You Glow Girl!

You Glow Girl!

Once in a while a beauty product lands on our desk that's just too delicious to ignore. This gleamy/glowy/pearly serum from new brand OSKIA has earned a starring role on our website today.
First, a little about the company: OSKIA (which is Greek for 'delivering beauty') is a natural skincare range that incorporates nutrition to feed the skin from inside (and out) to delay ageing and beautify the skin.
They have a range of topical and oral products, all of which include cell nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, proteins, glucides and essential fatty acids. But the star ingredient is their patented MSM-Regen Complex™, which has natural collagen boosting and repairing properties that are vital for strengthening the skin and preventing fine lines. 98% of OSKIA's ingredients are natural or nature-identical, organic where possible and free of harmful chemicals.
Their star product is this gorgeous serum that's packed with all the goodies above but has a dreamy illuminating finish that makes skin 'pop' and look super healthy. For your wedding day, we suggest wearing it under a tinted moisturiser for a dewy, fresh-looking complexion.

OSKIA Get Up & Glow, £64.50, at www.liberty.co.uk

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Smooth Operator: How To Shop For Skincare

Smooth Operator: How To Shop For Skincare

How do you want your skin to look on your wedding day? Blemish-free? Glowing (not shiny!) in all the right places? While good quality make-up can definitely achieve some of this, nothing can replace the flawless canvas of healthy skin. Here's my guide to taking your first steps towards great skin.

Face-Time
In an ideal world, focus on your skin the minute you get engaged to give yourself time to find products that work for you and your budget. But don't worry if you've left it too late: there's still hope for shotgun skincare newbies! It takes just 4 weeks for products to start showing their effects (the ingredients are designed to work on the deeper skin cells, which take 28 days to come up to the surface). So even if you're getting married in a month there's time to make a difference.

Finding The One
The big question is what or, more precisely, who to choose. There were more than 280 new beauty brand launches in 2009 so if you find it confusing, you're not alone.
'Picking the brand that's right for you is the hardest thing,' says skin expert and facialist Nichola Joss (www.nicholajoss.com). 'Think about your budget, what has worked for you in the past and which brand you want to buy into - organic, designer, aromatherapeutic?' Remember, it takes two to three days to test whether a product is compatible with your skin so always ask for free samples before buying.'

Go with the Pro
If you need a helping hand, invest in a facial. Rather than a pampering luxury, see it as a personal training session for your skin to find out exactly what it needs to function at its best. A great therapist can analyse, diagnose and prescribe - all you need to decide is which company to go with (excellent facial brands include Dermalogica, Aromatherapy Associates, Elemis and Carita). Alternatively, go for a free Skin Health consultation at larger Boots stores nationwide. You'll be examined with a Dermo-Analyser machine (made by the skincare brand Vichy), which scans for lines, hydration, sensitivity and UV damage and compares it to the 7,000 skin profiles stored. An advisor then recommends a personalised product routine with affordable dermatological brands. There's a similar service at Lancôme counters nationwide. Their 'Skincare Expert' checks your skin with their 'Diagnôs Express', a machine with cameras and sensors that measures everything from pore size to wrinkle depth. Both systems are eye-opening and help even the most skin-savvy bride figure out where she's going wrong.

Retail Therapy
Nichola suggests shopping 'when your skin has been up a little, i.e. lunchtime. It won't be stressed, too dirty from pollution or puffy from lack of sleep, so it'll be easier to read for diagnosing types, textures and problems.'
Once you've picked your brand and know your skin type, 'your basic routine should include cleanser, toner for rebalancing pH levels, moisturiser, eye cream and night cream or oil,' says Nichola. Try adding a serum (an intense gel-lotion) to wear under moisturiser, which carries age-preventing ingredients much deeper into the skin than normal creams. While shopping, pay extra attention to brand-new products at the forefront of skincare, and look out for 'relaunches', where bestsellers (such as Guerlain Orchidée Impériale day cream and Clarins Multi-Active night cream) have been remade using new, more powerful ingredients.

Work it baby!
As for applying these dream creams, 'massage products well into the skin to improve muscle tone and circulation,' says Nichola. So, just like you would with your body, give your face regular workouts and by the time your wedding arrives, you'll have the fittest, healthiest and most radiant skin possible.

Brighton Rocks: The Perfect Pampering Hen Spa

Brighton Rocks: The Perfect Pampering Hen Spa

Today I blog from my hotel bed in Brighton, where I've been invited to visit the new Pecksniff's Pamper Studio that's just opened inside the Thistle Hotel.

While most hotel spas are nestled underground (or at least sheltered from fellow guests' curious eyes) this one is smack-bang in the middle of a doorway on the edge of the reception foyer - so capitulated and exposed they might as well have put the treatment beds in the restaurant.

But you know what? That wasn't actually a bad thing.

As the name suggests it's a 'pamper studio', meaning quick results and no faffing, and that's a refreshing change in the right direction for hotel spas.
In the past I've dreaded those lift journeys going down to dark, window-less basement spas, feeling claustrophobic and tense and trying not to pass out from the increasingly clogging aroma of whatever sleepy candle they've burnt for too long. I find myself chanting little mantras of 'calm your mind, ground yourself, switch off the craziness' but never quite relaxing because I know I'll be thrown back out onto the manic streets straight after my treatment. And if you're staying in a city hotel, the chances are you're going out that night to celebrate: so who wants to be comatosed by cocktail time?
This little spa on the other hand was easy and breezy, just there, not making a big deal about it, perched on the side of a busy room minding its own business and looking pretty. I was excited: this was new and interesting, there were no silly buddahs'n'bells and when something is so conspicuous and open, one wonders what it's secretly hiding behind closed doors. And I was pleasantly surprised: there are three treatment rooms, a spacious mani/pedi room, a colour scheme of Viagra blue, black and white (a bit weird but upbeat and cool), our allocated therapists were chatty and friendly and, phew, there was zero Zen-speak.

I opted for a pedicure (75mins; £38) while my spa-ing partner had a back massage (30mins; £28) and both treatments delivered exactly what we needed. I had travelled down on the train and felt like I was on holiday, so a fun pedicure suited my mood (and even in the dead of winter, there's no excuse for unkempt feet). He had had a rubbish day, a long week and not enough sleep, so a quick pummel fixed him right up (although there were moans later on that evening about the oil slick left on his back. Such a newbie. Bless).

I don't think this is the place for a mind-altering and soul-cleansing body bliss-out, but I could imagine bringing my hens here for champagne manicures before hitting Brighton's finest dancing establishments (speaking of, say "I want to dance my socks off" to the doorman at Funky Fish and he'll let you in for free!).

I hope other city hotels take notice of Pecksniff's cute little pamper studio and realise the majority of their guests are here to party and have a laugh - not to pass out on their dinner plate! 

www.pecksniffs.com 
www.thistle.com

Eyelash Extensions: Pros And Cons

Eyelash Extensions: Pros And Cons

Thinking about getting eyelash extensions for your wedding day? Read these pros and cons from the Brides team first...

PROS
- They look A-MAZING! They honestly make you look a millions times prettier
- You hardly need any other make-up
- They don't look obviously fake
- Everyone will stare at you wondering why you suddenly look more groomed, younger and... prettier
- They look super in photos
- They last a good two weeks so they will see you from wedding day through to honeymoon and catch-up party back home.
- No matter how tired/hungover/ill you are, you'll still look glamorous.
- Since they're glued individually, they drop out when the real eyelash they're stuck to naturally drops out.
- They boost your confidence: especially when you look in the mirror for the first time each morning ("Hmm, I'm not such a troll after all!" is a nice thought to start the day with)
- They are a godsend for those who are sensitive to mascara or who have very fine, few or straight lashes.
 
CONS
- If you choose a size too thick or too long, you'll look like Daisy the Cow
- It's a long treatment: expect to be flat on your back for an hour and a half.
- If you don't like people fiddling near your face and eyes, you'll hate this!
- It's pricey: a full set costs from £60.
- Once they start falling out after two weeks, you'll want to pick them all off. And if you do, you essentially pick out your natural lashes so your eyes will look bald and weird for a couple of weeks afterwards. NOT pretty!
- It's difficult to wear eyeshadow with them, as they make the lashes a bit dusty (tip: try a crème eyeshadow or eyeliner applied with a brush)
- Any time you try to have a grown-up conversation with someone, they won't be listening because they'll be mesmerised by your prettiness (ok, that's not such a bad thing!)
 
But overall, the general consensus is: WE LIKE. So give it a go and let us know what you think - write your comments in the box below!