Friday, 29 April 2016


A few weeks ago, I received an email from The Association of Reflexologists very kindly offering me a complimentary reflexology treatment in order to share my experience with you. When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I spent a lot of time researching possible treatments, and reflexology often came up. With that in mind, I thought it would be a great opportunity to give it a try.

So, what is reflexology? Reflexology is a complementary health therapy which aims to restore balance to the body. This can help to alleviate things such as stress, tension and pain, and promotes wellness and relaxation. It is based on the idea that within the feet and hands there are reflexes which relate to specific parts of the body, with the right foot representing the right side of the body, and the left foot representing the left side. Reflexologists usually perform the treatment on the feet; however some will focus on the hands instead. Using a massage technique, pressure is applied to certain parts of the foot to help with possible symptoms or problems in the corresponding body part. It works to help get the body balanced and in doing so stimulates the repairing mechanisms to aid the body in healing itself. The treatment encourages the body to eliminate toxins and promotes the importance of getting the mind and body in sync with one another.

I was invited to receive a reflexology treatment by the lovely Verity Davies at Mary Haworth Beauty Culture in Ashton-Under-Lyne, which is local to me in Greater Manchester. Before my appointment came around, I kind of got myself a little worried over what to expect and whether or not it was going to be beneficial for me. As soon as I arrived, I was led to the treatment room, and upon entering I instantly felt my nerves dissipate. With dimmed lighting, a lovely, comfortable treatment bed, soothing music playing softly in the background and a beautiful, calming scent, it was impossible not to immediately relax.

As this was my first treatment, it began with Verity explaining to me about reflexology and how it works, followed by an in depth consultation process. After going through my health problems and symptoms, there were also questions to help tailor the treatment to me personally and my needs, such as how I deal with stress, my diet and exercise levels, and other relevant lifestyle questions.

After the consultation was completed, it was time to get comfortable on the treatment bed. There was a large selection of body oils available to be used for the treatment depending on your individual needs, and Verity began by doing a little scent test to see which my body responded to. I had explained how poor my energy levels are as a result of my fibromyalgia, and it turned out the scent I went for was actually the energising one. It smelt lovely. Mary Haworth use oils from ESPA, and it felt so nice on the skin and smelt beautiful. I’m tempted to buy some to use myself I loved it that much. Once my oil was chosen, Verity did a relaxation exercise to help me switch off and enable me to get the most out of the treatment. I found this extremely helpful and effective and it’s something I can now do myself at home when I need to relax, which I’m grateful for.

After being thoroughly relaxed beforehand, the treatment felt amazing and lasted for about 1 hour. The lights were dimmed so the only glow came from the candle burning in the corner, and the aroma and calming music only elevated the experience. Verity spent time focusing on certain parts of the foot, applying different amounts of pressure and technique, and this was then mirrored on the other foot. I had read how many people find themselves close to sleep during reflexology, but I thought that was never going to happen with me as I struggle to fully relax like that. However I have to say that I did feel myself close to nodding off.

Towards the end, I was shocked to find that my mouth was growing increasingly dry. Once the treatment was finished, Verity left me for a couple of minutes to wake up from my state of utter relaxation and brought back some much needed water. This reaction is common and is actually a good sign as it indicates that the body is responding well to the treatment and is starting to eliminate toxins. I was instructed to take it easy for the rest of the day and to make sure I drink lots of water, and I definitely needed it as the thirst and dry mouth continued into the following day. The reason it’s so important to drink plenty of water is that it helps to cleanse away the toxins released by the body from the treatment and flushes them out.

As soon as my treatment was over, I felt more relaxed than ever before. It was quite a strange feeling; I kind of felt a little light headed and fuzzy, in a good way. The rest of the day I felt quite calm and at peace, and I felt like I had more energy than usual which was very much appreciated. It’s far too difficult for me to tell if it helped my pain as it’s constantly changing, and to be honest I really wasn’t expecting it to after just one treatment. But I definitely benefited from the treatment, much more than I had anticipated. It completely relaxed me and helped me de stress. If you are someone living with health problems of any kind, you will be aware of the effect it has on your mind and the stress it can cause. It’s an awful feeling that seems to go hand in hand with being unwell. What makes it worse is that stress in itself can make pain worse, and it’s just a big, painful, vicious cycle. It’s therefore important to find an effective way to deal with stress and manage it. This reflexology treatment really helped me with that; it helped me to deeply relax and got rid of a lot of tension I had built up.

I felt amazing afterwards, and I continue to feel better now. I can’t put my finger on it or figure out the best way to describe it. I’m obviously still in constant pain, but I just feel better. And for that I am very grateful. I am so happy I went for the treatment, it was wonderful and I highly recommend it. It is a very individual treatment, and with that each person’s experience is of course going to be different. I don’t think it matters what your reason might be for considering reflexology, it could be you feel like you need some help relaxing or maybe you have health problems, but I found it to be a great treatment and definitely one I hope to have again. For anyone in the Greater Manchester area, I can’t recommend Mary Haworth Beauty Culture enough. It was such a nice experience for me and I’m still benefiting from it. Overall, a massive thumbs up.

I’d like to say thank you again to Verity for the treatment. If you’re interested in finding out more about Mary Haworth Beauty Culture and the fantastic range of beauty treatments they offer, you can visit their website here which has all of their contact details and pricing, or there’s more information on their Facebook page which you can find here.

If you would like to learn more about reflexology, you can find information on The Association of Reflexologists website here.

If you've ever tried reflexology, I’d love to hear how you found it?

Katie xx

ESPA products can be found here

*This treatment was complimentary in exchange for an honest review of my experience. All views and opinions are my own.

Thursday, 21 April 2016


The sun is finally out and right in time for me to show you my new favourite dress, which also happens to be absolutely perfect for what is hopefully going to be a bright and sunny spring and summer.

Today’s outfit post is all about my new purchase from the recent ARCHIVE by Alexa Chung collection from Marks and Spencer. The collection features pieces selected from the Marks and Spencer archives and reinvented by none other than ultimate style icon and all around girl crush Alexa Chung. I think the whole collection is gorgeous and there are a few things I really want.

This particular dress was the stand out for me and it was love at first sight when I saw it in the promotional photos. I knew it was my must have. It’s called The Eliza Dress and was inspired by an apron from the 1950’s, a fact I didn’t actually know when I first purchased it but only makes me love it even more. It’s such a beautiful dress. I’m obsessed with the bold, colourful paisley print, and it features a cute tie back waist, high neck, and black lace piping. I also really love the big pockets at the front of the dress, very practical for me to stash my phone. It has the right mix of vintage touches to the design, as the rest of the collection does as well. Honestly, it is pure love. I haven’t been this in love with a dress for a while. Along with my bomber jacket I got a couple of weeks ago, it is definitely one of my favourite purchases in recent months. I know some people tend to be a bit put off by paisley, but it’s always been a pattern I’m fond of, provided it’s been done right, and this one certainly has. I felt like the colour palette was great too, its white base is splashed with red, green, blue and yellow, in addition to the contrasting black detailing.

To complement the red within the print, I decided to pair the dress with my deep red velvet boots from last season, still a firm favourite of mine. Now I just need the sun to keep shining and somewhere nice to wear it.

Have you picked up anything from the collection?

Katie xx

The Eliza Dress £45 Marks and Spencer
Velvet Boots no longer available Asos (similar here, herehere and here)

You can shop the entire ARCHIVE by Alexa collection here.

Monday, 11 April 2016


Not to sound all cheesy, but Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge really is a little miracle, to me at least. I’ve mentioned it before, but I suffer from very dry skin, and as a result foundation application has been somewhat of a struggle for me. When I was a teenager, my skin was fairly normal to combination and I would be fine using your typical, regular foundation brush no problem. But as I got older and my fibromyalgia started, I found that my skin became increasingly dry and sensitive. Despite really stepping up my skincare routine, it’s something I continuously have to deal with. Foundation brushes are now no longer an option for me at all as they make the foundation cling to the dryness and the end result is not pretty. I had read that using a make up sponge can help with this, and so I went and got myself one from Mac. This did make a big improvement, but it was still a lot of effort and it took careful (read frustrating, hand ache inducing, constant dabbing) application to get a somewhat decent finish, regardless of what liquid foundation I used. Sadly, I put up with this mediocre result for far too long. Shame on me.

For years I’ve heard people rave about the Beauty Blender, but for whatever reason I always presumed it wouldn’t really be any different to my Mac sponge, other than it being a different, slightly strange looking shape. Then a few months ago, someone recommended the Real Techniques sponge to me. I already used and swear by some of their brushes, so decided to look into it. After doing my research, I read nothing but great things about it and what an impressive (and cheaper) alternative it is to the Beauty Blender. So, I went ahead and ordered one from Amazon, and my God am I glad I did.

I seriously cannot tell you how incredible this sponge is and what a difference it has made to my make up. Never in my entire life has my foundation gone on so well or looked so good. It might not be flawless, but it is the closest I think I’ll ever get. Foundation just smooths right on to the skin and blends effortlessly. There are still a few places where some careful dabbing is required, but it is so utterly worth it. At first I wasn’t sure what to make of the unique shape or the best way to use it. It’s suggested that you use the rounded sides to blend large areas of the face with a dabbing or stippling motion, the precision tip to cover blemishes and any other detailed application, and the flat edge for contours around the eyes and nose. I don’t really pay too much attention to the directions though and tend to use it however I feel works best for me. As is made especially clear when it comes to cleaning the sponge, I primarily use the flat edge all over and then the tip for under and around my eyes and for covering blemishes and imperfections, and I rarely use much of the rounded sides. But of course that’s just how I find it easiest to apply my foundation and I’m sure others use it very differently. I guess you go with your make up instincts.

In addition to all the positive reviews, what really appealed to me was that this sponge can be used both wet and dry. I had tried dampening my make up sponge before but it just ended up a mess, so I really wanted one that could be used either way. The first few times I was of course stubborn and stuck in my ways, insisting on using it dry. But then one fateful day it desperately needed washing and I’d forgotten to do it the previous night so it would be dry in time for morning. I didn’t have a choice but to use it wet, and the results were even better. I now always use it damp and definitely find it to be the best way for me personally; it gives my make up a lovely dewy finish, something I have longed for but never been able to achieve before. I also use it to apply concealer and my trusty YSL Touche Eclat under my eyes. It really is amazing and an absolute must have for me. It’s a little orange wonder, and I can’t recommend it enough!

Have you tried this Real Techniques sponge? What do you think of it?

Katie xx
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