Skin Doctors Exfoliating Crystals*

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When it comes to summer skincare – I’m all about the glow. There’s nothing nicer than not feeling the need to cake on the makeup, so making sure my skin is as smooth as possible has been one of my main concerns. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been having regular DiamondTome facials at Zen Lifestyle in Edinburgh (review here) so in between sessions, I’ve been turning to Skin Doctors’ Exfoliating Crystals once or twice a week for a bit of at-home maintenance.

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With a delicate tea tree fragrance which comes thanks to the essential oil in the formula; it’s a lovely product to use in the evening once I’ve taken off my makeup. It’s got a refined texture with microencapsulated beads to deliver a powerful exfoliating action, without scratching or damaging skin. It can be used for both face and body, so it’s great to use pre-tanning this summer. I apply a few dots of the stuff after cleansing, and work it in using circular motions, washing off with a hot, damp flannel. The result is skin which feels soft and smooth, and it works to eliminate any dead skin or dry patches you might be suffering from.

Skin Doctors Exfoliating Crystals are priced at £18.99 and are available here.

Bio Oil Dry Skin Gel

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When it comes to skincare, combatting dryness is always my number one concern. I love skin which looks juicy, and there’s nothing nicer than a natural glow and gloss, so I’m always pottering about the moisturiser section looking for a new favourite. When I was in Boots, I noticed this – a new release from Bio-Oil – the makers of probably the country’s favourite body oil.

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Packaged in a little white tub, it’s certainly not the most glamorous product on my shelf – but I’ve been rather liking it about. It smells like the original oil formula, and the gel is lovely and lightweight, so you can use it everywhere from your face to your toes. Patted onto cheekbones before makeup, it gives skin a seriously enviable glow, whilst massaged into problem areas like elbows, knees and heels, it combats dry skin, leaving you feeling silky soft. It’s also good for massaging into cuticles post-manicure, so your fingers are left looking and feeling their best. I’ve had a look around, and I can’t see if it targets stretch marks like the oil, but it certainly hydrates well!

Bio-Oil Dry Skin Gel is priced from £4.99 and is available here.

Generation Skincare Vitamin C Serum*

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When it comes to skincare, I like to keep things relatively simple. Every morning and night I cleanse, I pat in a serum then I moisturise (using a cream in the morning and an oil at night). It’s the easiest way to keep my dry skin happy and healthy, and since I’m only using a handful of products, I like to make sure that they’re all pulling their weight, which is where Generation Skincare’s Vitamin C Serum comes in.

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Over the past year or so, I’ve really noticed the impact that introducing a Vitamin C product into your routine has. It gently smoothes and brightens skin, and it has antioxidant properties too – so if you live in a city, it can protect from pollution damage too. This means your skin keeps producing collagen, and prevents wrinkles and sagging – so you look younger a whole lot longer.

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Generation A’s Vitamin C Serum is a wonderfully lightweight product, which is lovely to use each morning. As with many Vitamin C products, it’s got a lovely, faintly citrus scent, which is wonderful when tapped on. If you’ve got sensitive skin, it might be a good idea to use the serum every other morning until your skin gets used to it, but I’ve been using it daily without any issue. The formula also has Vitamin E, Aloe Vera Plus Green Tea Extract and even Hyaluronic Acid for added hydration and soothing benefits.

Generation A Vitamin C Serum is priced at £13.95 and is available here

Fairydrops Scandal Queen Quattro Mascara

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Sometimes buying beauty goodies in the UK, and in particular in Scotland, it can feel like you’re missing out. When I’m buying something new, I tend to like to play with it before paying for it. Obviously with some brands this isn’t possible, but when I laid eyes on tubes of Fairydrops mascara the last time I was in Selfridges I couldn’t resist.

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I feel like Fairydrops mascaras were everywhere a couple of years ago, and then just kind of disappeared, so I was seriously pleased to see them in store. First off, they’re gorgeous – shiny pink tubes doodled with the logo, this isn’t a product which you’re going to loose to the bottom of your makeup bag.

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The mascara lives up to the glorious packaging – it’s black, lengthening and curling i.e. everything I’m looking for in a mascara. Since I’m generally pretty light on the makeup, I don’t feel like having big black chunky lashes is a great look, so I’m always on the lookout for mascaras which improve my lashes while looking (relatively) natural.

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I’d say the effect is a ramped-up version of the Glossier Lash Slick (review here). Fairydrops is a little darker, a little more dramatic. The mascara itself won’t damage lashes, and is enriched with squalene, jojoba oil, panthenol, hydrolysed collagen and moisturising hyaluronic acid to condition the look of lashes – so you don’t get that scratchy eye feeling after a long day. It wears well too – I’ve had it on during rain showers and spin classes, and even after the rest of my makeup has worn away, my Fairydrops lashes are still looking fresh.

Fairydrops Scandal Queen Quattro Mascara is priced at £18.50 and is available here (UK) and here (US)

Check In: The Courtyard by Marriott Abingdon*

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When it comes to travelling, I’m always a fan of trying out a new hotel. Not only is it fun to stay somewhere fresh and new, but I love the crispness of somewhere where you can still almost smell the paint drying. So, when we were down south a few weeks ago, we couldn’t resist trying out the new Courtyard by Marriott Abingdon which had newly opened near Oxford.

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Close to major transport links, this is a hotel that’s been designed for the modern traveller – with plenty of parking outside, and a chic interior which would feel at home in  London. It’s the perfect spot to choose if you’re looking for a couple of nights away, or if you need a quick spot on an overnight journey.

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Check-in was smooth and super-quick, and before we knew it were were in our room on the sixth floor. With huge super king bed, sitting and working area it was so lovely to get to spread out, unpack and relax a little before dinner. If, like me, you travel with a lot of electrics (hello laptop charger, camera charger, hairdryer, straighteners etc) there was plenty of space to get everything plugged in and charging, and the room was positively littered with USB outlets, which is perfect if you want your phone within arm’s reach at all times.

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After relaxing for a bit (and catching up on emails) we headed downstairs for supper. The hotel is home to the Oxen Bar & Grill, which serves up a menu filled with local, seasonal produce. Since the hotel sits on the boundaries of the Cotswolds, this means world-class meats, vegetables, and fish is sourced nearby.

The space is absolutely beautiful with exposed brickwork, on-trend geometric tiling and open kitchen, so you can watch as their chefs rustle up supper. The menu was wonderfully balanced, and we spent a while trying to narrow down our options.

After rather a lot of discussion, we opted for for a classic in the form of the Rib Eye Steak (£28). It came perfectly char-grilled with a generous handful of fresh peppery salad and perfectly crisp triple cooked chips. The dish was finished off with a rich and creamy Béarnaise Sauce. After a day spent outside explore the country, this was exactly what was needed for a hearty supper!

I couldn’t resist the Creedy Carver Duck (£20) which came served with a croquette, sweet potato, braised pak choi with a soy, sesame and honey sauce. It was absolutely delicious – the duck was rich and incredibly flavourful, and it paired perfectly with the exotic sauce. It was one of those dishes that inspire you to get into a kitchen to try and recreate it.

 

After such a glorious supper, we headed back upstairs to enjoy the room. With a huge flatscreen tv on the wall, comfy sofas to kick back on, and a supering bed, there was more than enough room for the two of us to relax and unwind.

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We enjoyed the best night’s sleep on the super-sized bed, and woke up raring to go (which was a good thing, as we were faced with a three-plus hour drive up to Manchester). Breakfast is served downstairs in The Oxen, and check-out was an absolute breeze, the hardest thing was driving away from such a stunning room!

You can find out more about The Courtyard by Marriott Abingdon here.

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