Tuesday, 30 October 2012

My Skincare Story | Part 3

This is part 3 to my skincare series, if you haven't already seen them here is part one and two.

In this part I want to follow on to what I had previously written about, I have been struggling with my skin for as long as I can remember. I have tried out numerous products to no avail, so I thought I would show you my current skincare routine.

skincare routine, stories of an english rose

These are the products that I am currently using. If you have read the previous parts to this series you will know that I had success with the Duac gel, and it helped clear my skin up a few years ago. I have been to the GP since my last post on skincare and have been re-prescribed this gel, which I apply to my skin after cleansing before I go to bed. 

I have tried lots of different methods to try and clear up my acne, although it does feel strange to call it that. Although I have had problems with my skin I know there are many people out there whose battle is far worse than mine, as I only have a mild case of acne. Different things work for different people, and cleansers and washes alone hadn't managed to help my skin. This gel works really well for me, but it has been a couple of years since I last used it and it took me a few days to get back into the swing of things and remember how it worked best for my skin. 

The first few nights I applied a decent amount to my skin, but I had forgotten how drying this stuff is. I was by no means using a lot but even a light application was causing my skin to flake and go quite red. It then came back to me that I was literally dipping the tip of my finger into the little bit of gel at the top of the tube and applying barely anything to my skin. I needed the smallest amount of this gel to do the job, and I have had it nearly 2 weeks now and it has helped my skin so much. My skin is slowly but surely clearing up, and I remember that with time the gel even faded the red scars that I had been left from previous breakouts, so hopefully that will happen again this time. 

In addition to the Duac gel, I am still using my No 7 hot cloth cleanser every morning and night. I really love this stuff and have reviewed it, as have many other bloggers who also think it's pretty good. I then follow this with a small amount of Olay moisturiser, as if I put too much on it can make my skin greasy but if I don't use any at all my skin can be dry! (I really can't win!) I have been using my N Spa eye cream on my eyes and lips, it leaves my eye area lovely and soft and I use it all the time on my lips as it sinks in so well. Once or twice a week I use my St Ives scrub, I used to use this every day but I don't feel the need to now as the muslin cloth I use when cleansing does the trick of exfoliating and keeping any flaky patches at bay.

So at the moment, I feel pretty happy with the products I am using. Hopefully the Duac will clear my skin completely and then I can concentrate on fighting those wrinkles!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

My Work

I just wanted to show you a couple of my make-up jobs. Short and sweet. 

Active Reverse Facial

I had a sample size of the Sanctuary active reverse face mask, and have been using it for about 2 weeks. The sachet was quite generous so it lasted a good few uses. It advises you to use it 3 times per week but on on consecutive days and it will help to diminish fine lines and wrinkles.

I am pretty paranoid about wrinkles and have noticed a few fine lines rearing their ugly heads around my eyes and on my forehead, so I was very interested in this treatment.

This is what Sanctuary say about this product:

The sanctuary active reverse facialThe special peptide & hyaluronic acid contained in this treatment have been shown to strengthen the collagen network & plump & repair skin's structures, as well as giving a tauter surface to reduce any 'crepey' skin. When combined with powerful natural extracts that provide a hydration surge, the treatment leaves skin feeling firmer & looking smoother & refined, with a visible reduction in the appearance of wrinkles. The Thermal Transformation Mask begins with the Peptide Transformation Serum, followed by the Thermal Rose Clay Mask. An intensely warming effect helps optimise the action of the encapsulated enzyme to deeply cleanse & refine the skin surface. After 4 weeks the two step mask visibly firms & refines to reveal an even skin tone & to minimise the appearance of fine lines & wrinkles. Encouraging cell-renewal & boosting hydration levels, means that when the mask is washed away, your complexion has a glowing, dewy finish.

You start of with the serum, and put this all over your face it is a lovely smooth consistency and glides onto your skin and smells of aromatherapy oils. You then put a layer of the thermal rose clay over the top and when the two products combine they create a lovely warming effect which feels really relaxing. You leave the mask on for 15 minutes for it to do its work, and it doesn't really dry in this time so it washes off really easily. This makes life easier as I hate wrestling with a face mask that won't wash off and has dried like concrete on your skin. This wipes off with a little bit of water on a muslin cloth.

I would estimate that I got about 6 uses out of this one sachet and sealed it up in a zip lock bag between uses. You really don't need a huge amount of product to get an even coverage over your skin so a little went a long way.

So after 6 uses of this face mask, did I see a difference? It advises that after 2 weeks that skin will be more refined and glows with radiance, and after 4 weeks that skin will be more even and fine lines and wrinkles are visibly reduced. I wouldn't say that my skin is glowing, but I think my skin tone is a lot more even than it was and the fine lines on my forehead have smoothed a bit. I would definitely buy this product again, I think that using it more long term would help my skin no end and I really enjoyed the warming sensation of the face mask so it felt like a nice treat to do a couple of times per week.

The full sized products are available from Debenhams and cost £27.50.

The sanctuary active reverse facial

Friday, 26 October 2012

Friday Facts

It's that time of the week again! Hope you are all having a great Friday and are looking forward to the weekend!

Here a few little facts about me today.

What make-up do I have on?

I currently only have on some mascara, I might put a little bit of red lipstick on in a moment, but today I have been very natural.

What nail polish am I wearing?

OPI the spy who loved me, you can read the below post to see what it looks like.

What plans do I have for this evening?

A movie night in with my boyfriend, I am cooking Katsu curry, and have lots of Pepsi and crisps to snack on and a real kiddy movie to watch. Mr Popper's Penguins. My boyfriend is a massive fan of penguins and would have one as a pet if he could!

What have I been loving today?

Listening to The Temper Trap, salt and pepper pringles (so good) and my pea and edamame bean salad for lunch. It is so good, you should try it!

Pea and edamame salad, stories of an english rose


I have painted my nails with "the spy who loved me" from the skyfall collection today, it's a really pretty red with fine gold flecks and I was really impressed with the coverage of this polish. I usually use 2 coats of OPI polish to get a really even coverage but "the spy who loved me" went on so well that I only needed one coat.

Skyfall, the spy who loved me, goldeneye

For me this colour was a little bright on my nails alone. I am not a huge fan of red on finger nails, so I put a coat of "goldeneye" over the top which is a gold glitter polish, and it looks so pretty. The glitter in this polish is so dense it gives more of a gold leaf effect in places and I have only used one coat. I am looking forward to using it solo with a couple of coats, I think it will look beautiful.

Together the colours work really well and look very festive, so I think I may this combination again nearer to Christmas.

OPI The spy who loved me, goldeneye

What do you think?

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Today's Eye Make-up

I have been testing out another couple of colours from the Unprotected palette, I went with the darker shades today. I used "Awaken" all over my lid and the "Free" in the socket line, finished off with black pencil liner and black mascara. Simples!

smokey eye, stories of an english rose
smokey eye, stories of an english rose

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Vivo Unprotected Palette

I got the Unprotected palette a couple of weeks ago now and hadn't got around to using it. As anyone who reads my blog will know, I love Vivo! I feel a bit like a broken record but I honestly can't get over the quality of the make-up for such a low price. It just proves that sometimes you are paying through the nose for some items just because of the label.

The Unprotected palette is a dupe of Urban Decays Naked palette, and so far I have used 3 shades out of the twelve. I wanted to do a simple make-up for a wedding fayre I was exhibiting at on Sunday, something that would be perfect for a bridal look, so I used "forever" all over my lid and "today" in the crease.

The shade "forever" reminds me of my favourite Urban Decay shadow "sin" but a lot cheaper and just as good.

vivo unprotected, stories of an english rose

If you were just starting out with make-up or were a naturals only girl, I honestly think that you could own just this palette and still be able to create lots of looks for night and day. I think it has all you need, going from natural matte shadows like "Escape" and "Flutter" to shimmery golds that would be great for the evening with a bit of black mascara and liner, all the way through to "Free" and "Awaken" for the more smokey looks.

I really love this palette and when you only pay £4 for something this good, it puts a huge smile on your face!

I am wearing shadows from this palette today, a simple look created with "forever", "today" and "divine".

Michelle Bowers, stories of an english rose

Michelle Bowers, stories of an english rose

Michelle Bowers, stories of an english rose

See how shimmery and pretty the shades are, so go grab yourself one! : )

Monday, 22 October 2012

What's In My Handbag

I am quite nosy so I like these posts, I have no idea why I find it interesting to find out what other people keep in their bag but I do. So here is my handbag, I will say now that I'm sorry it's not very interesting but I have a very small bag and I don't like carrying around a load of rubbish. I am like a goldfish, I will grow into my surroundings so if you give me a bigger bag I will fill it with all sorts of junk I don't need just because I can! Give a girl an inch and all that.

stories of an english rose

This is my bag, it's a very small cross body bag I picked up from George for £4. I bought it to tie in with an outfit I was wearing for a friends birthday back in the summer, and I thought it was cute and went well with most things so I didn't swap back to my other bag. I'm not someone who changes my bag daily, or even weekly. I hate the hassle of swapping everything over from one bag to another, I know what you're thinking. How long will that take with a bag as small as this? Fair point, not very long at all, but I just can't be bothered!

stories of an english rose

This is the contents of my bag, not very much at all. I have my (also tiny) purse which is from Fossil and I love it, I am a massive fan of teal green so I fell in love with this as soon as I saw it and also have the matching bag. 

A pack of Kleenex blotting sheets to absorb shine from my face, 

A random pack of sweetener that I didn't use, 

My Rimmel Kate Moss lipstick in 101, 

My keys on a cute butterfly keyring that my boyfriends aunt and uncle gave me for Christmas, 

A tube of Carmex which is one of my favourite lip balms,  

A sachet of my IBD medication. 

Not really very interesting at all, I'm a kind of travel light type of girl and the one that always has to ask her friends for a nail file/pair of scissors/ pain killer because I don't think to carry them with me. It could be that a lot of my friends cart suitcase sized bags with them so I know they will often have anything I may need. 

One of my friends once admitted to carrying around a full change of clothes, pair of straighteners and shoes in her bag as well as all the usual gunff , which made me laugh as she is very petite and her bag is almost as big as she is. Another friend of mine always throws her debit card in her bag rather than putting it back in her purse, so it always losing it amoungst all the junk she carries round. And they always take the mikey out of me and my little bag, but at least I don't lose things haha!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

My Skincare Story, part 2

I started my skincare story last week and it became so long I thought it would be best to split it into 2 parts. If you haven't read part one, you can find it here. 
So grab yourself a cuppa, we have skincare to talk about.

I was experiencing a particularly bad breakout and I read some reviews about Dermalogica's Medibac range for blemish prone skin, Dermalogica was a brand I was familiar with as they were the range of skincare my beauty college had used, and the tutors raved about them. They are not the cheapest brand but on the other hand they were much more affordable than creme de la mer, so I looked up some local stockists and went and got myself a trial pack from a local salon. The kit contained about 5 products from the range, hard for me to remember now as it was a few years ago, and the beauty therapist warned me to not dive straight in and use them all because it is quite harsh. She advised me to use the cleansing wash once very couple of days to get my skin used to it and increase slowly until I was using it twice a day. Being stubborn, and eager to get clearer skin, I ignored her and used it every morning as well as a couple of the other products in the kit and I had the worst reaction of my life to it!

Dermalogica medibac

My skin became red, sore and inflamed and the texture was awful I can't even really describe it. Parts of it were peeling off and it was so dry that I would slap on moisturiser like it was going out of fashion and my skin would just drink it up. I was horrified, and I couldn't even wear make-up over it because of the peeling, it looked terrible. I literally hid away at home, not wanting anyone to see me. I was booked into have my car MOT done so I had to brave the outside world and drive over to my parents without any make-up on for the first time in about 10 years, and I was so embarrassed by how my skin looked that I actually made my dad take my car over to the garage because I couldn't face the humiliation of having to talk to a stranger whilst looking like a burns victim!

Slowly the redness went down and the texture of my skin improved and I took the advice of the therapist and only used the wash sporadically for a while, it did help and my skin seemed a little clearer and incredibly soft, but there was still no way I could go without foundation to try and cover the few angry spots that still came up and would linger around for ages.

Eventually I plucked up the courage to go to my GP about it, I had always been too embarrassed to do this. It is soul destroying to struggle with bad skin and it knocks your confidence so much and the thought of having to discuss this with a stranger made me feel sick with nerves! I bit the bullet and the GP prescribed me a gel to apply at nights to the affected area, and it worked like a dream! After a few weeks not only were all of my spots gone and no new ones were appearing but it actually calmed down the redness and scars from past breakouts. Within a few months my skin was so good I no longer needed to use foundation any more and spots seemed like a thing of the past, so without any spots to apply the gel to I stopped using it.

My skin was fine for a long time before I hit a bad patch in my personal life and I started to break out again, and I was back on the foundation bandwagon, trying desperately to cover terrible breakouts once again. I had moved and wasn't registered with a local GP and was told that they already had too many patients so was unable to find a surgery to take me on, so with that and having a full time job I didn't have the time to get to my old GP within opening hours, and never replaced my prescription gel.

Then I became really ill with my IBD and anemia and for some reason my skin cleared up, I was too sick to apply foundation and to be honest didn't really care what I looked like whilst I was in hospital anyway. But it dawned on me I had nothing to worry about as my spots had disappeared, they didn't return until 4 months ago when I had a blood transfusion and became "healthy" again and my bad skin was back once more! So the struggle continues, and I can't really make sense of the whole being super ill but having great skin, and then being healthy and having terrible skin. You would think it would be the other way around wouldn't you?

After being given a £5 off voucher for the No 7 range by my mum, I decided on the hot cloth cleanser. I have been using it religiously since I bought it and it has helped my skin so much. I use it morning and night, and slowly it has improved my skin, it's far from perfect but it is doing well and it has restored my faith in skincare.

No 7 hot cloth cleanser

I will admit that I didn't think much of skincare products, because after all these years of having bad skin and trying product after product to get rid of the spots I had decided that a cleanser couldn't possibly help because it would be creamy and greasy and surely only aggravate the problem so I always settled for face washes of every type in a vain attempt to clear my skin. I also avoided mositurisers because even the ones that were meant for oily skin had always left my skin feeling and looking greasy and would make my spots worse.

You can see why I had no faith in skincare can't you, I tried all sorts of things to make my skin better. And because I was always so concerned with getting rid of the spots I never stopped to see if the products were helping my skin in any other way. This cleanser had made me realise the difference a good skincare routine can make, and although I will be paying a visit to the GP to get myself some more of my miracle gel, I will continue to invest in good skincare products now as well. The blogging community has opened my eyes to the little skincare treasures out there, and I am excited to try things now, as I am a believer in skin products, not just make-up!

I hope my story has helped and inspired you to invest in the best skincare you can afford, and also for any acne sufferers out there, please don't suffer in silence. If you haven't already, go and see your GP. You never know, they might be able to prescribe something that will help you, like they did with me. Don't give up if you haven't found your miracle product yet, push to be referred to a dermatolagist because they will have a better understanding and may be able to help you. If I have learnt anything from being so ill from my IBD it's that you don't get anything from the NHS unless you fight for it. If they can palm you off, they will. If you are not persistent with them then they may not help you. I was turned away 6 times from my GP and A&E with my illness, until I became too ill to even get out of bed and I was rushed to hospital! You know when something is wrong and there should be a Doctor out there somewhere that will be able to help you, even with a non life threatening problem like bad skin.

After a look on the Dermalogica site, this is the medibac kit that I purchased. Don't be put off of this range of products because of my reaction to them. They are extremely strong so you do need to let your skin get used to them first unlike I did. But I do believe that the products can help someone out there that is struggling with acne issues.

Check back next week for the final part of my skincare story.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Make-up Wishlist

I spent a little bit of time drooling over the "new in" section on Selfridges website, and saw a huge amount of make-up that I want. I will share what my heart desires the most with you all.

make-up wishlist, stories of an english rose

1. Clarins Oddessey Eye Quartet £30
2. Chloe solid perfume locket £45
3.Dior diorling nail polish £20
4. Bobbi Brown Bellini lip and eye palette £59

Full on heart skipping a beat going on looking at these, I NEED the Chloe locket in my life, it is an absolute must! You can find all of the above items on Selfridges site.

Fact Friday

A few little facts about me and my week, that's of course assuming you're interested!

Highlight of my week?

Going to the hairdressers, I love the salon I go to. The staff are young and friendly and because the salon is small we can have a giggle. They were testing out their face painting skills whilst I was there for Halloween!

Most worn item of clothing?

My denim jacket, it has been a bit chilly so I have needed something when I have gone out but nothing too heavy or else I get hot. I love my little jacket, it's so easy to wear.

What make-up am I wearing today?

I have no make-up on today, I have been in all day and feeling really lazy. I also wanted to give my skin a break and let it breathe.

Most lusted after item?

There are actually way to many to mention, from clothes and shoes to make-up and body care, I have a list as long as my arm of things I want. The item that is on my mind quite a lot is the Ciate calendar I wrote about yesterday. I'm worried it will sell out before I get one!

Any interesting plans this weekend?

Unfortunately not, my boyfriend is having to work tomorrow and I am exhibiting at a wedding fayre on Sunday so I have a couple of bits to finalise for that.

Hope your weekend plans are more exciting than mine! Have a good one everybody!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Advent Calendars

I'm pretty sure that if you aren't a fan of Christmas you may get a little sick of me over the coming months, for this I will apologise now.

Now onto the serious matter of advent calendars!

I have had one every year since I was a child, when I was small I had a fabric Christmas tree with little pockets that my mum would fill with all the usual kiddy crap we loved, miniature pencils, rubbers, pencil sharpeners you name it I would get myself in a flap over it every morning in December as I threw myself down the stairs as fast as I could to find out what was going to be in the little pocket that morning. Sometimes I would almost combust with excitement when there was a little note in the pocket telling me where to find my gift, this would mean that it was too big to fit in the calendar so had to be something extra good!

Now that I am an adult (ahem) I just get a chocolate calendar instead which isn't nearly as much fun, so this year I declared to my mother I have found the calendar that I want, to which she smirked knowing it wasn't going to be cheap!

As calendars go at £38 it's not the cheapest no, but I think it is well worth the money. You may have already guessed it, I want the Ciate mini mani month!
17 mini paint pots, 4 mini caviar blends and 3 paint pot glitter shades! I can feel the self combustion coming on again as I type. I am so excited about this calendar, and the best bit; my mum agreed to buy it for me! I'm a very lucky girl indeed.

ciate mini mani month calendar

There is an even better advent calendar from Selfridges. The beauty advent calendar features 24 mini beautylicious treats from top brands like Lancome and Shu Uemura, but at £82 my mum might just recoil in horror at the price tag of that one! It does look lovely though!

The beauty advent calendar

Who says advent calendars are just for kids?!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Photo Shoot Edits

I finally got back the final copies from a shoot I did about a month ago. I was really looking forward to seeing these images, as it wasn't your typical "make the model beautiful" shoot. The brief was to make her look pale, unkept and no make-up, make-up and messy hair. So I will stop the chatter and show you the pics.

Hair and make-up by Michelle Bowers

hair & make-up by Michelle Bowers

Make-up used.

Make-up forever pan stick foundation
Lancome loose powder

Vivo eye-shadow in "fine"
Benefit big beautiful eyes dark brown
Benefit bag gal lash mascara

Make-up forever foundation on lips
Loose powder on lips to dry them out

We Have a Lip Situation Here

I have a terrible habit, I just can't stop myself! I don't even know I'm doing it half the time. Yes, my name is Michelle and I am a lip chewer.

Funnily enough I only chew my bottom lip and I have tried to stop but I have done it since I was a child and it's ingrained in me, I even make my lips bleed sometimes. I didn't realise how much I did it until a couple of years ago someone mentioned it, and it became apparent that I do it whenever I'm bored, nervous or uncomfortable.

So now I will move onto the real reason for this post, not just to admit to my lip chewing addiction. Despite the fact that I mutilate my lips on a daily basis I do actually like to take care of them and hate having sore, dry lips, so I have a multitude of lips balms that I use. I find with lip balms, they are good at soothing your lips if they are sore, and are good for protecting them from the elements. But they don't necessarily supply enough moisture to them if they are dry, as the balm is so greasy it doesn't always sink into the skin, more just sits on top.

The other day I was browsing through the N Spa range, which I already loved thanks to their creme brulee, and hot fudge scented bubble baths (which are amazing, and I hope they do them again this Christmas) but they now do a facial skincare range as well. When I spotted their nourishing eye and lip treatment I was sold instantly! I figured that if it was for use on the eye area as well that it had to be a cream rather than a balm so I could add it to my lip balm stash without feeling guilty that I had bought yet another of the same product!

It comes in a little tube that you would normally get for eye gels/creams with the little dispenser nozzel, so you don't have to keep dipping your fingers into the product and transferring bacteria. The product itself is halfway between a gel and a cream and sinks into the skin really easily. It contains avocado and jojoba oils to moisturise and caffeine to diminish dark circles under the eyes.

I have been using it as a lip treatment more than on my eye area, as that was what I bought it for. I wanted something to really moisturise my lips, especially as it's getting colder and my lips always dry out more in the winter. It is fantastic for this, the light cream smooths onto your lips and sinks in within seconds, and leaves them feeling really soft. I find it works so much better than using a balm. I have it sitting next to my computer and apply it a few times throughout the day and then sometimes pop a little Vaseline on top to seal the moisture in. I will definitely be repurchasing this when I run out, as it works so well and only cost £3.

And for those you out there that like to know this info, the nourishing eye and lip treatment is paraben free and more importantly, not tested on animals.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

My Skincare Story

I started to write this, and it became a mammoth post, so to ensure you don't die of old age in the process of reading it, I will split it into a couple of posts in a skincare series.

My skincare story.

I will admit something to you all, in the last few months I have become incredibly paranoid about wrinkles! It is now bordering a mild obsession and I am shocked at myself that I am turning into one of "those" people. You know the sort, the ones that buy into every anti-wrinkle cream and would rather eat their own arm than grow old gracefully and embrace their wrinkles as signs of a good life!

It is painful at how much I am worried about them, maybe because I feel too young to be getting any fine lines around my eyes and on my forehead, or maybe it's because I feel completely unprepared for this. I mean there should be classes in school for this, to inform girls that these things will happen sooner than they think. After all, aren't wrinkles for old people? It's one of those taboo subjects for people under 40 isn't it, but I honestly think that these things should be spoken about from an earlier age so you are not completely sidelined (like I was) when these little buggers start showing up when you look in the mirror and you recoil in horror!

Girls, in my opinion should be taught from a young age to cleanse, tone and moisturise and anti-wrinkle creams should be used more as prevention rather than a lame attempt at curing the problem. Because lets be honest here, once the wrinkles have set in, you are on a slippery slope trying to turn back the clock and make them less noticeable, let alone struggling in vain at actually trying to get rid of them!

So now I am aware of the wrinkles that are creeping in, I have been wearing my sunglasses more, I would rather cover my face and look like a complete twit than squint my eyes if the sun is too bright. I instantly stop frowning as soon as I'm aware that I'm doing it and smooth my forehead with my fingers somehow convincing myself this will help. I have been slapping on anti-wrinkle day cream and using eye cream for the first time in my life. Should I not have started all of this earlier?

I am after all, a daughter to a woman who has always used soap and water to wash her face insisting that she has oily skin so it will be ok! I was never taught a good skincare routine as a child, and so I never really knew any better or got into the habit of doing it. Sure I read all those teen mags that told you to cleanse, tone and moisturise and drink plenty of water, but I think the best way for young girls to get into the habit of doing it is to watch their mothers and be actively encouraged to look after their skin. I was one of those youngsters that was more interested in make-up than I was skincare, never understanding the importance of it.

I hit my teens and started to get a few skin problems so used the typical teen products like Clearasil which looks and smells a bit like nail polish remover. It honestly never did me any good, so I gave up and have practically struggled with my skin ever since. I tried all of those different types of anti-blemish washes, to no avail. So I continued to sink more and more into make-up and trying to cover up my skin and hide behind a mask of foundation and concealer.

I was always told that I would grow out of it, well if that's the case I am still waiting for that day. How much older do I need to be in order to outgrow my teenage like skin? In my early twenties I would spend hours on the internet researching "miracle" products, and buying products like freederm, which didn't help me at all. I had read reviews for products like creme de la mer being a lifesaver for people who suffered with bad skin, but the price tag was extremely hefty. So I carried on my search thinking there must be another way.

creme de la mer, stories of an english rose

I will continue this series on my skincare story, so be sure to check back to read about what I tried next. The second post will be up shortly!

Friday, 12 October 2012

Halloween Nails

I am getting into the Halloween spirit today, I have done some Halloween nail art and I have 2 pumpkins waiting for me to cook or create with! I really love this time of year so much.

So I will jump straight to it, and show you my festive nails.

Halloween nails, stories of an english rose
Halloween nails, stories of an english rose

I still have on "the world is not enough" it's not my favourite colour but it was a good background for this as it's not colourful enough to distract attention from the cute little pumpkins and skull and cross bones I have used. I created the blood using OPI "the spy who loved me" and I have really fallen in love with this colour. I can see myself wearing this a lot in the lead up to Christmas as it's such a lovely red with gold flecks.

Halloween nails, stories of an english rose

Hope you guys like them and it inspires you to create your own Halloween nails! 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Winter Woes and Warmers

I am starting a new series for the chilly months. I have decided to call it winter woes and warmers because I am going to go through a few beauty problems that arise when the weather turns colder and also some warming winter recipes to keep you toasty from the inside out! Its raining outside right now, so go grab yourself a cup of something hot and maybe a couple of biccies, and settle down to have a read! I hope you guys enjoy.

So for the first in the series:

Dry and chapped lips woe/ Lemon chicken soup warmer

What you will need:

stories of an english rose

3 dessertspoons lemon juice
2 eggs
4 tsps cornflour
chicken stock

I make this soup all of the time, it is so quick and simple yet comforting and yummy. This is the super simple version where I use bottled lemon juice and a chicken stock pot. You could of course go the extra mile and use fresh lemon and make your own chicken stock.

So firstly you will need to boil some water to make up your chicken stock. I have used a stock pot because they taste better than stock cubes and don't have the unnatural neon colour of a cube. 

Pour 3/4 of a pint of boiling water into a saucepan and add your chicken stock and whisk it in. Heat the stock to boiling point again.

Meanwhile break your eggs into a bowl and whisk until there are little bubbles on the surface.

Add 3 dessert spoons of lemon juice to the eggs and whisk together (you can always add more lemon later if you like)

Take the stock off of the heat, it's now time to temper your egg mixture so you don't end up with scrambled egg soup. Take a small amount of stock in a ladle and add it to your egg mixture whisking all the time, keep doing this to bring the egg mixture up to a warm temperature, and then ladle it back into the stock whilst whisking. The eggs shouldn't scramble, but the mixture will still be quite hot.

Now take 4 teaspoons of cornflour into a bowl and mix with a tiny splash of water or lemon juice to create a smooth, lump free pouring consistency. Add this to your soup and put the heat back on the lowest temperature, you don't want the soup to boil or simmer. Whisk the soup until it thickens slightly, taste to see if there is enough lemon for your liking, I always end up adding a bit more as I like the tang. 

Serve, and garnish with a little flat leaf parsley if you like!

This recipe makes about 2 bowlfuls, I make it for myself and always have a bit left over for 2nds. So just double or triple the quantities if making it for the whole family. You can also add a little cooked rice and/or shredded chicken to make it more hearty and filling.

Chicken and lemon soup

The cold weather really gets to your lips, as they have no sebum ducts of their own they dry out really easily. Plummeting temperatures and wind, plus the fact that you may lick them and saliva is very drying (yer I know it sounds gross but you know you do it!) all add to sore, chapped and flaky lips. Dry lips do not look good with your favourite dark Autumn/Winter shade of lipstick on as it will show up every imperfection! So I hear you ask, what is the best way to combat this woe?

There are several ways, it's all about finding what works best for you. I will list a variety of techniques for you to try out.

Firstly, you need to exfoliate off the dry flaky bits of skin. You can try using an old toothbrush to buff the skin off, dampen the brush slightly and use small circular motions to exfoliate your lips.
Another good method is using a flannel or better still a muslin cloth, they are scrubby enough without being too harsh that they will make your lips sore, use damp and rub gently over your pout.
Lastly, you could always use a lip scrub. The most well known one of these is currently by lush, and is a little pot of sugar scrub, they are really good and when you are done scrubbing you just lick your chops to get rid of the excess sugar!

Now you need to moisturise and protect your lips. Slap on some of your favourite lip balm to replenish the moisture, Vaseline is an oldy but a goody especially their new pink bubbly flavour which I have grown quite fond of. Carmex is another of my favourites, it's good for soothing sore lips.

In the winter always put some lip balm on your lips if nothing else before going outside. It will leave a barrier to stop the elements drying them out, and keep much needed moisture in. I always find that if I wear lipstick daily, my lips feel much better after a couple of days. I guess because it stops me licking and chewing at my lips (my worst habit, my boyfriend is always telling me to stop, but I don't even know I'm doing it half the time) and it also provides the much needed barrier I have been waffling on about. Now has there ever been a better excuse to buy and wear more lipstick? I think not!

Stories of an English rose

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

OPI The world is not enough

I have finally got round to painting my nails with another of the Skyfall mini's. Today I used the world is not enough, which is a mink colour with very fine glitter flecks in it. It's a pretty colour, quite demure.

OPI the world is not enough, stories of an english rose

I like the colour, but I'm not crazy about it on me. I'm more of a fan of bright shades or really deep colours and this is neither of those. I feel it's quite mature and elegant, but not really me. It also takes about 4 coats before you get a decent opaque coverage, which is quite a lot.

OPI the world is not enough, stories of an english rose

As this is one of the mini bottle's it obviously has a mini brush, which is a pain in the butt to paint long nails with, so it took what felt like forever to do 4 coats on 10 nails and I was beginning to think I would be painting my nails for the rest of my life! 

Although this colour is not for me, I'm sure some of you out there will love it!

Girl Crush Tag

I have decided to do my first tag, and I have chosen to do the girl crush one because there are so many gorgeous celebs out there that I admire, and wish I looked like!

So first up is......

Kim Kardashian

She is just a natural beauty isn't she, those big bambi eyes surrounded by a million long dark lashes and the perfect full lips, sumptuous dark shiny hair and latte coloured skin. She is just gorgeous, and I would give my right arm to look like her! She also has impeccable taste in make-up, admired by many as youtube and blogs are littered with tutorials on how to copy her look.


She has the most beautiful hypnotic green eyes, a cute button nose and perfect full lips, not to mention her amazing sense of style and attitude. She has the balls to change up her hairstyle and try something new, and wears the most gorgeous and sometimes outrageous clothes. Rihanna is someone I admire for being outspoken, and not ashamed of who she is, she is always up for trying something new and just being herself!

Katy Perry

Miss K Pez, a beautiful girl with a gorgeous body. She embraces her curves and isn't trying to be stick thin, or wear what everyone else is, to fit in. She in fact did quite the opposite and she has a career because of that! Her break through single got her noticed because it was controversial and her style was different, she isn't afraid to say what's on her mind or stand out from the crowd and try something new. I love her for her wacky hair colours, those beautiful baby blue's and an unforgettable sense of style!

Gwen Stefani

The girl is incredible! She is in her 40's but doesn't look a day over 25, she is simply gorgeous. Those deep chocolate eyes, platinum blonde hair and the ability to rock red lips like no other, makes her one of my style icons. She is also not afraid to change it up and be different, she was wearing her hair in victory rolls years before they became trendy again and always looks amazing. I have loved her since I was a kid and used to listen to no doubt and wish I could have blue hair like hers.

Kimberley Walsh

How can you not love a face like that! She has a cute look, beautiful plump lips and pretty eyes, gorgeous high cheek bones and a button nose, and a banging body to top it off. She is a home grown beauty with amazing curves and a girl next door face, and hair the colour of honey. 

Isabel Lucas

She is just so natural and girl next door, and has this beautiful little elfin face and upturned nose. She is incredibly cute and a typical aussie beach babe with the soft wavy blonde hair. I love her geek chic look and the way she looks just perfect without a scrap of make-up on her face, I wish I could do that!

So there's my round up of beauties, I hope you enjoyed reading what I had to say about these lovely ladies and their style. Who do you have a girl crush on?

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Party Make-up

It is officially the part season, Halloween parties, Bonfire parties, Thanks-Giving parties (for those in the US) Christmas parties, New Years Eve parties  That is a lot of events to get glammed up for!

I am a hair and make-up artist, as well as working on photo shoots I also work with brides and ladies wanting their hair and make-up done for events and nights out. So if you feel like treating yourself or someone else to having your hair and make-up done in your home or hotel, feel free to contact me. I work throughout London and the home counties and Suffolk and will work out special rates for group bookings.

I am also offering the lovely readers of my blog a 20% discount this Winter with this promotional code: ROSE12

Check out my site for more details and info: Hairz n Graces

Here are some of my previous clients for some make-up inspiration.

Hairz n Graces, make-up by Michelle Bowers

Urban Decay golds, with black liner.

Hairz n Graces, make-up by Michelle Bowers

Something a little more dramatic, purple and black eyes with lots of lashes!

L'Occitane Shimmering Powder

My boyfriend very sweetly bought me the shimmering powder from L'Occitane whilst we were out shopping a couple of weeks ago. I first saw it when I was out with a friend and we tried out this sweet little bottle of rose scented powder and I fell in love with the way it looked and really wanted one, but at £22 and when I had already spent a lot of money that day on make-up I decided it was a luxury I would have to buy another day.

Lucky for me I didn't have to buy it, and I love it all the more, knowing that my boyfriend got it for me. It makes it more special.

I will show you why I am so crazy about this little bottle.

L'Occitane shimmering power, stories of an english rose

Firstly, it comes in this cute pink box which I think is so pretty that I don't want to throw it away. So I think I may keep this for display purposes. 

L'Occitane shimmering power, stories of an english rose

I absolutely love the little atomizer bottle the shimmer powder is in, I think it is gorgeous and really like the vintage touch. It's one of those items that may not be that practical in everyday life (I really don't need to wear shimmer powder on a daily basis, as much as I might want to) but I still want it to be on display because of how pretty it looks! 

The powder itself is stunning, it is really delicate and catches the light beautifully. This product is perfect for wearing on your shoulders, arms and legs on a night out and makes your skin sparkle without being over the top. You can also spray it in your hair and it looks really pretty. 

I am not a massive fan of rose scented things because I think it is a very old fashioned and over powering smell, but this is a lovely soft powdery rose fragrance and is very delicate, so if like me you are not that keen on rose, I'm sure you will like this because it is a much more soft, wearable scent.

There isn't much point in me photographing the product on my skin as it really wouldn't show up on camera, but trust me it looks amazing in person. I would suggest you go into a L'Occitane store and try some if you are interested in this, then you can see just how pretty it is!

I also love the attention to detail L'Occitane pay when packaging your purchases. They pop it in a lovely little paper bag with some tissue paper that they fragrance, which I think is a really nice touch. I also received a lot of tester sachets in the bag as well which was really nice. 

L'Occitane, stories of an english rose

I am really looking forward to trying out some more of their products, as the things I had a sniff of in store were lovely! Especially their honey fragranced mother and baby range, it was so good. Who says you have to have a baby to use it!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Facemask Time!

I felt like putting a facemask on last night before bed, I have a couple stashed from the last time I got 3 on a deal at a pound store. I picked out the Montagne Jeunesse stawberry souffle mask, it's supposed to draw out impurities and moisturise.

stories of an english rose
I cleansed my face first with No 7 hot cloth cleanser to get rid of my make-up, and then slapped on the strawberry squidge. It's quite a thick mask and it's pale pink with little strawberry seeds in it to exfoliate and smells like a strawberry yogurt. I applied it generously all over my face and always find with these sachets that you get quite a lot of product in them. There was too much for one application even though I put quite a thick layer on my skin, so I still have some left in the packet which I will use up on my T-zone another time, as there's not quite enough for my entire face left. I think if I was a little less generous then I could get 2 applications out of one sachet.

strawberry souffle, stories of an english rose
I also put some argan oil through my hair and popped a warm turban towel over the top to help it penetrate. So I looked like a total twit walking around with a pink face and towel on my head, but never mind it was all for a good cause!

I left the mask on for 20 mins, it doesn't dry out like some masks do so it was fairly easy to wash off with the help of a muslin cloth.

It hasn't performed miracles, I haven't woken up to perfect skin. But my skin did feel quite soft and plump this morning, and not as dry as it sometimes is. So for a cheapy face mask I think this did quite well and it certainly won't break the bank. I would buy it again for when I am planning a relaxing pamper session and need a cheap little pick me up.

I still have one sachet left, which is a passion peel off mask, it contains pomegranate and passion flower so I imagine it will smell quite nice, and I do love to peel those bad boys off, it's like playing with PVA glue when you were a kid!

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

MUA Constellation Review

If you have read my blog before you may have seen that I was really excited to get my hands on 2 bottles of MUA's nail constellation and I couldn't wait to do some nail art with them. I love the way my nail art turned out, but I have experienced a few problems with the little decorative balls.

Michelle Bowers, stories of an english rose
Now I read on the MUA blog not to put top coat over them as it dulls the colour, so I did as I was told but the consellation literally starts falling off straight away. I did the nail art before going out for dinner and by the time I got home a had bare patches in my patterns where they had fallen off and I was finding these little balls rolling around all over the place, I'm pretty sure I have eaten a few as well where they have fallen off into my food! The other annoying thing with them is every time I try to tie my hair up or even touch my hair, strands get caught in the constellation and pull bits of my hair-do out and pull off even more of the balls!

Because there was no top coat on them, there was also nothing to protect them from water, so after I washed my hands only a couple of times, rather than wearing turquoise and deep purple constellation on my nails I had lilac and silver where the colour had worn off completely! Not impressed!

I have since discovered yet another problem with having this on my nails, I have quite long nails and when I type they sometimes slip off the keys and go into the cracks inbetween, which normally isn't a problem. But now that I have added thickness, my nails sometimes get jammed in the keyboard!! It was quite funny the first time it happened, I ended up with a lot of "a's" in my word where my finger was stuck and it kept typing whilst I tried to release my finger nail from the keyboards clutches. But now it is just niggling me, and I really want to take it off of my nails and feel free to touch my hair, type and eat without getting stuck or consuming something that I'm pretty sure I'm not meant to!

I'm not denying that it looks really striking on the nails, but I just think that at the very least a top coat needs to be applied to prevent it falling straight off, and losing it's colour and at least then you will have a smoother surface to your design so it shouldn't get caught on everything. I think the next time I use this, I will put a gel layer over the top to lock them in. 

I hate that it seems like I'm bad mouthing a product, but I had to be honest. Especially seeing as there are so many people who are yet to get some of the constellations seeing as they have been sold out in many stores, I don't want people to get it home and be dissapointed.

Monthly Favourites: September

I have finally got round to photographing my monthly faves.

Drumroll please..... ta-dah!

Michelle Bowers, stories of an english rose

So here are the make-up items I have been wearing a lot more recently. I have noticed that all of my make-up items are a similar colour! It honestly didn't occur to me until I started writing this and looking at them all next to each other. They are all a kind of bronzed, peachy pink shade, so I must really love that colour and have never known it before haha! 

So we have:

OPI Cozu-Melted in the sun

I bought this at Olympia so it was towards the back end of September but I painted my nails with it the day after I got it and fell in love with the colour, it's so pretty. I did a post about it here if you want to read more about it.

Vivo baked blush in cinnamon

As you may have realised I am a massive fan of Vivo products, they are great value for money. This blusher is so pretty, it's a lovely warm pink/peach shade and I pretty much wore it every day in September.

Vivo eyeliner in black glitter

Another Vivo treasure, I love this pencil liner as it is lovely and soft and smudges really well and it has tiny flecks of silver glitter in it. I love that it has a little smudger on one end of the pencil as well, makes it super easy to blend it in without having to use a brush. It only cost £1.50 as well, what a bargin!

Benefit big beautiful eyes palette 

What can I say, this is such a make-up staple. The colours are pretty and wearable for everyday without looking boring because they have a lovely shimmer to them. When I am rushed or not in the mood to be too fussy with my make-up I will always reach for this palette, I also love the little liner brush that it came with so use that almost everyday. This is how I wear mine in case you are interested in what the colours are like.

No 7 hot cloth cleanser

I was never really a cleanser type of girl, I always used face wipes to take make-up off (because I was lazy) and a facial wash in the morning as I thought it would be better for my problematic skin than using something creamy. But I had spotted this in a review and decided to give it a go, I have been using it morning and night for a month now I think and I love it! I love the muslin cloth for making it easy and mess free to wash off, and I love how the cleanser has helped my skin, it is smoother and brighter than it was and it has also restored my faith in skincare! Check out my full review here.

So there is my round up of my September staples. I hope you're having an awesome weekend everyone!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Fact Friday

I just thought I would do this for fun, a few little facts about me today.

Whats on my nails today?

I just did my nails today, you may have seen in the post below. But I have mint candy apple by essie on my nails with patterns done with MUA nail constellations in leo.

How am I wearing my hair?

I have my hair in a high bun, I wear it like this a lot at the moment because it's quick and easy and also because my hair is naturally curly so most of the time I can't be bothered to blow dry and straighten it so it looks a little messy down. I'm also trying to give my hair a rest from heat, as when my anemia was quite bad a couple of months ago my hair started to fall out, so I have some areas with little tufts growing back and I don't want to put my hair under any undue stress in case it starts falling out again (nightmare)!

What perfume do I have on?

I am wearing my favourite, Jean Paul Gaultier classic. I love strong scents, and this one has notes of vanilla which I love. I am more a fan of vanilla fragrances than I am fruity or floral. So that's what I smell like lol

What am I wearing?

I have on a dark denim skirt, with a vivid green layered top. I am meeting a friend for dinner so will probably wear a pair of black wedged boots when I go out.

What make up do I have on?

I have L'Oreal infallible foundation, Benefit cha cha tint on my cheeks, and Benefit big beautiful eyes trio eyeshadow, I don't currently have anything on my lips but will probably put on some vaseline pink bubbly before I leave.

What am I having for dinner?

Nando's! Yummy, I have been in a weird mood today and haven't really fancied anything to eat. Some days I just can't seem to find something I want even though I feel hungry. The only thing I even nearly fancied was a chicken salad because it is nice and light, and rice, bread and pasta make my belly hurt so I have to really want them in order to risk the uncomfortable feeling I will get. I had a passanda for dinner last night with a little rice and I felt so full afterwards I want to give my stomach a break tonight.

If there are any questions you would like me to include next time comment below!