“I Spent Thousands on an Addiction to Legal Highs”

Clockwork Orange – a blend of ‘herbal incense‘ Photo credit: Wales Online

by Bridget Owen

* = Name has been changed for anonymity

In February this year, Emma*,19, and her friends began to experiment with ‘legal highs‘. She had no idea how dangerous and addictive they were until she’d been using them everyday for a number of months, and found herself unable to stop.

“We’d heard about legal highs from a friend, and wanted to see what it was all about. I’ve always been weary of drugs and what I’m putting into my body, but what possible harm could a legal drug do!?”

Legal highs come in a number of forms, and are sold cheaply across the country.

Emma* was using a herbal blend of ‘synthetic cannabinoids’ which is supposed to mimic the effects of Class B drug – Cannabis, the most widely used illegal drug in the UK.

This blend, usually referred to as ‘herbal incense’ is legal only because it is not yet fully known what the drug consists of. It is advertised that the high gives you a ‘buzz’ for just under an hour.

Certain forms were banned from sale in February from ‘head shops’ but manufacturers changed the blends and re-manufactured the drug under a different name to re-distribute it. Some of those that were banned in February are called ‘Black Mamba’, and ‘Mexxy’.

The long term effects of ‘herbal incense ‘ have not yet been established, but there have been many cases of legal highs going wrong in recent news. Just two weeks ago three teenagers were rushed to hospital in Wales, after falling ill from taking a blend of herbal incense. They were reported to be vomiting blood.

The legal high is attractive to young people with it's packaging

The legal high is attractive to young people with it’s bright packaging

“I didn’t research the drug before I used it. I acquired it easily, and the man in the shop told me everything I thought I needed to know. He sold it like it was a cupcake or something, passing it off so gently. Little did I know this was the beginning of an awful experience.”

Emma* and her friends used the drug for an evening, but none of her friends were that interested by it and saw it as a waste- they didn’t like the drugs effects. They stopped using the drug, they had work to do, and full time jobs. However, Emma* had enjoyed the feeling the drug gave her.

As a first year University student, she didn’t really see that she had much to do, and carried on using, usually smoking it all day, everyday. She found that the more she smoked it, the more she got used to it, and needed to use more each time. She was soon spending £150 per week and going through more every day.

“My tolerance levels changed so quickly, I couldn’t get the feeling I wanted without using more. I used various blends of the drug when they became available. There were three head shops where I lived, all within a mile of each other. So there was a constant, easy supply.”

It wasn’t until she went home for a weekend in March that she really withdrew from the drug.

“I had one last hit the morning before I got on the train to go home. By 5pm I had the chills, I was sweating and no appetite, like I was getting ill. I passed it off to my parents as the flu, and when I returned to my student flat I continued to use the drug. I had no idea that my body had been suffering from withdrawal.”

As a couple more months passed, Emma* began to lose sight of everything. Her personal relationships began to fail, and she couldn’t get up and go anywhere without using the drug first. Her life completely revolved around this fix.

“I would wake up in the night, sweating, if I hadn’t used for a few hours. I was restless and angry if I wasn’t able to use. If I was halfway through my stash I would have already planned when I would go out to get more. I couldn’t think about anything else. When my boyfriend came home at night he would just find me in a barely concious state. I would fall asleep constantly, sometimes halfway through the day, and didn’t have any pride in my appearance any more- something I had previously found really important.”

Although Emma* knew she had changed, she still didn’t see her addiction as a real problem or didn’t want to. She continued to spend money on the high. The closest people to her knew, and had mentioned it, but she would always deny her addiction, and began to try and hide it.

“I knew deep down I had a problem. The turning point was when I found myself shaking, stood outside a ‘head shop’ waiting for it to open on a Sunday afternoon.

“I’d run out, was having a stressful day, and the shop owner was an hour late. I felt nervous thinking he wasn’t going to show up at all. I couldn’t manage without.

“There were other people waiting for it to open too. I found myself chatting to them about it opening, going onto talking about our habits. They also used this herbal high, but they were the kind of people I would never usually associate with.

“When the shop finally opened I was the first in, and buying the most. I casually handed over £50 and rushed home to smoke it. This would usually mean the end of worrying and panic for the day, but I just felt disgusted in myself. Hanging around outside a shop with other drug users waiting for it to open was the last straw. Especially as I was so jittery and panicky at the thought of not being able to get any more.”

Research into the drug also helped change Emma’s* mind about using.

“As soon as I looked for people in a similar situation, I found them, posting from across the world posting about their troubles with addiction to herbal blends. A little on-line community welcomed people to share their stories and I felt able to talk about my experience.

“I felt so much happier knowing I wasn’t alone. They also gave really good advice about how I should go about slow withdrawal from the drug to make it easier to stop. Some of those in the community stated that some of the blends had made them hallucinate and feel sick.”

After reading up about addiction, she began to plan how she would come off the drug which was all down to careful planning. Emma* decided she didn’t want to involve anyone else in her struggle.

“Even though people wanted to help, I felt ashamed of the person I’d become, and became determined to fight this addiction myself. I didn’t tell anyone I was dealing with the problem, I wanted to keep things as normal as possible to keep my mind off it.”

“I was advised to slow my intake of the drug down, instead of cutting it out completely. I wanted to go to a GP but I still felt unable to talk to someone about it. I began to cut my amounts down over three days. It wasn’t easy. I cracked and went to buy some as soon as I’d run out, making the withdrawal process begin all over again.”

“It was so frustrating having to fight a constant battle with myself.”

“The first three days of my final withdrawal were the worst. The chills started immediately I couldn’t control my temperature. I’d be sat shivering one second and sweating the next. I had no appetite at all. I would try and force myself to eat but I would just feel sick. I couldn’t sleep, and when I did sleep I would wake up soaked in sweat.”

Emma* has now been drug free for three weeks, and is beginning to feel and look better in herself. Coming out of an anxious depression she is feeling much more positive about the future.

“I still have the most random uncontrollable mood swings, coming off and staying off has been the most difficult thing I’ve done so far. It’s about knowing you have a problem and wanting to stop, and I was my own worst enemy.

“Knowing I’ve beaten the addiction makes me really happy, it proves I can do anything I can put my mind to.

“It won’t change the fact that I’ve spent thousands of pounds on the drug, I’m in a heap of debt, and I have nothing but bad memories to show for it, but I have defeated this problem, I have learnt from it, and I have a healthy bright future ahead of me.

“People needs to be wary about ‘legal highs’. Just because it’s legal, it doesn’t mean that it’s safe.”

Although Emma* has chosen to keep her identity anonymous, she is happy to answer any questions you may have about legal highs and addiction. Please send any questions to polkadotsandpotions@gmail.com

David Hilton-Turner, Chesterfield, was recently effected by the legal high Clockwork Orange when his son Matthew was rushed to hospital from taking it. His son has since recovered but the ordeal has spurred David into a fight against these highs being sold legally in the UK.

David has begun his campaign by speaking to Look North, Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield, and his sons story featured on the front page of the Derbyshire times last week.

Read Matthew’s story Here

David: “I feel like this matter needs to be pursued and needs the utmost attention and I am not prepared to let this matter dwindle into thin air.”

To join the fight against legal highs David has created a Facebook group -“UK against legal highs” which he encourages people with their own stories of legal highs to share and support the cause.

If you’re confused about drugs, or worried about someone else, you can also Talk to Frank. FRANK has confidential drugs information and advice is available 24-hours-a-day.

Drugs information from the NHS

  • To find out more about specific drugs, including mephedrone (meow meow), BZP, GBL and naphyrone, go to the A-Z of Drugs on the FRANK website.
  • For confidential advice about all aspects of drugs and drugs use, call the FRANK helpline on 0800 77 66 00.


Although these drugs are marketed as legal substances, this doesn’t mean that they are safe or approved for people to use. It just means that they’ve not been declared illegal to use and possess. They are still normally considered illegal to sell under medicines legislation.

Some drugs marketed as legal highs actually contain some ingredients that are illegal to possess.

The risks

Legal highs can carry serious health risks. The chemicals they contain have in most cases never been used in drugs for human consumption before, so haven’t been tested to show that they are safe. Users can never be certain what they are taking and what the effects might be.

Other risks:

  • You increase the risk to yourself if you combine alcohol with any legal or illegal substance that causes a high, including the risk of death.
  • Reduced inhibitions, drowsiness, excited or paranoid states, coma, seizures and death.
  • Because legal highs are often new and, in many cases, the actual chemical ingredients in a branded product can be changed without you knowing, the risks are unpredictable.
  • It is likely that a drug sold as a ‘legal high’ may contain one or more substances that are actually illegal to possess.

When to seek medical help

Most problems with short-term use of legal highs will settle after you stop taking them. However, the negative effects of some legal highs can take a few days to wear off completely, just like the comedown from stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines.

If you think you are having a serious negative reaction soon after taking a legal high or you experience problems that do not settle with a little time out, fluids and fresh air, get medical help straight away by going to the accident and emergency department of your nearest hospital.

Credit: NHS

More from Bridget


Tutorial: Confessions of a Concealaholic

by Bridget Owen

It’s been reported by the Harley Medical Clinic that women spend around 474 days of their lives putting make-up on, which translates to around 3 and a half hours per week.

Confessions of a Concealaholic by Benefit is all set to change that hectic make-up schedule, and greatly minimise the amount of make-up you have to carry, by being available in a little set.


If you have irritating spots or dark under-eye circles like me, this tutorial is just for you!

We also have an interview with a professional beauty therapist with her top tips for healthy skin.


We recorded this first thing in the morning to really catch me with just woken up skin.
Before Shot


Before you begin, make sure all your hair is off your face, I’ve pushed mine back with a headband and tied it up.


Step 1: Prime with ‘Bad Gal’ to give you a brightening complexion before you begin – also useful to use if you have dry skin.

Step 2: Apply ‘Erase Paste’ to camouflage under eye circles and big blemishes – it really is a ‘paste’ you need to brush across your skin but gives a really even coverage

Step 3: Apply ‘Boi-ing’ Concealer to cover little blemishes and other imperfections – you can use your finger or a brush to apply it.

Step 4: Apply ‘Lemon Aid’ to eyelids for an awakened look – you CAN look like you’ve had enough sleep!

Step 5: Highlight and Cover using ‘Eye Bright’ – highlighting with a moisturising foundation helps to blend my concealing in with the rest of my face

After – a really fresh look

No matter what your skin type, this kit can really help change the way your skin looks. It comes with everything you need to apply the make-up in a gorgeous little box. You can buy this kit across the country, from Debenhams to feelunique.com.

It will set you back around £25 – but it’s worth every penny.

Sally works hard to keep her skin clear

Sally Rust, 31, Loughborough, has her own Beauty Therapy business.

“Many of my clients swear by Benefit products compared to more expensive alternatives. Although its important to have a good concealer, it’s also important to take good care of your skin.”

“You need to find a cleanser, toner and moisturiser that suits your skin. It’s all a case of trial and error but everyone has different needs in their skin care regime. “

“When using products on your face always massage upwards, it can prevent sagging skin with age”

“The most important part of anyone’s skin regime is how much water they drink. If you keep your body hydrated and free of toxins such as alcohol your skin will show many benefits.”

Sally suggests a cleanse tone and moisturise twice daily, and at least 6 glasses of water to keep your skin beautifully clear.

“Another thing to keep in mind is how often you go without make up- although difficult, it’s important for your skin to have a day to breathe. Why not be brave and go bare!?”


Read more from Bridget


Style Icons: Zooey Deschanel

by Bridget Owen

Credit: Walls Data


New Girl’s Zooey was congratulated yesterday in coming #31 in FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women in the World. It seems that her beauty, style, musical and acting talent is not the only thing that’s been noticed across the world by men and women alike.

Deschanel, 33, was born in Los Angeles California, and first recognised for her role alongside Will Ferrell in Elf. She was later praised for her part as Summer in box office hit 500 Days of Summer, and now plays endearing Jess Day in ongoing American rom-com New Girl. (Today it was announced that Taylor Swift will star alongside Zooey in a one-off episode.)

Aside from acting, she has a passion for music and produces her own alternative tracks individually. She was previously married to Death Cab for Cutie’s Benjamin Gibbard but the couple divorced in 2012. Zooey maintains her ideals that there is a true love out there for her.

Zooey: “Well, I like creative people, so whatever that means… Yeah, authentic and creative.”

Zooey and Ben, divorced 2012: Credit Chris Pizzello

Deschanel is also part of an Indie duo ‘She & Him’ with guitarist Matt Ward. She has also been known to collaborate with other actors such as co-star in 500 Days of Summer, Joseph Gordon Levitt. (Looper, Batman, 50/50.)

Zooey’s complexion always looks clear, and her skin always looks completely refreshed, so it’s not surprising she was chosen to be one of the faces for Rimmel London – following in the footsteps of models such as Kate Moss and Lily Cole.

Her make-up palette is always natural, but she occasionally wears a thick line of black eyeliner across her top eyelid or some red lipstick to add a little glamour to her fresh-faced look. Since her blonde look in Elf, 2003, Zooey has gone back to her original hair colour and usually maintains the same haircut but always keeps it in top condition, with a perfectly face-framing fringe.

Zooey speaking to the Huffington Post: “The weirdest compliment I’ve ever received on my eyes was that I looked like an alien — or that I look like a doll.”

Zooey for Rimmel London: Credit Sneak Peak

So- onto style. This is where Zooey really excels. Again, maintaining the same style throughout most of her outfits she keeps a cute, innocent and individual look. Vintage tea dresses, little shorts, polka dots, floral patterns, cute prints, peter pan collars, chiffon blouses and cardigans are her ‘staple’ looks.

Where most of us would end up looking like a frump, Zooey manages to make old, recycled clothes look elegant.

Zooey in 500 Days of Summer: Credit The Clothing Menu

Though her day look is very ‘cutesie’, Zooey knows how to turn on the glamour in the evening by picking a statement colour with a flattering and tasteful feel.

Zooey wearing Oscar De La Renta at the Golden Globes: Credit NY Daily News

Through all of the parts of Zooey’s beauty and style, there is still one big thing that makes her stick out from the crowd. She has a reputation for always being herself and being comfortable over her individual personality and style. Her confidence and nature only magnifies her beauty.

FHM on Zooeys #31 place: “Hollywood’s brand-new Queen of Quirk: smart-but-daft, adorable-yet-edgy, sexy-but-approachable. She’s the ideal girlfriend, basically.”

Credit: Glamour

More stories from Bridget

Breast Cancer Rates in Under 50’s Reach Record Figures

Photo Credit: Breast Cancer UK

by Bridget Owen

It was today announced that according to the latest figures from Breast Cancer UK, more women than ever under the age of 50 are being diagnosed with the disease.

Breast Cancer is the most common cancer to affect women, accounting for around one third of all new cancer cases.

Figures from Breast Cancer UK showed “10,068 women under the age of 50 in the UK were diagnosed with the disease in 2010 – 2,356 more than in 1995.”

It is thought that the rise is due to hormonal factors, such as the use of the contraceptive pill, alcohol consumption, and women having children at an older age.

Despite the rise in women being diagnosed with Breast Cancer, figures also showed that survival rates have also improved, a positive sign for the treatment and care of those affected by the disease.

‘The death rate fell from nine per 100,000 women under 50 in 1993-1995 to five per 100,000 in 2008-2010 in the UK’

Claire White, 24, a third year Sociology Student from Hull was diagnosed with the disease a few days before her 21st Birthday.

“I couldn’t quite believe I’d be celebrating my 21st birthday knowing I had a life threatening disease.”

Claire has since beaten Cancer and is now in remission.

“My family have been really supportive. Everyone was so shocked that I’ve been affected by breast cancer so early in my life. I also had to have one of my breasts removed which has really affected my confidence. It’s important to be cautious of cancer no matter what age you are.”

Sara Hiom, Breast Cancer UK “The number of cases in women under 50 diagnosed with breast cancer is increasing slowly but, thanks to research, awareness and improved care, more women than ever before are surviving the disease.”

Chris Askew, Breakthrough Breast Cancer: “Although breast cancer is more common in older women, it’s worrying to see an increase in the number of younger women diagnosed with the disease. We must invest in vital research for new treatments and disease prevention.”

It’s possible that you will know someone in your lifetime that will be affected by Cancer. You can help fund-raise for Cancer Research through taking part in Race for Life, a sponsored 5K run which happens every year at locations across the UK. (Or Race for Life Twilight if you’re more of a night owl!)

Race for Life – Remembering those lost to Breast Cancer Credit: Cancer Research UK

“Since Race for Life started in 1994, an incredible six million women have come together and raised more than £493 million for Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work, making it the UK’s largest women-only fundraising event.”

Other large Cancer Research UK events include Shine, a night time walking marathon, Relay for Life, a 24 hour community event and the Bupa Great North and Great South Runs, the biggest races in the country.

For more information about Breast Cancer, fundraising or how to donate to Cancer Research please visit: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/

Photo Credit: NHS

Being Breast Aware: Tips from the NHS

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) advises that being breast aware means:

  • knowing what’s normal for you
  • looking at your breasts and and feeling them
  • knowing what changes to look for
  • reporting any changes without delay
  • attending routine breast screening if you’re 50 or over

Changes in the breast

Be aware of the following changes in your breasts:

  • changes in the outline or shape of the breast, especially those caused by arm movements or by lifting the breast
  • changes in the look or feel of the skin, such as puckering or dimpling
  • discomfort or pain in one breast that is unusual, particularly if it is new and persistent
  • any new lumps, thickening or bumpy areas in one breast or armpit, which differs from the same part of the other breast and armpit
  • nipple discharge that’s new for you and not milky
  • bleeding from the nipple
  • moist, red areas on the nipple that don’t heal easily
  • any change in nipple position, such as pulled up or pointing differently
  • a rash on or around the nipple

If you notice any of these changes, see your GP – even if you have previously attended a breast screening.

Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK “It’s more likely not to be cancer but if it is, detecting it early gives the best chance of successful treatment.”

Visit http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Breastcancer/Pages/Breastcancersymptoms.aspx for more information on prevention, screening and treatment.

More from Bridget Owen

Top 10 Nail Effects : Tried and Tested

By Bridget Owen

Nothing sets off an outfit like the perfect shade of nail polish, but now its not just about colours, its about having fun with effects too!

It’s only in the last few years that I’ve become especially interested in different effects that I can create myself at home. Without looking like they have been done at home!

My favourite nail varnish brands are OPI and Nails Inc. I go back to these brands as their quality always remains the same, but that’s not to say there are many other cheap alternatives that can work just as well!

I have ten favourite pieces for your nail essentials bag that will leave you with a shade and look for every occasion!

1. Base coat & Top Coat
Most importantly, a good base coat needs to be applied before you can start decorating with your favourite shade.

The nails need to be clean, dry and filed before you apply the base.

My top base coat is OPI, that comes in a small set with a top coat. You can buy both for £10.00 at Amazon.

2. Pastel Shades

Pastel pink and blue can look really fresh for spring and summer. Barry M sell a lilac shade called Berry Ice Cream – it’s perfect. Barry M have an extensive range of shades and you can buy them for 3.99-5.99 in Superdrug and Boots stores.

Illamasqua have created a special range of ‘speckled’ pastel shades, created to look like birds eggs. They are around £14.00 from Debenhams and other beauty retailers. The collection includes pink, blue, yellow and green.


Credit: Llmasqua


3. Matte Effect Shades

Nails Inc Kensington Matte effect top coat has been designed to go over any shade and give it a matte effect!

I love this trick after looking for matte shades in 2012 this handy polish will make any shade look chic! I think it looks best over grey, black and brown shades!

Nails Inc. Kensington Matte shade is available at Debenhams, House of Fraser and online for £12.00.

Credit: Pandora’s Nails


4. Nail Caviar

Nail caviar has only recently been seen in the beauty industry but is already available for you to do yourself at home.

The effect is created by many little balls sat together on your nail to create texture- very much like the look of caviar.

Different brands sell nail caviar, but a brilliant cheap version is Nail Constellations by MUA.

They come in 5 different colours and are available at £3 per bottle. They’re so easy to use- apply a base coat and then pour on the beads to the nail to stick them on.

I bought ‘Libra’ and this is how my nails turned out on first attempt!

Remember, if you’re using nail caviar just paint and stick beads to one nail at a time. Once all your nails are done, go back over them with a base or top coat to keep the caviar beads in place. If you have any gaps you can stick more beads to the clear top or base coat too!


My Caviar Nails

5. Feather effect

Nails inc have created a creation of feather inspired nail polishes. These multicoloured confetti like strands go onto your nails in a clear polish to sit on a base coat or alone. I love this effect, and the cute little bottle it comes in! Nails inc shades can be bought for £10-£15


Credit: Nails Inc


6. Glitter!

We all love to get out the glitz and glam for girlie nights out and dressed up dates- but how about for your nails?

On first seeing this trend, it reminded me of painting my nails for the first time, using cheap glitter from a girls magazine- but OPI had bigger ideas for glitter.

The James Bond Skyfall collection flew from shelves at Christmas as OPI brought out their special collection for the new Bond release.

I bought 5 of the shades from the collection, consisting of bright reds, sultry greens and glittering golds. Their is also a special edition ‘man with the golden gun’ which has real 18k carat of gold in.. Could you get any more luxurious?

Glitter can be over-done, but can also be worn in so many ways. It’s all about being creative and seeing what will work.

Fur effect

Yes, I know, fur effect nails sound a little different.. But this is how they look!




Credit: MUA


The fur again sticks to nail varnish much like the caviar effect.

You can buy a little pot of fur effect by MUA from Superdrug stores or online for £3.

This is the effect I’ve had most doubts about- but the finishing look of the nails is really good and the effect is really unique.

8. Magnetic effect

It’s simple to create this effect. Magnet nail polishes are available to buy from Boots and Superdrug for around £5.00 for Barry M shades and around £10.00 for the Nails Inc. version.

Each bottle of varnish comes with a magnet in its lid. After you have coated your nails with varnish, you hover along the magnet over the top of the nail creating a ripple or wave effect which you can see below!


Credit: Nails Inc


9. Nail foils/wraps

Without a steady hand, nail wraps can be a nightmare to apply and look professional.

I first tried Primarks own nail wraps, which were Zebra print and only cost £1. It took hours to do both my fingernails and toes.

The nail wraps were much too big for my fingernails and toes and cutting them down was really difficult.

Once I’d got the right size the wrap would no longer be sticky or there would be an air bubble when I tried to apply the wrap.

I have since tried Superdrugs nail wraps (£4.99). Again they were too big and really fussy to apply to look professional, but they were a better quality and made an impressive leopard nail effect.

If I was going to use wraps again, I’d go for some from a trusted beauty retailer like Superdrug or Boots, I wouldn’t buy them from clothes shops such as Primark or New Look.

I’d get a really cute design too, like these beauties!


Credit: Beautyblog


10. Nail art pens

So you’ve tried magnets, fur, caviar and all sorts of other beauty crazes. Now it’s time to get creative and do your own! Express yourself 🙂

Nail art pens are brilliant! Sally Hansen has a brilliant range of pens for any design you can imagine.

I love creating cute little floral designs, daisies are my favourite for summer- but it’s so hard to paint them on my nails without these pens! (They usually look like fried eggs.)

So go ahead, mix and match your nails and see what effects you could achieve…. without the hefty salon prices!


Credit: Sally Hansen

You can go into any large Debenhams store across the country to find a Nails Inc counter, where you can test all these effects on your own nails, and get a beautician to show you what you can achieve too!

Read more from Bridget here

Top 10 Make-Up Bag Essentials: Tried and Tested (including a free Benefit Makeover!)

by Bridget Owen

A recent make-over at the Benefit counter with Polka Dots and Potions’ Lucy inspired an article made up of the Best 10 pieces for on-the-go make up satisfaction. All of the products featured in the article have been tried and tested for their application, durability and overall look.

We even ended up bagging a free Benefit makeover for our lucky readers!


Lucy and Bec

Lucy and Bec from Benefit

1. The most important part of my make up bag is a good concealer. Dark under eye circles and blemishes are a big problem to me.

The Porefessional – Debenhams – £23.50

This concealer has the strangest sticky feeling to put on- but works wonders on coverage. You can wear it alone or with make up and the gel-like substance will cover a range of sins!

Bec from Benefit, Sheffield admitted this was one of the most recent best sellers.

“Porefessional and They’re Real mascara are our two most popular products, and are much cheaper and user friendly than similar products by bigger brands. Porefessional lasts a long time as a small amount goes a long way.”

The Porefessional

2. Foundation – Benefit Play-sticks Cream to Powder foundation – £26.00

This foundation is amazing! It conceals well, has a really nice soft texture and has added vitamins to keep your skin in top condition. Applying it with a stick also really helps with application – it goes on quickly with no messy hands!

Bec: “Play sticks are ideal for precise mess free application, and go onto your skin smoothly without drying it out. It has vitamin E which can maintain your skins vitality.”

3. Pencil Eyeliner – Benefit Bad Gal – £14

You can buy this eyeliner on its own or with the matching mascara for around £22.50. It goes on smoothly and stays put most of the day.

4. Mascara – Benefit – ‘They’re Real!’ – £15.50

They’re real has been voted the best current mascara – and I can see why!! I purchased this after Bec, at the Benefit counter let me try it. As soon as I used it I could see how powerful it was. The mascara doesn’t clump and is easy to apply for long lasting effects.


They’re Real

5. Eyeshadow – MAC – smokey eye kit by Julie Verhoeven – £39.50

My oldest but most important palette is by MAC. You can tell through the picture that the palette has had plenty of use. Although the kit is for ‘smokey eyes’, I use the neutral colours on a daily basis- opting out of using the black.

The light look really natural and stay on all day. The kit comes with a black MAC eyeliner pencil, two application brushes and a travel-mascara. It’s also handy to keep with you, as you can change to a night time sultry smokey-eyed look in seconds with this kit.

6. Blusher – BareMinerals – Rose – Debenhams- £15.50

BareMinerals is my favourite range of powder foundations and blushers!

My skin is fair, and I use a Rose shade. It doesn’t look too bright buts gives a luxurious slight pink shimmer across the cheeks.


Bareminerals Blusher

7. Lipstick/gloss – Benefit Posie Tint (travel stick) with California Kissin’ (lip and cheek stain with a smile brightening gloss) – £15.50

This lip stain stays on for hours, it is a really pretty pink and really sets off fair skin. This travel version has a second side to put on top – a blue minty gloss to go over your lips to ‘brighten your smile’. Both the colour and application of posie-tint is perfect, and the California Kissin gives your lips a cool tingly sensation and helps the colour gloss to stay on your lips all day.



8. Primer – Nivea Express Hydration Primer – Superdrug – £3.99

I’ve only recently started using a primer, but the dry weather conditions began to wear my skin down and dry it out – making my other make-up look dry and patchy. Many cosmetics companies have their own primers, but Nivea’s is my favourite. It has a sensible price tag, a fresh smell, is made up of natural ingredients and leaves my skin feeling healthy and ready to face the day (and the make-up I throw on it!)

9. Gel Eyeliner – Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Gel Eyeliner in Black – Boots – £6.95

I generally prefer using pencil eyeliners around my eyes, they seem to create a better effect and smudge less than liquid eyeliners.

This Gel eyeliner from Maybelline holds the best features of both a pencil and liquid. It comes with a tiny brush for ultra precision, and is thick to gain control over application on the brush.

You can create any look you like as it is easy to have thick or thin lines – and it stays put.

10. Eyebrow pencil – Soap and Glory – Arch de Triumph– Boots – £8

Arch de Triumph has an end to highlight your brow bone and an end to highlight the eyebrow itself. The pencil is soft and creates a natural effect- no ‘scouse-brows’ to be seen here!

The only thing I would suggest with this pencil – you need a large sharpener as the pencil is thicker than other eyebrow or eyeliner pencils.

For your free Benefit cosmetics ‘Face Date’ makeover, ring for an appointment or pop into Debenhams stores’ Benefit counters across the country!

If you’re based in Sheffield you can call ‘Bec’ for your ‘Face Date’ at Debenhams, The Moor on 01142895341






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International Women’s Day: How does it affect us?

by Bridget Owen 

Celebrated annually across the globe, International Women’s Day is used to create awareness surrounding the biggest issues faced by women, such as equality, abuse and poverty.

This years event, held on 8th March will be the 102nd IWD, and has been celebrated since around the beginning of the 20th Century.

Val Mulholland

One of the most famous British examples of this movement is Emmeline Pankhurst of the Suffragettes, who through political activism helped women win the right to the vote.

This year’s topical theme for International Women’s Day, ‘A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women’.

MP Theresa May spoke earlier this month of domestic violence in a video released to coincide with Women’s Day- after worrying figures were received from charity Citizens Advice who reported of attacks from 13,500 people in 2012, 80% of which came from women.

A new campaign to stop domestic violence went ahead in February this year. ‘Is This Love’ aimed to get people to think about how to spot abuse in a relationship. The worldwide dance protest took place on Valentine’s Day, and over one billion people in over 200 countries danced to say no to sexual violence for One Billion Rising – Rise against Impunity. It aimed to raise awareness and empower those who have been affected.

Valerie Monti Holland, a Philadelphia-born drama specialist runs several women’s support groups in Sheffield including ‘Left Luggage’ and ‘Mothers and Daughters’.
Through a range of socio-drama and acting methods Valerie delivers a creative style of training, facilitation and community engagement to help those across the private and public sectors. By using these methods in her support groups enables members to have a voice.

Valerie explained why she chose this idea for the group, “I have a 15-year-old daughter, and my mother died shortly after her birth. I wanted to help people explore their relationships with their daughters. It also opens the group to more women – all women are daughters!”

The ‘Mothers and Daughters’ theme was developed to explore the relationship between the family members but also provides a place for women over the age of 18 to discuss their issues with others.

She explained that through being the mother to a teenage daughter makes many of the issues raised by Women’s Day particularly worrying, particularly young women that are influenced by the sex trade.

“For a lot of the women that come to support groups, it’s important to feel some connectivity to others. It feels good to be recognised as part of a movement.”

Valerie holds support groups once a month from NHS Centre of Sexual Health, Nether Edge, Sheffield. You can contact her on twitter : @left_luggage or by telephone on 07738851873.

“On the 102nd International Women’s Day there is much to celebrate. The maternal mortality rate fell by half between 1990 and 2010, girls’ education is improving significantly and women now make up 40% of the global workforce – all signs of immense progress” – OXFAM

For ideas and information on becoming involved with Oxfam, please visit:


You can listen to Valeries International Women’s Day interview on BBC Radio Sheffield with Rony Robinson here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p014w3f2

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