the multiple products that don’t work, sort your skins health out, use products you can trust and see genuine results – this is where to go!

Advertisements

DAY OUT

The finest mizzle of rain.

Salt tang in the air.

The grey haze of mid-day.

The smell of the earth and the trees and something richer, floral.

Warm hands and cold noses.

The inevitable photo call.

A new leaf to carry home.

A sleepy drive homeward.

A fire to warm wet toes.

These are the things I remember.

ENOUGH

When you are surviving not thriving, sometimes you need to remind yourself, that is ok.

This motherhood gig is a tough one.

Add work into the mix and it gets tougher.

The struggle with the juggle – I’ve written about that a lot here.

But this isn’t that.

This is just plodding along.

Making it as cheerfully as possible from one day to the next.

Just keeping the head above water. Not failing it but certainly not nailing it.

That’s a season and that is OK!

This month has been just like that for me.

I’ve felt ill, below par, stretched, drained, but I have got up, showed up, drank the coffee. I’ve had setbacks in work and handled them, sorted them, turned things around. I haven’t exactly killed it but I’ve managed it. I’ve had poorly children, a lack of sleep, been late to school or work a few times more than I would like and some commute from hell moments thanks to the snow and ice.

There has been very little to celebrate, but then again – I’m going to celebrate the plod, the slog, the showing up, the keeping going, the just dealing with it.

The season for killin it, for being ON IT, for bossin it, well those days have been and they will come again.

I’ve realised, you need the slow, the steady.

To gather.

To charge up that sparkle.

Cos here’s the thing.

Those babies of mine – to them everyday, I was mum. They still needed me and I gave them everything regardless. To them I’m still mum, still home, still where they want to lay their heads, who they want to babble their stories from school to, who they want to tuck them in at night.

So mamas here’s some words of encouragement if you feel trapped or lost in the trundle of everydayness (did I just make that word up??)

You will always be enough and so much more besides.

BUT FIRST SKIN

I made a confession the other week. I have made it to my 30’s without ever really having taken care of my skin. 

I have procrastinated many times over what product to buy, which of the latest trends work, but something (other than my busy schedule) has always held me back.

I want to look after my skin, but I want to be informed and use products I can trust. There’s so much information out there – and let’s face it a LOT of misinformation packaged up prettily with a big price tag.

I’m a busy mum. I have a hectic schedule. It all just seemed too complicated to think about. So I just kept putting it off.

Enter Victoria from The Skin Health Clinic. She invited me along to her clinic to hear a bit about her ethos, the work they do and the products they use. The timing could not have been more perfect

THE DOWNLOW

I arrived to be greeted warmly by Victoria, who immediately put me at ease. I was there for a skin consultation and treatment, but first I wanted to know more about The Skin Health Clinic .

Having trained and worked in beauty her whole life, Victoria had witnessed so many women with skin problems over the years. So many women covering up the problems with make up, using multiple products bought often in a desperate bid to fix skin problems but with no real idea of if they would work or at worst using unnesscessary extreme cosmetic procedures.

With a successful beauty business already in place, Victoria, a Skin Educator, took the step 2 years ago to open The Skin Health Clinic. ” I just love skin” she told me smiling and her goal was to focus FIRST on skin, educating women and giving them healthier skin and products they can trust. “Skincare should be simple, it shouldn’t be complicated” she went on to say, music to this busy mummy’s ears. When chosing a name The Skin Health Clinic was the obvious choice- no fancy names just a focus on healthy skin.

The Skin Health Clinic aims to “provide the best correction and prevention strategies available by giving your skin exactly what it needs to restore its natural balance and health”. They offer treatments based not on marketing  hype or quick fixes, but by understanding your skin so they can offer solutions that help your skin heal and flourish naturally. There is no burning, lasering, injecting, it is focusing on treating your skin well. There are no fancy smells or scents – as Victoria said, your skin doesn’t need perfume to be healthy, so why would we use products with at best unnessary and at worst, harmful scents.

THE EXPERIENCE

The basic concept when you chose to visit The Skin Health Clinic is that you first have an advanced skin consultation, which reviews your current skincare, your lifestyle, skincare concerns, what you want to achieve. It also involves bringing along products you currently use. The consultation also includes Skin Imaging to get clear pictures of your skin type, what’s going on under the surface and what ageing and damage your skin has experienced.

This full consultation and imaging presents a really clear personalised picture of YOUR skin, your needs and therefore what treatments and products you should use. It’s much easier from there for Victoria and her team to recommend blended skincare and treatments – and the right products for you to use.

LEARNING

What I learned was amazing. It was a joy to speak to someone with no judgement, about how I feel about my skin, the products I use and what issues I have with my skin. I was both impressed and reassured by Victoria’s in depth knowledge of the science of skin. From the consultation and skin imaging I was able to learn that my skin type is oily (no surprise there) and also get a picture of it’s health. I was surprised to learn my skin showed less signs of aging than I expected, but also surprised to see the pigmentation damage and ageing caused through sun damage. Ok, ok I love the sun and a good sun tan, but with oily sallow skin that tans easily and has never (to my knowledge) burnt, I was surprised to see some areas of damage. I have always used sunscreen and was fairly confident my skin wasn’t too damaged. Shows what I know!

Similarly I brought what few products I actually used and was shocked with what I learned. Victoria was keen to point out they are not brand bashers, but they understand the ingredients lists and contents of the lotions and potions women use. The very well known and trusted household basic price moisturiser I was using (clue it begins with an N) was exacerbating the main issues I had with my skin. The middle of the range product I occasionally used had ingredients that at best were doing nothing and at worse were causing big problems for my skin. Mind blown!!!

THE PERSONAL TOUCH


Based on my consultation, I had a treatment tailored to what my skin really needed. It was bliss and lasted for 60 peaceful minutes. We took some skin images after and there was already an improvement to the colour and tone of my skin especially around my eyes which had been puffy and my cheeks.


Following my treatment, we got talking about products. 

In terms of products, they use Dermaviduals. A revolutionary brand, created by a Doctor and based on the scientific make up of your actual skin. It’s a brand that is hugely popular in places like Australia where skin damage is at its highest and where people want to use skincare that actually works, rather than looks pretty or conforms to current trends.


I was keen to build a routine that was super easy. Victoria prescribed a simple gentle cleanser and a moisturiser which she tailored to my skin, using a base moisturiser and adding 3 different vitamins or extracts that would specifically compliment, heal and improve my skin. That’s it – 2 steps to better skin daily!

She also gave me some Advanced Nutrition nutritional supplements to help heal and boost my skin from the inside out as well as an enzyme mask that can be used once a week.

RESULTS

So far, I am loving my easy routine. Instead of a babywipe at night I simply take 2 minutes to remove my makeup and wash away the grime of the day with my cleanser, applied with my fingers then gently washed away with warm water. Follow that with my moisturiser and I’m done! In the morning, I moisturise after my shower and that’s me. Couldn’t be easier. 

It’s been a week and already my skin feels cleaner, clearer and healthier. One of my goals was to be able to wear less makeup and I already feel more confident in my own skin.

I intend to follow this plan for another few weeks with the basic routine then start the supplements plus the odd mask to see if they give me a further boost.

It’s been such a pleasure to take a few minutes each day to take care of myself in a basic way. I feel better about my skin and more confident. I’m also happy and reassured about the stuff I am putting on / in to my skin, feeling informed that the ingredients are not harmful and will only support and enhance my skins natural health.

So far so good! I will keep you posted on how things go and post the odd story over on my insta account.

If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch with me or just contact Victoria at The Skin Health Clinic for more information.

My journey to a simple skin care regime and better skin is off to a great start!

*I’d like to mention I was lucky enough to be gifted these products to try out but I only accepted them as I fully believe and endorse the work Victoria does. I regularly turn down approaches from brands to review or advertise their products but this was a different scenario and really more than anything, a meeting of minds.

WONDER

I sat outside Alfs room tonight, listening. He was reading aloud from his new book, The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane, a beautiful ode to nature. The beautiful illustrations and story focus on words about nature that were once commonplace in children’s language but are becoming lost. It calls for the reader to read aloud, to conjure lost words from nature back to life. (Shout out to Mel Wiggins for the book recommendation).

I sat just outside his room, out of sight and listened. He read the words out to himself, his little voice full of animation and confidence. He is a fluent reader, but the words are richly woven poems to nature, and every now and then he faltered over a strange word, some alliteration or unusual phrasing. I smiled as I heard him sound out a stumbled over word, then repeat it with a flourish. 

There was no hint of the self consciousness an adult would have reading aloud. Only pure and simple wonder and enjoyment. A drinking up of words and learning.

Gone was the boy who fought against his homework this afternoon. Gone was the rush and hurry of our everyday routines. Gone was the requests for more screen time.

Here was childhood, simple and undiluted. Just like the time we spent yesterday at the park, out in nature, fascinating over a frozen lake and the wildlife all around us.

Oh to have more of this simplicity. Oh to be able to bottle up these memories. For now, my words and my pictures will serve as a bookmark to look back on in years to come. The wonder of these days.

BLUE

It’s a colour and a feeling. It’s a term people use for the month of January. It’s no secret that January is a tough month for many people, for such a variety of reasons and mental health issues often come to the fore.

I have chatted here before about my own mental health and thankfully I’m in a much better place than I was last January but still, I am very aware that I find it a bit of a low month. I put it down to the weather, the lack of daylight and also perhaps mother nature – maybe it’s my hibernation month? What I know is that I feel the need to self care to the max. To wrap myself up in cotton wool. To allow myself to rest more. To read by the fire. To just go easy. 


MORE

This January, I have been thinking about how there is so much pressure in January from EVERYWHERE to be more. To change. To become a better version of you – or to become someone new. To join the gym. To diet. To be more organised. To be more “present”. To be MORE. 

Then there are the worries about the debt Christmas created, the pressure to get that summer holiday booked. It’s crazy. I can understand why people become so overwhelmed. 

Yes, a healthy diet is a good thing. Excercise is good for your mental health. Holidays are important. I’m not knocking any of those things, but the pressure so many people put themselves under in just a few short weeks is just unnecessary.

Sometimes you just have to take a step back and let yourself be. Give yourself permission to just be happy with who you are. You are not defined by your waist size or by how many green smoothies you drink. 

Don’t let the January blues get you. Rest. Just step back. Give you a break. You are just as great a person now in Jan 2018 as you were in Dec 2017 even if your jeans are a bit tighter or your bank balance is a bit less healthy. You don’t need to be MORE – but of course if you want to get fit, be healthier, drink green smoothies, well then bloody well do it, just please do it because you WANT to and because it makes you happy.

And if you think how you are feeling might be more than just the January Blues, well sweet friend, please just reach out. A few words is all it takes. I know it’s hard, but it will be ok. I know.

And what about me? Well my month of January will focus not on crash diets, punishing excercise regimes, going teetotal or anything else extreme. It will be a gentle month of getting by, easing through the gloom of the short dark days, of simple faith and of savouring every cup of coffee or giggle or hug with my tribe.

SCHOOL RUN MUM


Gorgeous flashback to a snowy school run last week.

So…schools out for Christmas. No more school runs in 2017. I am kissing goodbye to the horrors of the school runs of 2017. 

Honestly, few moments in the week fill this mama with the pure, blood curdling fury and stress of a morning school run. Some mums clearly have it down. Not me. No amount of time is ever enough. I usually only do it once a week with the whole working mother situation so my amazing parents sort my little beasts out the rest of the week(apparently they are “pretty good” for my mum 😭) 
It’s a small issue in the grand scheme of things, but at the time, the sheer impossibility of getting all three of us out the door, fully dressed, with everything we need in tow makes me doubt my entire ability as a mother. Alf is regularly still in one sock, his pants and nothing else 5 minutes before we leave the house despite my many (many) pleas by me to get his “flippin clothes on”!!!


My house is a disaster zone. There are lego wars going on while I am getting dressed. There are rice crispies EVERYWHERE!!! I have these fears that if I get killed on the way home, people would be certain a hoard of hallians had raided my home when I was out. I mean, who even has time to make the beds before they run out the door two minutes before the bell goes…..


Regardless, we say goodbye to the school run of 2017 and all the lessons it has offered me.

2018 – oh baby – I am depending on things getting way way better πŸ™πŸ» (a bit like the below would be good) (maybe without the snow)

GATHERΒ 

In this world of hurry, routine and hustle, there is a growing call for to us to slow down. This festive season especially can cause something of a meltdown amongst even the calmest soul. 

It is to this backdrop that I want to talk about how I spent my Sunday at Assembly Gatherings #assemblyfestive organised by one of my favourite ladies Mel Wiggins

I set out with my good friend Steph MyLittleDuke to drive through the snowy countryside to the beautiful rural home of Laura Baylee for a day of creativity and connection with women from all over NI. Artists, writers, makers, photographers, mothers, creative spirits. Women wanting to take time out. Connect with each other. Celebrate their creativity and support each other. What a simple and beautiful concept Mel has created.

We met around a glorious campfire in a snowy frosty wonderland. We greeted each other, old friends, new faces, all welcoming and sincere. We sipped warming mulled cider and soaked up the opportunity to sit, breath, and take in the beauty around us.

We then moved to the barn, which was just a vision thanks to the work of Mel and Grace and Saviour

We feasted on a perfect menu created, prepared and cooked by Laura, we chatted, we sipped on wine, we listened, we shamelessly photographed our food and surroundings – no judgement, just total appreciation for a beautifully prepared meal in the most beautiful setting. 

Photographer Kat Mervin captured the essence of the day so well – check her feed for some stunning shots.

Full on food and good vibes, we moved back outside and spent time wandering the grounds of the farm, photographing, chatting and foraging for greenery, led by Janice from GatheredThreads who then expertly guidedus all in a session of making, creating our own festive wreaths to take home.



To round things up Dot and Erin from NearyNogs chatted to us about their wonderful family chocolate making business, it’s origins and let us sample their beautiful wares. Then with cups of their very own hot chocolate, we ventured back out into the night, to sit under the stars round the smoky campfire and reflect on a day well spent.

Connection, conversation, listening, laughing, making and refilling our cups.

A day well spent and long to be remembered.

Some words from the Assembly Gathering Manifesto that really resonated with me;

“Honour your creative side…

Find the time to do what you love…

Appreciate the maker in others…

Support their journey and cheer them on…

See beauty in the mundane…”

To all those I shared the day with, those already known and those new faces, Thank you for your company. See you at the next gathering. 

SANTA BABY

When I was a little girl, I loved to help my mum wrap the Christmas gifts. I would spend hours matching ribbons and bows to the co-ordinating paper. To me, giving beautiful gifts was part of the magic of Christmas.

Over the years as we get older, Christmas changes but the giving of gifts is always there. 

Age brings many things, (grey hairs for sure), but at Christmas, it also brings stress, pressure, the worry about what to buy, how much it costs.

Black Friday gives me palpitations!! There’s a real danger to overspend, panic buy and over buy.

With age, I like to think, also comes wisdom. For me, the lead up to Christmas now brings a real desire for simpler Christmas shopping and gift giving.

This year I really want to focus on buying thoughtfully, mindfully and particularly on shopping locally. In fact I’m so passionate about it, I thought I’d write a blog post.

So here’s a few things I’d love to wrap up for my loved ones this Christmas – or I would love Santa to leave under MY tree (nudge nudge Mr Brightside). All would make great gift ideas if you are stuck rightnow and ALL can be purchased from amazing local small businesses, who put their heart and soul into creating that gift. Supporting them and giving gifts that are really special and crafted with love. Isn’t that part of that magic of Christmas?

This is NOT an Ad, sponsored or endorsed by any of the below businesses – I just happen to love them!

Lines and Current

If it’s beautiful, simple jewellery and accessories you are after, then this is your first stop!! Created by Rebekah, right here in Belfast, there are some really beautiful pieces to be found on her site. She does some mean sunglasses too!! 10% of profits go to charity as well. All round win!

The Dreamer pendant is top of my list. The Eclectic ELKSA Infinity necklace above is also a total classic.

Aly Harte

Aly is one of the most exciting Artists here is NI. I LOVE her beautiful pieces, especially those that capture some of my favourite landscapes and landmarks right here in NI. Currently crushing on the beautiful White Rocks print above and her Murlough Bay print. I think they’d look just perfect on my wall.

White Chalk Studio

Lisa from White Chalk Studios in Banbridge designs the most beautiful array of prints and textiles, each with her own distinct style and undeniably overflowing with her Northern Irish roots. I am in love with her recent range of metallic prints, especially the below vintage street map of Belfast. Santa…this one is definitely on my list.

Best Buds

I love the idea of giving a plant as a gift at Christmas. Caitlin of Best Buds has the most beautiful Botanical Studio in Belfast. They have a full timetable of opening hours in the lead up to Christmas and will have all of your favourite indoor plants, cacti and succulents as well as loads of pottery, gifts and blooms on sale. Check them out – I guarantee you will come away with some gifts for yourself as well as for your loved ones.


Astrlfibres

Alison from Astrlfibres creates the most AMAZING  macrame. I am a huge fan. She’s also a pretty inspiring creative and runs workshops locally, teaching others how to create and make. I’m totally signing up for her next class in 2018!!

My Little Duke

For those little people, and mums to be in your life, you need go no further than My Little Duke, a beautifully and personally curated online store run by Steph Duke. One-off gifts, or gorgeous packaged gift sets like the one above are all available and just waiting to be hand wrapped and posted out with love.


The Yard

If you want to shop for some beautiful gifts – and enjoy a delicious slice of cake and a coffee, the try The Yard. From hand poured candles, homemade body scrub and beautifully crafted Christmas decorations through to posies, succulents and plants, you would struggle not to find a gift for everyone here. The Yard are a social enterprise element of Helping Hands Community Outreach Project, so you are supporting some really important work in the local community as well!

NearyNogs Stoneground Chocolate

Just YUM. “Nearly Nogs are N. Ireland’s first Chocolate Makers. Crafting fine chocolate from cacao beans here in their factory. Bars, Drinking Chocolate, Cocoa Tea & Fudgery. Small-Batch, Bean to Bar Chocolate Adventurers.” Erin- Chocolatemaker.

I’m pretty sure me and everyone I know would LOVE to receive a Neary Nogs treat in their stocking this year!!

So guys, I hope that has given you some inspiration and maybe calmed you down if you were starting to panic. Ditch Black Friday, panic-buy no more and enjoy that amazing feeling of buying something you KNOW will be loved, safe in the knowledge you are supporting local businesses and the amazing creative community we have right here in NI.


P.s I fully condone forwarding this post to your significant other. I like to think of this as an act of public service to each and every one of you – may your stockings be filled with delight this Christmas!!

THE STRUGGLE WITH THE JUGGLE


It’s been one of those weeks. Sometimes, you feel like you are NAILING it. All your plates are in the air, maybe you are even giving them the odd show-offy flip up into the air. Others weeks, you feel like every single plate is crashing down.

This week I felt like all my lovely plates got absolutely smashed.

PLATES

It’s very easy to put pressure on yourself at times, to get it all right, all the time with these plates. Mumlife with its vast array of subsections, Worklife, Homelife, Wifelife, Niclife. 

There’s more plates there and a whole pile of little saucers and bowls that come with some of those plates. But the big ones, the special ones, sometimes we try not only to keep them up in the air, but also to have them spinning fast, sometimes too fast?

SMASH

This week I feel like it all smashed a bit. I have felt dreadful all week. Exhausted and in pain. I have limped through the working week, too busy to take time off. Under pressure to deliver in a number of important areas in my job and busy training a new member of staff. The traffic on the M1 this week was NOT my friend. I was late practically every morning. Not my fault. My boss didn’t even batt an eyelid. But it REALLY bothered me!! I felt off the game in meetings and I’m pretty sure I was way too tough on some of my team!  Not my finest hour.

At night I was coming home and basically going to bed once the kids did. No cooking. One night as a treat for me and to cheer me up Mr Brightside lit the fire and ordered Dominoes. How thoughtful. I fell asleep on the sofa. 

On Friday morning I felt marginally brighter. I had made it!! I arrived in work feeling like I had  kept it all together. Cue frantic call from my mum. I had completely forgotten the kids had a sponsored fitness event in their school that day. I hadn’t sent their clothes, sponsor forms etc. Alf was having a meltdown. My mum was running around trying to sort it out at the last minute and soothe a frustrated Alf (who doesn’t cope well with things not being calm and organised). She’s my hero. But I felt SO GUILTY. I won’t lie, I did have a little cry in the loo! Then I had to go into a management meeting. Grim!!

REFLECTION

I’m sitting here in bed on Saturday morning with coffee in my hand, jotting this all down. I woke early and felt a bit brighter. I started writing, as I do when the mood strikes me. It’s actually quite therapeutic to get it all down on paper.

Realistically, none of those big beautiful plates smashed. There *might* be a little chip. There *might* be a cracked saucer but you know what, I can glue it back together!!

It’s so so easy to have a rough week and feel like we are failing! Even little miss positive pants me can have a few days of feeling a bit grumpy and like you just can’t keep it all going.

But you know, that’s ok!! There is far too much expectation to get it all right all the time!!

We are human. We get sick. We make mistakes. We forget things. We make the wrong call. We shout when we shouldn’t. That’s OK!!! 

I wondered if I should post this out. I didn’t want to sound rant-y or moan-y. But you know what, it’s real life. It’s just ordinary mundane, nothing is really wrong, no one died, everyday struggles. Isn’t it important to put our hands up and say – yip I had a bit of a rubbish day / week / month. It’s not for sympathy – but it sure feels good when someone puts their hand back up and says “yeah me too”. 

Thats what being part of a community or a village is all about! Sharing, supporting, lifting each other up. Having a rant and sharing victories.

If you are in the middle of a similar day, week, month, I feel ya!! But if you are lucky enough for it to just be that every day mundane struggle, that doesn’t make it any less grim at the time, but know it will be ok! None of your plates are smashed! And sure, a wee chip here and there adds character!!