Spring Series: Pampering Pedicure

Today’s Spring series covers one of those pesky little maintenance tasks you need to do to get in shape for summer. Fear not, we’re simply tackling your tootsies today with my tips for an easy (and budget friendly) DIY manicure that will look as good as any salon trip, with a little effort.

First up, get your equipment together. You will need:

Somewhere to soak your feet, the bath is ideal but you could relocate to the sofa and use a washing up bowl!

  • A coarse body scrub and/or exfoliating gloves.
  • Nail varnish remover (if necessary).
  • Nail clippers, cuticle stick and nail file.
  • Moisturiser (and cuticle oil if you have it).
  • Nail base coat, polish and top coat.

  1. First off remove any polish you are wearing and soak your feet in warm water with a splash of your favourite bath product.
  2. Using either a decent dollop of scrub, or wearing the exfoliating mitts, scrub your feet all over, focusing on area’s of hard skin such as the heel, and around the nails.
  3. Rinse, towel dry and cut your nails whilst soft.
  4. Clean under the nail and apply moisturiser to the whole foot.
  5. Apply cuticle oil if you have it (moisturiser will do) and proceed to gently push the cuticles back.
  6. This next step is amongst the most important for results – filing the nail makes the pedicure appear professional as your nails get a lovely neat and tidy shape so spend some time on this, creating a nice square nail and smoothing the corners.
  7. Dry the nails themselves with a damp towel and paint them. Set some time aside and do a proper job starting with base coat, then 2 coats of colour and seal with a top coat. Allow to dry properly so you don’t smudge the nail.
  8. For extra dry feet (and only if you are sure the colour is dry), apply a thick layer of moisturiser and pop some socks on overnight for super smooth feet.

And voila! You’re ready for summer!


Spring Series: The Perfect Palette

One of my favourite things to do in spring is to peruse the new beauty offerings. All of the big beauty houses bring out spring cosmetic collections in delicious pastels, tropical brights and bronze beauty perfection. Perhaps even more than the colours, it’s the textures that make them so attractive – juicy shades of lipgloss, shimmering highlighters and electric eye liners perfect for warmer weather and tired complexions. So for today’s spring series I’m bringing you my pick of the most coveted items from the beauty halls to treat yourself to.

  • Bobbi Brown has, as always, produced a colour-filled collection called Lilac Rose with her usual limited edition shimmer brick for an all over glow and the trademark pot rouge to make your cheeks really pop.
  • I fell in love with these polishes after seeing it on Ruth – it may just be the perfect gold flecked coral for summer. Dior Vernis Spring Ball.
  • Eye palettes are often expensive but give you a range of complimentary shades and when worn in different combinations, a whole range of different looks. I like the ease with which you can travel light and take just one palette with everything you need for day-to-night wear. Try this one from Dior: Cherie Bow Palette
  • My favourite skin pick-me-up has to be this Laura Mercier Radiance Primer. It’s more subtle than the illuminating tinted moisturiser and can be worn alone or under another tinted moisturiser, BB cream or foundation for a photo-finish glow and great lightweight coverage.
  • Looking for a new mascara? Get Betty Boop eyes with Lancome Hynose Star Mascara for a volumised and curled ‘star eyed’ look.

Have you seen any beauty lust-after’s?


Borrowing from the Boys…

Due to disruption yesterday this post (which should have gone up yesterday lunchtime) is getting a little longer in the spotlight for you all to add your thoughts! Penny will be back with her musical discoveries this afternoon!

Unsurprisingly, my first stop when it comes to beauty products is not the mens beauty aisle in Boots. Last week however when we were on holiday, I dipped into Pete’s washbag and decided to try out his moisturiser, L’Oreal for Men Wrinkle De-crease. A bit of a cheeky present I got him for his thirtieth (with an anti-aging sub-text!) it had only made it away with us as Pete had remembered he might need a bit of extra attention for his skin after a day of sub zero winds and reflected sun on the slopes.

I was really pleasantly surprised, it had a lovely light fluid texture from the pump dispenser, sunk straight into my parched skin and had that bonus male fresh fragrance that I quite liked! After weeks of super cold weather here in the UK alternating with harsh central heating, I’ve really been battling to keep my skin hydrated and fight the flakes I experience on my t-zone without feeling like I have had to slick my face with overly thick or heavy moisturizer. I couldn’t believe something so light and fresh feeling could do such a great job.

Apart from occasionally borrowing deodorant or a razor if I have run out myself, I’ve never really used mens grooming products and it left me wondering if I was missing out?

Is there anything in your beauty routine that you borrow from the boys?


#JanuaryJoy – Manicure Monday

You all know how I love my nails and I’m a big DIY manicure fan. I always keep my eyes peeled for the latest trends although I leave it to the beauty bloggers to find them and pick them out on Pinterest ;). Over Christmas I was all about the glitter, wearing a festive ruby red glitter shade by Essie and so far this January I’ve gone for a mixed metallics look of silver solid glitter topped by big gold confetti glitter – super sparkly. However much I’m loving glitter though, my nails and patience are not. Taking it off is the biggest waste of time and so unkind to your nails, so I’ve been looking for something to satisfy my sparkle craving with a ton of shine that you only get from a block colour polish.

Enter the crescent moon manicure or silhouette nail.

First spotted on Prabal Gurung’s Spring 2012 show, it was the Chanel Fall 2012 Couture show where this look got snapped by the paps. I love the metallic sparkle hit whilst keeping the nail art subtle 🙂

Sure, flashy nails are never going to change the world, but sometimes changing your mood and brightening your day is as good as it gets. Share your #ManicureMonday by tweeting me a picture (don’t forget the #JanuaryJoy tag too) and let me know if you’ll be trying this at home.

How To:

  1. Start with clean filed nails and your choice of base coat. (I use Leighton Denny Under Cover Base Coat)
  2. Apply one coat of your chosen metallic shade. Make sure you choose a polish that is dense enough with one coat or you will need two. Apply right to the edge of the nail bed and sides of the nail.
  3. Next apply your main shade (Choose a flat, non metallic shade for the best contrast.) leaving a 2mm gap at the nail bed. Taper the colour out towards the sides so by the time you reach the nail tip the colour covers the whole width of the nail. Tip: Using a polish that has a wide brush like Essie or Rimmel makes this technique a lot easier.
  4. Apply a second layer of your top shade taking care to stay within the shape you have created.
  5. Seal with a generous coat of topcoat, making sure to extend right to the sides of the nail and to the cuticle to sandwich your nail art between base and top coat, for extra durability.
  6. If you have any, finish with Leighton Denny Miracle Drops Nail Polish Dryer to reduce drying time and smudges. Tip: If you’re a bit wobbly applying nail colour and have painted your finger when extending the polish right to the edges, use a cotton bud dipped in nail polish remover to tidy the edges up and give a professional finish.

I hope you like the effect – every time I catch a flash of gold from mine it makes me smile. 🙂 And it just goes to show, you don’t meed a pro-manicure for your nails to look good and give you some #JanuaryJoy. (If you do happen to have a bit of spare cash and feel in need of a treat however, I’d fully recommend going and putting your feet up with a magazine whilst getting a pedicure this Monday!)


#JanuaryJoy – Overhaul your Skincare

January is a time for fresh starts, clean slates and good intentions. I don’t know about you but I’m always in need of a kick up the behind when it comes to skin care and I can’t think of a better time than now, when I’m feeling motivated and thinking about all the events I have coming up this year that I want my skin to be glowing for.

In a moment I’m going to share my skin care resolutions and I’d love to hear yours. As with so many of the #JanuaryJoy prompts, just writing something down makes me feel much more committed to the idea and it’s fab sharing tips and thoughts with you all.

Image of and credited to Keiko Lynn

First though, I want to update you all on something I have been doing for my skin for a while now. Back in June I wrote 2 posts on Adult Acne… One busting the myths and encouraging you all to seek treatment if you need it, instead of putting up with less than perfect skin and a second detailing the acne treatments you might be offered. At the time, my skin had been particularly troublesome. Barely a day went by that I didn’t get a new red lump under my skin and whilst they were easily coverable with make-up, who wants to have to do that everyday? The spots were also leaving areas of increased pigmentation behind and after looking back at some honeymoon photos of ours, (when I had been on treatment for spots) I realised how good my skin had been and how I had really just got used to the spots, kidding myself when I had a good few days that it wasn’t that bad. Don’t get me wrong, I was by no means acne-ridden, but I certainly fell into one of the categories of women who I was trying to target in those posts – Living with acne and not feeling like I really warranted medical treatment for it.

Fast forward 6 months and after 5-6 months of treatment, my skin is massively improved. I barely get a spot now and if I do they are much less significant. My skin tone is also so much better. All the pigmentation I was worried about has almost completely faded and apart from my desert island beauty item of blusher to brighten up my monotone skin, I’m happy to go completely barefaced any time, any where. (Here I am, doing just that.)

I’m so glad I went back to my GP (GP’s have their own GP too!) and got it sorted out. As with all my other skin care tips I wanted to remind you, if one of your resolutions this year is to sort your skin out, before forking out on expensive cosmetics and skincare, go back and read those posts and think about whether you actually need professional help. (It was interesting to note, even after writing those posts, that when I tweeted about how much my skin had improved yesterday, everyone was hoping I would reveal a miracle cosmetic product.)

Ok, so skin sorted, what am I focusing on this year when it comes to my skin?

  1. My devotion to Eve Lom is unwavering but my laziness seriously gets in the way of maintaining her regime. I’m going to try my very best not to fall into bed without taking my make up off and at the very least, keep some make-up remover wipes in my bedside to use if tiredness gets the better of me.
  2. Now I’ve turned thirty, I feel like it’s time to start thinking more seriously about anti-aging products. I’m not entirely convinced any anti-aging product actually works but I am going to endeavour to apply my eye cream at night and to moisturise my neck too.
  3. On the same note, I’m going to start the search for a super-serum to improve my skin and at the very least hydrate it better.

So let’s hear your thoughts now. What are your skin care resolutions? Did you visit your GP after reading my Adult Acne posts and have you seen a difference? Or has this post made you realise now is the time?

Here’s to your best skin ever in 2013!


PS. Here are those Acne posts if you want to re-read.

Pink to make the boys wink!

One of my goals when I first launched Florence Finds was to bring the real to ‘real life’, particularly when It comes to beauty. As a result, I arranged the Beauty DIY series we kicked off with this time last year. Real make up on real women. But in the same way that I put some of my own outfits on the blog here, I’ve been wanting to put some real make up ideas out there too.

Laura Mercier Baked eye colour in Rubellite // Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in Rose Gold // MAC lipstick in Lickable // Bobbi Brown Extreme Party Mascara

If you happen to have green-blue eyes like me, then purple is a super flattering colour. However recently I picked up a Violet/pink shade for eyes from Laura Mercier, in the Handpicked Media suite at Fashion week. It’s a pretty shocking shade, so it has been languishing in my draw until last week when I finally decided to try it out. I’m missing my usual doses of pink when it comes to clothing as the winter colour palette takes over, so I thought I’d give it a shot on my face. An all pink makeup look.

Admittedly it’s a bit of a scary shade and you’ve got to be careful not to look like you’ve had a smack in the eye. Counteract any redness around the eye with concealer, particularly under the eye and towards the nose, erasing shadows. Lashings of black mascara frame the eye and I used my Bobbi Brown shimmer brick to bring luminosity to the skin, a true pink on the cheek then finished with a slick of fuchsia lipstick.

What do you think readers? Have you tried a new makeup look recently?


More DIY Makeup looks…

Red Carpet Manicure…

Confession time. I have never had acrylic nails or a gel manicure. Partly because I used to be scared that it might damage my nails and partly because I don’t lied the really thick look of acrylics. Gel manicures however I love, I just haven’t taken the plunge because I’m lucky and have strong nails that polish seems to last one. However, I know that for many people with weak or brittle nails, or perhaps if you use your nails and hands a lot for work, gel manicures are a godsend. So when Laura Lawson told me about her new home kit for DIY gel manicures, I asked her to share her thoughts – it’s a perfect present for Santa to put under the Christmas tree 🙂

Since my first gel manicure at the start of the year, I was hooked. I was so used to having to re-do chipped nails every few days, that the idea that they could look perfect and super shiny for a few weeks blew my mind!

Image credit: Lawson Photography

The process isn’t miles away from a regular manicure, the nails are painted – base coat, 2 coats of colour and a top coat – but in between each coat the gel is cured under a UV light rather than air drying. This means when it’s finished, it’s totally dry and you don’t have to walk around like a crazy woman trying not to touch anything (which unfortunately means there’s no excuse not to wash up!).

Image credit: Lawson Photography

Removing them is a bit of a fiddle; they’re buffed, covered in a blob of cotton wool soaked in nail varnish remover, and each finger/thumb wrapped in foil for ten minutes. Then they pretty much slide off with an orange stick. I was a bit worried that my natural nails underneath would be ruined (like when you have acrylics), but I’ve found that as long as you soak them for long enough before removing so you’re not peeling them off, and use plenty of cuticle oil generally, your natural nails stay healthy and happy.

Image credit: Lawson Photography

Now for the negative – they’re so EXPENSIVE! I knew I couldn’t get away with spending £50 every three weeks on pretty hands, this would have to be ‘special occasions only’. Then I heard about Red Carpet Manicure. DIY gel manicure kits, complete with all you need (including the light to cure it) and lots of lovely colours of LED polish. For the price of a couple of professional manicures, I could get a kit and do my own – it was worth a try!

Image credit: Lawson Photography

I LOVE it! I got the professional LED kit, which includes: professional LED light, a pre & post application cleanser, a sanitizer, base coat gel, top coat gel, nail polish remover, nourishing cuticle oil, and a lovely classic bright red polish (Red Carpet Reddy). There’s lots of goodies on the Red Carpet Manicure website – gems and jewels kit, French manicure kit, and a big range of nail colours. I’ve been adding to my collection, my latest favourite is ‘Draped in rubies’, a gorgeous deep red with sparkles reminiscent of Dorothy’s shoes, very festive!

Image credit: Lawson Photography

Once you’ve mastered the hands, you have to give it a try on your feet; it lasts forever! 🙂


Monday Must-Have: Christmas nails

Chanel, Malice // Essie, Sssssexy // Topshop, Jem glitter topcoat // Butter London, Knees Up metallic red laquer

December is here and right now, all I want for Christmas is a festive red nail.

I usually shun red, feeling it’s a vintage shade and doesn’t work for me, however, I recently re-discovered its merits. For me, Christmas means red, in all its festive glory and here are a round up of my favourite shades available right now.

I’d love it if you would share your favourite shade of red this morning… tell me which one I need!


Found: Nails Inc Bling it on…

Regular readers will know I love my nails and often share a new nail find. The last trend I showed the DIY for was a painterly autumnal ombre effect, but todays is a product, similar to the Ciate nails I tried a while back.

I first saw the new Nails Inc Bling it on glitter effect probably a couple of months ago. Passing through Selfridges I made a bit of a cack-handed effort at trying it on myself, ended up with a slap dash mess and wrote it off as an insubstantial gimmick. Fast forward to two weeks ago and I was getting my nails done pre-holiday and ended up with this…

The truth was, one of the manicurists was at a loose end and utilised her time by studiously applying the Bling it on glitter to her nails whilst I was having mine done close by. The glitter effect in her chosen black looked absolutely stunning against her black uniform and I was captivated. It was so dense and perfect that it was unlike anything else I had seen and I was inspired to try it out for my holidays.

There are several colours available but I chose a pinky shade (in the Hologram set) which worked over my pink polish. Each kit has 2 complimentary shades of ‘bling’, a mini polish for underneath and mini Kensington Caviar topcoat, with a brush and tray to apply the bling. You tip the glitter into the tray, apply a layer of polish, dip your finger in to the glitter nail down, whilst rolling to evenly coat the nail (the tricky bit.) If you need extra, you shake it over the nail held over the tray, then brush the excess off the nail and finger with the brush. Finally seal with a coat or three of topcoat.

I was really impressed. I was afraid it would feel rough or catch on clothes but actually it becomes textured yet smooth once sealed with topcoat. I worried it would chip straight off but after week one of my holiday (including sand, sea and pool water,) my nails needed re-doing and the glitter ring finger remained intact. I re-did the others and a full 14 days later, my fingers were only just starting to look worse for wear. Impressive.

Clearly it’s not an everyday look, but if I have any special occasions coming up this party season, I know what I’ll be doing with my nails 😉


Monday Must-Have: Nars Blush

Today I am back at work having had a relaxing and recharging holiday. When I’m in America, I always do a bit a lot of shopping and cosmetics are amongst the things I make a bee-line for, always opting for American brands to make the most of the prices.

One thing I did want to pick up was a new blusher. My addiction is well documented but my beloved Nars ‘Orgasm’ Blush had recently died an ugly death dropped onto the bathroom floor. It’s the perfect sexy summer shade for bronzed cheeks but as it’s November I fancied a change with a pinker shade for my cooler toned winter skin.

I found it amongst the Nars collection – several have risqué names but this one takes the biscuit, going well past ‘rude’ to frankly just crude. (check out the name here if you’re not easily offended.) Described as a ‘Flirty, sheer peach‘ it’s definitely got the warm tones but is more of a dusty pink with a lot less shimmer than Orgasm, yet still enough.

It’s not cheap, but the texture is beautiful, all the Nars shades stay put and it lasts forever, (if you don’t drop it onto the bathroom floor.)

Love (a blushing for more than one reason,)

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