Milly Youngman 27 May 2015
Despite being quite particular about my mane I rarely experiment much with hair products, instead just reaching for whatever's lurking in my drawer when I need a new bottle of shampoo or conditioner. However, I was definitely excited to try out the Paul Mitchell Color Care Bag* (£16.55), which features two products designed to care for and protect coloured hair. Inside the set, you have the Color Protect Daily Shampoo and Daily Conditioner. I've been dying my hair since I was a teenager, so I'm always on the look out for products specificially tailored to boost colour and reverse the damage that repeated hair treatment can cause.
The Paul Mitchell bottles definitely have a ‘salon look’ packaging, with a monochrome and orange colour scheme that’s visually appealing and gives off a ‘professionals would use this’ kinda vibe.
I definitely found this worked well on my dyed-red hair, not fading the colour as cheaper shampoos often do. As well as keeping my red in check, both the shampoo and conditioner delivered great results when it came to the softness of my hair. The Color Protect Daily Shampoo lathers up really well, even using just a little bit of product. It made my hair feel properly cleaned, while the Color Protect Daily Conditioner was really easy to spread and work into my hair, covering every strand really well - and again, I only needed to use a small amount for the desired effect. Both the shampoo and conditioner wash out well, not leaving any greasy residue and resulting in strong-looking, shiny hair.
The Paul Mitchell Color Care bag is great for those who want their dyed hair to be soft and silky, without trading off their colour pop. The duo also comes in a pretty box, which is fab if you're giving this as a gift! Each bottle is 300ml, which is a generous size that will definitely last me for quite a while, and as I've used them regularly I've definitely noticed the colour of my hair staying more vibrant than it would using one of the cheap shampoos that lurk in my drawers!
Have you tried any Paul Mitchell haircare products?
Milly Youngman 25 May 2015
Although I really enjoyed looking around the big sights of Barcelona Cathedral and Sagrada Familia, there were also some fantastic smaller attractions that we took advantage of. When it comes to exploring other places, I really like delving into and experiencing the culture of the country, and if you take a bit of time to look into what there is to do, you can find some more unusual tourist attractions in any city. Plus, ones that involve food are ALWAYS an excellent idea.
In our hostel, we found a card offering a tour at The Jamon Experience plus a glass of cava for €5 each, and we found the whole idea of a whole experience based around good old ham pretty intriguing. Jamon is a huge deal in Spain, a world away from your Sainsburys Basics wafer thin, and from the tour we discovered just how much effort goes into creating gourmet jamon. Featuring six rooms, the Jamon Experience takes visitors through the entire process - from rearing pigs to the long journey of the meat before it ends up being sold to the public. I actually found the tour a little scary as we were the only two people in our group and the rooms went dark quite a lot, but at the same time it was strangely fascinating to hear about the process.
After the tour itself, we sat down for a jamon tasting session. It cost €35 for both of us, which was a bit more than we'd intended to spend on The Jamon Experience, but really worth it as the ham we tasted was incredible - we tried six different kinds, including the much-loved Iberico. The jamon was carved in the middle of the restaurant by hand, and I was impressed at the craftsmanship that went into carving such thin pieces. As well as tasty food, we also had a wonderful view of La Rambla marketplace from the window, it was a really lovely experience and definitely something I'd recommend if you're looking for something a bit out of the ordinary on your trip.
We'd spotted the Barcelona Erotic Museum the previous day and thought it would be a bit of a giggle to pop in and have a nose around. I haven't posted many photos as there were a lot of willies and boobs and I wanted to make this post relatively safe for work!! Although it's quite a small museum, there's plenty to look at and take in for €9 each, including all kinds of erotic paraphernalia and artwork, including a display dedicated to Marilyn Monroe and a room of entertaining erotic-related facts and world records. They also have a small outdoor seating area at the centre of the museum, where we had a little break, a drink and a chat about the museum.
One of the most fascinating things I found was looking at erotica through the ages, and how different body types were represented throughout the eras, proving that 'sexy' has never been about having the body that today's media shows as the 'ideal'. In lots of the art on show, women had fuller bodies, small bodies, all kinds of shapes represented, which I found really interesting and inspiring, especially set against the current climate of body debates and body positivity.
What unusual tourist attractions have you visited?
Milly Youngman 22 May 2015
I've lived in London for around two and a half years now, including two jobs, three houses, countless burgers and more than my fair share of extortionately priced 'craft beers'. Here are some of the things I have learnt in this time.
1. Waiting more than 3 minutes for public transport is a new hell. Back when I lived out in the sticks, I'd be happy that the next train was 'only in 20 minutes'. Nowadays, waiting four minutes for the next Bakerloo line on a crowded platform feels like an eternity.
2. Twitter is the best way to meet people and pretty much an essential tool for knowing stuff/complaining about the Tube/mocking BoJo. Basically, if you're under 35, live in London and don't use Twitter, people will give you funny looks and wonder if you're secretly actually commuting from Mars. Or the Home Counties.
3. You can get drunk on the cheap. You just need to know where to go. I once had a pint (okay, it was Fosters but still...) for £1.80. IN CAMDEN. Get in.
4. When it comes to where you choose to live, you're either a 'North of the River' or 'South of the River' person. Once you've found your geographical tribe, you're there until you die. Or move to the Home Counties.
5. Doing touristy stuff is still fun and something born-and-bred Londoners don't do enough of. Unfortunately, it does mean you have to deal with...tourists. City elbows at the ready.
6. A flair for interior design on a budget is a useful skill. Chances are, if you're anything like me, the rented flats within your budget won't be particularly palatial (although, my current flat is actually bloody nice. HA). A visit to a charity shop/poundshop/Ikea to pick up some throws, cushions and perhaps a wall hanging to cover that dubious stain and you're basically the Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen of Leyton.
7. There ARE ways you can buy your own home though. They involve either inheriting a wodge of cash, having a generous bank of mum and dad, winning the lottery, or being a banker. And not the Monopoly kind.
8. Uber and City Mapper are on a par with fast pizza delivery and mid-priced gin when it comes to Essential Things For Londoners To Know About.
9.If it's even a little bit sunny outside and you're not on Hampsted Heath/in Hyde Park/in a beer garden, you're basically a social pariah.
10. London is amazing. It's big, it's busy, it's expensive, it's stressful - but it's also filled with incredible opportunities and experiences when you open your eyes and mind to them.
Milly Youngman 21 May 2015
Landing back in England after my holiday had definitely put me on a bit of a downer. Although I love my job and life here, returning to normality definitely hit me with a bump. Thankfully, the team at spa LONDON had invited me in for a bit of pampering on Monday evening at their York Hall venue in Bethnal Green, which was exactly what was needed to get me ready for the world again.
With seven locations to choose from in the city, spa LONDON’s aim is to offer day spa experiences and treatments at affordable prices. York Hall was actually the UK’s very first public sector day spa and the spa itself is located within York Hall Leisure Centre – and it’s also part of Greenwich Leisure Limited, a charitable social enterprise. The whole ethos of affordable well-being really appeals to me, and unlike other spas, York Hall offers concessionary prices for seniors, students and those not in work. Alongside the Thermal Spa Experience at the centre of the spa, there are also an extensive range of treatments on offer including massage, waxing, facials and body treatments. I was booked in for the Signature Cleopatra’s Milk & Honey Ritual*, inspired by (you guessed it) the bathing ritual said to have been undertaken by Cleopatra to preserve her youthful beauty.
I rarely have lots of cash to spend on pampering myself, and this was actually my first ever full-body spa treatment. Before the experience, I had no idea what to expect. I had no idea if I had to wear my bikini for the treatment (nope), whether I needed to take all my makeup off first (nope) or generally what the experience would be like. It turns out, I had nothing to worry about. The therapist delivering the treatment was absolutely lovely and friendly, explaining everything she was going to do as she went along. I did feel slightly awkward when I realised all I’d be wearing is a paper thong but she made me feel perfectly comfortable, using a towel to uncover sections of my body at a time so I never felt overexposed.
The first element of the treatment involved a body wash and scrub using black soap to cleanse and exfoliate almost every bit of skin on my body. The scrubbing felt relatively coarse, but not at all uncomfortable (even on my slightly sunburnt shoulders!) – it was actually really invigorating, and definitely sloughed away any dead cells and polished my skin nicely. After the wash and scrub, the really luxurious part took place – the warm milk and honey treatment. It was stickier than I expected, but felt incredibly nourishing even from the first drops. Once all the product had been applied to my body, I was wrapped up in a towel for it to work its magic, while the therapist gave me a mini-facial and applied some of the product to my hair too – complete with a mind-blowingly relaxing scalp massage.
The next part involved hopping into the shower to wash off the mask, which actually took a bit of time due to the stickiness – plus, I didn’t quite manage to get it all out of my hair and had to re-wash my hair once I arrived home. So if you have somewhere to be afterwards I’d probably recommend skipping the hair treatment step, even though it’s made my hair super soft and lovely. Finally, I got to choose a moisturising milk to have massaged in – I opted for a cocoa-vanilla scent that made me feel ridiculously pampered and fabulous.
Lying in the treatment room with beautiful scents and calming sounds, I genuinely forgot about the bustle of the city around the building. The Signature Cleopatra’s Milk and Honey Ritual costs £59 for a 50min treatment, which I think is really excellent value compared to other spa treatment prices I’ve seen around, especially in London. I’d definitely head back to York Hall again, as the experience I had made me feel absolutely spoilt with pampering. After the treatment, my entire body felt and looked amazing – my skin is radiant and hair super-glossy and moisturised. As well as looking great, the treatment also left me feeling great; ready to get back into life with a fresh body, mind and attitude – which is exactly what I needed!
What are your favourite spa treatments?