14 September 2014

{LUXX Beauty} Amala Spa

I recently went to heaven and it was a very very nice place. Also known as the Amala spa nestled into the Hyatt hotel Birmingham.

I arrived and was immediately tucked into a cosy low lit room to fill out a few bits of paperwork and sip some chilled water. I was then shown to the changing rooms, had a locked stuffed with goodies presented to me and wrapped myself into a thick fluffy white robe, pushed my feet into white slippers and padded out to the reception area. I was then escorted to a candle lit, fragranced therapy room for my treatments.

I was initially booked in for a 60 minute Swedish full body massage but the therapist had spotted on my paperwork that I wanted to leave the treatment feeling relaxed and de-stressed and checked I was happy to have less of an intense massage and more of a relaxing one instead. Yes please! I was then following up the massage with a 30 minute Recover touch facial.

I’m always convinced I’m never going to switch off properly with all the days to do list floating around my head and what I need to cook for supper but within 5 minutes my head was heavy, my eyes lids were drooping and I was in a state of bliss. Warm oils moisturised my skin whilst my muscles had their knots eased away.

After my hour of massage I had my face ultra-cleansed, toned, exfoliated, mask applied, head, neck and shoulders massaged, and a final cleanse again before moisturising. My face was left plumped up, glowing and looking ten time as fresh as when I had walked in.

I was left for a minute or two before a gentle tab on the shoulder brought me around. I literally stumbled from the therapy room back to the cosy room for some water and to wake up.

Once dressed, I took myself home and fell into a deep sleep for an hour. If that isn’t leaving relaxed and de-stressed I don’t know what is!

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You can see from the photos above that the decor is beautiful, every room is gorgeous and the spa is a feature of the hotel in it's own right, not just an afterthought which is the case with so many hotel spas.

If are looking for a pampering treatment that leaves you blissed out then look no further than the 60 minute full body massage at Amala. There is an extensive list of treatments for yourself or to treat someone and the location is perfect too, in the city centre just across from the new library.

19 August 2014

{LUXX Beauty} Destination Skin

Today’s review is exciting as I’m going further into the beauty world than I have gone before. I have shared past creams, gels and oils that my skin was loving but haven’t delved into cosmetic treatments.

The treatment I had is definitely a step up the extreme scale in terms of procedures but still relatively painless and safe for the results it gives.

I had Collagen IPL (Intense Pulsed Light). Most people will associate IPL with hair removal, I know I did but a different type of light can be used on the skin bringing different benefits.

When I went into Destination Skin I had a proper consultation and by that I mean, lay back, remove all make up and closely examine skin to determine what are the appropriate treatments. I had my pigmentation highlighted to me and shown where exactly I had darker spots on my face. These aren’t obvious straight away but now they have been pointed out I now can’t stop looking at them!

I was offered a session of IPL to boost collagen and target specific areas of pigmentation and when I agreed I had a patch test just under my jawbone to check for reactions, of which I had none. The patch test also gives the practioner the correct readings for the light strength to be used on you.

A quick note about the clinic, it’s a far cry from the relaxing sanctuary of a spa, its white, bright, clinical and professional, something I found very reassuring. I wanted to know the clinical staff were regulated, trained and accredited which they were and Kristina who I saw both times explained everything in as much detail as I needed.
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I went back a week later ready for the treatment, again had my face thoroughly cleansed, and I mean thorough. After the cleanser a strong alcohol based toner is swiped over all of the skin of your face, quite roughly to ensure every bit of oil has been removed. It isn’t pleasant and to be honest it burns a little but it lasts less than a minute as directly after toner you will have ice cold gel spread over your entire face. The gel is the same used in baby scans apparently and it feels heavenly after that toner. The gel is the barrier for the laser and can penetrate through the gel without the laser head having to touch the skin. Finally I had two eye stickers placed over my eyes to protect from the light.

Once I was cleaned, scrubbed, gelled and protected it was time for the main show. The light pulses to encourage collagen production don’t hurt, the strength of the beam used isn’t as intense and is applied all over the face (excluding eyes) the wand is placed on top of the gel and an intense beam of light shoots out, you see a bright flash of light even though you have your eyes protected and hear a noise I think sounds like a match being lit, it feels quite warm in the patch the laser has struck but nothing painful.

The next stage is to target the pigmentation areas and the light beam is increased  to produce a stronger beam. I’m not going to lie this does hurt, it’s hotter, it feels like a burn but as the blast is so quick the pain fades very fast. Best way of describing it is an elastic band flicking you. I wanted this bit over as soon as possible being a bit of a wimp but only certain areas are treated so it’s much quicker to finish than the collagen round.

Once finished the eye pads are removed, the gel wiped off, a quick cleanse, an application of hydralauronic gel and some spf 30 tinted moisturiser and I was good to go. My face didn’t look red or angry or dry or burnt, it actually looked quite normal.

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I was pointed to the areas of pigmentation that were targeted and it you looked close enough I had tiny dark brown dots scattered over the pigmentation. This is the pigmentation shattering, they really were so tiny so only visible without make-up and if you got very close to my face! I tried to take a picture but they were just too small to capture. Anyway after about 8 days I noticed the shattering had completely gone leaving my pigmentation vastly faded. Really good and a thumbs up from me.

I will definitely need more than one session to rid me of the pigmentation but the fact you can physically see the difference is really encouraging. I think 2-3 more sessions would clear the areas that have been targeted. This could be a wonder treatment for anyone wanting to rid themselves of pigment patches I’m pretty sure you will need to book a course , I doubt one session will clear the skin completely and of course you need to slather on the spf 30 and keep out of the sun to avoid undoing the hard work.

How did I find my first cosmetic treatment? Very encouraging, we all know by now that the little pot of wonder cream isn’t going to transform our skin overnight, it may improve and encourage but it is never going to turn back the clock, something I believe only treatments like this can offer. I never ever want to go as far as having a frozen, puffed up, shiny, stretched face. But fresh, glowing, smooth skin is definitely on the cards.

Would I have the IPL treatment again – absolutely.

Would I go further and try other treatments: Botox, Derma Rollers, peels etc – Yes. After some research and consultations of course!

2 August 2014

{LUXX Life} Getting Sleek this summer

Today’s post is a subject I haven’t yet touched upon on LuxxMint, Fitness….

Exercise seems to be a bit like marmite, you love it or you hate it. Personally I don’t know what has happened to me, I used to be a complete fitness fanatic. I took part in every sport going at school, played on all the teams and was devastated when I had to drop one of my P.E lessons to take an extra language class. Outside of school, I was a club swimmer, tennis club member, gymnast and took dance exams. My mum and dad spent a good deal of my childhood ferrying myself and my sister to and from sporting activities! Even when I started working I joined a gym and over the years did various forms of exercise, swam in the mornings, took classes in the evenings, joined a running club and cycled to work.

Slowly but surely over the last year everything has tailed off. I started a new job some distance away from home which comes with some pressures and all I want to do when I get home is cook dinner and sit in front of whichever box set I’m addicted to plus browse Twitter and Instagram. It’s become a sedentary kind of life and it shows. Now that it’s written down it feels more real and I need to find my love of endorphins once more. I no longer have that slim waist, toned thighs and energetic glow I used to have.

It’s a slow process but I’m slowly getting my head into focus about how to do this, I need to find a routine, one that I enjoy, get to kill some calories and get that glow back. I really want it all back!

I was pointed in the direction of Sleek Technique which is really easy to fit into my routine as I complete it at home following on my iPad. It’s an online class taught by two former ballerinas who have designed a variety of workouts to tone and improve the female body. It concentrates on stretches and moves that will lengthen muscles whilst providing a bit of a work out. Some parts are quite a challenge but it’s encouraging when the day after you find your legs a little stiff, at least you know something is working!

If it sounds like something you may like, check out the website http://www.sleektechnique.com/ where there is a free 15 minute class if you want a taster. 

If that doesn’t tempt you, maybe some fitspiration….. These are the trainers, Flik and Victoria.

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As well as getting my Sleek on, I’m going to get back in to hula’ing, I bought my hoop a while back and folded it away for some reason and it’s never come back out. I really enjoy it. My hoop is a weighted and slightly larger hoop that you had when you were younger but it’s really easy to do and is great for hips and stomach toning plus building core strength. I have one like this 

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So there, it’s all written down in black and white, it’s down to me and only me to get myself fit and happy with myself.

I’d love to hear your fitspiration stories and if you went through something similar?

29 July 2014

{LUXX Beauty} Sunkissed face

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Hands up who is loving the summer so far! I'm trying to make the most of the sun at the weekends whilst dashing out on my lunch break to soak up every ray.

A sunkissed face is pretty much what i'm always aiming for and Urban Decay thought they could help me along with that.

I went along to the very fancy new beauty hall in Selfridges (heaven btw) to check out one of the new brands with a counter in the hall. 

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Urban Decay make-up has always scared me, I remember the bright shocking colours, intense pigments for eyes and lips and I guess I steered clear being a fan of the natural look.

The Naked collection changed everything though with the launch of the eye palettes and has since branched out into foundation, lips, eyes and cheeks. I really like the packaging, sleek, modern and functional.

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The new counter in Selfridges has beautiful silver chain drapes and high tech beauty mirrors for anyone wanting to try out a product or two.

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I was sent the new Naked Skin Bronzing Beauty Balm and the Naked Flushed palette in Streak to try out and thought i'd show you my face as well as telling you what I used.

After moisturising I applied the beauty balm with my fingers and finished with a beauty sponge, applied concealer under my eyes and a dusting of mineral powder over my nose, forehead and chin. Nothing but mascara on my eyes, a slick of lip balm and sweep of the Flushed palette on my cheeks. I took a little extra of the highlighter and dabbed across my cheek bones and under my brows.

My hair was left to air dry for that extra bit of beach!

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What do I like, the balm coverage is medium (you can still see my freckles!) you can build it up a bit if you want to go all out with the tanned look and contains spf 20. The palette is my favourite though the peach blush is very pretty, the bronzer doesn't contain any shimmer but the highlighter is packed full of fine rose gold particles and is simply stunning. I love it!

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Are any of you Naked fans? What do you think of the sunkissed look?

27 July 2014

{LUXX Food} Afternoon tea at Marco Pierre White

Afternoon tea is so very English and no matter how often you go it always feels like a treat.

I took my mum along to try the new offering at the Laurent Perrier bar at Marco Pierre White's sky high bar in the Cube Birmingham.

You take the elevator to the 27 floor and step into the shard of glass that juts out from the top of the Cube. Floor to ceiling views over the city in a beautifully redecorated setting.

We took our seat on a low banquet settee, accepted our glass of Laurent Perrier Champagne and awaited the main act......

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My favourite part of an afternoon tea is always the scones, these were good, fluffy and light with juicy sultanas, of course then topped with cream and jam. Or should I say jam first then cream and lots of it!

I was pleased to see cheese and pickle sandwiches, one of my favourites and the ham and mustard plus smoked salmon and cream cheese.

The cakes were a little disappointing because i'm not really a chocolate cake fan ( I know i'm quite the exception) and the majority of the cakes were chocolate based, chocolate fudge brownie, chocolate eclair, chocolate muffin stuffed with cream. There was a carrot cake too. I would have loved these cakes to have been homemade which they unfortunately aren't, plus a slice of lemon drizzle or Victoria sponge would have been a great replacement for one of the chocolate cakes!

Still, I just had to treat myself to another scone!

As mentioned above the setting is pretty perfect, the decor is by Mr Mcqueen, it's elegant yet modern and the tiny baby grand adds some extra opulence.

Champagne, scones and cream in the sky - what a delight!