InstaNatural Retinol Skincare Range

I have been continuing to use a new range of face and body products as part of my beauty routine provided to me by US organic beauty company InstaNatural.  I have reviewed a few of their facial and body products now (find my last blog here) and today I share my review of their much praised 2.5% Retinol facial products.

So firstly – what is Retinol?  Well it is not for the faint hearted!  While it’s true there is no magic bullet when it comes to perfecting skin, this one ingredient comes pretty close.  It is a Vitamin A derivative which is proven to increase skin cell turnover and stimulate collagen synthesis as well as creating a skin tightening effect.  With consistent use of a topical Retinol you can see improvement of fine lines, dark spots, texture, and tone. Most over the counter products have a 0.5%-2% concentration but the stronger stuff is where its at (usually via a cosmetic doctors prescription).  Both these items from the InstaNatural range are 2.5% Retinol so on par with any cosmetically prescribed products on the market.

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InstaNatural Advanced Action Retinol Moisturiser Cream – £17.95/100ml

Details: 2.5% Retinol, 10% Vitamin C, Vegan Hyaluronic Acid, Shea Butter & Jojoba Oil, Green Tea.

Although it’s a fairly thick cream this absorbed into my skin very easily with no residue. It makes your face feel so smooth within a couple hours of applying and isn’t drying as some Retinol products can be. It also made my skin feel tighter and look clearer and has dramatically improved my fine lines and also has proved great for a base for my make-up.

I love the packaging this comes in as you don’t have to dip your fingers in to get the cream out, it comes with a pump top that dispenses just enough cream to cover both your face and neck. As well as the instructions on the packet I was also emailed instructions re exposure to the sun which I thought was very good. It is also probably double the size of many competitors products.  It is scent free (as far as I can tell) which some people might not like, but this is definitely a powerful little cream.

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InstaNatural Age Defying 2.5% Retinol Serum – £17.95/30ml

Details: 2.5% Retinol, 20% Vitamin C, 10% Hyaluronic Acid, Astaxanthin, Niacinamide, COQ10.

This is another winning product for me! A strongly orange smelling and coloured serum (well it is 20% Vitamin C) that absorbed into my skin easily, it makes your face feel so smooth within a couple hours of applying and isn’t drying as some Retinol products can be. Its a bright orange colour but this fades very quickly as its absorbed.  It also made my skin feel tighter and look clearer when used daily.

I loved the packaging this comes in too – a glass bottle with pipette – very scientific and clean looking! As well as the instructions on the box/bottle I was also emailed instructions re exposure to the sun which I thought was very good. Overall this was a very quick working and powerful product – this is definitely one of my favourite InstaNatural products I have tried so far particular when used with the Retinol Moisturiser.  You don’t expect age defying products to work and you feel kind of shocked when they do…and quickly!

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I don’t usually rave about products but these definitely WORK!  Give them a go – I definitely think I’m looking younger, my skin is looking brighter and dark spots are fading.  They are strong and you need to be careful with them but used carefully I really think these are two of the best age defying products I have tried so far!

Please note – although this prescription-strength product works fast and has great effects, it can cause irritation, redness and peeling so anyone with sensitive or drier skin might want to proceed with caution.  It also must be used carefully if you then have contact with direct sunlight.

The range is sold exclusively in the UK via Amazon.co.uk – find the full range here.  All prices correct on Amazon at time of posting.  Have you used any of the InstaNatural range?  I’d love to know your thoughts on it…

All products – InstaNatural via Amazon* 

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Thank You!

Merry Christmas to all my readers both via the blog and via social media. Thank you for the support over the last year as this baby blog has found its feet and grown – I can’t believe ‘Always a Blue Sky Girl’ is over a year old now!  Here’s to a stylish and wonderful 2016 and another year of blogging! Love, Sarah xx

photo source 

Christmas the Always a Blue Sky Girl way

As many of you know, my background is in window dressing and visual styling and I’ve spent much of my career creating amazing Christmas concepts for the likes of Harrods, Selfridges, House of Fraser and Marks and Spencer. This means whether I like it or not, I have to ‘do’ Christmas in a certain way, with a certain style and over the years have collected some beautiful decorations to do it with.

In todays blog let me show you a few of my decorations and share some styling tips to hopefully help you create your most stylish Christmas ever!

Lets start with the first thing you see, the door wreath: Where we have a white modern door I have a very modern wreath. Its stylised with silver baubles inside, not to everyones taste but it suits our homes style. I like the simplicity of it and hopefully it sets the tone of the modern version of Christmas I personally love!

The Tree:

Having a modern designed home with retro/1960s highlights, I do love a white tree.  It is an acquired taste though. We actually have two trees each year, a traditional green one in the lounge and a more retro white one in our kitchen/diner. The mix of styles really works and keeps everyone happy.

On both trees I have a few rules – only a star on top, never an angel (sorry I find them super tacky, and a bit spooky); lots of large, stylised baubles made from glass if possible in a mix of no more than 4 colours and LED lights set deep within the branches.

Our two looks this year – Modern and cool : Traditional and festive:

Decoration groupings:

I don’t like a fussy home so mainly group similar decorations together in key areas.Ceramic soldier/fabric Robin: TK Maxx, Christmas Rules sign: Demelza House, slim Santa figure: Liberty, cut out stag: WilkinsonsGlass trees/Polar bear: TK Maxx, felt runner: John Lewis, wooden toadstools: Tiger Stores, baubles: HomebaseQuote cushion: Dunelm Mill, retro deer cushion: Asda, tapesty cushion: bought in New York (sorry!)  Merry Christmas sign: PaperchaseTin tray: The 99p Store

And with all this styling, I try to not take things too seriously, this is supposed to be a fun time after all… Giant bauble earrings for one of my favourite pieces of wall decor  A reindeer chopping board nestled amongst the usual ones in the kitchen And you’ve just got to have a few sprigs of Mistletoe hanging around, just in case!

And a final festive touch for our youngest child…well, if you don’t have a chimney, Santas got to get in somehow to deliver the presents! Santas key: Card Factory 

Have a wonderful Holiday season!  

For more Christmas inspo why not have a look at my blogs on advent calendars here and creating Christmassy kids rooms here.

The thing I fell in love with this week

Hersheys Cookies ‘n’ Creme kisses – £1.00 Poundland American sweets are cool. Its a fact! I first tasted Hersheys chocolate when I worked as a window dresser at Harrods in the 90’s. At that time Harrods was pretty much the only place you could get American chocolate and US celebrities came in all the time to pick up their favourites.

I liked the taste a lot – its not as sweet as Britsh chocolate and had a slightly powdery feel to it. Plus it was American so in my mind, so cool.  The first time I went to New York I visited the Hersheys store on Times Square and realised Hersheys were the Willy Wonka’s of America producing pretty much every flavour of chocolate you could imagine…including one of my now favourites, Cookies n Creme.  Imagine Haagen Daz ice cream as a chocolate bar…and thats what youve got.     

I might love the brand and all it offers, but I hate paying ridiculous prices for imported sweets. When I saw Poundland now had an American sweet section I was pretty excited, especially as they were selling the range at 50-70% less than those ‘olde fashioned’ sweet shops that have sprung up all over the place.

I love the way the kiss looks too, with the little pull-tab that unravels the foil covering, it is such an iconic design. Also if you’re like me and have to watch what you eat, they are small and 3/4 of them go a long way, fixing your sweet craving without eating loads of calories.

Treat yourself to some kisses, you wont regret it!

Creating Christmas in a childs bedroom

They say Christmas is for kids, and I always like to make sure my childrens bedrooms feel festive too. In todays blog see my top 5 tricks to do Christmas in a fun and child friendly way, easily and cheaply…and best of all your kids will love it!

‘Days till Christmas’ countdown –

This is a great way to stop those ‘how many days…” questions you get pretty much every day of December. I like using a very cute, child friendly one and then have it displayed in their bedroom. Cute decoration groupings –

In the rest of my home my decorations have to be ultra stylish, but in the kids rooms? Anything goes! I let them pick ones they like then display in groups amongst their usual toys.  These were all bought in our local pound shop! Christmas duvet covers – 

This is a simple way to add Christmas cheer to their beds and there’s some lovely designs out there starting at around £9.99. We bought ours from Dunelm Mill and bought a new one this year for our 8 year old for £12.00 – find it here.Bunting – 

A great way to add decoration to the ceiling or on higher pieces of furniture. If bunting isn’t your style, making paper chains is a cheap and extremely effective solution too.
Festive soft toys – 

For smaller children a soft toy or two can really add a cute Christmas touch to their bedroom or nursery. Remember normal Christmas decorations could be dangerous for any child under 3 years, so keep safe by adding cute plush toys like the one below.I hope this gives you some inspiration to add some decorations upstairs in your home as well this year!

See my blog on advent calendars here.

Monday Mantra

Good morning all! Here is todays quote or thought that has inspired me and I hope it inspires you too. Have a great week!

Todays thought –Source – my Pinterest

I’m starting a new challenge today, something I’m a bit nervous about but excited too…we can rewrite our lives whenever we want – and Monday always seems the perfect day to do it!

Dont wait till January to start resolutions you know you’ll give up on within weeks. If you want to change something do it today!

What words have inspired you recently? I would love to know.

The thing I fell in love with this week

Teal vase £1.50 – Store Twenty One 

We are currently decorating our bedroom (part of a house revamp which will see us pretty much redo every room in our house bar the kitchen) and a few weeks ago I painted over the strong red (!) the bedroom had been when we moved in, to a new deep teal colour.

 
I have been looking out for accessories that will add a highlight of teal to our existing items and while in Store Twenty One saw this lovely little vase. Regular readers of this blog will know I’m a big fan of Store Twenty Ones homeware range and often pop in to see what bargains they have. This beauty was in their sale for only £1.50 reduced from £3!

 
It reminds me of a Jonathan Adler vase and looks much more expensive than it was – plus it fits in with our new colour scheme perfectly! 

What do you think?

Look out for my blog on the finished room coming soon.

Advent Calendars with style

So, today it is the 1st of December (how did that happen?!?) and if you have kids (or are a kid a heart) its time to put out your advent calendar. The question is, what do you do to count down the days of December? 

A few years back I decided that I (and my stylish home) could no longer live with the cardboard calendars filled with cheap chocolate that come covered in advertising for the latest TV show or movie. Plus when you have three children in the house under 10, you end up with three Peppa Pig/Spiderman/ Star Wars/Disney etc ones dotted around. Also just to make it a bit more complicated we are a ‘blended family’ so at different times we have different amounts of children living with us – the idea of having uneaten chocolate building up and calendars three or four days behind didn’t feel festive at all, just slightly depressing.

So what to do? I have seen some lovely ideas via Etsy of bespoke handmade creations – here are some of my favourites…

Envelope advent calendar by MummyPuddleduck  buy here

Box tree advent calendar by DorsetHodgepodge buy here

Fabric pocket bunting advent calendar by SewSweetViolet  buy here

Paper bag kit advent calendar by PeachBlossomUK 

buy here

All lovely reusable and flexible solutions.

I happened to be in Ikea when I chanced upon our stylish solution – a 3D cardboard calendar in a Scandinavian style design with 24 drawers that could be filled with whatever (and most importantly whatever amount) of sweets we wanted! We decided to fill it with milk and white Christmas chocolate coins but you could as easily add small toys, messages or small amounts of money. And best of all its completely recyclable and something we can bring out every year as a family tradition. I love that.
  The kids are happy, my partner is happy and I am happy. I call that a win!

Why not try something new this December and create a family tradition of your own?  Look out for more blogs this month on how I like to do Christmas.