Friday, 24 May 2013

Adamina Day Spa Review


I've had this week off work and I decided I very much deserved a lovely treat to myself, so I figured a trip to a Spa would be lovely! Initially, I was planning on getting a Lush Synaethesia massage, but in the end I settled on the Tranquility Ritual from Adamina Day Spa in Kensington.
adamina day spa reception

As long as you don't walk the wrong way out of High Street Kensington tube station like I did, Adamina Spa is really easy to find. It's about a 5 minute walk from the Tube (turn left not right!) and is located on Kensington High Street.
adamina day spa kensington

The Spa uses [Comfort Zone] treatments and offers a wide range of beauty services including massage, mani/pedi, ipl and various wraps and rituals. From the minute you step inside, you feel removed from the business and rush of the high street and transported into a luxurious haven.
adamina day spa kensington
adamina day spa kensington

Adamina Spa have gone for a slightly vintagey feel with soft lighting, antique dressers and pictures of old movie stars dotted around. The receptionist took me down to the changing room, where my wardrobe was waiting for me with a (very short!) robe, slippers and towels. I was invited to use the steam room if I wanted (free of charge for anyone having a treatment) or to use the relaxation room, where comfy seats, Pukka teas and lemon water awaited me. I took a quick nip into the steam room, which is a bit like a dark stony cave. It is unisex, although when I was there it was super quiet and there were no men booked in that day. I then headed to the relaxation room to enjoy a cup of Love tea (my favourite Pukka tea!) and to flick indulgently through glossy magazines whilst I waited for Vicki, my therapist. Now, one thing to note is that whilst I was in the waiting room, I started to hear a few building work noises... they weren't too loud, so I wasn't too worried. More on that later.
adamina day spa kensington

Vicki was absolutely fantastic. She came down to meet me in the relaxation room and we chatted a little about my treatment (I went for the Tranquility Ritual - a 90 minute massage, body mask & facial) and also about my seizures (I think I may have terrified her a little bit but she hid it well!). Vicki wanted to know what I wanted to get out of the treatment itself and also checked how much pressure I liked in my massage (AS HARD AS YOU CAN GO was my reply). This was a nice touch - often if you go for something like a Tranquility Ritual, you don't get a say in how hard or soft your massage is. You just get the "set" package. She also allowed herself time to work more on my back than anywhere else because it's so tight.

This is where the review has to take a bit of a fork in the road part. I'll start with the good. Vicki was incredible. She made me feel so safe and relaxed (I was a little anxious because it's a long time since I've had anything nice and spa like). The bed was heated and adjusted to fit my body and I was covered by a lovely warm duvet/blanket for the whole treatment. It was like being in a cosy bed more than on a spa table. She only uncovered the bits of me she needed at that exact moment. Perfect. Also, I don't know if this is the case for all Adamina Spa treatments or just mine, but there was lovely classical music (and the odd bit of Opera) playing instead of Whale noises. The ritual itself consisted of a facial first and then having my body massaged with a thick lotion/mask (think Origins Drink Up for the body). Vicki is an fantastic beauty therapist - I really can't praise her highly enough. She had a perfect, seemingly intuitive touch.

However, remember those building noises? Turns out my treatment room was right next to where the building works were being done. Now, Adamina have absolutely no control over them. It isn't their building works and poor Vicki was so incredibly apologetic and did still provide a wonderful treatment despite this, however the Tranquility part of my Tranquility Ritual was sadly lacking. There were parts where I had to put my fingers in my ears because it was so loud (and because certain pitches or types of noise can affect my seizures - thankfully I was ok). From what I understand, these building works have been going on for a while. From my wandering around, I think I was definitely in the worst treatment room for this. There were some downstairs that didn't seem as loud. As I say, Vicki was exceptionally apologetic and lovely about this.

After my treatment, I was lead back down to the relaxation room where I could stay for as long as I wanted. Instead I decided to just get dressed and head out for lunch. There's a wonderful monsoon shower that you can take advantage of should you need to as well!
adamina day spa kensington

One thing that did soften the blow of the building works was that all New Customers (Monday-Friday) receive 50% off off their treatments (Although I actually think that the receptionist over charged me by £2.50.. by the time I'd realised though I was already eating lunch and I didn't want to go back to query a couple of pounds). You also get 50% off if you mentioned I've recommended you - just mentioned Emily Birkinshaw when you book.

I really would recommend Adamina Spa though, despite all the building works. The treatments are beautiful and the Spa itself is a wonderful haven from the busy rush of the High Street. It's just a shame that the building works detracted from all of this. If you, like me, are bothered by noise, it might be worth asking if you could have your treatment downstairs. It's also worth noting that the building works are intermittent  and I had a good 30 minutes where there was just a gentle hum, so there's a high chance that they won't affect you at all. And as I said, despite all of this Adamina Spa was still a lovely place to visit.

I had the Tranquility Ritual at Adamina Spa, which I paid for myself. 
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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Wednesday Wishlist: Skincare

antipodes mask cleanser lush synaesthesia origins ginzing caudalie beauty elixir

If there's one this that can be said for blogging, it's that it's one of the worst enablers I've known. A mere 10 minutes of blog browsing can lead to me writing a list of skin care wishes that's longer than my arm. I've had a thing for buttery cleansers since I tried the Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm, and the Antipodes Grapeseed Cleansing Butter has been catching my eye every time I go into Whole Foods. It smells really wonderful and has a thick and creamy texture. I also was given a teeny tiny sample of the Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate when I was out shopping the other day. I've been using it for the last couple of nights (over the REN AHA Resurfacing Concentrate - a review of that coming soon) and my skin feels divine. It's so soft and clear and I'm not entirely certain what I'm going to do when my sample runs out!

I saw the Origins Ginzing Energy Boosting Moisturiser on Anna's blog the other day, and knowing how good the Ginzing eye cream is, I get the feeling this will be high on my list of wants too. At the moment, I'm using the Origins Mega Bright range - it's taken my skin from a dire mess to silky smooth in under a week, so expect a rave review of that sometime in the near future. Lush's Synaethesia Spa Treatment has been high on my wishlist for years now. I very almost ended up having one, but sadly I was too busy being ill with seizures and I had to cancel my appointment. Hopefully one day I'll get round to it. It's a completely tailored multi-sensory spa experience and sounds divinely magical.

Another thing I gave a try when I was out browsing the beauty halls of London the other day was the Caudalie Beauty Elixir. Obviously, every blogger seems to have tried this at some point or other and falls in love. I noticed a definite difference to my skin when I spritzed it on and loved the refreshingly minty smell! And last but not least, it's another product from Antipodes, this time the Aura Manuka Honey Mask. This smells incredible - it's sweet but not sickly or cloying. Manuka honey is jam packed with antioxidents and good things and I'm really looking forward to treating myself to this at some point.

What are you lusting after at the moment?
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Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Blog following options and a Facebook giveaway


So since my disappearance and come back, Google reader apparently disappeared from the blogging world. Now, I never used Google Reader anyway, but I know a lot of people did, so I wanted to introduce you to some other ways you can stay up to date with Sparkle and Shade! Read below to find out how to follow me on Facebook, Bloglovin, She Said Beauty, Google+ and GFC.

Facebook Page

Sparkle and Shade Facebook

At the moment, my Facebook page is all shiny and new! It's pretty quiet over there at the moment, but things will be getting much more exciting, with chat and competitions and all sorts of things.

Also, to celebrate the launch of the page, I'm going to be hosting a giveaway! There'll be 3 tiers of prize:
50 Followers - winner will receive a small selection of high end skin care samples and an extra surprise treat!
100 Followers - winner follower will receive a £10 Feel Unique voucher and a little bag of samples & treats
200 Followers - winner follower will receive a £20 Feel Unique voucher and a little bag of samples & treats.

To enter the giveaway, simply head over to Facebook and "like" Sparkle and Shade. The winners will be selected by a random draw as each tier is reached and will be announced on the Facebook page. Good luck.


I've been using Bloglovin' for ages - it's one of my favourite readers. I think it's clear, simple and easy to navigate. One of my favourite things about Bloglovin' is that you can sort blogs into different folders or categories! This is perfect for me as I follow a lot of healthy living, cooking and weight lifting blogs as well as beauty, so it's nice to be able to section everything out. A definite thumbs up from me, so head over there and follow!

She Said Beauty
She Said Beauty is a relatively new one to me, but seems like a lot of fun! You can build your own beauty shelf and create lovely lists of things you love and own, as well as staying up to date with all your favourite blogs. It seems like a really fun and friendly community, and I've been enjoying playing around with it so far. Head on over to follow me

Google +
You can also follow by Google+. I remain unconvinced by Google+, but I know some people absolutely love it, so I thought I'd give you the option to follow me over there!

Google Friend Connect
Now, the internet is rife with rumours about whether this is staying or going. For now, it seems to be staying put. Super simple - just click the link on the side bar! This is probably easier if you already use Blogger, as these blogs will come up in your reading list.

So there you have it - lots of options for following Sparkle and Shade, so now there's no excuse to not stay up to date!

What's your favourite way to follow your most loved blogs?
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Monday, 20 May 2013

Beauteco Box: A Beauty Box with a Difference


As I was doing my daily browse of beauty blogs and websites, I came across a new beauty box that really caught my eye.

Beauteco box website

Not only is the Beauteco Box eco friendly (they aim to use natural products and are actively working to  have a low carbon footprint - they use recycled materials in their boxes and go for as little packaging as possible), they also offer you a choice. Yes, you heard me - a beauty box that gives you a choice.

beauteco box options

I don't know about you, but one of the things that really frustrates me about beauty boxes is seeing all the wonderful goodies available but never knowing which you'll get. Maybe some people love the element of surprise, but more often than not I find myself wishing I'd got someone else's box. They also have 2 send out dates a month - 13th and 26th. They run like a "traditional" boutique - with "opening" and "closing" times in the lead up to each delivery day.

I'm quite tempted by the selection of products on offer and I may end up treating myself to one.

Boxes cost £10 (plus £2.95 P&P) and are available from the Beauteco Box website.

Are you over the beauty box hype or does this one excite you?
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Sunday, 19 May 2013

Wanted: Skincare Recommendations


Today, I'm looking for your skin care recommendations. My skin has basically been completely neglected, unloved and forgotten about for the majority of the last 12 months, barr the odd week or two where I've been a bit more sensible (like the gorgeous month when I was using up an Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm sample or the 6 or so occasions that I managed to use the sample of REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask).

Basically, I feel completely out of the loop with all things skin care and that makes me both excited and terrified. My skin is dehydrated but on the hole, pretty normal. It's a bit dry and rough across my cheeks and my t-zone is a little oily but nothing to write home about. I get the very occasional blemish, but this is probably mainly down to the face that my skincare routine is a pile of rubbish. I have a wee bit of money that I've squirrel away just for skincare, because it's important and makes me feel lovely.

I'm looking for:

Cleanser - I'm a big fan of balm/cream cleansers - I love being able to give myself a nice massage and then scrub everything away with a lovely soft cloth. Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish no longer agrees with me. Emma Hardie was good on the whole (although my sample did separate and then dissolve it's own lid....). I'm intrigued by the Antipodes Grapeseed Butter.

Toner I'm thinking Pixi Glow Tonic at the moment. Any other recommendations?

Moisturiser I literally don't even know. Answers on a postcard please.

Mask I love The REN Glycolactic but I'm thinking about the Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey one too. Any other ideas?

Other bits and bobs: recommend me your favourite lip balms, serums, treatments (the REN Resurfacing AHA Concentrate looks great) - whatever skincare has reached holy grail status for you that I haven't already mentioned.

Love xxx
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Saturday, 18 May 2013

REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask Review

ren glycolactic radiance renewal mask

I think REN might be stealing my heart a little bit. I got a sample of their Glycolactic Radiance Renewal mask in one of the "exclusive" Glossyboxes a while back, and oh how I love it.

This marmelade-esq mask from REN is packed with Papin (papaya extract) and natural fruit acids to exfoliate the outer layer of skin and create a beautifully glowing complexion, and it really does what it says on the tin (well, bottle). I don't think I can remember a face mask that has such a wonderful affect - although this isn't an explicitly moisturising mask, it always leaves my skin feeling softer and more hydrated. 

The "peel" effect isn't super strong - there's a very gentle tingle but it's never painful or uncomfortable. That doesn't seem to have a negative effect on the results though. One thing it is pointing out is that this is a facial peel, not a peel off mask. I've seen a few reviews expressing confusion at the lack of ability to peel this off (like the cheapo superdrug masks I remember from my teen years) - this mask stays a sticky gel like substance throughout. The peel refers to its gently acidic exfoliating effect which comes from the glycolic acid which helps to stimulate new skin cells and give you a radient glow (hence the name Radiance Renewal!)

My sample has finally run out, and this REN mask high on my list of goodies to replenish soon. I'm eyeing up the Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey mask with hungry eyes too.

REN Glycolatic Radiance Renewal Mask £30 from
What are your favourite face masks right now?

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Thursday, 16 May 2013

REN Moroccan Rose Otto Ultra-Moisture Body Oil* Review


It's a while since I've written because, as most of you will know, I've spent a lot of the last year dealing with dissociative seizures, which means my brain hasn't been in the writing space. However, today I'm off ill and I just used up the very last drop of this incredible rose otto body oil from REN, so I thought I'd share my thoughts.
ren moroccan rose otto ultra moisture body oil

Wow. Honestly, this body oil is one of I've ever used (even if it is a bit of a mouthful to say Moroccan Rose Otto Ultra Moisture Body Oil whenever you try and describe it to someone). It's perfect. It isn't greasy, it smells utterly divine and it makes my skin softer and more supple than I've ever known it to be.

Winter is a bad time for me, and my skin has been dealing with an extra blow this year because I've been so ill. My diet has suffered and spending so much time in the house and in bed doesn't do amazing things for your skin. This little bottle of oily joy fixed all of that. Mine was part of a gift box, hence the teeny tiny size, however, it still lasted me a good few months and was even used for a couple of extremely luxurious back massages. It's also recently won an InStyle Best of 2013 award.

It's possibly a little out of my price range, but I would definitely contemplate restocking this when I have a little spare cash hanging around. It's honestly one of the most beautiful things I've ever used on my body.

What are your current favourite body oils?

REN Moroccan Rose Otto Ultra-Moisture Body Oil is available from £34.95 | 100ml 
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