My Top 5 'New In' Skincare Products

Anyone else go through those phases of buying certain types of products each month? One month it’s clothes, the next it’s shoes, the next it’s makeup? Well this month I feel like I’ve been a little less interested in clothes and a little more interested in beauty/skincare. I’ve peeled myself away from buying my usual ‘safe’ skincare products and dipped my freshly moisturised hands into some newbies. Newbies of which I’ve completely fallen for and need to shout about!



Pixi Glow Tonic
This product had been on my ‘wish list’ for a number of months but I couldn’t bring myself to spending £18 on something that I wasn’t sure would be ‘right’ for me. However after venturing into M&S beauty section and finding a smaller 100ml bottle for around half the price, I figured it’d be worth a try and I wasn’t disappointed! The tonic itself is an alcohol free, oil free exfoliating facial tonic that gently removed dead skills cells to reveal healthier, more toned skin. I use this product on a daily basis and it is incredibly gentle on my skin, helping to remove any dry matches around my t-zone and aid in keeping blemishes at bay. Since I started using this product my skin has felt incredibly soft, I’ve had very little breakouts (except when I stopped using it!) and my skin has more of a glow.



Transformulas Lip Volume
There are so many products on the market that contain spices and chemicals that basically irritate the lips into swelling, causing that semi-permanent increase in lip size and giving them the ‘lip plumping’ name. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not one to get ‘spendy’ on lip plumper’s as I believe only surgery can give you a permanent plumped pout. However this product is a little more than just your average lip plumper. The product itself has a peppermint scent that leaves a cooling sensation on the lips. It doesn’t burn nor sting, in fact it barely even tingles; instead it leaves my lips feeling incredibly moisturised and hydrated whilst smoothing over any visible lines which all in all lead to a more plump, softer appearance. Since using the product for just over a week now I have noticed that my lips are more smooth and fuller without increasing in size. If anything I simply buy this product as a hydrating lip treatment as it’s incredible but it won’t give you anything that surgery could.



Huygens Face Scrub
I discovered this product when it landed in my Birch Box and it’s been a great edition to my skincare regime. The scrub itself has a thick paste like consistency that contains rice powder particles which provide an intense yet gentle exfoliation. The product also contains the added ingredients of sesame oil and green tea which help to hydrate and moisturise the skin as it removes dead skin cells. The scent reminds me a little of toothpaste and to be honest the texture is pretty similar except it isn’t sticky. I like to use this product 2 or 3 times a week to deeply exfoliate my skin and I’m pretty impressed how a small 5p sized amount goes a long, long way.



Ren Rosa Centifolia Cleansing Gel
Ren has always been a favourite skincare brand of mine except I very rarely purchase their products as the price tag is a little too high for something you literally wash down the sink. However at the same time that I was browsing through the M&S beauty section I also found this Ren 100ml mini which for £6 I couldn’t quibble. The scent reminds me of Turkish delight (which will be the rose) so it was an instant hit! The texture is a strange gloopy, medium consistency which once applied to dry skin spreads evenly across, providing a light foam which increases once water is added. I love how quick and easy this product is and it makes a great morning ‘wake me up’ cleanser.



Transformulas Hydration Gold Hydration Cream
I was pretty intrigued when this product first landed in my PO Box. First of all it contains 23 carat gold powder and hyaluronan (hyaluronic acid) so I was instantly sold on trying it out. I was also incredibly surprised as to how versatile this small little bottle of ‘gold’ was. The product itself has a (pretty obvious) gold radiance which when applied to this skin creates a natural, holiday like glow. It doesn’t feel too hydrating but it does soften the skin and also creates a flawless makeup free healthy appearance. But as well as an anti-aging moisturiser that claims to tone, firm, and nourish it also works incredibly well as a base to your foundation if you’re after a more natural glow. You can either add it into your foundation or apply it as a primer base. As well as an addition to your foundation this little pot of gold also works incredibly well (if you haven’t already guessed) as a highlighter! I’ve used it a number of times to highlight my cheek bones and cupids bow which has led to a number of strangers asking what highlighter I’ve used!
Beki Xo

(*) As part of this blog post I was gifted the Transformulas products in exchange for a review however all opinions are my own and it was my personal preference to feature them in this blog post.

My Top 3 Avocado Brunch Spots In Manchester 

Anyone that knows me will know how obsessed I am with an avocado and poached egg brunch. It’s just one of those breakfast dishes that I crave and will consume at any time of the day and luckily for me, more and more places in Manchester are doing breakfast all day!

To be completely honest there's pretty much a new breakfast place open every few months, it’s actually getting hard to catch up but for those many that I have tried (and there's plenty more that I’ve got to tick off my list) here are my 3 favourites that I go back to time and time again...


A photo posted by Beki (@smocktofrock) on

Ezra & Gil
*Makes Mmm noise*
Ezra & Gil has a Scandinavian industrial interior with rustic vibes and an open kitchen. It has to be one of my favourite places for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The ‘Smashed Avocado with Feta and Red Chillis’ is just incredible. It comes with 2 chunky pieces of sourdough bread with a mountain of avocado, a runny poached egg, fresh red chillies and chunky sprinkles of feta. The portion you get is pretty generous compared to most of places which of course instantly puts Ezra & Gil on the top of my list! The only struggle about Ezra & Gil is the seating as there are few smaller tables so the larger tables quickly become filled with individuals leaving that awkward 1 empty seat rule however if there aren’t a lot of you or you get there are just the right time, it’s totally worth it!


A photo posted by Beki (@smocktofrock) on

Pen and Pencil
Pen and Pencil has a more of a Mad Men style New York feel with a bar/ lunch area and restaurant around the back. There are also two smashed avocado options on the brunch menu (which again is served all day). There’s the ‘Avocado and Feta’ which to be honest tastes pretty identical to Ezra & Gil (which is pretty impressive) except for few small changes in the ingredients and 2 poached eggs instead of 2 pieces of bread however I’m not complaining as that mountain of avocado is what it’s all about and if you really wanted two pieces you could order extra. Then there’s the ‘Guilt Free Breakfast’ which is a lighter option of two small pieces of rye, smashed avocado and a couple slices of pancetta. I have to say I’m always torn between which I prefer so I tend to rotate them each time I go!


A photo posted by Beki (@smocktofrock) on

Evelyn’s Café Bar
Evelyn's has such a relaxed vibe with an industrial roof garden feel. The breakfast menu has ‘me’ written all over it (as my boyfriend would say). It’s always a struggle to come to a decision on what I want as clearly asking for all of it isn’t a sensible option. But one of my favourite options is the ‘Avocado, Poached Egg Sour Dough’, except I usually swap out the sour dough for potato hash and it is so bloody tasty! My only qualm would be that the portions aren’t that large and I could easily chow down on another plate full but the quality is impressive and it's a great place for vegetarians.

A list of places in Manchester on my 'need to visit for avocado brunches'...
Federal Cafe Bar
Common
Home Sweet Home NQ

Beki Xo
 My Ash Blonde Hair Care Routine
It’s funny; when my hair was dark brown I wasn’t too bothered about a ‘hair care routine’. Maybe because darker hair was easier to maintain, maybe because split ends and colour fade where less visible or maybe because I simply just wasn’t that bothered. 

But since going blonde I’ve taken more interest in the products I put in my hair to keep it toned, nourished and looking as healthy as possible. It’s taking me a few months to go from dark cherry brown to ash blonde and I believe the products I’ve been using have benefitted towards keeping my hair healthy and bright. 

So here’s 'My Ash Blonde Hair Care Routine'...



Step 1: I like to make sure my hair is tangle free before I head into the shower and apply products, so with this I use the infamous Tangle Teezer to quickly removed any knots and tangles.


Step 2: Before I use the violet shampoo I prefer to cleanse my hair of any product. Usually I opt for a ‘cleansing shampoo’ however I’ve found that the Aussie Colour Mate Shampoo works just as well. It not only cleanses the build-up of product out of my hair it also helps to keep the colour from fading.  


Step 3: I cannot rave enough about this product; even my hairdresser was impressed at the lift of colour I was able to gain through my brown to blonde stages. This 
Fudge Clean Blonde Violet shampoo helps to tone my hair and keep it a cool ash blonde shade. It’s advised to leave it on for no more than 10 minutes as the violet tone is highly pigmented and can leave a purple tint to your hair however I actually like this look so I leave it in for approx. 20 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. 


Step 4: On a ‘normal hair wash day’ I use the Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Conditioner which I’ve used for years as it smells incredible and leaves my hair feeling super soft.  However once a week (or whenever my hair needs some serious attention) I opt for the Toni & Guy Nourish Reconstruction Hair Mask and leave this on for approx. 5-10 minutes, to give the formula enough time to penetrate deep into the hair follicles. 


Step 5: After washing out the hair mask thoroughly, I wring my hair through to rid any excess moisture and wrap it in a towel whilst I potter around for 5-10 minutes. I try not to keep my wrapped in a towel for too long as this can dry the hair out as the towel soaks up moisture from the open follicles. When removing the towel, if my hair is still too damp I wrap it back up and squeeze the towel around the hair. Never rub your hair dry as this creates split ends and damages the hair which is delicate when damp.  

Step 6: Before I brush my hair I apply the Fudge Urban Miracle Ends which helps to seal split ends and de-frizz dry hair (this product smells incredible and reminds me of nostalgic holidays). I then brush my hair using the tangle teaser to ensure the product is coated evenly throughout the hair.  


Step 7: To protect my hair from any heat damage I use the 
Nicky Clarke 220 Degree Heat Barrier Spray, taking time to make sure all my hair is protected. I then part dry my hair and leave the other half to 'air try'. This is so it isn’t too damp when I'm whilst I continue to get ready and to make sure I’m not using heat on my hair for too long as this can be incredibly damaging. Of course If I’m in a rush I’ll need to dry my hair fully but whenever I can I always try to part air dry. 


Step 8: My hair is very thick so I prefer to straighten the ends with my trust GHD’s (which I’ve had since I was 15 and they’re still going strong) to flatten the hair follicles, leaving the root which helps to create volume and running John Frieda Polishing Serum through the ends to banish any pesky flyaways and leave my hair looking healthy and shiny. 


I've been using this hair care routine for a good few months now and although my cleansing shampoo changes from time to time, I believe the best products that have been made the biggest impact are; the Fudge Violet Shampoo for toning my hair, the Toni & Guy Hair Mask for keeping it strong (especially the ends), the Fudge Miracle Ends for keeping those pesky split ends sealed and hydrated and the Nicky Clarke Barrier Spray for preventing heat damage!

Products I used in this post:

Aussie Colour Mate Shampoo 
Fudge Clean Blonde Violet Shampoo 
Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Conditioner
Toni & Guy Nourish Reconstruction Hair Mask 
Tangle Teaser
Fudge Urban Iced Tropical Cocktail Miracle Ends 
Nicky Clarke 220 Degree Heat Barrier Spray 
John Frieda Frizz Ease Polishing Serum 
GHD Styler

Beki Xo

(*) This post was not sponsored and no products were gifted.

12 Things That Go Through My Mind When I’m Washing Makeup Brushes

Let’s face it, no one likes washing their makeup brushes. Those 15 minutes feel longer than 1 minute of planking, then there’s the foundation splash marks left around the sink and quite frankly it all just feels like too much effort. But there’s just something about freshly washed makeup brushes that make it all worth it… when you can actually be bothered.

For those times when I finally psyche myself up to cleaning my makeup brushes, this is what goes through my mind…

1. When did I even last wash these?
2. Maybe I’ll just wash my foundation brush and leave the rest.
3. I swear there’s a better way to clean them than this.
4. This is too much effort; I might revert back to using my fingers.
5. I really hope my foundation isn’t as orange as this water.
6. S**t, I’ve got foundation water on my white t-shirt.
7. How am I going to explain the state of the sink to my boyfriend?
8. I wish someone would invent a ‘dish washer’ for makeup brushes
9. Oh FFS, I don’t even want to tackle the beauty blender.
10. This sponge thing never looks clean I don’t know why I bother.
11. I swear 1 beauty blender could soak up a whole swimming pool of water
12. May be I shouldn't be so honest when I write this blog post, I sound so moany.

*chuckle*


Beki Xo


An Honest Guide To Owning A Pet Pygmy Hedgehog
Instagram - @HokeyHedgie 

I forget how unusual it is to own a pet hedgehog (aka - a spikey-floof). There’s been countless times where I’ve casually mentioned how ‘my pet hedgehog…’ and the other person has asked me to repeat myself in confusion that you can actually own a hedgehog as a pet.

Now, don’t go trying to pluck one from the bottom of your garden as pet hedgehogs are a completely different breed to what you find in the wild. They’re called African Pygmy Hedgehogs whom are bred as pets, so for all those who sometimes comment saying ‘He should be free in the wild where he belongs’, no he shouldn’t because he isn’t wild and he wouldn’t survive.



So what’s it like owning a pet hedgehog?

Well, it’s pretty darn convenient for one. They’re nocturnal so he sleeps during the day when we’re out at work and we get him out at night (around 8pm) for him to roam around and play. I say play, he likes to burrow in the nearest dark space, push around a couple cat balls and climb the nearest piece of furniture so I guess you could call it exploring rather than play. Because let’s be honest, they’re not dogs, they won’t react to their name (although Hokey does react to my voice), fetch a stick or chase a laser pen.

They are an exotic pet so of course they require a lot of unusual maintaining from oat baths to non chemical cleaning to dust free housing to constant requirement of warmth. Which being an exotic animal also means the vet bills are a little more expensive as a specialist is required.

However with enough time, handling and care they are incredibly rewarding especially when their little personalities show through.

Are they affectionate?

Some say yes other say no. It is completely dependent on the hedgehog’s personality. I’ve owned two pygmy hedgehogs (one of which sadly died young for unknown reasons- RIP Pokey) and both of their personalities are complete opposites. My first hedgehog was fearless, energetic and didn’t like too much attention. She’d intentionally jump off of the sofa, run around like a kid of sugar and wasn’t too keen on being petted. But ‘Hokey’ couldn’t be more different. He’s very cautious when he’s on a table or the couch and won’t risk falling off of anywhere, he has his energetic moments but prefers to find a cosy, dark spot to fall asleep in, loves his tummy being rubbed and doesn’t mind being woken up early.


What do they live in?

Just like any hedgehog, pygmy hedgehogs need to be kept at a continuous warm temperature (between 18 and 25c) at all times. If they’re too cold they may try to hibernate which will kill them and any higher they will show signs of being too warm by lying flat and panting. My first hedgehog did try to hibernate multiple times (but she was unwell) and I did have to coach her out slowly with a hair dryer which left me constantly worrying about her and fretting over the temperature! So the best thing for them to live in is a vivarium (no smaller than 3 feet) where the heat can be contained and there are no cage wires for them to climb and accidently break their legs.



What do they need in their home?

Firstly they need some cushion under their feet so dust free shredded cardboard is a must. I get so angry when I go into pet shops and they have them living on sawdust, they have such tiny respiratory systems that this is really, really unhealthy for them especially as they like to snuggle into their bedding. Even shredded paper isn’t great as they will cut their tiny little feet *sigh*.

They also require the following:
  • A waterproof liner for the vivarium – To keep the vivarium as clean as possible and to not damage the natural wood with spilt water and urine we put down a waterproof outdoor table cover which you can buy in metres online or at your local haberdashery.
  • A silent wheel (as they run miles and miles over night) but again it needs to be a straight wheel with no wires! I have no idea why but you can buy these slanted disc wheels which are incredibly dangerous for any animal as not only is it easy to fall off but eventually their spines will bend and it could cause them to be paralysed.
  • Litter/ litter tray – It is a hedgehog’s natural instinct to poop whilst they run, this way predators in the wild cannot track them back to their home as they won’t (for a term of phrase) ‘S**t on their own doorstep’.  For this they require a litter tray under the wheel and no other litter is to be used other than wood based. Wood base crumbles into a wood like powder when wet so it won’t stick to their paws.
  • House – Just like most animals, hedgehogs like to sleep in the dark and need somewhere that is big enough for them to make themselves at home with a piece of blanket.
  • Food/ water bowls – Hedgehogs in the wild naturally drink from small water sources on the ground so their food and drink needs to be kept in small ceramic bowls (the heavier the better as hedgehog will lean on the bowl and push around their food). Do not buy water bottles as their small tongues could get stuck in the spout and that’s incredibly dangerous.
  • Toys – Hedgehogs like to pull on things so when buying toys for their vivarium try not to get things that contain faux fur or anything that could be a choking hazard if tugged at. The best things to get are cat toys. Hokey has a couple of plastic balls that contain bells and a toy rabbit which I have attached a shoe lace in which he loves to pull into his house and sleep with *cue Aww*. 

What do they eat?

Firstly hedgehogs are lactose intolerant and their diet mainly consists of high protein, low fat dry cat food (always chicken flavour). We tend to give Hokey a mix of Purina Adult Chicken and Iams Kitten Chicken together but he does have the preference of Purina! Dry cat food is great for cleaning their teeth so it’s best to give it them as often as possible however you can feed those vegetables, egg, poultry and a small range of fruits that aren’t acidic. We tend to give Hokey scrambled egg, chicken, broccoli, sweet potatoe, beef, and carrots every so often to keep him interested and his nutrition up. 

Hedgehogs do have a long list of foods that they can and cannot eat as some foods are poisonous and others aren’t great for their health or their tummy >you can find a list here<.

A hedgehog’s weight can fluctuate a lot dependent on what they’re eating and how long they are spending on the wheel. It has been known that they can become addicted to the wheel so if you notice they’re no longer a tear drop shape or weigh less than they should then remove the wheel for a couple days and up their food intake. Sometimes if Hokey is looking a little smaller than normal but it has happened over a long period we will just add wet cat food into his diet as it contains fat. Again this should not contain any dairy and the chicken to jelly ratio has to be high (we find Sheba Chicken Classic in Terrine contains real bite sized chicken chunks and less jelly).


How often do you need to clean a hedgehog’s home?


Spot cleaning should be done on a day to day basis. Hedgehogs aren't the cleanest of animals, especially when it comes to their feet as they tend to poop as they run on the wheel, so if there is any visible poop marks on the equipment it’s best to wipe it off with a tissue or a wet cloth. As for changing the litter we do this approximately every 4 days, it’s as easy as emptying the litter into the bin, giving the tray a quick clean and popping in some fresh litter. Just as we’re cleaning out the litter we will also take the opportunity to clean the wheel. Just like any small pet you should not use any chemical based products to clean their home. You can buy pet safe products but we tend to use a natural, organic and chemical free cleaning spray which contains grapefruit as a natural antibacterial. When it comes down to cleaning the whole vivarium and refreshing the cardboard we do this on a weekly to bi-weekly basis dependent on how messy the vivarium is.


Hedgehog’s need a beauty routine… 

It may sound silly but hedgehogs do have a beauty routine to keep them happy and healthy.

  • Their nails need to be clipped whenever they are too long (Hokey’s back nails grow rapidly and I usually need to do this weekly). To clip their nails I use a baby nail clipper. Fortunately over the months Hokey has gotten used to having his nails clipped and will let me do this with him sat on a surface however previously one of us had to hold him whilst the other clipped his nails, trying incredibly hard not to cut further than pink bit!
  • They also require a nightly  ‘foot bath’ as running on the wheel with urine can sometime chap their feet but also it also means that it Is safer for you when handling as their faeces does contain salmonella. We usually pop him in some foot deep warm water and use a soft toothbrush to clean his feet.
  • Bath times are a must but not too often. We typically bath Hokey every 1.5 weeks either using natural oats in a sock and submerging this in the water, squeezing out the oat liquid every so often (oats are a natural way to help too soften their skin as they can suffer from dry skin) or using a chemical free, oat bath wash (the Aveeno Bath Wash is perfect). Again using a tooth brush to clean his quills and feet, making sure we don’t get any water in his ears!

Things to remember:


  • They require a lot of care as they are an exotic pet which also means that vet bills can be more costly than your average as they require a specialist. 
  • They're not the cleanest of animals so they do require regular foot baths (everyday) and the occasional (every 2ish weeks) oat bath for their quills.   
  • I’m always sure to tell people that not all hedgehogs are as relaxed and as happy as Hokey. My previous hedgehog wasn’t one for tummy rubs and massages so please don’t think all pygmy hedgehogs are like the ones you see on Instagram. They all have different personalities and although the cute videos of Hokey on Instagram having a shower or a tummy rub are as adorable as it looks; they’re not all like that. Some aren’t fans of human attention at all and will huff, puff and click until you leave them alone but with daily handling they may grow to like attention… that doesn’t always mean being petted though!
  • Hedgehogs are solitary animals, they like their own company and should not be put in with other hedgehogs.
  • Just like us they have moods, one day they could be happy as Larry but the next they might be a moody huffy butt.
  • They require daily handling, care and attention to be happy and healthy.
  • They are not a part of the rodent family so they won’t bite or chew unless you have something tasty on your fingers or if you’re Hokey you love freshly painted nail varnish. 
  • They anoint. Yes, if they love the smell of something, be sure that they will foam at the mouth, perform some contortion and lick it all over their quills.
  • Patience is required when you first get your hedgehog. They're very shy and require a few weeks to suss out if you're a friend or enemy.

    So if you have patience, are prepared to give the hedgehog a lot of your time each night, are willing to purchase all the unusual necessities that are required and can afford the extra vet bills that may (but fingers crossed don't) come your way then maybe a pygmy hedgehog is for you. But please do your research properly on pygmy hedgehogs and breeders. Do not purchase any from pet shops that are kept in the incorrect housing, you're only funding them to buy in more.


    For more photos and videos of Hokey the hedgehog, be sure to follow him on Instagram
    @hokeyhedgie
A video posted by Hokey (@hokeyhedgie) on


Beki Xo

7 Steps to Ombre Brows

I’ve tried a number of brow products in the past from kohl pencils to powders to gels to fibres to creams but I’ve never found anything as easy and as effective at the Beverly Hills Dip Brow Pomade.


The majority of people I know swear by the product (as do I) but for those who don’t it’s mainly because they just can’t work out the best way to use it and find it too pigmented, too dark or too thick.

My brow routine takes me minutes to complete and you can adapt it to the type of brow products you use. So hopefully it should give those who can’t get to grips with brow pomades some tips and tricks of how to use it in the best way as well as showing you how I create that ombre brow.

To start with I'm using the Beverly Hills Dip Brow Pomade in Ash Brown and the Beverly Hills Duo Brow Brush in #14.


How to create ombre brows:

Step 1: Comb the brows to shape and neaten before taking a small amount of pomade and use the back of your hand to remove the excess
Step 2: Draw a line (under the brow) from just after the inner brow hairs to the corner of the arch
Step 3: Next decide on the shape of the brow tail and outline around the brow hairs/ fill in
Step 4: Draw a line from the tail corner to just over half way across the brows and again fill in any sparse areas
Step 5: Remove any excess product from the brush onto the back of your hand and smudge across the product already applied to half the brow to create an ombre effect towards the inner brow. Add a couple brow faux brow hairs within the lighter part of the inner brow.
Step 6: Comb through the brow to neaten and blend any excess product onto the hairs. At this point you can either leave the brows as they are or set them with a brow mascara.
Step 7: Use a light cream concealer to highlight around the brow and strengthen the shape. Blend the product into your foundation and powder over.


Beki Xo
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