Featured Slider

Konjac Sponge review - The Konjac Sponge Company

Up until very recently, I had very little knowledge of Konjac sponges but I'd seen a few people talking about them on social media. Having seen mixed reviews, I started to do a little research of my own. I discovered The Konjac Sponge Company and I contacted them asking if they could send out some products for me to try, which they very kindly did!

What is Konjac? Konjac is a plant which is 97% water and it grows in tropical and subtropical regions of eastern Asia. It's rich in minerals, high in fibre and is a natural food source. The plant has been used for over a thousand years in Asia for many different uses including medicine, weight loss and beauty products. Naturally alkaline and PH neutral, it's a perfect choice for skincare. Sounds like a pretty powerful plant doesn't it? 

Who are The Konjac Sponge Company? They are the original and only Konjac Sponge Company, supplying premium grade Konjac Sponge products to the world. Their sponges are made by hand in the volcanic hills of Jeju Island in South Korea. Jeju Island is a UNESCO world heritage protected site and is renowned as an area of outstanding beauty and reputed to have some of the purest water in the world. They only use the finest food grade Konjac and only accept the purest products free from microbes or pollutants so you can rest assured you are purchasing a good quality sponge. 

The Konjac Sponge Company carry the Leaping Bunny and Vegan Society symbols on all of their products.  

How do I use a Konjac Sponge? When you first buy the sponge, it'll be really hard and rough. You just need to run it under the tap and it'll soften up in seconds. Once it dries, it'll go hard again so you just repeat the method next time you use. They all come with a handy string for hanging up in your bathroom for easy drying.

Onto the reviews:

French Red Clay Mini Pore Refiner Sponge - Red Clay is known for regenerating tissue and skin structure. Icleanses, detoxifies and exfoliates the skin, leaving it refreshed, toned and rejuvenated.

This sponge is a lot smaller than the usual sized Konjac sponge. I found it really easy to use and I actually preferred this size than the larger sponge. I got into a routine of using it to remove my make up at the end of the day. I added a small amount of the Nip & Fab Glycolic Acid Scrub to the sponge and worked it around my face and neck in a circular motion. This method removed my make up quickly and effectively. Once I had finished scrubbing away, I rinsed the residue off of my face, rinsed the sponge and went back over my face with cold water. My skin felt a lot softer and there wasn't any sign of redness or irritation. I also noticed a reduction to the pores around my nose and cheeks, where they are at their worst.

If you prefer a rough exfoliation like me, this may not be enough on it's own but using with a scrub, I found it very effective for removing dead skin.

French Green Clay Mini Pore Refiner Sponge Green Clay is known for purifying and detoxifying. It gets rid of impurities and is used to treat congested skin, acne, cellulite, sprains, cuts, and infections.

I used this sponge on my T zone as I suffer from spots in the summer months. I used this sponge with the Alba Botanical Acne Deep Pore Wash and applied in circular motions. After a few days, I did notice a difference and my spots were reduced and less angry. I have continued this routine and have seen a great improvement. 

Konjac Facial Puff Sponge With Green Tea This full sized sponge has added Green tea which is known to improve skin complexion and it helps flush out toxins from the skin, heals blemishes and scars and reduces inflammation. It even improves the skin elasticity making it a great anti ageing ingredient.

I haven't used this sponge as much as the other two, purely because I'm happy with the routine I have with the mini sponges. I use this to cleanse my already make up free face and neck in the bath without any cleanser, soaking it in my Magnesium salt bath water. Magnesium is good for everything so why not! I find it more of a gentle cleanse than the mini sponges and a great choice for more sensitive skin days.

I have to say I'm pretty impressed with the sponges I tried and my favourite has to be the Mini Red Clay. I've always used cotton pads or just my hands to wash my face and this has massively stepped up my skincare routine. By switching over to a Konjac Sponge from cotton pads, you'll also be helping out the environment as these bad boys are 100% Biodegradable. 

You can shop The Konjac Sponge Company's full range here.

This post contains PR samples. The above products have been tried and tested over a course of 2 months. My opinions are honest.

Thanks for reading!

May Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Awareness Month - My Journey to Diagnosis

I've been wanting to share this with you all for a while but as it's a personal one, it's taken some encouragement and determination.

As far back as I can remember, I have suffered from pain in my joints. The pain started in my knees, some days were be pain free and other were agony. I went on living like this for years and as I was young, I put it down to growing pains.

How wrong I was.

One day, my mum was demonstrated her 'party trick'. She could touch her wrist with her thumb and I thought, that's so weird. I gave it a try myself and low and behold, I could do it too. I looked into it online and this is when I discovered Hypermobility and the syndrome itself.

HMSA's Definition of Hypermobility Joint Syndrome:

Photo & information: Hypermobility Syndromes Association - http://hypermobility.org/

It was like a light was switched on and the more and more I looked into it, I could relate. I tested the Beighton Score on myself and I scored high. I knew I was more flexible than others as in school, I often chose to sit in the Buddha position while on the floor and I found that comfortable.

In my early 20's, the pain had gotten worse and targeted more of my joints. I raised concerns with my GP and I was advised to self refer to the NHS Physio, which I did. For years, I went in and out of NHS Physio rooms with no one really understanding Hypermobility. I often found certain exercises were actually making my pain worse. The GP informed me that there was nothing he could do for me and it's quite normal for young people to be hypermobile. You may already know that yes, that can be true but not it's not normal to suffer pain from being hypermobile. A lot of athletes and dancers are hypermobile and it's perceived as a positive thing for their career and they can go on living life pain free.

I went in and out of flare ups for years with widespread joint pain and I had run out of energy and fight. When I was at my worst, I worked a full time driving job and that's when I needed crutches. I was used to working in active roles where I was on my feet all day and my body was in shock. I stuck at it for a year until I found more active work again.

At the grand old age of 29 (feeling more like 69), I'd had enough of being fobbed off and plucked up the courage to see my GP. By this time, I was back to working a non active job, full time in Admin. I had recently moved into the area so didn't know any of the GP's at my local surgery. I went through every GP in the surgery until I found someone who would listen. As expected, I again was fobbed off. I was down to the last GP and she was the one who listened. We talked about Hypermobility and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which she admitted she knew very little about. I wasn't worried as it's often stated that GP's have never heard of the condition and I really respected her for admitting she had little knowledge. After years of not being believed, being told it was all in my head and that I was too young to suffer with joint pain, I could have cried when she said she would look into EDS. A week later, I had a phone call from her secretary who advised me I had been referred to Rheumatology at my local hospital, hooray!

I waited around 4 weeks for an appointment and the day soon came around. I was so incredibly anxious that after all of this, I would be fobbed off again and just told to get on with it. I turned up to my appointment early as my anxiety was at an all time high and I worried about parking and getting lost. Before the consultation itself, the nurse took my blood pressure and she could tell I was really nervous. She was so incredibly kind and told me everything was going to be OK and I would get the help I needed. Her lovely words helped me to relax and I was soon called through to the Rheumatologist.

The consultation began with a list of questions including family history, when the pain started and what other symptoms was I experiencing. The Rheumatologist then examined me. I was pulled, pushed and bended into every possible angle, I felt like a rag doll! During the examination, my shoulder went back into place and it made the loudest pop, we both laughed. After the physical examination, we discussed my low blood pressure result. I wasn't aware I'd had low BP but it made total sense as I regularly suffer from dizzy spells and heart palpitations. We neared the end of the consultation and that's when I received the official diagnosis, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome Type 3 and PoTS. I honestly could have cried right in front of her, I felt so much relief.

Where I am now
I received the report from the Rheumatologist by post a week later. Unfortunately, I wasn't offered a follow up appointment but I was informed if there were any developing issues, she would be happy to see me again. I'm now on regular pain medication that I'm still getting used to and it doesn't stop my pain completely. I use a TENS machine almost daily which helps with my back and knees. I use heat pads and water bottles throughout the day and I feel this is truly the only thing that eases the pain, at least short term.

I am lucky enough to be able to afford a private Physio who specialises in EDS and I have to work hard with exercises at home. I've tried going to the gym but the pain is just too much. I've started taking short walks again, I used to love walking and breathing in the fresh air.

Now is the waiting process for my Podiatry referral. My ankles roll in severely so I'm hoping for Orthotics. I have to say, I'm not looking forward to someone touching my feet, I am so ticklish!

If you're currently fighting a diagnosis whether it's EDS or anything else, please don't give up. I promise you, you will find someone who will listen and can help. You might have to go through a million health professionals to get there, but you will. It's taken me the best part of my twenties to get there. I did want to give up at times but I knew I couldn't live a lifetime of pain and why should I have to? We all deserve to be listened to by our health professionals and to receive the right treatment.

Can I truly say that getting a diagnosis has opened me up to the right treatment? It's still early stages but it's good to know I have the support of my GP. The current state of the NHS and pressure on the service saddens me and my future does worry me. Something has to give.

You can read more about Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and the different types here: https://www.ehlers-danlos.org/

Thank you for reading and I'd love to hear where you are with your condition, diagnosed or undiagnosed. Leave a comment below.

Purepotions - review of an Eczema sufferer

This week is Allergy awareness week and what better way to mark this than reviewing a dry skin care range for sufferers or Eczema, Psoriasis and Dermatitis.

I have suffered from Eczema since I was born. It was so bad when I was a child, I had to be wrapped in bandages and wear cotton gloves at night so I wouldn't scratch my skin. It's been on and off all of my life but this year has been considerably worse.

I have always used steroid creams and I wanted to find a more natural option. I recently discovered Purepotions and contacted them asking if they would be happy to send over some products to try out, which they were kind enough to do.

Purepotions was founded by a mother, Natalie Balmond who was searching for a cream suitable for her daughter's dry and itchy skin. Finding that steroid creams made her daughter's skin worse, she started experimenting with creating a blend of oils and herbs in her own kitchen. To her relief, the salve she had created worked really well as a natural moisturiser to hydrate her daughter's dry skin. 

Here's what I thought of the products I tried and tested.

A 100% natural ointment with a blend of magic ingredients including Hemp oil, Olive oil and Chamomile.

I was a bit hesitant to try this as I'm not a great lover of ointments. They are often really greasy and when I've used pharmaceutical ointments, they have made my eczema worse. This was the first product I started using and I applied it to the itchy, dry areas at night as I knew I was less likely to scratch when I was asleep. After a couple of days of use, I noticed a difference. The areas were less dry and there was a reduction in redness. The product felt really nice on the skin and non greasy. I have carried on applying this to the affected areas at night and this has massively reduced the redness and dryness. I'm so happy I've discovered this product, I won't be going back 
to pharmaceutical creams again!

A 100% natural salve which can be used on lips or as an emollient on the skin. Tea Tree possesses natural antibacterial properties and has been used for many years to treat wounds and prevent infections. 

I had a break out on my forehead recently and applied this directly to the area twice a day. The salve soon dried them out and reduced the size and redness pretty quickly. The 10ml size is also so handy!

A 100% natural blend of oils which has been specially formulated to to replenish lost moisture from bathing and showering.

I add a small amount of this to my usual sea salt bath salts and I love it. It gives off a delicate scent which is really relaxing. The product  is intensively moisturising and a little goes a long way. It's also great to rub over the affected areas during and after showering. It lasts all day and I never find myself getting dry while using this. Although it didn't help with the redness, It did help to keep my skin hydrated. I'm a big fan of bath oils and I can see myself buying this again. 

A 99% natural moisturising cream which has the same benefits to the Skin Salvation Intensive Moisturising Ointment but in a handy cream. This product is vegan as it's free from Beeswax.

I love the Skin Salvation Intensive Moisturising Ointment so much so it's super handy to have this in a cream form as well. I have this on my desk at work and apply it to my hands and arms when required.

I suffer from dry skin on my arm tattoos and applying this really helps to get rid of the dry patches. I find it great as a hand cream too as it's thick and so hydrating. A great all round moisturiser and delicate enough to use on your face. The pump bottle is a generous size and I can see this lasting a really long time making it great value for money. 

Although I love all of the products I reviewed, my hands down favourite is the ointment. It's made such a difference to my skin that it would be stupid to go back to pharmaceutical products. It goes to show that we don't always need medicinals when there are safer, natural alternatives available.

You can buy Purepotions online here and their range is now stocked in Boots, Holland and Barrett and Waitrose.

*Please note this post contains PR samples - opinions are honest!

Monday 17th April

Last week was a hard one. My day job was so busy and my manager was on holiday. As a senior member of staff, I was holding the fort for the 4 day week. Brain fog plays a bit part of my everyday life and sometimes I can't even remember what happened the day before so this was a big challenge for me. Although It was super stressful, I think I did alright and kept everyone happy. It's great to keep everyone else happy, but I forgot to take care of myself. I skipped lunch on Thursday and wasn't able to take my Naproxen which I knew was a bad idea. I didn't want to stay late as I was finishing for the Easter holidays so I battled through lunch. Once I got home, It was time to relax my mind and my body and I didn't want to move off of the sofa. We went to bed super early.

Jumping back to Naproxen, I went to the GP about my pain medication as it was getting unbearable. I was advised to take Ibuprofen and Paracetamol by the Rheumy when I was first diagnosed but this wasn't cutting it anymore. I was prescribed Naproxen but advised I would need to take gastro medication alongside if I was to stay on it long term. I've now been on it for a couple of weeks and honestly, it's not blowing me away. It has to be taken in 12 hour doses and you have to take it with meals. I really struggle with eating breakfast and this means I don't take a dose until lunch time, therefore missing by second dose as I'm asleep. I also know that it's not going to be great for my stomach long term so I'm eager to find something else.

On Good Friday, we spent the day taking junk to the skip and visiting family. It was a lot of running about and by evening, I was exhausted. We spent the evening on the sofa with duvets and snacks which was perfect. Saturday was a similar day and by the time 10pm hit, I was in bed watching TV.

Easter Sunday was a great day. I woke up feeling pretty good and hardly any pain which is a first. We decided we wanted to go out for the day and go for a walk. I'm always a little anxious about walking as these days, it's not as enjoyable as it used to be. I used to love long country walks and could walk for miles and miles. I dug out my ankle walking boots and we hit the road. In total, we walked about 3 miles which doesn't sound much but I was so proud of myself. I did have hip pain but it wasn't as bad as I'd thought it would be and I found my walking boots a god send. One of my ankles rolls over severely and these kept it in place the whole day. When we got home, we chilled out and watched the Kurt Cobain documentary "Soaked in Bleach" (it's so good, I recommend watching it).

The Beautiful grounds we walked around on Easter Sunday.

Today, I've been spring cleaning the house and taking breaks in between. I find I'm likely to get more done if I do it this way. A little at a time. It's been so cold today, I haven't wanted to venture out!

I'm sad today is the last day of the Easter weekend before going back to work tomorrow.. At least it's only a 4 day week again. I wish you all a lovely, pain free week!

Kerry x

Saturday 1st April, 2017

I can't believe it's April already. This year seems to flying by and it's mad to think we are already quarter of the way through!

I woke up just after 7 as I had an optician's appointment early. I had the usual morning aches and pains but I also woke with an awful headache. Hay fever has already started for me and the headaches that come with it. I love living in a small village out in the country but not the fact I'm surrounded by rape fields!

I got ready and headed out for my appointment. I try to avoid town's on my own or anywhere where you would expect crowds so I decided to book my optician's appointment with a supermarket as I didn't have to worry about the crowds of a high street or worry about parking.

I walked into the optician's room and was told the chair was broken and stuck on recline so I had to sit up with nothing supporting my back. The assessment itself was as expected. I've had a severe lazy eye since I was young but there's nothing that can be done to fix it and luckily my vision in my other eye is really good. The optician said he could try and help out my lazy eye but the lens would be like a milk bottle and I would struggle to find frames to fit them so he went with a light prescription.

On the way home I'd realised I hadn't actually eaten anything yet and I was low on energy. I'm so awful with eating breakfast as I don't have the appetite to eat first thing. I make sure I at least have a cup of tea until I feel hungry.

I briefly stopped off at the garden centre and grabbed a tomato plant. I really enjoy growing my own veg and it gives me motivation to get up and do something. Last year, we had an amazing amount of tomatoes from just one plant and I'm hoping we get the same result this year. I also picked up some Garlic Chives seeds (I thought they sounded interesting!). Our pepper seeds are starting to come through already after just a few days.

By the time I got home, I was really low on energy so I made some lunch and sat down. My back was now starting to feel the full affects of the broken chair so I grabbed my TENS machine. I bought this recently after researching pain management for Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. I'm currently not on any prescribed pain relief and Ibuprofen and Paracetamol doesn't offer much relief. The TENS machine has certainly helped but I feel I'm not using it to it's full potential yet. It's a feeling you definitely have to get used to and I'm using it on a max setting of 3 at the moment.

The boyfriend plays football on Saturdays so I usually spend the day writing, catching up on TV and generally relaxing after a busy week of work. EDS can be lonely but I've learnt to enjoy my own company. I've lost friends along the way but I have an amazing friend who has stuck by me and understands that I don't always have the energy to do things. When we do meet you, you can guarantee we have loads to talk about!

So for the rest of the day, I'm working on new blog posts and an exciting new venture which I can't wait to share with you all.

Hope you're all having a great, pain free day!


Kerry x

Florence & Pisa City Break

Ponte Vecchio bridge at night

The boyfriend and I love a good city break and over the past 3 years, we have been to some beautiful places in Europe. Florence may not be the first choice for most people wanting to visit Italy but it definitely shouldn't be overlooked. Although one of the smaller tourist cities in Italy, it is classed as one of the most romantic places to visit in Europe. This was both our first time to Italy and as lovers of Italian food, we were really excited. Here's a little review of our experiences in Florence and Pisa.

The hotel we stayed in was a collection of suites and it blew us away. The bedroom had a queen sized bed with a jacuzzi in the room, a stylish bathroom and a separate living room with kitchenette. 

Breakfast was served in the room every morning which was an absolute god send (saves having to look decent just to go down to breakfast!) Our suite was located right near the Ponte Vecchio bridge which meant we could walk to most attractions within 10/15 minutes. 

Arguably, The most romantic spot is the Piazzale Michalengalo which boasts an amazing panoramic view of the city. We hit this at sunset and found couples sitting on the stairs, drinking wine and cuddled up watching the sun going down. You can see why this is this such a popular spot for couples, look at that view!

The Duomo and the Bell Tower also offer some great views of the city. You can buy a 15 ticket which gets you entry to the top of both as well as entry to the cathedral museum. It's definitely worth buying as queues were very long on the day. This fast tracks you without the need to queue.

View from the Bell Tower
We found a great family run cafe/restaurant that was around the corner from our hotel and we ate there most lunch times and some evenings. Freshly cooked Pizzas, Pastas, Panini's, everything you would expect of Italy. We also ate in a heated terrace restaurant in the main square which was a little more special and worth the money.

Service charges in Florence is something to be aware of. This is often hidden and added onto the bill. From our experience, we were only ever charged 4 but I have heard horror stories where this can be much more. It may be obvious, but try to avoid to real touristy areas and go for the smaller, family run restaurants. We found a lot of places were booked up so always a good idea to plan ahead if there is a certain restaurant you want to try. Your hotel concierge can show you the best places to eat and where needs to be booked.

Gelato - Need I say more? Florence is known for it's Gelato and I can see why. There are so many gelato shops around the city, you'll never struggle to find somewhere to stop. I couldn't believe the size of the cones, on the first night we bought €7 cones each and they were massive! We easily could have shared.

Some more photos of Florence...

Ponte Vecchio Bridge

Florence Cathedral

Inside of the Duomo

As we flew into Pisa Airport rather than Florence, on the way back to the airport we stopped by the Leaning tower of Pisa. Buses operate from the airport and take around 10 minutes. We picked the perfect day for it and it really didn't disappoint. I was surprised at how much it leaned, photos never pick it up!

Leaning Tower of Pisa in all it's glory

Florence has to be one of my favourites cities we have visited so far and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a little taste of Italy with everything in good walking distance. You certainly won't be bored or hungry!

Hotel details: Ponte Vecchio Suites and Spa http://www.pontevecchiosuites.com/
Tickets to Cathedral museum, Dome and Bell Tower https://www.museumflorence.com/

Where have you visited in Europe and where would you recommend?

Thanks for reading!

Lady Zen xo

February's Love Lula Beauty Box - Review

I started subscribing to Love Lula's Beauty Box in October 2016 and I haven't looked back. My first monthly subscription box I ever purchased was the Birch Box but I quickly found I was getting products that weren't cruelty free. I went on a mission to find a box where I knew I could use all of the products inside without a worry and I came across Love Lula's beauty box. When it first arrived, I couldn't believe how many full sized products were inside. This box has opened up my eyes to so many cruelty free, natural brands and for £12.50 a month, it's a real steal. So lets take a look inside February's box.

Greenfrog Botanic - Neroli & Lime Botanical Bodywash 

I hadn't heard of this brand before and was excited to see this in this month's box. This is the first body wash I've had out of the Love Lula box. I mostly use LUSH shower gels but my eczema has flared up really bad recently and LUSH can be too harsh on sore skin. I have only used this a couple of times so far but I can see myself buying it again. It doesn't lather up but that's a great thing! SLS and other lathering products are bad for our skin and we should definitely be leaning to more natural alternatives.

Here's what Greenfrog say about this bodywash"Made from certified organic soapberries and grown sustainably in the mighty Himalayan mountains of the East, where for centuries they have been used for washing the whole body. These magical berries, used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat eczema, soft, sensitive and dry skin, leave your body superbly clean and really respect the PH of your skin. 
There are no nasty chemicals, parabens, sulphates or Palm Oil"

Their products are vegan too so it doesn't get any better. I absolutely adore this product and I'm excited to try more!

Waleda - Skin Food                                                                                                 Waleda's Skin Food is exactly what it says on the box. This is food for dry, rough skin. It can be used on your face, hands, feet and elbows (basically anywhere that's overworked!) It contains some beautiful ingredients including Chamomile, Rosemary and Almond oil. I have been using it on my hands and have noticed a difference already. It states to apply several times a day but it's so moisturising, a couple of times a day would be more than enough.You can buy this in 10ml, 35ml or 75ml tubes. A little goes a long way so I can see this lasting a good while. 

Maggie Anne - Nail Polish "Jasper"

Maggie Anne are a "6 toxin free" Vegan friendly (and PETA approved) nail polish brand that create ultra glossy, high shine polish without the hassle of gel. Their polishes are free of the 6 nasty chemicals often found in nail polish which are Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin Camphor and THTP. 

This shade is Jasper and it's a perfect dusty pink. It's definitely more hard wearing than other polishes I've used and does provide a gel like finish. They have a wide range of shades available and there's something for everyone. Unfortunately I couldn't afford to buy these all of the time as they are £10.50 a piece but great as a treat. 

I often buy Barry M as it's cruelty free but was ignorant to the ingredients that are far from natural. This brand has opened up my eyes to safer alternatives.

Madara Cosmetics - Micellar Water

I've received quite a few Madara products in this beauty box over the months and I've loved pretty much all of them. This brand is the definition of luxurious organic skincare. I've seen other bloggers raving about Micellar Water but most of the brands weren't cruelty free. I was super excited to find this in February's box. 

I haven't used this as much as I'd like as I'm currently happy with my skincare routine but I do use this to remove eye make up when I wear it and it's really effective but still gentle to the skin. When I read the ingredients, I was surprised to see Peony Root! According to Madara, Peony root is a "high antioxidant activity due to the presence of active bio molecules such as, paeoniflorin, proanthocyanidins, and flavonoids, thus protecting skin cells from environmental damage and ageing" 
Sounds great eh? You can buy in the UK from Love Lula
       Oils of Heaven - Marula Replenishing Face Oil

If you read my last post, you will know that I'm a big fan of this ethical brand. OOH sell a great variety of 100% natural face oils. I haven't yet tried this as I'm currently using the OOH Argan Oil. This oil is full of nutrients including Vitamin E and C, fatty acids and anti-oxidant so you know it's good for the skin. You can buy the OOH range here

Do you subscribe to Love Lula's beauty box? Would love to hear your thoughts on these products, leave a comment below!

Buy the Love Lula box here 
Lady Zen xo