Luxury Travel and Lifestyle Blog

Up, Close And Personal: SmoothSkin Gold IPL Trial

If the human body makes you squeamish, look away now...
Because this is about to get personal.

I came into this world - tiny, pink and squealing - with a full head of thick, dark hair and resembling a baby monkey. As all babies are in this world, I was coo-ed and ahh-ed over and thanks to the wealth of hair that my head already possessed at birth, my sex was never questioned. Yet, little did I know of the impact that my body's ability to produce so much hair would have later on life and that I'd be in for years of hair-related stress.

Now, I'm not talking about the hair on my head here. In fact, I'm very fond of my long natural brunette locks. I'm talking about body hair. From a very young age, I was conscious of how hairy I was compared to all of the other girls my age. Being half-Spanish and naturally dark haired with pale skin meant my dark body hair was extremely noticeable and the thought of having to expose my hairy secret to the world terrified me deep to my core.

Getting undressed in a communal same-sex changing room is not an uncommon practice in a typical British child's life so you can, of course, imagine my anxiety. Swimming lessons, dance lessons, gym classes, school plays... Many occasions called for a state of partial nudity and the older I became, the more aware of the hair I became.

Hitting puberty at the tender age of 9 meant I had a fair amount of body hair before I even had time to understand why it was there, while most of my classmates were still hairless and carefree. I was battling with boobs and bushy eyebrows while my friends concerned themselves with making up dance routines to Steps' Steptacular album. I became so hair-conscious that I would steal my sister's razor and attempt to shave my whole body because I was too embarrassed to tell my parents that their child was turning into a werewolf.

Fast forward 7 years and while I was learning to live with my hairiness, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries; a condition related to abnormal hormone levels in the body and - you guessed it - excessive hair growth. So just to add fuel to the fire of fuzz, my body thought it appropriate to bless me with higher levels of testosterone than the average woman, meaning there is, at least, scientific reason behind my uncontrollable hair growth. But the battle of the hormones didn't stop there. At 20, I was diagnosed with endometriosis and my hormones hit me with another hairy hurdle. 

With two conditions that feed on hormone imbalances combined with naturally thick, dark hair and Spanish heritage, I thought I would never see the end of my hairiness. I may have mastered the art of hair removal and become immune to the pain of epilating and hot wax, but the thing about hair is that it always grows back. And then...

I stumbled across SmoothSkin Gold's IPL device and I'm curious as to how my body would react to a more permanent form of hair removal. IPL devices work by breaking the cycle of hair growth. Light energy is transferred through the skin's surface and is absorbed by the melanin present in the hair shaft. The absorbed light energy is converted to heat energy below the surface of the skin, which disables the hair follicle preventing further growth.

But does this treatment work the same for people with hormone imbalances, whose bodies are in a constant state of hormonal turmoil? Is there a way to reduce the excessive hair growth - even though body hair is course, stubborn, unruly and has a mind of its own?

That's what I aim to find out. I will be monitoring my progress through the 12-week programme to see if there is any hair-respite considering my specific hormonal history. I know I don't suffer alone; hirsutism makes so many women all over the world feel self-conscious so it would be great to see if there is a more permanent, cost-effective treatment that will ease the distress and embarrassment caused by something that is so natural - hair.

To be continued...

    Eating Happy: Protein Pancakes

    I've never been the type of girl who eats pancakes for breakfast. Filling up on sickly, sweet stodge is definitely not how I choose to start my day. And since giving up meat over 5 months ago, I'm even more conscious of how much protein I'm eating, which doesn't leave room for sweet nothings. Most of my morning meals are egg or bean-based, savoury being what my tastebuds desire first thing...

    But there are only so many poached eggs I can eat before I feel like I'm living in Groundhog Day.

    So this week, I've been thinking of ways to make my breakfasts a little bit more interesting but still packed with protein. I'm not sure why pancakes came to mind, especially as we know sweet is not in my morning vocabulary (I only eat them as a rare treat when my boyfriend makes them for dessert - he is the Crepe King after all) - but they did, and the idea wouldn't go away.

    Squirrel Snacks: Nutty Protein Balls

    My first thought when I wake up on a morning is not: 
    Look at my gorgeous boyfriend sleeping peacefully next to me, I'm so lucky... 
    It's What am I going to eat today?

    It's true, I'm a foodie fanatic and a serial snacker and for me, 'hanger' is not in my vocabulary. If I know I'm going to be busy, I squirrel snacks away in my bag for when hunger strikes. Rather than grab a chocolate bar, a pastry or any other equally delicious (but rather unhealthy) snack, I try and keep a healthier selection of nibbles close by. (Although, don't be fooled that I don't eat these things - I definitely do, who can resist an almond croissant?)

    On a day-to-day basis, my go-to healthy treats are raw unsalted nuts as they're quick, easy and packed full of goodness. But as much as I love them, they can get a bit repetitive so to mix things up a bit, I thought I'd have a go at rolling them into protein-filled, bite-sized balls that I can take with me anywhere - and here's the results.

    My nutty protein balls are no-bake, no-fuss and guilt-free. For an added shot of goodness, I mixed in some Indigo Herbs Organic Supergreens Powder to bump up the nutritional value. A mix of organic wheatgrass, barley grass, moringa, spirulina and chlorella powder,  it's an easy way to add extra vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to your favourite foods.

    Ingredients (makes 16 balls)
    10 Medjool dates
    75g of raw unsalted cashews
    25g of raw unsalted pistachios
    30g of oats
    4 tablespoons of peanut butter
    2 tablespoons of Indigo Herbs Organic Supergreens Powder (optional)
    2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
    2 tablespoons of honey
    1 tablespoon of desiccated coconut (plus extra to roll)
    80% dark chocolate shredded (optional)

    1. Blitz the dates, cashews, pistachios and oats in a blender.
    2. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and roll into balls.
    3. Roll the balls in the desiccated coconut and put them in the fridge for 30 minutes.
    4. Eat and enjoy!
    5. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for one week.

    What are your favourite healthy snacks?

    Contour Confidence: Sleek Face Form Contouring And Blush Palette

    For as long as I've worn makeup, I've been a dedicated blusher user. There were a few years in my life when I thought I could pull off wearing bronzer (because every girl in my school wore bronzer and I was desperate to look like I, too, had an all-year round tan) but with a pale pink complexion, I've learned to realise that my face is better suited to a pinker cheek sculptor. 

    Fast forward to 2016 and gone are the days where we immaturely dab a bit of blusher on our cheeks to give us a rosy glow. Now, every makeup wearer seems to use approximately 1000 different makeup tools to achieve their 'everyday look' and be an expert in contouring. The former - I can definitely relate. I have so many different makeup applicators, it's becoming an unhealthy obsession (my BeautyBlender is currently my life). The latter, however, I don't profess to posses the skills of a contouring Queen but thanks to my Sleek Face Form Contouring And Blush Palette in Fair, I'm armed with a product that defines my cheek bones perfectly. 

    I have to admit, as much as I can appreciate the skill and effort that goes into a full face contour, I prefer to create a more subtle contour look for myself, focusing on cheek bone definition. Rather than carry around several different products (I have a habit of taking a small 'essentials' makeup bag with me everywhere), the Sleek Face Form Palette contains everything you need to create a gorgeous contour without the need for military precision application: a dark contour powder, a highlighter and a blush. 

    First things first, I create a good base to create a smooth, even complexion. Then, I apply the contour powder with a Mini BeautyBlender in a line running from my ear towards my mouth. After blending, I apply the blush to the apples of my cheeks using a contour brush. Finally, I apply the highlighter to the apples of my cheeks and blend. And there you go! Contouring made simple. 

    Of all the contouring palettes that I've tried, the Sleek Face Form Palette is compact, affordable and blends really easily. It creates a lovely, soft contour with colours that work nicely with my pale skin tone. I usually struggle to find complementary pink-based products but the Sleek Face Form colours work perfectly for me (it's also available in Medium and Dark for those with darker complexions). And retailing at £10, it's an absolute bargain.

    How do you like to contour?
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