Friday, 29 November 2013

MAC Prep+Prime Eye Base

Good Day Everyone,

Last weekend I made a quick stop of at the MAC counter whilst at the airport and made a couple of purchases. I had gone with the intention of buying just the one product and whilst paying something else caught my eye, and I thought to myself, ‘Oooh I’ll try a bit of that too.’ Does that ever happen to you, where something catches your eye at the last minute and you just end up buying it? Be honest ;o)

I had gone to MAC to buy one of their paint pots because my dark circles don’t just limit themselves to under my eyes, they also extend onto and around my eyelids. I get orangey brown discolouration on my eyelids as well as some very fine red veins showing through my skin. I wanted something that would neutralise / cover up the darkness and minimise the red veins... a concealer for the eyelids, if you will. As you know eyeshadows are my thing and the dark circles on my eyelids were interfering with my lighter eyeshadows, preventing the colours from showing up as well as they could.

At the MAC counter I played around with the Painterly and Soft Ochre pain pots but I found the texture to be quite thick and a bit dry and difficult to work with. I also wanted a colour that was as close to my own skin as possible and I couldn't find one in the paint pot collection. Whilst I was going to be using eyeshadows on top of this product and therefore you may think that getting a close skin match is not really an issue, I nevertheless felt it would useful for days when I don’t wear any eyeshadow, but still want to neutralise and cover up my dark circles and red veins.

I got chatting with the MAC sales assistant and she recommended that I try the MAC Prep+Prime eye base. I did and walked away with my first ever MAC eye product. I will typically read online reviews of most products before I part with my money but as we were about to catch a flight I didn't have time and so I took the plunge and made my purchase. Later that day I went online and I have to say the reviews were pretty mixed about this product ...'mmm should I have not taken the plunge', I thought to myself, but the thing with makeup products (and most things) is that they do not work the same for everybody, we all have different skin types and body chemistry and so I decided not to despair but to try the product out for myself.
The product comes in three shades; light, medium and medium dark. I purchased the medium shade and it is very similar to my natural skin colour and tone. You get 5gr of product and mine cost me $27.10 SGD which is about £1 more than the UK retail price of £12.50 but given that the second MAC product I purchased cost $11 SGD (£5.50 approx) when it actually retails for £12.50 in the UK, I felt I got a good bargain across the two products... woohoo :o)
The product comes in a round, light weight, slim line, clear plastic pot with a black screw on lid. I don’t mind the packaging as its light weight and pretty secure which means I have no concerns travelling with it. I always make sure that I screw the lid on fairly tightly so that the product doesn't dry out.
Now on to the juicy bit, the product itself. I have been wearing this product for the last five days and I do not regret my purchase at all... hooray :o) According to MAC this product is;

‘A light textured cream to wear on the eyes as an undercoat to eye makeup. Primes the lids, smooths textures, neutralises lid colour. Use under eye shadow, pigments, paints and concealers.’

 I would agree with most of the above. I haven’t tried this product under concealer or pigments so can’t comment on how well it works under them. For me it does the key job that I wanted which is to neutralise the dark circles and red veins on my eyelids - yipppeeee! The product has a very creamy yet thin (thinner than the MAC paint pots), light weight texture. I apply this with my finger, all over my eyelid, taking it up to my brow bone and the inner corner of my eyes by the side of my nose. I only need the tiniest bit of product as a little goes a long way (I see this pot lasting me for a very very long time, providing it doesn't dry out). I can imagine this product creasing, if you put too much on and I think this might be a factor behind some of the less positive online reviews.
The product dries very quickly so there’s no hanging around before being able to apply my eyeshadows :o) It dries to a powder finish. I was impressed by how well it worked to neautralise the darkness and red veins on my eyelids. Whilst it doesn't completely eradicate the darkness 100% it does a brilliant job, as you can see from the photo below. I have no makeup on other than this eye base on my left eye. The product also has a mattifying effect and absorbs any oil on my lids, leaving me with a lovely, neutral canvass for my eyeshadows.
For me, this product works beautifully under powder eyeshadows and it also works well under my Maybelline Color Tattoo (reviewed here). It doesn't works as well under the crayon type eyeshadow as the colour looks a bit patchy and bitty, if that makes any sense. For me this is no big issue as I mainly use powder eyeshadows and use the crayon type eyeshadow as inner corner highlighters and they seem to work fine, even on top of this eye base there, just not as a larger wash of colour on my eyelid. When I apply this eye base on my eyelids I take the product all the way down to my lash line. Day to day, I typically wear pencil eyeliner on my top lash line and this eye base doesn't interfere with my liner in any way.

I have found that my eyeshadow lasts slightly longer without creasing when I wear this eye base versus without, but I’m not sure if it makes the colour of my shadows ‘pop’ or more intense, or make the colour last longer compared to not using this eye base, and versus my other eye primers like the Urban Decay Primer Potion. I will have to try a few little experiments to do a compare and contrast. Irrespective of these ‘primer’ qualities I love this product for what it does to reduce the dark circles on my eyelids and it just goes to show that just because a product doesn't work for others, it doesn't mean it’s not going to work for me :o)

Have you tried this product or any others from Mac’s Prep + Prime range? What was your experience? Are there any other products that you would recommend for neutralising eyelid darkness?

Love Sheen xxx

P.S. In case, you’re wondering what the other MAC product was that I purchased alongside this eye base, it was the travel size Strobe cream and yes there will be a review coming soon, as soon as I've played around with it a bit more :o)

My verdict: 5/5
For the UK: MAC website
For the US: MAC website
For Singapore you can find this product at MAC counters/stores
(Note: I purchased this product with my own money)

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Living With Body Psoriasis

Good Day Everyone,

A quick disclaimer to say that I am not a medical professional and that you should not make any changes to your psoriasis treatment without discussing it with your doctor first. Whilst I will be talking about the treatments that I have tried, I am not recommending that you try them too. This is simply my personal experience of living with body psoriasis.

Apologies that I've been absent for the past week and missed a few blog posts. I typically try to post three times a week but lately Arthur (aka arthritis) has been getting the better of me. I’m right handed and the arthritis in my right wrist has flared up quite badly making it very difficult for me to type. So I’m now typing with my left hand, albeit very slowly, but I figured the more I type with my left hand the faster I’ll get with the practice :o)

Today’s post is about my experience of living with the skin condition psoriasis. I’m going to focus on body psoriasis in this post and cover scalp psoriasis in a separate post partly because I think this post would become very long if I covered both here, but primarily because my experience with body psoriasis has been different to that with scalp psoriasis.

Psoriasis is a skin condition which consists of raised, flaky, silvery scales of skin. These raised patches of very dry skin are as a result of an increased turnover of skin cells. In people without psoriasis normal skin cells shed and regenerate every 30 or so days but in psoriasis suffers, skin cells turnover every three days, so around 10 times faster than normal. This means that layers of skin build up creating plaques or raised patches of very thick, dry skin that can also be itchy. Eventually this thick layer of skin will peel off leaving behind very sore, tender, fresh layer of skin which is very red and thin. If you scratch this thin layer of skin it will inevitably break, bleed and it can even get infected.

Psoriasis is a chronic (long term), non-contagious condition for which there is no cure but the condition can go in to remission, stablise and flare up again. No one really knows what causes psoriasis. There are various theories involving abnormalities with the immune system which causes inflammation in the skin causing skin cells to turn over at a very fast rate. There are also theories suggesting genetic involvement. You are more likely to develop psoriasis if someone in your family has it. In my family, my aunt had it as a teenager but grew out of it (she’s now in her 40s and psoriasis free). Two of my female cousins also have it. It seems to run in my dad’s side of the family rather than my mums. Funnily enough none of the men in my dad’s family suffer from psoriasis, just the women.

When I was 17 I noticed a dry patch of skin on one of my elbows and within a few weeks this one dry patch had progressed to psoriasis patches the size of golf balls on both my elbows. I recall my mum taking me to see our GP (family doctor) who prescribed a topical ointment / cream (I don’t remember the name) but a few weeks later I had developed huge psoriasis patches, almost the size of tennis balls, on both my knees and the ointment / cream that I had been using hadn't had any real effect. The skin was so tight and dry on my knees that it became very  painful for me to bend my knees as the dry skin patches lacked the normal elasticity the skin over the knees has, resulting in the psoriasis patches cracking and bleeding.

Our GP realised that topical creams and ointments were not going to be strong enough given how quickly my psoriasis was spreading and so he referred me to a dermatologist (skin specialist). By the time I went to see the dermatologist the psoriasis patches from my knees had spread further down my legs. I’d also developed a few smaller patches on my back. I couldn't believe how in a matter of just a few months I’d gone from having normal skin to this scaly, itchy, painful and ugly skin condition.

The dermatologist initiated me on a phototherapy course. This involved a trip to the hospital three times a week, before college, to have light therapy on my body. I would have to stand in what can only be described as a vertical sun bed, with protective gear for my eyes, whilst my body was exposed to ultraviolet light. Whilst having light therapy I was also using topical ointments / creams as well.

Luckily for me the light therapy made a significant difference in slowing my skin turnover rate and greatly reduced my psoriasis patches. After the light therapy course I continued using various ointments and creams. Over the years I have used Dovonex, which contains a vitamin D derivative, to normalise and slow down the rate of skin cell turnover, Elocon, which contains a corticosteroid that reduces skin inflammation, as well as various coal tar treatments. I’m sure there were other treatments that I cannot remember the names of.

By the time I entered my 20s my psoriasis patches had cleared on my legs. The only reminder I have is some slight skin discolouration but it really isn't all that noticeable. The patches on my elbows took a few more years to ease. In my 20s I started using an ointment called Diprosalic which worked wonders. It contains two active ingredients, betamethasone a topical corticosteroid which reduces the skin inflammation and salicylic acid which breaks down the excessive keratin (a protein that forms part of the skin structure) to help reduce the thickness of the skin scales, thus allowing the betamethasone to penetrate through the skin and be effective.

Now as well as drug and light treatment, I was also told by my Dermatologist back when I was a teenager that a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, low in processed and sugary foods would also help with my skin condition. I was also recommended to eat fresh oily fish such as salmon and mackerel two-three times a week. As a teenager I did used to eat oily fish (my mum made sure I did!) but as I've gotten older I have started to find it more and more difficult to eat oily fish and have resorted to taking fish oil capsules instead. I don’t like seafood and do not eat any form of shell fish, I do however, on occasion eat white fish such as seabass or dover sole and I can eat fresh tuna but I really struggle with salmon and other forms of oily fish – I struggle even though I know it’s good for me.

Back when I was a teenager, I didn't take much interest in finding out about my psoriasis but as I got older and my scalp psoriasis got worse I did to turn to the internet for information. That’s when I came across psoriatic arthritis and realised that as a psoriasis sufferer, I was more likely to develop arthritis, which is also an inflammatory immune system condition, just like psoriasis. I've always had a niggle at the back of my mind that I would develop arthritis, I don’t know why I thought that, just a gut feeling I guess but what I didn't expect was to develop it at such a young age (31). I always thought (or hoped) that I would get when I was in my fifties and beyond as that way I’d have had children, worked on my career, travelled and basically done the things that one hopes of doing. However, such is life and you just have to deal with the cards you’re dealt and that’s what I’m (trying) to do :o)

I've always felt quite lucky with regards to my body psoriasis (scalp psoriasis is a whole other story and I was not so lucky!) as for the most part, it has always been on parts of my body that are easy to hide with clothing. I have cousins who have had psoriasis all over their hands, forearms, neck and even parts of their face. Now that must take a huge toll emotionally, as well as physically. For me, other than the physical discomfort of body psoriasis and not being able, or rather willing, to wear short sleeves in the summer I feel I have gotten off quite lightly, relatively speaking.

I think it would be fair to say that for the past five years at least, my body psoriasis has been in remission and stable. Whenever I discover the early signs of a new psoriasis patch forming I treat it with the Diprosalic ointment and so long as I apply it regularly I find that within a week or two the new patch psoriasis patch has disappeared.

I can appreciate that many other psoriasis sufferers many not have gotten off as lightly as I have. I have seen YouTube videos of people talking about how their psoriasis affects their lives and I can hear and sense the same despair that I once felt with my scalp psoriasis. My heart really goes out to other fellow sufferers because psoriasis is not a pretty condition to look at and we live in such a 'looks' orientated society plus you can't always 'hide' (and nor should you have to) your psoriasis if its on your face or hands. Luckily there are numerous different types of medications now available so if something doesn't work for you then usually there are other options to try. In addition, I also believe that taking a 'holistic' approach to health is the way to go where we don't just turn to drugs for answers and solutions but also look at food, drink, mental and emotional health as well as physical. I know first hand the beneficial effects a change in diet can have from my arthritis experience. Like arthritis, psoriasis is also an inflammatory condition and eating lots of anti-inflammatory foods whilst reducing / eliminating inflammation causing foods from your diet could have a beneficial effect but we must be realistic in our expectations from dietary changes. Its going to take more than a few months of eating the right healthy foods to undo decades of eating the not so healthy, wrong foods.

Stress is known to trigger flares and aggravate psoriasis and I believe it is really important to minimise the stress in one's life. Now I know that's not always easy to do but at the very least please make sure that you have someone that can provide some emotional support for the days when you are struggling or feeling fed up - it can make a huge difference, trust me I know. There are lots of support organisations and groups where you can talk to and interact with fellow sufferers and I've listed a few below. If you are struggling then please do not struggle in silence, do talk to your doctor or family member or friend or reach out for support from one the groups below. You can even reach out to me :o)

Love Sheen xxx

Online community of psoriasis sufferers:

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Super Seeds

Good Day Everyone,

I’m going to follow up last week’s Granola Goodness recipe (click here) by talking about the seeds that I use in making my granola. Until a couple of years ago seeds were not a regular part of my diet. My mum has always talked about the health benefits of sesame seeds but I rarely incorporated them into my diet, other than in the form of Sesame Snaps – do you remember those? Although given the sugar content, I’m not sure they were the healthiest way of incorporating sesame seeds into my diet. I’d also eaten sunflower and pumpkin seeds as part of those ready mixed fruit and nut packs but until I moved to Singapore I’d never heard of flaxseeds or chia seeds.
In Singapore we became friends with an Australian girl who was a raw food chef and really into her healthy eating, yoga, liver cleanses and oil pulling and as we spent more time with her, I became more and more intrigued into looking at ways, other than pharmaceutical drugs, to improve my health conditions.  It was this friend, B, who introduced me to flaxseeds and chia seeds and the many health benefits they offer. I've always known that seeds are good for us, just like we all know that fruit and vegetables are good for us and sweets and crisps are bad for us, but it was only when I started researching properly into the health benefits of the different seeds that I realised just how good they are for us.
Golden flaxseeds
These seeds provide an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. They are also a good source of manganese, vitamin B1, fibre, magnesium, phosphorus and copper. Flaxseeds are quite unique within the seed group as they provide some pretty unique benefits.  The first one being the high content of omega-3 fatty acids which help to provide anti-inflammatory benefits (which is great for an arthritis sufferer like me), the second being the high content of lignans which offer fibre like benefits and antioxidant protection, and the third being their mucilage (gum) content which helps to improve the absorption of certain nutrients in the intestinal tract.
Flaxseeds are available in a powder form (as well as seeds) because the powder form is easier to digest and can easily be added to baked foods such as muffins and breads as the heat from the baking process does not diminish the nutritional benefits.
Left: white sesame seeds
Right: chia seeds
Sesame seeds:
An excellent source of copper which is known for its use in reducing the swelling and pain associated with arthritis. Sesame seeds are also a good source of manganese, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, vitamin B1 and dietary fibre.
Chia seeds:
These seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fibre, and a good source of calcium, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, copper, as well as B vitamins, complex carbohydrates and proteins. Chia seeds have been labelled as a ‘super’ food as they contain more nutrients than flaxseeds and salmon. Like flaxseeds these seeds offer anti-inflammatory benefits which is helpful for people with inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. Chia seeds are high in fibre and absorb liquid, swelling up to nine times their original size. This means that they are very filling, whilst being low in calories (good if you’re trying to lose a bit of weight). They are also known to cleanse the digestive tract of toxins when eaten soaked in water.
Left: pumpkin seeds
Right: sunflower seeds
Pumpkin seeds:
Good source of protein and many minerals such as iron, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper and potassium. Whilst these seeds are not a very rich source of vitamin E, they do provide vitamin E in a wide range of forms and to reap the benefits of any vitamin it is best to have it in all of its different forms.
Sunflower seeds:
An excellent source of vitamin E, an antioxidant and we know that antioxidants are needed to mop up the damaging free radicals in our bodies. These seeds are also good sources for vitamin B1 and B6 as well as minerals such as manganese, copper, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus and folate.

So there you have some of the benefits of eating seeds :o) I could go into more detail about the different health conditions the different seeds are particularly beneficial for but then this post would become ridiculously long. I’m sure if you’re interested enough you’ll be happy to delve deeper into this yourself :o) 

I would say that most of us are probably aware of the benefits of fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and things such as omega-3 fatty acids but I'm not sure how many of us are aware of the benefits of the different minerals, other than calcium and iron, I know I certainly wasn't. So I decided to include a little section in this post to highlight the main (not all) benefits of the minerals I've mentioned above.

Zinc: keeps the immune system strong, helps heal wounds and supports normal growth
Copper: vital for the proper functioning of the organs and the metabolic process
Manganese: involved in numerous processes such as the processing of carbohydrates and activating enzymes responsible for the utilisation of key nutrients such as thiamine
Magnesium: helps keep blood pressure normal, bones strong and the heart rhythm steady
Selenium: has anti-oxidant properties and plays a key role in metabolism
Phosphorus: vital for strong bones and teeth (works with calcium)
Potassium: vital for the heart, kidneys and other organs to function properly
Calcium: we all probably know that calcium plays a key role in bone health but it is helps maintain heart rhythm and muscle function
Iron: critical for life as it plays a role in making red blood cells which carry oxygen around the body
Folate: the naturally occurring form of folic acid, plays a vital role in many bodily functions including cell repair and maintenance, it plays a key role in heart health and foetal development

Nowadays, seeds have become a regular part of my diet. Not only do I consume them via my granola recipe but I also add them to salads and stir fried vegetables. I quite like to toast my seeds in a dry frying pan before adding them to my salads and stir fries as I like that roasted kind of flavour. I will add flaxseeds and chia seeds to smoothies and desserts but you do have to be careful as chia seeds absorb a lot of liquid and become quite gloopy and will dramatically thicken any smoothie or dessert. Sometimes if I’ve not managed to include seeds into any of my food or drink then I’ll even eat them on their own, a bit like a spoon full of medicine or like you would a handful of nuts.

Now I can’t claim that eating seeds has had some miraculous effect on my health and overall well being, but what I can claim is that by incorporating them into my diet, combined with other health and lifestyle changes that I’ve made over the past year or two has seen me move from one of the lowest points of my life (health wise) at the of 2011, to a place where I am much healthier physically, emotionally and mentally despite my arthritis progressing to more joints. I certainly do feel and notice the difference if I go too long without eating seeds. This may just be a psychological thing in that I’m aware of the fact that I’ve not had any seeds for a while or it could be that there is indeed a difference – who knows? But what I do know is that I feel happier eating seeds because I feel that I am feeding my body good, nutritional foods and I also believe that inner health is reflected in outer health.

I hope this little post has given you some tips or ideas as to how you can incorporate seeds into your diet or at the very least highlighted some of the benefits they offer. Obviously these are not the only seeds you could eat, these are just the five that I most commonly eat. Which seeds do you eat most often? How do you like to incorporate them into your diet?

Love Sheen xxx

Note:  Most of the information about the health benefits of the seeds and minerals has come from the following websites;

Monday, 18 November 2013

Maybelline Color Tattoo 24hr Gel-Cream Eyeshadow

Good Day Everyone,

When it comes to makeup eyeshadows are definitely my thing. I will always opt for drawing attention to my eyes over any other facial feature, after all they do say that ‘the eyes are the windows to the soul’.

I picked up this Maybelline Color Tattoo in a Boots 3 for 2 when I was last home and I am so impressed with my first venture into gel-cream eyeshadows. I typically wear powder eyeshadows and more recently I've been adding the crayon type eyeshadows to my collection, which I guess could be classified as ‘cream’ eyeshadows but this is my first gel-cream eyeshadow in a pot.
This Color Tattoo has amazing staying power. Now I've not tested the ’24 hour’ claim, but I have gotten to the 14 hour mark and this looked as good at 14 hours as it did when I first applied it. Aside from the amazing staying power the other great thing about this eyeshadow is that it just does not crease. I don’t have particularly oily eyelids but I do have to use an eyeshadow primer if I’m going to be wearing my powder eyeshadows for more than a couple of hours as otherwise the shadow creases but this baby does not budge, it does not slide and it certainly does not crease, and I don’t need to use a primer beforehand.

The slight (and for me it is only slight) downside to this product is that once on, the eyeshadow does set very quickly so if I want to blend this shadow out at all, I literally have a matter of seconds. As a result I finish the look on one eye first before starting the second eye.

When it comes to application, I like to apply this with my finger rather than a brush as the warmth from my skin melts the product slightly making it easier to work with when it comes to blending. It also reduces the likelihood of packing on too much product (which is easy to do as a little goes such a long way), and with my fingers I can better sense when the product is setting and know to be quick with my blending. The eyeshadow is very soft, smooth, and creamy and it glides on beautifully.
I picked up the colour Pink Gold which is a beautiful pale pink. It’s definitely a wearable shade of pink that I think would look great on most skin tones. The colour has a lot of what looks to be incredibly fine shimmer in it which gives it beautiful metallic-y sheen. It’s definitely not glittery or sparkly. I opted for this colour rather than a more neutral shade because I thought it would work well as a sheer wash of colour on its own but also as a base with some of the powder eyeshadows from my Naked and Naked 2 palettes and boy was I right! This is a gorgeous and very versatile colour and product. I can imagine some of the darker and the more brightly coloured shades being great as eyeliners given the staying power of this product.
I will often wear a sheer wash of this shadow during the day to give my lids a soft sheen of colour, with some black eyeliner on the top lash line and mascara. If I want to create a little more depth to my eyes then I will run a matte brown-y shade through my crease. The colours Naked and Buck from the original Naked palette work great for this as does the colour Tease from the Naked 2 palette which has a purple-y grey tone to it and works nicely with the Pink Gold.

If I’m doing an evening or night out look with this Color Tattoo then I apply it all over my lid with a bit more intensity than a sheer wash. From my Naked palette I will then use Sin or Virgin as an inner corner highlighter and Toasted and Hustle in the crease and outer ‘v’. If I want to intensify the look even further then a small amount of Darkhorse works great in the outer ‘v’ layered on top of Hustle. I use the colour Naked as a transition colour above my crease as it’s not too far off my own skin tone.
If I only have my Naked 2 palette to hand then I will use Bootycall as my inner corner highlighter, YDK on the outer half of my lid and Busted to create the dark outer 'v' and Tease in my crease. I will use Foxy as a matte brow bone highlighter and above my crease as it just blends in to my skin tone quite naturally.
It was only when I got the Pink Gold Color Tattoo that I noticed just how many pinky toned eyeshadows there were in my Naked palettes, which reminds me that I do need to do a review on both of these palettes as I think they are absolutely amazing products!

Back to the Color Tattoo, the eyeshadow comes in a clear round glass (I’m pretty sure it’s glass) jar with a black screw on lid. Now the packaging is a little bit deceiving in that it makes it look like you’re getting more product than what you actually are. This is because the base and sides of the jar are really thick and the product doesn't go all the way down to the bottom or to the sides of the jar. If you look at the bottom of the pot you will see that the diameter of the jar is a lot bigger than the circle of eyeshadow. Also if you look at the jar from the side you will see that the product doesn't go all the way down into the pot, in fact it looks like it’s sitting on a thick glass platform.
Aside from this little deception I actually quite like the packaging. The clear glass jar and the lid with the corresponding eyeshadow colour sticker make it really easy to know which colour is inside, if you have several of these eyeshadows. The lid feels very secure and airtight which is really important to prolong the life of the product and stop it from drying out. In addition the product sits very close to the top of the jar so I don’t have to dig my finger deep into the pot to get the product out which avoids getting the product caught under my nail. Some people may feel that the packaging isn't particularly hygienic, having to stick your finger in each time you use the product thus risking the transfer of bacteria, but I just make sure I go in with clean fingers, or you could use a brush.

It’s not very often that I buy individual eyeshadows simply because I feel palettes are much better value for money and easier to store than lots of individual eyeshadows but I am seriously tempted to buy more of these Color Tattoos. In fact, what would be even better is if Maybelline came out with miniature Color Tattoos that stack up on top of each other, a bit like what you get with some lip balms, and that way I could get a Color Tattoo palette – how great would that be?!

Have you tried these Color Tattoos? What did you think? Are you a fan of cream or gel eyeshadows? Which brand would you recommend?

Love Sheen xxx
My verdict: 5/5

For the US you can find this product at most drugstores 
For the UK you can find this product at Boots and Superdrug
For Singapore you can find this product at Watsons and Guardian

(Note: I purchased this product with my own money)

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Living With Migraines

Good Day Everyone,

Today I’m going to share my experience of living with migraines. 

A quick disclaimer to say that I am not a medical professional and that you should not make any changes to your migraine treatment without discussing it with your doctor first. Whilst I will be talking about the treatments that I have tried, I am not recommending that you try them too. This is simply my personal experience of living with migraines.

I was first diagnosed with migraines when I was 13 and hence have been a sufferer for most of my life. A migraine is a very severe and excruciating headache that is often associated with or follows on from other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, sound, movement and impaired vision to name a few. Migraines can last from a few hours to 2-3 days. The exact cause of migraines is not known but genetic, hormonal and external factors are thought to play a role. Migraines can run in families, my mum also suffers from them, and women are more likely to suffer from migraines than men.

I typically suffer from two kinds of migraines and these are just my own categories, not medical classifications. The first type is a migraine at the base of my skull and the other type is behind my eye (typically left eye for some reason). I can almost always tell when I’m about to get a migraine either because I’ll have been exposed to a known trigger or even without a trigger, I will develop certain symptoms that warn me its coming such as;
  • Developing neck stiffness
  • My head will start to feel too heavy for my neck to hold up 
  • I get a lot of tension built up in my neck and shoulders
  • I start to yawn a lot 
  •  I get very nauseous (but I’ve never actually vomited)  
  • I get very sensitive to light especially bright white light that you get in offices or on computer screens

If I'm developing a migraine behind my eye then I often get a flickering light in my vision... it's hard to describe but basically it puts a strain on my eye. Once I’m suffering from a full blown migraine attack I get the most excruciating, pulsating pain in my head where it becomes very difficult for me to move because any form of movement makes it feel like my brain is sloshing around in my skull, being battered, and that causes the pulsating sensation to worsen. Often it feels like a pressure is building up inside my skull making it feel like my head is going to explode. I feel like I want someone to drill a hole into my skull just to release this pressure (apparently that’s exactly what they used to do in the olden days... no joke!).

When I’m in the midst of a severe migraine I have minimal awareness of what’s going on around me as the pain is so debilitating and completely takes over my world. Where possible, I will seek out a quite dark room (preferably my bedroom) where I can lay still until it passes or I eventually fall asleep. I have found through experience that heat can have a soothing effect on my migraine and so I will use a hot water bottle to heat up my pillow which I put on my neck or the side of my face with the eye migraine. Sometimes I will actually place the hot water bottle wrapped in a towel on my neck / face. I also find that certain smells like fresh coffee, tiger balm and anything menthol or minty-ish helps to ease the nausea. When I have a migraine behind my eye, it makes my eye very sore and the affected eye doesn't open as fully as normal. Just by looking at my eyes, some work colleagues could tell that I was suffering from a migraine. 
Things I use to help with my migraines
The migraine can last from a few hours to a couple of days and afterwards, once the pain has passed, and I’m back in the land of the living I usually feel incredibly exhausted, like I've just ran a marathon. I’m also usually starving following an attack for some reason and recovering from a migraine is one of the rare times where I actually crave sugar.

When I was 13 my GP (family doctor) asked me to keep a food diary so that we could identify any dietary triggers as well as a diary of when I developed a migraine, what I was doing at that time, where I was etc to see if we could identify any external triggers. This was one of the best things I ever did as after a few months of this somewhat tedious task, we were able to identify my triggers and these have remained true my entire adult life.

There are several types of food and drink, which if I consume, can quite quickly cause a migraine. These include;
  • Cordial juices such as Ribena and Robinsons 
  • Fizzy citrus drinks such as Sprite, Fanta or 7-UP
  • Cheese  - too much will trigger a migraine so whilst I do occasionally eat cheese I know there is a limit and I've gotten quite good at sensing when I’m getting close to that limit

There are also certain smells that, for me, can trigger a migraine such as;
  • The smell of alcohol especially red wine (my worst nightmare is being stuck on a long haul flight next to someone drinking red wine!)
  • Petrol and diesel
  • Paint 
  • Strong smelling perfumes especially the sweet vanilla variety

In addition, if I don’t get enough sleep, go too long without eating or get very tired then I know I’m at risk of getting a migraine, especially, if I’m in an artificially (brightly) lit environment such as offices and shopping malls or working at a computer screen. So when you add all of the above combined with a crazy career where I worked long hours and travelled overseas, it’s easy to see why my career was plagued by my migraines.

As a teenager, my GP prescribed me pink Migraleve tablets which I would take when I could sense a migraine coming on or as soon as one had started. After a few years my migraines eased dramatically for some unknown reason and I rarely suffered in my late teens, but then in my early twenties, they came back with a vengeance!!!

In my twenties there would be times when I would have 4-8 migraine attacks per month. I went through phases of my life where I literally felt constantly drugged up (I can assure you I wasn't but that’s how I felt). As a result of my migraines I've missed nights out, had to cancel dinner plans and even spent entire weekends bed bound. They really did rule my life at times! As the migraines were so severe and frequent my GP put me on a preventative medication called amitriptyline. I would take this on a daily basis to prevent a migraine from happening in the first place. However, as I avoid taking medication as much as possible I didn't feel comfortable taking amitriptyline every single day for a condition that did not affect me every single day. Amitriptyline is also an anti-depressant and has quite a few side effects so I was concerned about the effects of taking this long term. I soon found that I wasn't taking it daily and thus it wasn't able to work as a preventative treatment.

The treatment that did work for me was a drug called Zomig (zolmitriptan) which I take when I sense a migraine coming on so it’s not a preventative medication like the amitriptyline but a reactive treatment. I have taken Zomig for several years now and most of the time, if I take it when I first sense a migraine coming it usually does work to stop it from turning into a full blown attack. When I initially started taking Zomig, I would often try to manage without the medication or take a ‘let’s wait and see what happens’ approach. What often happened was that it developed into a full blown migraine, I would take my medication, which wouldn't work as I’d left it too late and missed that window of opportunity of preventing the migraine and would then spend the next day or two in agony cursing myself and taking very strong prescription painkillers! I was prescribed Co-Codamol which is a combination of paracetamol and codeine that I would take when the Zomig didn't work. I soon learnt that it was better to take the Zomig at the early signs of an attack rather than trying to ride it out without drugs and then ending up on prescription painkillers that made it very difficult for me to function due to how woozy they made me feel.

Given how frequently I suffered from migraines, I actually didn't take many sick days from work at all. I learnt to take my Zomig with me everywhere I went and even when I did have a migraine, taking time off work wasn't an option due to deadlines so I would grab a coffee (to smell) and just muddle through until I could get home. I also started carrying Vicks VapoRub, a menthol balm, around with me to smell as it eased the nausea. There were times when I would have a long drive home from work meetings and if I was having a migraine attack, that was the one time where I did stop, especially if I was driving at night where the glare from oncoming traffic headlights would make my migraine worse and affect my vision. In such circumstances, I would pull up into a service station, grab a coffee, text my hubby to let him know where I am and curl up with a blanket on the back seats of my car, waiting for the medication to kick in. Sometimes I would actually fall asleep and wake up a couple of hours later feeling a bit groggy but better able to function. As a result, the drive home would be much longer but as my mum always says, its better to arrive late than never and I would never risk putting myself or others in danger by driving when I know I’m not well enough to.

Nowadays I am more or less migraine free – yippee :o) Since giving up work at the end of 2011 (due to the progression of my arthritis), I have only had two migraines and they were both triggered by a combination of fatigue, hunger and stress. Whilst I was incredibly gutted to have to give up on a career that I’d worked so hard to develop, I also realise that I’m in a very fortunate position where I can now take it easy and concentrate on keeping myself as healthy and feeling as well as possible. Looking back, I genuinely believe that my lifestyle and career played a big role in causing my migraines. My eyes have always disliked bright artificial white light and every office I've worked in has had such lighting plus I've always struggled with the glare from office computer screens, combine that with working long hours, travelling long distances, eating irregular meals, being stressed and not getting enough rest and sleep probably took a toll. Now that’s a lot of factors there and at the time I kind of knew my lifestyle and work life balance was probably the cause of most of my migraines but giving up work wasn't an option. 

Unless you or someone that you’re very close to suffers from migraines, it’s difficult for most people to understand and appreciate just how debilitating they can be. If you suffer or think you suffer from migraines then it’s very important to get the correct diagnosis and medication for you. A doctor may also conduct tests to rule out other causes of head pain. I've had brain scans twice in my 20s to rule out anything more sinister. During one particular attack I became incredibly sensitive to movement, light, sound and even touch. I actually thought that I was suffering from something else as the pain on this particular occasion was off the scale. I seriously felt like I was going to die from the pain! I ended up being admitted into hospital and put on a morphine drip whilst I had various tests and scans. The doctors concluded that it was indeed a migraine but of a different nature than what I’d had in the past. Luckily a migraine of that severity and magnitude has only ever happened twice and its not something I would wish on my worst enemy.

There are lots of different types of medications available to treat and/or prevent migraines so if something doesn't work for you then there are other options. As well as medication, there are other things you can do to reduce your chances of getting a migraine and steps to manage the migraine itself. Based on my experience I have found the following most helpful;
  • Keeping a diary to identify potential triggers - food, drinks, smells which I can then avoid
  •  Eating regularly and keeping hydrated
  • Not delaying taking medication when sensing a migraine is imminent
  • Ensuring I get enough rest and sleep
  • Make time to relax my mind, as well as my body
  • Heat compresses like a hot water bottle help ease the pain for me, but for some people, a cold compress works better
  • Laying down during an attack in a quiet and dark room (avoiding movement, sound and light)
  • The smell of coffee or menthol eases my nausea
About eight years ago I also started going for regular head and neck massages which I've found to be really helpful in relieving the tension in my neck and shoulders which in turn has helped to reduce the frequency of my migraines.

There are also various support groups and websites that can offer support to migraine sufferers. It’s always interesting talking to other sufferers to find out what things help them cope with their attacks and comparing notes. But it’s also important to remember that we are all different and so what works for one person may not work for another. Ultimately, it’s about trial and error to find out what works for you.

I hope you have found this post interesting and that it’s given you a bit of an insight as to what it’s like to live with migraines (if you’re not a sufferer yourself). If you are a sufferer then I hope that there may be some tips here that you might find helpful. If you have any tips or strategies of how you cope with migraines then do let me know. I’m always interested in other people’s experiences.

Below are some websites where you can get further information and/or support on migraines;

Love Sheen xxx

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Recipe: Granola Goodness

Good Day Everyone,

Whilst I love my fresh fruit and homemade smoothies for breakfast there are times when I just fancy something a bit more filling and that’s where my homemade granola plugs the gap nicely. Not only does it taste great but it’s full of lots of nutritional benefits due to the nuts and seeds I use.

Whilst you can buy granola (and some brands/types are better than others) ultimately the company that makes the granola is rarely going to prioritise your nutritional health over their profit margins and so I prefer to make my own. This granola is incredibly versatile and can be eaten in so many different ways. My hubby has it for breakfast with natural yogurt and fresh berries, I tend to eat it as it is with my daily cup of coffee or as an afternoon snack, my dad likes it crumbled over piping hot custard as a dessert, whereas my younger brother likes it crumbled over his favourite ice cream and my mum likes it in all of the above ways :o)
I will often make the granola in bun cases as it’s easier to hand out to friends/family or for my hubby to take to work, rather than baking it in a tray and cutting it into bars/squares -  as it always seems to crumble!!! My mum has recently started making it and she does bake hers in a tray and quite likes it crumbled as she can store in an airtight container and sprinkle it over yogurt/custard/ice cream etc whenever she likes.

I also make this granola in the teeny tiny bun cases as it looks sooo cute when served on the side of a cup of tea/coffee when we’re entertaining friends.

  • 200gr rolled oats
  • 100gr unsalted nuts (I tend to use baked cashew nuts and almonds)
  • 100gr seeds (small seeds like chia/flaxseed/sesame or big seeds like sunflower/pumpkin)
  • 100gr dried fruit (apricots/cranberries/raisins or even fresh dates)
  • 100gr unsalted butter
  • 100gr brown sugar
  • 2 regular/dessert spoons of honey
  • 2-3tsp cinnamon powder
  • ½ - 1tsp ginger powder
  1. If using dates/apricots chop them into small pieces
  2. Chop the nuts into small pieces (I chop almonds/cashew nuts into 3-4 pieces per nut)
  3. In a dry (no oil/butter) heated frying pan, dry roast the oats, 1/3 at a time until the colour changes ever so slightly
  4. Dry roast the chopped nuts in the frying pan
  5. Heat up a large pan/cooking pot and add the butter, brown sugar, honey, cinnamon and ginger. Melt and mix until the ingredients become syrup like and then turn off the heat
  6. Into the syrup mixture, add the nuts, seeds and fruit and mix thoroughly
  7. Then add the oats to the syrup mixture and mix thoroughly. Taste the mixture for sweetness, cinnamon and ginger levels and add more, if required to suit your taste
  8. Spoon the mixture into bun cases (I usually get 18 regular sized bun cases from this quantity)
  9. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes at 160-180 degrees Celsius
  10. Allow to cool and store in the fridge in an airtight container. The granola buns will keep for at least a couple of weeks... that’s if they last that long!
This batch included white sesame seeds
  • You can use which ever nuts, seeds and fruits you like, even things not on my list like coconut and banana chips. I tend to use whatever I have in the kitchen
  • If I’m baking the granola in a tray then I usually bake it for 15-20 minutes in the oven and cut it into bars/squares when it’s cooled down but still a little warm. I then pop the pieces into the fridge immediately so they will harden and set, thus less likely to fall apart
  • If you don’t like ginger or cinnamon then feel free to leave it out. I like the  taste of the cinnamon and ginger to come through slightly plus I love to use spices in cooking for their health benefits and tend to be quite generous with them
  • If you ever find that at step 7 the mixture is very dry and not sticking together then it’s most likely that you have too much of the dry ingredients and not enough of the syrup mixture (stickiness) to bind it all together. In this instance just drizzle a little honey over the mixture and re-mix and it should be fine
  • Warning – whilst the granola is very yummy, you know that old saying, ‘too much of a good thing’ well let’s just say that due to the fibre content the granola can have a bit of a laxative effect if you over indulge!
I hope you try this recipe and let me know how it turns out. So many of my friends and family have and loved it so I hope you do too :o)

Love Sheen xxx

Monday, 11 November 2013

NYX Cosmetics Mini Haul

Good Day Everyone,

Want to see what I bought from Sephora on my recent trip to Kuala Lumpur? Well you're in luck because I'm going to share it all here with you :o) I decided to venture into unknown territory and try a makeup brand that I’d never tried before, NYX. NYX is available in the UK, and from Sephora stores in Singapore. NYX is quite an inexpensive brand, relatively speaking, and so if you’re on a tight budget or just staring out in makeup and don’t want to spend a small fortune whilst you find your way then it’s definitely worth checking out. I've not had the chance to play around with all of the products for long enough to form a solid opinion so I'll just give you my initial thoughts as I go along. 
Starting with the lip products, I picked up two Glam Gloss Aqua Luxe lip glosses. I got the colour GLG04 Glitter Dreams which is a raspberry pink shade and GLG10 The Last Party, a salmony peachy shade. Both lip glosses are not sticky (thus reducing the likelihood of getting my hair stuck onto my lips with a slight gust of wind .. phew!) but they do have a lot and when I say a lot I really do mean a lot of shimmer in them so I don’t tend to wear these during the day. The shimmer, and it is shimmer rather than chunky glitter, is very fine and I certainly don’t feel it on my lips. I wear these lip glosses over lipsticks, especially the peachy one rather than alone. This is because due to the natural colour of my own lips the peachy lip gloss just looks like shimmer on my bare lips as the colour doesn't show up against my lips natural pigmentation. I do wear the pink shade alone as the colour is pigmented enough to show up on my bare lips. On top of lipsticks these glosses make my lips look a bit fuller and give a sort of 3D effect :o) 
I also picked up a Color Lip Balm in the colour CLB07 Spasibo, a soft nudey peach, the colour of which doesn't show up on my lips. This lip balm just melts onto my lips when I apply it and leaves them with a soft sheen. It feels very hydrating on the lips and has a slight, not offensive, sweet smell which fades quickly.
L to R: Spasibo color lip balm,
The Last Party gloss, Glitter Dreams gloss
Moving on to the eye products. Given that eyes are my ‘thing I picked up five eye products. I got a Jumbo Eye Pencil in the colour 630 Cashmere, a soft gold colour, which I absolutely love and this is the product I've used the most from this little haul. It is an incredibly versatile and multipurpose product. I use to highlight my inner v / inner corner of my eyes to brighten and open them up, I use it as an eye shadow all over my lids and it gives my eyelids a beautiful golden sheen that’s not too much for the daytime, I add a matte brown colour in the crease and lashings of mascara and voila my eyes are done. I also use this pencil on the top of my cupids bow for a bit of subtle highlighting as well as on the centre of my lips with most of my lipsticks for a slightly fuller effect. I love this pencil!
I got a roll on shimmer in the colour RES14 Salmon which I would say is more of a rose gold colour than salmon (I don’t think there is enough pink in it to be referred to as 'salmon'). The roll on shimmer can be used on the eyes, face and body. I tend to use this on nights out on the centre of my lid for a pop of colour and sparkle with darker colours in the crease. As you can see from the swatch photograph the roller ball applies the colour really evenly so I don’t need to use a brush to apply this or my fingers, although you could if you wanted to.
The eye product that I've been least impressed with has got to be the Eye Shadow Base in the colour White Pearl. This has too much sparkle in it for my liking to be used as a universal eye shadow base. The sparkle shines through which is great if that’s the look you are going for but not great for a matte eye look. As a result I only use this when I am going to be using shimmery, sparkly eye shadows on top of this and this base does enhance the shimmery-ness but I’m not sure that it actually makes my eye shadows last any longer than usual or prevent it from creasing – the juries definitely still out on this one!
L to R: White Pearl eye shadow base,
Salmon roll on shimmer, Cashmere jumbo eye pencil
I picked up two eyeliners, one in the colour SL07 Jet Black and one in SL11 Gun Metal, which has silver flecks in it. Both of these are incredibly soft, creamy and glide on easily without any tugging at the skin. They can be smudged when I first apply them as they are very soft but as a result it is difficult to do a very thin and precise line with them but I guess that’s where liquid liner plays a role ;o) I've used the Jet Black colour which is a matte black on the water line and the staying power was pretty good which is what I would have expected given that these are marketed as waterproof liners. Both of these tend to stay in place one applied and I've not suffered any panda eye issues with them yet ;o)
L to R: Single swipe of Jet Black eyeliner , Jet Black layered,
 Gun Metal layered, Gun Metal single swipe
Last but not least, I picked up just one face product and that was the Mosaic Powder Blush in the shade MPB 01 Highlighter. This contains five pastel shades of soft powder which when applied correctly leaves a lovely sheen to my skin. I tend to swirl my brush across all of the colours, tap of the excess (a very important step) and lightly apply it to the tops of my cheek for a subtle sheen. Now it’s very important to tap of the excess because otherwise, with my yellow toned skin, I can look like I just have two lilacy stripes across my cheeks (not cute). 
There’s no sparkle in this highlighter and I wouldn't even say it has shimmer in it (if it does then it’s incredibly fine and invisible to my naked eye!), the best word to describe the effect of this highlighter is ‘sheen’ because that’s what it leaves on my skin. I also use this as a brow bone highlighter given the lack of sparkle and shimmer, and the colours could be used as eye shadows too I suppose.
The 5 colours individually with a mix
of all the colours on the right
Overall I've been pretty impressed with my first taste of NYX cosmetics. The one area where I've not been too impressed is with the quality of the packaging which is very cheap and plastic like. I've already managed to gain numerous cracks in the clear plastic lid of the Jumbo Eye Pencil and I haven’t even dropped it. Plus the black NYX writing on the clear plastic lid of the highlighter has practically rubbed of just by me cleaning the lid. In addition, the powder highlighter is incredibly fragile and crumbly. I can imagine this falling apart if I ever dropped it and it’s certainly not a product that I would ever travel with. But then given the relatively inexpensive cost of the products I guess I shouldn't have too high an expectation from the packaging.

Have you tried any of the NYX products? What was your experience? What’s your favourite NYX product?

Love Sheen xxx

For the UK: Website
For the US: Website
For Singapore, you can find NYX at Sephora

(Note: I purchased these products with my own money)