Friday, 13 December 2013

Six Hair Saviours

I'm currently in the midst of one HUGE bad hair day. Actually, it's not even a day, it's more like two months of consistently crap hair; I'm talking static, greasy roots, dry ends and awful mousey roots (I'm sort of rocking my very own and unintentional ombre). To top it all off, its falling out too. In a big way. I sort of expected this as first time round, after baby number one, the same thing happened but I'm convinced it wasn't falling out to this extent. Every time I glance at my Tangle Teezer post-brushing, my heart sinks a little at the amount of hair hugging it. And ponytails look, well, puny.

Anyway, apparently it's all quite normal. The proper term for it is postpartum hair loss; you lose on average 100 hairs a day but, when you're pregnant, your boosted levels of oestrogen (pregnancy hormones) prolong the growing stage, stopping them falling out. However, after you give birth, your oestrogen levels tumble - together with that hair. It's not permanent - experts say by the time your baby is one, your hair will be back to how was it before - but it can be pretty scary when you're losing a handful or so every time you brush and your hairline starts to recede (!)

So what to do? To be honest, there isn't tons you can do bar sit and wait it out. However, I'm using these six things to hide the hair loss and keep my hair in as good condition as it can be.

Tangle Teezer, £10.99 (
I've used this for ages and ages and it's simply brilliant. The cleverly placed teeth on the brush tease out tangles without pulling and leave hair super smooth. There's one just for brushing wet hair too.
Batiste Dry Shampoo Original, £2.99 (
I heart this so much and though I've seen tons of fancier versions, this surpasses them all. I spritz into my roots, massage in a little and then comb through to soak up grease and add much needed texture.

Pantene Pro-V Expert Collection AgeDefy Shampoo, £5.99 (
This  combines Pro-Vitamin B5 and caffeine to thicken and boost the hair. I've been using it about a week and my hair does seem less greasy and definitely a little thicker. Lovely to use too.

Aveda Pure Abundance Style Prep, £19.50 ( 
I love, love, love Aveda but this is my all-time favourite hair product. I spray it into damp hair after shampooing and it not only makes brushing easier, it adds a little lift at the roots once my hair is dry.

Weleda Revitalising Hair Tonic, £9.95 (
This natural hair tonic contains rosemary, which apparently stimulates circulation at the scalp to boost growth. I massage in before bed as I'm not too keen on the scent and it feels really refreshing.

Viviscal Maximum Strength Hair Growth Supplements, £49.95 (
I haven't actually tried these protein-packed supplements yet (and actually, I've just read you shouldn't whilst breast feeding) but I really want to - I've heard top stylists absolutely rave about them. 

Monday, 2 December 2013

Stretchmarks. Part two.

When you're pregnant, you anticipate and in some cases welcome the changes in your body. Watching as your stomach slowly swells to make room for your growing baby, for instance, is an amazing thing and probably the only time you'll ever love having a proper belly. You're making a baby. You can deal with it later.

Stretchmarks however, are a different kettle of fish. For me, this time round, going full term stretched my stomach to the max and not surprisingly, I've got the stretchmarks to show for it. In all honesty, it doesn't bother me that much and like a little tattoo, they represent an amazing experience. Yet I'd like a little less of them and it's something I'm asked about. A LOT. So here's the real deal.

'Certain lasers can be used to improve the redness associated with fresh stretchmarks,' says top Cosmetic Dermatologist (and my favourite, go-to skincare expert) Dr Sam Bunting. 'And medical needling treatments can help 'fill in' the dips you see with older stretchmarks,' adds Dr Bunting. 'However, multiple treatments are often required and perfection isn't a realistic expectation.'

And creams? 'Stretchmarks basically represent torn elastin fibres in the dermis,' adds Dr Bunting. 'Creams cannot repair this. Topical retinoids can improve the appearance of stretchmarks - but they need to be used for three to six months to make any impact. And of course, retinoids shouldn't be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women.' 

So there you have it. Of course, keeping your skin as moisturised as possible during your pregnancy is still worth doing and I swear that applying a little oil post-shower (see my post on stretchmark oils) is worth doing. But they're not miracle workers. So don't become too reliant on them or too despondent when your stretchmarks aren't shifting.

Follow Dr Sam Bunting's skincare blog at

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Found: the best nursing bra - ever!

I spent much of my first pregnancy trailing around department stores, opening box after box of maternity bras and driving myself mad trying to figure out whether I should opt for the not-so-attractive but way cheaper variety or the lacy, prettier numbers which neared £40 or more. I figured I just couldn't justify spending that much on a bra, especially when, let's face it, my baby was going to be the only one really seeing it. And I didn't think he'd really mind whether my boobs were encased in Elle Macpherson or John Lewis. So I went for the cheapest.

Big mistake. A few months in and they looked completely done in; the elastic was stretched way beyond its supportive needs, the cups looked crushed and the colour washed-out. I ended up buying more to compensate and probably spent more than I would have if I'd just invested in something nicer in the first place. Silly huh? So this time around, I searched and searched for something perfect: not too lacy (bye bye Topshop), or expensive (Elle at £36 a pop) or big, beige and bland (yep, that's you M&S).

And I really think I found the best nursing bra ever. Seriously. Bravado The Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra, £30, ticks every single box on my imaginary nursing bra wishlist. It's super soft, looks good on (hard to believe I know!) and because it's seamless, won't show under your vests, T-shirts etc And, get this, it's actually comfortable. No itchy, lacy cups, sagging straps or oodles of fabric that come up to your clavicle. It's a goodie. So good, I bought three.

Buy it here

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

I've had a baby!

So if you've just clicked on to this blog you'll probably notice a small-ish gap in blogging which, for a newbie might seem like a distinct lack of dedication to the cause. But I have a pretty good excuse in that I had a baby! Elsie May Rudolf was born on July 31st, just as I was building up my blog posts (how inconvenient) and what with nappy changes, laundry loads and building train sets for my toddler, I've barely had time to switch on my computer, let alone write something.

Anyhow, I thought I'd get back into the swing of things with just a few musings on what its been like so far to have a second (I have a three year old too). When I was pregnant with Elsie, a few things concerned me about having another baby; namely, would it hurt as much as the first, would my little boy think I'd abandoned him (I know, I know), is it really easier the second time around and would I ever sleep again. Here's what I've learned so far ... let me know what your experiences were second-time around.

It did hurt.
Everyone told me that I'd find the birth of my second baby easier. It seemed that, because I'd done it before it would be quicker/pain-free and even enjoyable. Well, it did hurt. Of course it does, you're still pushing out a baby. It was a whole lot faster (contractions began at 12.30am and Elsie was born at 4am) which was great but the speedy delivery meant I had to forgo any pain relief. Oh wait, I did have a paracetamol. Yay! On a positive note, I did feel pretty proud of myself post-labour. I did it!

Love is limitless.
When I fell pregnant I couldn't help shake off the feeling that my gorgeous little boy would think I was abandoning/neglecting/replacing him with a whole new being. And yes, since Elsie arrived it has been trickier to devote as much time towards him as I might like. And sometimes, I feel awful because of it. However, aside from a few major wobbles at the beginning, he's taken it all in his stride and is happy for Elsie to tag along at play, story and bath time. And it's lovely.

The sleep issue.
I love my sleep. And one of my biggest concerns was going through the whole sleep-deprivation scenario a second time around. But this time, things have genuinely been easier. Mostly, I think it's because you know what to expect and so you deal with it differently - namely, with more patience and even a little bit of humour. And also, I've asked for help when I've needed it - taking the odd nap here and there rather than taking on the laundry basket (again). It makes a HUGE difference.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Stretch Mark Oils

Like any new mum I was concerned about the onslaught of stretch marks that would possibly occur once my bump started expanding (around 75 to 90% of women will get them). And of course, every mum you meet will have an oil, balm or cream that they swore prevented them from appearing (and of course, you;ll go and buy said balm just incase it really does work). But do they? In my experience, oils are great for keeping your bump moisturised to-the-hilt; oils are made up of smaller molecules than creams so are absorbed much more easily into the skin, so they're well worth investing in. However, I'd say it's down to genetics too; if your mum went through two pregnancies and stayed stretch mark-free, it's likely you will too. N.B use your oil on damp skin, you'll find it absorbs easier.

In my case, I got through my first pregnancy with just a few little marks around my belly button (and I had been alternating an oil with a heavy duty body cream every other day - or when I just didn't fancy the oil). And now, at 38 weeks, it looks like it's going the same way. I guess I'm lucky in that respect. Saying that, if it turns out to be more, it's nothing a little self-tan won't fix so I won't worry about it. Either way, I've been trialling a few body oils over the last few weeks. Some I loved ... some were okay-ish but for me, a lot of it is down to the scent - I won't use anything unless it smells good too. Here are some of my favourites:

Weleda Stretch Mark Massage Oil, £15.95 (
This is lovely. It contains sweet almond oil (packed with essential fatty acids) and has a light citrus scent that isn't overpowering, plus, it's all natural too. And it doesn't leave your skin feeling sticky - something I found with a lot of stretch mark oils I've tried.

Mama Mio OMega Body Oil, £23 (
It's not specifically a stretch mark oil but its ingredients (think argan, sweet almond and jojoba oils) make it super hydrating and fab at maintaining your skin's elasticity. Again, sinks in nicely and a little goes a long way though I wasn't sure about the floral and citrus scent.

Pure Mum to Be Stretchmark Oil, £9.50 (
This is from a really lovely (and affordable) range. The ingredients list doesn't boast as many moisturisers though its key ingredient, rosehip oil, is packed with omega's and is brilliant at evening skin tone too. Be wary though; no smaller spout-application means it just pours out of the bottle.

Clarins Body Treatment Oil Firming/Toning, £38 ( 
I've been recommended this so many times and for good reason. It's a huge multi-tasker (firming, toning and hydrating with hazelnut oil, rosemary and mint) but also, it just smells amazing and will genuinely soothe your senses. For me, that alone makes it worth the investment.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Working-It Out

As a regular, if somewhat sporadic, runner, I've been really keen to keep up my fitness levels during my second pregnancy. It's not a weight issue, more that I've wanted to feel as fit and healthy as possible both before and after labour. Plus, I reckon staying even a little bit fit has got to help you during it too, right? With my first baby, I gave the treadmill up weeks in. I was sure all that jiggling about just couldn't be comfortable for baby and really, I didn't feel comfortable either - I was forever pulling up leggings or hitching down sports bras.

That's why I was really intrigued when an email from FittaMamma Maternity ActiveWear appeared in my inbox. The small range of sportswear has been designed especially with mums-to-be in mind; think stretchy fabrics designed to accommodate a steadily growing bump, capri pants complete with a supportive band and unique fabric that keeps you cool even when you feel you've got an in-built heating system, not a baby, somewhere in there.

I tried their Mamma Capris, £44.99 and the Mamma Support Top, £44.99 (pictured) and I've got to say, they were brilliant. Neither rode up or down during my runs (read: ambles) around the park and the extra support they gave was a huge comfort (both physically and psychologically). If, like me, you're keen to keep up some sort of exercise routine during your pregnancies, I'd wholeheartedly recommend them. I just wish I'd came across them sooner.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

The Morning Sickness Myth

When I got pregnant with baby number one, I remember having a few fleeting weeks of not feeling pregnant at all; obviously there was no bump to be seen but also, I didn’t have any morning sickness. Not even a hint of it. And though I kind of dreaded that part of my pregnancy, I was a little bit gutted that I wasn’t feeling like more than half of us women usually do. I almost expected my GP to tell me I wasn’t really pregnant at all – I’d just eaten some bad sushi or something.

And then I got to week seven. For anyone that hasn’t had morning sickness, your day kind of goes like this: wake up feeling nauseous, forgo usual toast and jam for plain toast, pack essential (read boring) snacks for commute, hunt down nearest bread/pasta/rice based foods for lunch, (repeat again for supper) and avoiding any potential sick-inducing situations whilst you go about your day. The thing is, morning sickness isn’t just relegated to waking but more often than not lasts all day.

Though I would love to tell you what you can do to alleviate it and give some genuine solutions as to what really works, it really is all down to the individual. In fact, one recent study proved that typical remedies (anything from ginger tea to acupuncture) had little effect. So below I’ve popped some of my go-to morning all-day sickness tips; let me know what you think and what worked for you.

What Helped Me

  • I rarely wanted to eat first thing in the morning but sometimes, just nibbling on some oatcakes or plain biscuits kept by my bed warded off any nauseous feelings for a bit.
  • I found plain water hard to drink so added cordial to it to help me keep hydrated. My midwife also suggested ice lollies – and actually, the coldness seemed to work too.
  • My day-to-day diet is carbohydrate-low but during my first (and second pregnancy) all I wanted was bread, rice and pasta. Eat what you like. Don’t worry about it.
  • Ginger tea/biscuits/sweets didn’t work for me. However, my other half got me a little tin of barley sugar sweets and I’m sure they helped. Worth giving them a go.
  • I couldn’t stand perfumed products or just perfume in general. Try switching your usual products for fragrance-free options if you’re sensitive to scents.
  • Snack A Jacks in Salt & Vinegar. I loved these with both pregnancies and I’m sure they warded off the nausea, if only for a little bit. I found anything salty helped – anything sweet I couldn’t really stomach.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Let's start at the very beginning...

When dreaming up this blog I thought again and again about what my very first post would be. After all, the world of babies, beauty and all that encompasses it is a pretty big one. So, I’ve decided that, instead of launching straight into it, I’ll give you a little introduction to me instead. Self-indulgent? Moi?

As a beauty editor I’ve worked with the best make-up artists, beauty therapists, hair stylists and dermatologists (to name a few) so it makes sense that, during my ten years or more in the industry, I’ve picked up some tips. However, during my first pregnancy (in 2010) I found they didn’t really relate; I found myself surfing the web near enough every day to find out whether I could use essential oils or not, if I should be bleaching my hair, if stretch mark creams really work and, ultimately, do I have to buy Bio Oil? And all in-between spending, quite literally, hours looking at the best value and cutest muslin cloths and cool-looking bouncers. Seriously.

Yet somehow, by cleverly incorporating a few pregnancy-based features into the magazines I was working on at the time (and a lot of trial and error), I started to work out what really did the job and what didn’t. And I picked up a whole heap of great advice along the way. All-in-all, it’s made my second pregnancy a lot less, well, stressful and I’ve welcomed it with open (moisturised up-to-the-hilt) arms rather than hiding from it. And as with any mum, the second time round I’m also learning what works for baby too; so yes, I’ve dyed my hair, worn fake tan, had a bikini wax but I’ve also come round to the fact, albeit disparagingly, that, really, I don’t need to spend £100 on that bouncer, even if it does work better with the colour scheme in my house.

If you relate to some of what I’m saying and would, like me, love a blog that gives you an insight into the world of beauty and babies, without all the bull then hopefully, here it is. Let me know what you think.