#AD Skin Chemists Bee Venom Facial Serum

It’s March, so that means a new Skin Chemists review! Regular followers to this blog will know I have become quite a fan of this brand and am excited to be trying another innovative anti-aging product – this month it is Bee Venom Facial Serum.So…Bee Venom.  Its a hot product that has had lots of press attention – celebrity bee venom fans include Camilla Duchess of Cornwall and model Jourdan Dunn, but what is it and what does it do?


The science: By fooling the skin into thinking it has been stung Bee Venom causes the body to increase the level of blood circulation to the application area, encouraging heightened production of collagen and elastin. This increased production restores a plumper and firmer skin structure, slowing down skin sagging and dramatically reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. It all sounds pretty amazing, but it is obviously not suitable for anyone allergic to bee stings! Oh, and no insects are hurt or killed obtaining this in case you were worried.

The main ingredients in Bee Venom Serum are:

  • Bee Venom which aims to plump and firm the skin while stimulating collagen production
  • A blend of Amino Acids to balance the skin, whilst improving skin clarity and encouraging an even skin tone for a brighter complexion.
  • Hyaluronic Acid to maintain moisture within the skin.


So, the big question – does it work?

I used the product morning and night and found it to be refreshing and easily absorbed into the skin. The serum itself has a great texture and a little goes a long way. As usual with Skin Chemists, it is in lovely premium packaging (a frosted glass dispenser) and uses clever tech so as you use the product, the bottom of the container pushes up meaning no serum is wasted – with beauty products (which lets be honest, are luxury buys) this kind of detail is important to me. I dont like waste!

Before:

On the first few uses I felt my skin react ever-so slightly to the serum (not in an irritated way, more of a plumping feeling) after use and my skins fine lines did look less visible after a few days. It also smelt lovely and fresh and could be used as skincare by either sex in my opinion.  I definitely noticed a tightening effect around my jaw area and time will tell if it tightens up those slowly appearing 40+years old jowls! 

After:

I would definitely recommend this product if you are looking to tighten up areas of skin or plump fine lines and wrinkles and I am definitely impressed with the results on my skin in just 2 weeks. For those 40 years plus I think it would be a great (and unique) addition to your skincare regime.  


With this being a premium product it does carry a premium price tag, but excitingly my readers can get the Bee Venom Facial Serum I am reviewing for £19.99 until the end of the month (instead of the RRP of £129) using the code BLUESKYBLOG. The code is valid throughout March. Its really worth giving it a try at such a bargain price! Find it here. If you use it let me know, I’d like to know your results!

*I was gifted this product but all views stated are my own. For more information please see my disclaimer section.

Skin Chemists Rose Quartz Age Defence Youth Facial Oil

When Skin Chemists got in touch and said they wanted to send me a different kind of Valentines gift I was intrigued. Now I’m not a big fan of Valentines Day (I blogged about it here) but I am a big fan of beauty products and last year was very impressed with the Skin Chemists Snail Serum I reviewed (see the non slimy results here) so was excited to find out what treat I would receive.

Skin Chemists’ idea is to gift (or self-gift) a rose-themed beauty product rather than a bouquet of roses this Valentines Day because lets be honest, however beautiful they can be, bouquets of roses at Valentines are such a waste of money. I personally would always rather have something that will last more than a few days and more importantly something I actually want. So I’m definitely ready to break with tradition this February, are you?

PS If you’re single and thinking “Urgh, great a blog about gifts for Valentines day” I think February is always a great month to buy yourself a few beauty treats regardless…its still a bit cold and miserable plus your skin is recovering from winter and needs all the TLC it can get. So embrace the self-gifting (I know I do!!!)

Skin Chemists Rose Quartz age defence youth facial Oil review via 'Always a Blue Sky Girl' blog
I tested the Rose Quartz Age Defence Youth Facial Oil* and according to Skin Chemists, the oil is infused with a blend of hydrating, nourishing and protecting actives. These provide essential vitamins and minerals for the skin to leave the complexion illuminated, hydrated and refined.

The main active ingredients in the formulation are:
1) Rose Otto Oil to help restore moisture balance in the skin. Its anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties aim to repair and protect the skin, whilst firming and toning.
2) Vitamin E to reduce skin damage, whilst protecting against daily damage.
3) Almond Oil to provide deep hydration and nourishment, brightening and renewing the appearance of the skin.


So does it do what it claims – to smooth, illuminate and refine…?

The first thing I noticed, from the first day I starting using it was how soft my skin felt afterwards. The oil itself is very light and doesn’t make your skin feel sticky or oily plus it smells divine! The rose oil ingredient creates a lovely light floral aroma that makes you feel great even on the most miserable of days. Plus I had no break-outs while using it and considering I used it quite liberally over my whole face I think thats great as the fact it was an oil did worry me a little before I started using it.


By week two I felt my skin was looking dewy and definitely had a healthy glow to it which I loved. I didn’t see a huge difference in my fine lines but to be honest I’m lucky as I dont have a lot and this would probably be more obvious after a longer usage time. It definitely felt luxurious to use though and I got into the habit to using it before bed and it made me feel quite pampered which was lovely.  All in all I liked the product – it is easy to use with its pipette style dispenser, comes in premium glass packaging (plus a lovely bright pink box!), made my skin super soft to the touch and smells just lovely.  Suitable for all skin types, I think the oil would be a lovely treat for your skin this February.

Skin Chemists Rose Quartz age defence youth facial Oil review via 'Always a Blue Sky Girl' blog

During February Skin Chemists are having a Rose Quartz month with lots of promotional offers on the entire range. This product usually has a RRP of £99 but during February is reduced to £24.99 – to shop it click here.
And it gets better!  My followers can receive an additional 20% off by using the discount code BLUESKYBLOG making the product only £19.99!  The code is valid until the end of February so now is the time to treat yourself (or get someone else to!)

*I was gifted this product but all views stated are my own. For more information please see my disclaimer section.

The F Word

*warning this post may have triggering effects linked to food or weight issues*

Hi, I’m Sarah and if you follow this blog you will know that I am a generally cheerful, confident, fun person. You will also probably know that I have lost a lot of weight (I was a size 20/22 at my largest) and have to work hard to stay a size 12 by trying to watch what I eat and running 5k three times a week.  It is not easy.It has taken me quite a while to like myself again but my body image is still a constant struggle and this blog, in part, is a tool to embrace my flawed, curvy, 40plus figure as seen by my super critical eyes.  I had a eating disorder as a teenager and still have a complicated relationship with food and my body – to try to help, I follow quite a few plus size bloggers, those who embrace their size, love their bodies and are part of the #effyourbeautystandards movement. I admire them and their confidence but I cannot feel like them sadly. Being morbidly obese was a prison sentence for me and although I seemed confident I suffered terribly from anxiety, was physically in a bad place with various aches and pains and I hated myself.

So why am I telling you all this?

Well last week during an arguement with a stranger (a man) I was called ‘fat’.  I was also called a bitch, stupid, a ho and various other insults but ‘fat’ was the one that really hurt. It got under my skin and wounded me more then any other insult and it made me think – why do people still use it as a low blow insult? A word that is used to hurt and belittle, particularly towards women.


Forgetting the fact the man saying it looked like the back end of a bus (and was hardly an Olympian himself) once that word was said I felt awful, insecure, and yes, fat. I felt ugly. I felt weak.  He had told me in his eyes I was…what? Unattractive to him? Not the perfect body shape? Imperfect?  Erm – who cares! But sadly I did care.

At my sons school they are taught the word fat is a hate word, as abusive as a swear word or racial slur and if he hears me using it he tells me off. This gives me hope that using the word to attack and hurt and undermine will end with our generation.

Body confidence is hard – every time I go on a run I put myself out there. Dressed in skin tight lycra it is scary to exercise in front of the world. It not just the actual running that’s hard, its fear of being watched, insulted, maybe even hurt…I’d say pretty much every month I get catcalled by men in cars/lorries bleeping their horns etc – they seem to think thats a compliment. Doing it every other day, regardless of those fears takes guts. 



So am I going to stop eating cake? Hell no!  Not run in public?  I’m fitter than I’ve ever been so, sorry, no. Starve myself for an ideal I can never reach, one that is perpetuated by photoshopped images anyway?  My body has done amazing things – it carried a baby, it can run for miles, ticked amazing places and experiences off my bucket list, kept me fit and healthy and my boyfriend seems pretty keen on it too!

What I do need to do is make sure that my confidence in both my inner self and the body people can see (and judge) is greater than any throwaway line or joke.  I need to hear the words when the people who care about me tell me I am beautiful and loved and perfect in their eyes.  NO-ONE male or female has the right to make you feel bad about the way you look…and the key is knowing they are not just wrong, but that they are the weak ones, the insecure ones, the ones that truly hate themselves.  I need to remind myself of this statement – 


So another pathetic human being goes on their way thinking they’ve won because they have said some throw away insult which is not based on anything apart from wanting to hurt. But you know what? People like that will never break me – I am more than words, more than their twisted ideals, more than their insecurites – I AM ME…AND AM PRETTY DARN FABULOUS!!!Find my blogs on my fitness and running here, here and here.

All photos via my Instagram – blueskygirlie

The Olia Effect

Wanting to update my hair colour for winter and looking for a new home hair dye, I decided to take the Olia challenge and home-dye my hair using the Garnier brand. Fearne Cotton has been promoting the challenge and you can upload a before and after pic to their website for the change to be entered into a competition to win a £5000 shopping spree!  Also if you buy the product at Superdrug you can claim your money back too – so basically try it for free.  I only found this out after I’d bought mine somewhere else but you can find out more here.


Its always a bit nerve wracking trying a new hair dye brand and after the 48hr allergy test I unpacked my hair dye and dived in hoping for the best!  I needed 2 packs for my long, quite thick hair and went for shade 4.6 Deep Red.

The instructions were pretty simple and the dye mixed up easily and the packing doubled as a stand which I though was quite clever. The application was easy using the teardrop shape bottle and the product itself wasnt too runny which was good.


I wasn’t as impressed with the large, loose gloves and much prefer the tighter latex gloves I’ved used with other brands so I think next time I will use a spare set of latex gloves rather than the ones provided. 


I waited the 30 minutes and then washed it off. Going for a deeper colour meant it too ages for the water to run clear but then I did use two packs.


Some tips for a home dye

  • Preparation! Make sure you have old towels, baby wipes and clips if you have long hair to make the process as easy as possible. Clear at least 45mins for the task – you dont want to be moving around too much once the dye is on.
  • Do an allegy test 48hrs before – better to be safe than sorry!
  • Use Vaseline to create a barrier between your hairline and skin. This really stops drips and having to wash tons of dye from yourself.
  • Use a timer – its important to follow the manufacturers instructions, leaving your dye on for the wrong amount if time can mean it wont look like you expect it too.
  • Make sure you use the provided conditioner to finish your hair, this is specially formulated to repair any damage the dye may of done while colouring your hair.

And this is the finished effect? What do you think?


I’m really pleased with the final shade and my hair was left feeling very smooth and silky as Olia is made with 60% oils and I could definitely feel that (I wasn’t sponsored to say this LOL, I didnt even get my money back remember!)

Would I use it again? 

I would! Its a great price and it left my hair feeling great but I think next time I will go a shade lighter/brighter as the Deep Red was a little too dark for my liking at first look. Thats pretty typical for me as it usually takes a few washes before I’m happy with a new colour, but now its colour protect shampoo every time.

Garnier Olia hair dye – £6.99 available in all good supermarkets and chemists.

Skin Chemists Snail Eye Serum

Those who know me know I love to try new beauty products. Part of my blog tagline is ‘here to prove you can be 40 and still look great’ but that takes work…and great beauty products!

I had heard quite a bit about certain ‘wonder products’ that had originally come from Korean beauty ideas so when Skin Chemists sent me their Advanced Snail Eye Serum* I was pretty excited!


“Snail?!?” I hear you say.  Yes, this eye serum has snail secretions in it!  Never one to back down from trying something that could make me look younger I dived straight in.

So firstly what does Skin Chemists say about this wonder product?

“Our Advanced Snail Serum works to actively lift, tighten and repair the skin for a younger, more flawless complexion. Snail Secretion, derived from the natural defensive liquid secreted by snails aims to delay premature ageing of the skin, whilst reducing visible age spots and providing protection from free radical damage. Osilift, a natural sugar from purified oat extracts, aims to instantly lift and tighten the skin to reduce the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles. Hyaluronic Acid aims to rejuvenate the skin by boosting natural hyaluronic acid levels found within the layers of the skin, to plump and hydrate. Starflower Oil, rich in essential fatty acirds, provides lipid nutrients, which aim to effectively replenish skin tissues in order to slow the natural ageing process.”

Ok sounds interesting…so what did I think?

Firstly the product looks great. It is in an easy to use pump action bottle that delivers just the right amount of serum for use.


Secondly, it smells divine.  It goes on easily and leaves no residue which is great as it means you can put make up over it if you use it in the morning (the instructions suggest morning and night applications for best results).


The instructions said to apply using your ring finger for a very light application but I just very gently applied it around my eyes using my index finger concentrating on the lower area (where those pesky bags/shadows are). As you can see from the photo below I have noticable shadows below my eyes without make-up.


And after about 2/3 weeks of use? Well the first thing I noticed was my under-eyes are looking brighter and plumper.

Its always hard to show differences in photos due to differences in light etc but I definitely can see a difference. The hollows of my eyes look less and the skin seems more luminous. I dont have a lot of lines on my face yet so can’t comment on if it helps fine lines but the few I have havent got any worse and I can imagine this product would keep it that way.

And finally – would I recommend?

Yes I would. This is a premium product with a price tag to match but it does make a noticable difference. I used it regularly morning and night and I have definitely used less concealer since. A little goes a long way and I am looking forward to trying more of Skin Chemists wonder products.

Find the full range of Skin Chemists products here.

*This was a gifted item. For my disclosure statement please see here.

Show and Tell: Soap & Glory body and bath

I think its fair to say I am a big fan of Soap & Glory. I use their skincare, make-up and even wear their perfume!  I am most dedicated to their body and bath ranges and in todays blog I show what I use day to day and tell you why, to try get you into the S&G cult too!

soap and glory flatlay by blueskygirlie via always a blue sky girl fashion beauty home blog
Body Wash – Clean on Me £6.50/500ml

Shower gel is something you use every day and although this is more expensive than your average product it is in a large 500ml pump action bottle that lasts ages. It is super thick and creamy, lathers up beautifully and leaves a lovely sweet but fresh smell.

soap and glory body bath skincare blog via blueskygirlie beauty blogger at Always a Blue sky Girl

Face Wash – Peaches and Clean £8.00/350ml

Regular readers to this blog know I follow quite a strict beauty routine. I never use soap or shower gel on my face as it is drying (and therefore aging) to the skin. I switch to a squirt of this 3 in 1 product and make sure my skin is both clean and mosturised. I use this in the morning rather than the evening and it acts as a skin detox which helps to purify and clarify for a smooth, luminous complexion.

soap and glory body bath skincare blog via blueskygirlie beauty blogger at Always a Blue sky Girl

Scrub – The Scrub of your life £7.00/200ml, Flake Away £8.00/300ml

OK, you’re clean but are you smooth? I use a scrub probably every 2/3 days. Scrub of your Life is a gentler scrub that you can use on your face for exfoliation (and on your body too if you want) and Flake Away is great for tougher skin areas – legs, arms etc. – definitely dont let that near your face! Both products work brilliantly though, removing any rough skin and making you feel smooth like a baby!

soap and glory body bath skincare blog via blueskygirlie beauty blogger at Always a Blue sky Girl

Body Milk – Smoothie Star £10.00/500ml

The smell of this is so delicious you will feel like a beautiful walking milkshake afterwards! Use wise, body milk is a lighter alternative to body creams, is absorbed easily, leaves no greasy residue and works great after a shower.

soap and glory body bath skincare blog via blueskygirlie beauty blogger at Always a Blue sky Girl

Body Butter – The Righteous Butter £10.00/300ml

If youve ever heard anything about Soap & Glory its probably the body butter youve heard of. The Righteous Butter is the brands hero product and carries its signature scent. It comes in a large pot and is thick and luxurious. Again although not cheap it lasts ages and really moisturises well. 

soap and glory body bath skincare blog via blueskygirlie beauty blogger at Always a Blue sky Gir

Hand wash and lotion – Wash Hands £5.00/250ml, Hand Food £7.00/250ml

I dont just keep my Soap & Glory products in the bathroom…I have them in the kitchen too! Your hands need as much care as the rest of your body and I love this double dispenser for day to day use.

They sell the holder as a gift every Christmas and then when each hand product runs out they can be replaced from the normal range.

soap and glory flatlay by blueskygirlie via always a blue sky girl fashion beauty home blog

I also love their make-up, skincare and perfume and would definitely recommend trying a few items out – but I’ll leave that for another blog!  

To buy Soap & Glory products in the UK visit Boots – find the full range here. Look out for 3 for 2 offers and free gift promotions and soon you’ll become as much of a loyal follower as I am!

Whats your favourite Soap & Glory product? I’d love to know…

InstaNatural Argan Oil Beauty Review

I have been using a new organic range as part of my beauty routine for a while now.  I have reviewed quite a few of InstaNaturals products now (find the blogs here and here) and I have now tried out some of their Argan Oil products.
As a 43 year old who wants to look 33 (!) I do make sure I follow a good beauty regime and InstaNatural say their products are great if you have sensitive skin as the entire product line is made without alcohols, parabens and sulfates that can be irritating to the skin and none of the products are tested on animals.  In todays blog I share my thoughts on 3 of their Argan Oil based products…InstaNatural Organic Argan Oil Multipurpose mosturiser for hair, face, skin & nails – £16.95/120ml

Details: 100% pure and Eco certified Moroccan Argan Oil.  

I have been using Argan oil for a while now and really like its simplicity and multi usefulness…well I did until I realised the cheaper ‘Argan’ oil I was using had 9 other non natural (ie chemical) ingredients in it! This oil from InstaNatural is 100% pure, in a large size (which lasts ages) and is in a nice glass bottle with a pump. It feels great and worked wonders taming my thick curly hair particularly before blow drying. Use it sparingly as (maybe because its so pure) a little goes a long way and needs to be able soak in…otherwise it will make hair greasy.  InstaNatural say it is therapeutic for every skin condition and also great for Acne, dry scalps, split ends, frizzy hair, stretch marks, nail cuticles & more!  I used it on dryer areas of my skin too – knees, elbows etc and it softened them nicely as well as creating a nice ‘glow’ of my skin, great if you’re going out and showing a bit more skin than normal. With this being 100% organic/ natural there is no perfume to it, in fact it smells as you’d expect – slightly oily, but I’d much rather that than use all the chemicals I was inadvertently using before.

Argan Oil Leave in hair treatment – £11.95/120ml

Details: 100% Pure & Organic Argan Oil, Coconut Oil & Carrot Seed Oil.

Having quite thick wavy long hair, Argan oil is something I do often use in my hair to try to tame the frizz. Used sparingly this treatment by InstaNatural can be really beneficial for dry hair, or dry/split ends in particular. However if you use too much your hair will end up greasy – it took me a while to get the amount right as you don’t need more than two pumps of product to make your hair feel soft and shiny. If your hair gets tangled easily after washing I’d recommend this too.

This is an easy to apply lightweight oil which comes in a large pump action glass bottle and is filled with ingredients such as grapeseed oil, olive oil, jojoba oil and shea butter and has a mild scent. Overall I liked its effects and would recommend as a twice weekly treatment rather than daily to create shiny, frizz free, nourished hair.

img_4157InstaNatural Superior Hydration Argan Oil Hair Mask – £14.94/240ml

Details: Organic Argan Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Coconut Oil, Vitamin B5 & Green Tea.

This is a deep conditioning hair mask in a large tub with a screw on lid. The conditioner is thick but easy to apply from the tub – I worked it through my long hair paying particular attention to the ends as these are quite dry and left it on for about 10-15 minutes. The product has a lovely sweet smell to it, and it rinsed out well and did not leave my hair feeling greasy at all. Afterwards my hair was left feeling very soft and smooth. The hair mask has ingredients such as Argan Oil, Japanese Green Tea, Amino Acid Complex, Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Jojoba Oil, Avocado Oil and Vitamin B5 and is totally organic like all InstaNatural products.

Overall I liked its effects and would recommend as a weekly treatment to create shiny, frizz free, nourished hair particularly if you blow dry or straighten your hair a lot. Its gorgeous aroma lasts and was remarked upon very positively by my partner which was nice too!

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.

All products – InstaNatural via Amazon*

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.

img_9793-1

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.

img_2064-2

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!

img_2058-1

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*