China Glaze Whirled Away: Looks Great, Pain to Work With

I love a good top coat. China Glaze Whirled Away from the Cirque du Soleil Worlds Away collection blew me away when I first saw pictures of it. Here it is over China Glaze Dress Me Up.

Whirled Away

It’s a clear base with black stripes, medium black hex glitter, and large white hex glitter. I say ‘glitter’ though these are more like coloured pieces of paper. It looks stunning layered over any other non-glitter polish. I’ve tried it with a number of colours and the results are always spectacular. Still I wouldn’t recommend this polish for a number of reasons:

 1)   It’s a real pain to apply. The formula of this polish is a bit weird. When you apply it, there is hardly get any glitter on the brush. You have to fish it out of the bottle. When you manage to do so and apply the polish with normal brush strokes all of the glitter ends up at the tip of your nail. I usually use a toothpick to place the glitter where I want it to be. Obviously this creates bumps and lumps and I need to smooth it over with a top coat. Another option is to dab it on but this creates bubbles and looks a bit messy. As a result this polish is a bit hit-and-miss.

2)   Difficult to wear. Black strips in this polish do not stick to the nails properly: the ends stick out. Hex glitter pieces also have the tendency come off after a day or so. So the polish chips quickly and you have bits and pieces of it sticking out of your nails.

3)   It’s a pain to remove. All China Glaze glitter polishes are difficult to remove. Some, like Living Daylights, are worth the hustle cause they look great and stay on for a long time. Others, like Whirled Away are really not worth the pain. Even with a top coat this polish chips so quickly it’s hardly worth it.

 

I love the black and white, hex and stripe effect of this polish. But applying it is a real chore. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Coming up:

Friday: OPI Mariah Carey Collection: Liquid Sand Effect

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Ole Henriksen Enlighten Me Skin Tone Corrector Brightening Serum Review

Ole Henriksen is one of the skincare brands I always wanted to try. They are a natural, paraben-free brand form the USA with Danish roots. The brand prides itself on being ahead of ingredients fads. The founder, Ole, studied chemistry in London and runs an exclusive spa in LA. On his website he writes: “Conceptualizing and developing products has always been my favorite hobby. For many years the most popular products at my spa were custom blended by me in small batches”. Nice 🙂

EnlightenMeSerum

Enlighten me serum

Enlighten me serum

The products are not cheap which is why it was a bit daunting for me to buy one on a whim without trying it first. Especially that there wasn’t one product that really stood out to me.

I bought this serum on sale from Beautyexpert.co.uk. It was reduce by 65% so it was only £16.45. I thought it was a great opportunity to try it out.

First impressions

I like to look and the packaging of the brand. It is colourful and has this Ikea-like cheerful, homely Scandinavian feel, probably due to Ole’s heritage.

The serum is supposed to even out skin tone and lighten skin. The main active ingredients according to their webpage are THC, lactic acid, lemon and mulberry extracts. This is quite surprising as THC is one of the main ingredients of cannabis. Looking at the ingredients list I’m guessing it’s a cosmetic ingredient from of a similar chemical structure. Other ingredients are supposed to stimulate collagen production (Vitamin C), exfoliate and renew skin (lactic acid), proliferating skin cells (lemon extract) and fade pigmentation/ brown spots (mulberry extract – natural alternative to chemical fading ingredients).

In consistency it’s quite runny, although thicker than water. You need to be careful when you press the pump applicator cause it has a tendency to dispense much more product than you need. In fact, the applicator reminds me of MAC’s Pro Longwear Concealer. The one everyone complained about as it was impossible to get the right amount of product. This applicator isn’t as bad but you really have to be careful with it.

The serum isn’t greasy and absorbs nicely. I apply it at night and follow up with a light moisturiser.

It definitely doesn’t give the instant ‘plumped up’ effect I came to know and love having used retinol serums (for instance my beloved Filorga Meso, review here). I think I’m a bit spoiled now by Liquid Gold and retinol-based products. I’m expecting immediate results from serum, which by definition work in the long-term and improve skin’s overall condition and appearance. As for the brightening effect, it’s too early to tell. My skin does look brighter after the first two weeks but I write an update when I finish the bottle.

Overall it’s a nice product and I’m glad that I got to try it. Although I will probably revert to using retinol products I will stick with this serum for now. I hope it will lighten my pigmentation spots.

It retails for £47 (for example from Beautyexpert here)

Coming up:

Monday: China Glaze Whirled Away

Fresh Sugar Rose Treatment vs Korres Lip Butter Stick (and Revlon Lip Butter)

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot about the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment. It’s the new hyped up product that people have been raving about. It has been popping up in blogs and vlogs all over the place. Fresh isn’t widely available in the UK so I was quite excited when I got a sample of their product in my January Birtchbox. I decided to review it by comparing it to my all time favourite lip balm/lipstick and a product I used every single day in 2012: Korres Mandarin Lip Butter Stick.

Fresh Lip Treatment and Korres Lip Butter

Fresh Lip Rose Treatment (a sample, less than half of the original size) and Korres Lip Butter Stick in Mandarin

I’ll start by saying that I am a big fan of tinted lip balms. I don’t often wear lipsticks as they tend to rub off quite quickly. I also remember reading somewhere that an average woman ‘eats’ a couple of lipsticks per year! Hence, I prefer to use natural, paraben-free lip balms on my lips. Tinted lip balms nourish and protect your lips and prevent them from chapping. In addition, they add a hint of colour to your lips and some, like Korres, give quite an intensive colour. Some of them are matte while others have a bit of shimmer in them. When I was at Uni I used to love Nivea tinted lip balm in Cherry. It gave my lips a beautiful deep red tint. It had just the right amount of colour, not too sheer, but still very natural. Unfortunately, Nivea discontinued this product in Europe. I was able to find it in South Korea 3 years ago but my backups are long gone now. So I looked for another product that could do the same thing.

Having tried a lot of products, I finally found Korres Mandarin Lip Butter Stick. I use it every single day and it’s simply brilliant. Here is how it compares to Fresh.

Swatches of Korres Lip Butter Stick in Mandarin and Fresh Sugar Rose Lip Treatment

Swatches of Korres Lip Butter Stick in Mandarin and Fresh Sugar Rose Lip Treatment

Similarities

Both products do really well in terms of moisturising and nourishing my lips. They also leave the lips looking glossy but natural and without machining them sticky like lip glosses.

They are both very easy to use and do not require a lot of precision. You can easily apply them without a mirror and on the go. Points for convenience!

Korres Lip Butter Stick in Mandarin

Korres Lip Butter Stick in Mandarin

Fresh Rose Lip Treatment

Fresh Sugar Rose Lip Treatment

Differences

Korres lip butters are matte while Fresh Lip Treatment has a tinny bit of shimmer.

Korres lip balm is not scented. Fresh has a distinct mint smell and taste. Personally, I’m not a fan of minty lip products but I’m sure many people will like that.

Korres products are paraben-free, mineral oil-free, silicone-free, propylene glycol-free, and ethanolamine-free. Fresh doesn’t list parabens in their ingredients list but it also doesn’t say it’s paraben-free. They are obviously not required by law to list them. In my experience, if a company doesn’t clearly state that the product is paraben-free it means it isn’t.  Korres has SPF 15, not that it matters in London where sun rays rarely penetrate the thick layer of grey clouds that covers the city…

The main difference between the two comes down to colour and pigmentation. Fresh Lip Treatment is a really sheer lip balm. To be fair, the colour I got is one of the palest ones. I’ve seen swatches of other shades and they don’t look too pigmented either. The Lip treatment leaves a lovely shine and a hint of colour on your lips but otherwise is almost invisible. It’s clearly more of a lip care product than a make up one. Korres on the other hand, works amazingly. It leaves my lips looking nice and red but still very natural. It is an great alternative to a lipstick. In fact it is like lipstick and lip gloss combined: it’s pigmented and gives a lovely glossy finish. Fresh Lip treatment does the same just without the colour.

One thing that Fresh wins hands down on is packaging. While Korres Lip butters’ packaging looks like… well, the majority of lip balms out there, Fresh sleek packaging resembles high-end lipsticks. It’s a lovely metallic tube with a screw-on metallic top cover. It’s 10 out of 10 for packaging!

Fresh Sugar Rose Lip Treatment

Fresh Sugar Rose Lip Treatment

Revlon Lip Butters. Where do they come in?

Revlon Lip Butters are a force to be reckoned with. They are similar to Korres lip balms: they give just the right amount of colour and gloss. Still they have parabens and most of the shades have shimmer. This can look nice but most of the time I prefer a matte colour. My favourite shade is Macaroon. It’s quite similar to my natural lip shade just deeper and richer. Still, I find Revlon products to be a bit ‘chunky’. What I mean by this is that towards the end of the day, after several applications I can see lines forming in the corners of my lips from the layers of product accumulated throughout the day. This doesn’t happen with Korres Lip Balms. Revlon Lip Butters aren’t as user-friendly as the other two. They are also ‘messier’ than Korres and Fresh lip balms. They are so buttery that they smudge all over the packaging.

Final Ruling

Korres Lip Butter Sticks are the most pigmented of the three products. They do not contain any harmful ingredients and have an SPF. They can be used under a lipstick of instead of it. If you like Revlon Lip butters or Fresh Lip treatments I would encourage you to try Korres Lip Butter Sticks. They come in a number of shades, Mandarin is one of the two darkest ones. They can be purchased on stores or online (for example here). If you live in London you can swatch them in Liberty London (as well as other stores). They cost £6.50-£7.

 

I like all three products a lot. They are all excellent. I prefer Korres because of the amazing pigmentation and natural ingredients. Out of the three it works best for me.

Coming up:

Tomorrow: Ole Henriksen Englighten Me Skin Tone Corrector

Gold & Violet Nail of the Moment: Golden Waterfall

Gold Shower

Recently I have been wearing this combination a lot. It’s Technic’s Tawny Port and China Glaze’s I Herd That. I got the Technic nail polish in my last She Said Beauty box (I’m still disappointed that they discontinued it) and have been really enjoying it. I haven’t heard about this brand before but it’s a nice formula with a long-lasting, shiny colour. I got China Glaze’s I Herd That before Christmas and have worn it a lot as well. The only problem is that as all China Glaze glitters it’s really hard to remove.

It’s a very simple nail art idea. I painted my nails with the violet background colour and then added the gold pattern with a toothpick.

Gold Shower

Technic Tawny Port

Technic Tawny Port

Coming up:

Tomorrow: Lip Balms Korres vs Fresh

Friday: Enlighten me Serum Review

How to Lose Weight Without Going on a Diet: Part 3.

Here is Part 3 of the ‘How to Lose Weight Without Going on a Diet’ post. Basically this is just a quick note to share some things I’ve learned from my personal trainer regarding what to eat when you’re training and trying to lose weight.

I’m against diets. Mainly because they are unrealistic. It’s a good way to cleanse your body for a short period of time but you won’t lose 10kg on a diet without seriously starving yourself. No diet will help you permanently lose weight. As soon as you return to your normal habits the weight you lost while on a diet will come back. Probably even more, as you will be lured into false sense of safety knowing that you lost some weight. So instead of going on a diet I would recommend changing your eating habits in a way that is sustainable in the long term.

I should probably mention that I already don’t eat and drink a lot of fattening foods: fizzy drinks, sweet drinks, chips, crisps, take aways, ready meals, processed foods, beer, pasta, bread, rice, sweets etc. I generally stay away from carbs (apart from vegetables), sugars (I eat only those of natural origin – agave nectar, honey, fruits) and dairy (soya milk, yogurts and butter). So I already eat quite well. Yet, even without any of the above foods it is still difficult for me to lose weight without exercising.

There are couple of things you can do in terms of your diet while you’re training.

1)      When I went for my first personal training session and described what I eat throughout the day I was told I’m starving myself which is causing my metabolism to slow down. Eat more often than 3 times per day. That’s a bit obvious but my personal trainer explained that in the UK there is this habit of eating in the morning, than at lunchtime at 12.30 and then after you come back home around 6 or 7. People train their bodies to eat at these times for years. At my work I’m the only person that snacks between 13 when lunch finishes and 6 when we leave. It’s important to eat less but more often. This is to prevent your stomach from contracting when you’re hungry and to prevent your blood sugar levels from dropping. It also speeds up your metabolism. I’m not saying that you can lose weight just be eating more often! What I mean is that when you train you don’t want to also go hungry. When your body is hungry and doesn’t know when the next meal is coming it stores more of the food you consume as fat. I always thought that not eating after 7pm is good for you. But my personal trainer said that leaving your body for over 12h without any food is not a good idea.

2)      Think of distributing your meals so that you eat the majority of your food in the morning and early afternoon. This will give you more energy in the mornings and will help you get a good start to your day.

3)      Try to avoid any carbs after 6. Eat vegetables and proteins after 6pm.

4)      Try to avoid bread. Even the healthy dark, wheat-free bread is hard to burn according to my personal trainer. So are oats and oatmeal. As much as I agree with the advice on bread I’m not sure about oats. So for breakfast my trainer recommends having a vegetable omelette.

5)      Eat enough protein. This was the second serious mistake when I first started to train. I was trying to lose weight so I wasn’t eating much and when I was it was mainly vegetables.

6)      Fat is not the problem. Lots of people try to avoid fat when trying to lose weight. That’s not necessarily a good idea. Low fat diet is not the way to lose weight. The fat in milk and yogurt is a great source of energy and can help you lose weight. “Eating less fat means you have to eat more protein or carbs and most people end up eating more carbs (and the wrong type!) Dietary fat is very slow burning in the body so when you replace the fat with faster burning carbs you tend to feel less energetic, risk burning muscle tissue, and wreak havoc on your metabolism and hormones because your energy levels (blood sugar) are like a roller coaster.” (more here). So you kind of need to eat fat to burn fat. Instead of cutting out fat from your diet, cut out sugar.

7)      Another obvious tip – drink a LOT of water. Water washes toxins from your body.

I saw an interesting programme on BBC knowledge some time ago. It said that if you don’t eat breakfast your body produces a hormone called ghrelin. It causes you to crave high calorie foods. They did an experiment whereby a guy was shown photos of high calorie and low calorie foods and measured how his brain reacts. When he had breakfast his brain was craving low calorie foods such as salads. However, when he didn’t have breakfast he was craving high calorie foods.

So this is the last post on this topic. I hope this was helpful to some of you.

Coming up:

Monday: Fresh Tinted Lip treatment vs Korres Lip Butter Stick SPF 15

Friday: Ole Henriksen Englighten Me Skin tone Corrector

How to Lose Weight Without Going on a Diet: Part 2, How to Exercise

This is Part 2 of ‘How to Lose Weight Without Going on a Diet’ post. Part 1 is here.

As mentioned in the previous post, I learned the tips and tricks described in these posts from personal trainers and nutritionists I worked with in the past. Hence, I don’t make this stuff up, it is advice I received from professionals. You might not agree with what I write here, in that case I refer you to the specialists. I’m sharing this as I found that this method works for me. More importantly, when I first decided to lose some weight I was unaware of most of those things and spent a lot of time at the gym without any results. I remember how frustrating that was and thought that by writing this post I might possibly help someone else avoid this frustration.

In Part 1 I mentioned the difference between aerobic and anaerobic exercises and the benefits of the latter. Knowing this we can now proceed with practical advice on anaerobic training.

 Using a gym and exercising in general requires some knowledge about how your body functions. Just because you spend time at the gym and stay active doesn’t mean you will lose weight (although of course it’s generally true). It definitely doesn’t mean that you are spending this time in the most effective way. For example, 40 min of pure cardio won’t help you lose weight! I don’t remember the source but I remember reading that while doing cardio exercises you start to burn body fat ONLY after 40 min of continuous training. This means that for the first 39 min of your training you are not burning body fat. Obviously, cardio or aerobic exercises have other health benefits but I’m focusing on losing weight here.

8 Rules of Effective Anaerobic Workout

1.   Resistance machines are your best friends. You should spend the majority of your time in the gym on them.

2.   Your workout should be based on interval training. On each resistance machine you should do 3 sets of exercises, 15 repetitions each (general rule – up to 8 repetitions is for building up muscles, this is what men use when they want to get bigger, and 15 repetitions is for turning fat into muscles to make you slimmer).

3.   The rest between sets should be no more than 30-45 seconds to make sure that your exercises are effective.

4.   The weight should be adjusted to your strength. A good rule of thumb is that the last 2-3 repetitions in the second and third sets should be almost impossible. You should really struggle to finish the last two sets. This means that you are working at an optimal weight.

5.   While cardio is in general useless for this type of programme it’s helpful to maintain an elevated heart rate while using resistance machines. This will make your workout more effective. For example, it’s useful to maintain a higher heart rate between resistance machines sets. It’s also good to use interval training as a warm up on a treadmill as opposed to normal cardio: e.g. instead of running for 20 min at a constant pace use intervals (see below for an example). Interval running is actually an anaerobic exercise.

6.   If when you’re leaving the gym you’re sweaty and your muscles are shacking it means it is working. If you’re not breaking a sweat while using resistance machines this means that your heart rate is too low and your workout won’t be as effective.

7.   If you’re getting muscle aches the main thing to remember is that it will only get worse when you stop for a couple of days and start again. The best thing to do is to gently work through it. It shouldn’t occur after the first week anyway.

8.   It’s good to follow your workout programme 3-4 times a week (or as often as you can) and to do something different once a week (at the gym or outside). The body gets used to a set of exercises quite quickly and as a result a workout programme becomes less effective in time. It’s good to switch up your programme every 3-4 weeks although it’s OK to use it for a longer period of time if you feel it’s still challenging.

My Current Workout Plan

This takes me 30-45 min and I do it 4-5 days a week:

1 Interval training. 20 min on a treadmill with about a 10% incline:

  • 2 min or 5 min warm up: fast walking 6-7 km per h
  • 2 min run: running speed 7-9km (whatever works for you). I was told that my heart rate should go up to 170 but this will differ for each person. Note that it will be more difficult to run with the incline so the speed will be lower than your average speed. This is intentional as we’re trying to make the muscles work and not focusing on running fast.
  • 1 min fast walk: speed 6-7 km as in the warm up. I was told to keep my heart rate above 135. This will again depend on your resting heart rate, age etc.
  • Repeat 5 or 6 times depending on the length of the warm up.

2 Interval training on resistance machines.

  • Step: 20 repetitions. The point of this exercise is to maintain a higher heart rate while using leg muscles in a low intensity type of movement (interval training is all about switching between low intensity and high intensity exercises).
  • Leg extensions: 15 times
  • Step: 20 repetitions
  • Leg press: 15 times
  •  Step: 20 repetitions
  •  Leg curl: 15 times
  •  Rest for 30-45 sec and repeat the whole set 3 times

3 Core training on a mat

  • 2 min plank. Your elbows and arms should be at 90 degrees. You can break this time into as many intervals as you need, eg. 15 sec of plank and 15 sec of rest. Just make sure in total you do 2 min of plank (this one will burn but you’ll feel great when you notice that the time you can go without a break increases each week).
  • Side plank, 1 min for each side, again you can break it up

This programme doesn’t take long but is effective and targets the areas where fat usually accumulates: thighs and belly. My gym is 2 min away from me (it’s a 24h one) which really helps me to train regularly. As much as I love the gym I find it difficult to go to one if I need to take public transport to get there. So I recommend finding a gym that is close to you even if it’s not the best equipped one. 24h gyms work great for me as I prefer to exercise at night (sometimes even round 2am). There are also no excuses when the gym is opened all the time.

The last point I’d like to make is that with this programme I don’t feel like I’m spending ages at the gym each week. It’s a part of my daily routine and I treat this time as a short break between my daily activities. It’s a great time to listen to some music and unwind.

Coming up:

Friday: How to Lose Weight Without Going on a Diet: Part 3

How to Lose Weight Without Going on a Diet: Part 1.

Do you spend a lot of time at the gym and don’t see any results? Do you stay on a diet and can’t lose weight?

Like many people I can gain weight very quickly when I don’t pay attention to what I eat. However, I can also lose weight very quickly. Over the past few years I have lost 8-10 kg twice (obviously it would have been better and healthier to maintain my weight throughout this time). To achieve this I worked with a number of personal trainers and nutritionists. As private consultations are expensive I decided to summarise what I’ve learned and share it with you. I’d like to point out that I myself am not an expert but am sharing the knowledge gathered while working with experts as well as tips and tricks that worked for me personally. However, I do believe that by applying this method ANYONE CAN LOSE A LOT OF WEIGHT without much problem. There is only one condition- you have to like to exercise.

This post will have 3 parts: 1) general overview and an explanation on why certain types of exercises are better than others, 2) how to exercise to achieve optimal results, 3) what to eat while training to achieve optimal results.

Fat vs muscle. Image from FitNish.co.za

5 lb of fat vs 5 lb of muscle. Image from FitNish.co.za

So when I say ‘lose weight’ I’m implying two separate processes: becoming visibly slimmer and losing actual body weight. It’s important to notice the difference between the two. While using this method I first lose dress sizes (become slimmer) and then drop body weight. I will explain further on.

This method is not a secret. It’s based on a combination of good exercises and nutrition. Again, it’s important to understand that just because you spend a lot of time at the gym you won’t necessarily lose weight. A couple of years ago I got very discouraged after going to the gym 4 times per week for a couple of months and seeing very limited results which gave me the initial impulse to research this subject. Also, just because you eat less you won’t necessarily lose weight. Under certain circumstances eating less can actually increase your body fat!

1 Becoming slimmer. Changing your body measurements. Myths about muscles.

So the secret to becoming slimmer, and the beginning of the whole process, is developing muscles. Women are often afraid to gain muscles cause they think it will make them look masculine. This is not the case. I specifically asked one of my personal trainers about this. It’s very hard for a woman to build the kind of muscles bodybuilders have. It takes a lot of effort, time and planning. It won’t happen just because you use resistance machines. Even for a guy developing muscles is a lot of work. When you develop muscles you will look toned and slimmer – you will not look like Arnold! There are two reasons why muscles are important for becoming slimmer: 1) the type of exercise used to develop muscles, and 2) because muscle take up less space than fat.

Exercises that develop muscles.

There are two types of exercise:

1) Aerobic exercises: all cardio, running, ski machines. They help to increase cardiovascular endurance.

2) Anaerobic exercises: resistance machines, sprinting, intensive interval training. They help to increase muscle strength – build muscles.

The whole point behind this ‘method’ is to use the latter type. Here is why. Anaerobic training increases the resting metabolic rate (the rate with which your body burns calories) in the 24h after exercising much more than aerobic ones. Result: within a 24h cycle you will burn much more calories after 1h of anaerobic training than after 1h of aerobic one. But that’s only the beginning.  

Furthermore, by using anaerobic training you can burn MORE fat in LESS time than with aerobic training. “Repeatedly, studies show that more fat loss is achieved in high-intensity programs that use 20 to 25 minutes of training time than those that use 45 or 50 minutes of aerobic training time.” (more here)

 Muscles take up less space than fat.

1kg of muscles takes much less space than 1kg of fat. It’s a much more dense tissue. For that reason when you develop muscles (turn your fat into muscles) you will be visibly smaller and slimmer while your weight might not necessarily drop by much.

2. Losing weight. What your muscles do when you rest.

Muscles are good not only because they take up less space but also because they work more. “Research shows that 1 lb. of muscle burns seven to 10 calories per day, while 1 lb. of fat burns only 2 to 3 calories, according to the American Council on Exercise.” (more here)

However, more importantly, and I’m speaking for personal experience here, once I developed muscles I found it much harder to gain weight. I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I gained and lost about 10 kg twice in the past couple of years. This was due to a change in my daily routine and just generally letting myself go. Not a good thing, I admit, but it helped me to notice something. If I start eating more (for example more sugary foods) when I’m not in shape, I gain weight almost immediately. Within weeks I can see the weight increase. When I start indulging my sweet tooth when I’m in shape, I do not gain weight so quickly. Actually it takes me a good couple of months to gain weight. This means there is more room for errors!

So we want to keep muscles and get rid of fat. Again, anaerobic exercises are better as they burn 100% of fat while aerobic ones burn 75% of fat and 25% muscles (more here)

This also helps to become slimmer but we want to keep muscles as they help to drop weight in the longer term. In the part 2 of this post I will explain how to achieve this in the fastest and most effective way.

 

Coming up:

Monday: How to lose weight without going on a diet. Part 2

Friday: How to lose weight without going on a diet. Part 3

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