My Little Duke

Beauty

Why Neal's Yard Remedies?

Beauty, Motherhood, FaithSteph DukeComment

As many of you will know I’ve been on a bit of a journey since quitting my teaching job last October. These last few months have been a crucial time of rediscovering who I am and what I’m called to do. For 6 years, teaching defined me. It’s where I found my identity, my value and my worth. Then, when career was suddenly stripped away from me, I began to realise my value system was all kinds of wrong and I knew exactly where to look to begin to fix it.

God has taken me on quite a learning curve, and the process is still ongoing. There’s been a lot of rewiring, refocusing and relearning stuff about myself and about God. I’m incredibly grateful to be able to say that the Lord has been so faithful to our family, gently leading us every step of the way. It doesn’t mean that I’m getting everything right, certainly not! But, knowing Him close and trusting His voice gives me an amazing peace that I had been missing.

So without the title of ‘teacher’ – who even am I? This is something I’ve been exploring and carving some time and space to discover. During this process I’ve unearthed some skills and passions that had previously been lying dormant - creativeness that was buried so far beneath the surface; weighed down by busyness, distraction and a mind too narrow to even comprehend the idea that I was creative at all!  A writer?! Ha! You must be joking!

Well, no. Actually.

I have been assured, more than ever, that God has called me to write, to speak, to put pen to paper, fingers to keys … to be a voice. It’s more a charge to be obedient to Him and to the dreams he is continually writing on my heart, no matter how crazy they seem! So I’ll keep writing and keep dreaming. I’ll keep learning and filling my basket with my God-given skills, gifts and talents. I take no credit! It’s all Him - His grace and goodness. He is so kind! And I’ll keep adding so that I can keep giving away … this is where Neal’s Yard comes in.

 The table from my launch party - @justlaurajayne must get credit for this!!

The table from my launch party - @justlaurajayne must get credit for this!!

Becoming an Independent Consultant for Neal’s Yard Remedies is another string to my bow, another beautiful tool in my basket. It’s hopefully a way for me to earn a little extra income and to enjoy and to share the gorgeous range with you. As my kit grows, so too does my passion and confidence in a brand that I can stand by and support. The stats speak for themselves: British-owned Neal’s Yard Remedies is award winning, ethical and organic. It seeks to leave a gentle environmental footprint and to trade fairly. Yes. Just yes. God cares about our wellbeing and how we look after our planet, and as I seek to lead a slower, more simple and joyful life, I find Neal’s Yard just fits. The people-oriented nature of being a Consultant appeals to my heart for community and conversation, and I am falling more in love with the products every day. The work is flexible and I can do as little or as much as suits me in this season. I’m excited to get creative with it and use it to bless others too.  

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A little disclaimer - I am no Neal’s Yard expert! I’m just at the beginning of my Consultant journey so please go easy on me! If I don’t know the answer to your questions, I’ll be sure to go and find them out for you. My range of products is only small and I can only speak from my limited experience, but I do hope I can give you a little idea of what you can expect from this brilliant blue bottle brand!

What I particularly love about Neal’s Yard though, is that it’s more than just good skincare. It’s holistic health: it’s looking and feeling good from the inside out. Using Neal’s Yard products genuinely brings me great joy. I remember getting my first samples and being surprised at how much I loved them. Over the last few months I’ve introduced some Neal’s Yard products into my daily skincare routine. I’ve been using and continue to use the ‘Your Good Skin’ range from Boots (you can read all about my journey with YGS here) - it’s very affordable (one of the reasons I’d been using it) but it never felt like something really special. Neal’s Yard ticks all the boxes for me. It feels like a luxury product but doesn’t have the luxury price tag. It’s a balance and I get what I’m paying for – and just a little product goes a very long way!

 The beautiful 'bee lovely' hand wash!

The beautiful 'bee lovely' hand wash!

Can I let you in on a wee secret? Neal’s Yard is the only range that actually makes me take off my makeup at night! Shameful I know! Please don’t judge me! But, I am the world’s laziest person when it comes to beauty. However, you’ll be proud that I have been faithfully removing my makeup, toning and moisturising every night – and enjoying it too! I love the luxuriousness of Neal’s Yard. Each use feels like such a treat. I’ve been waiting for the novelty to wear off but it hasn’t. In fact, I’m falling more in love with the products the more I use them! I take real delight even in washing my hands now – it’s the simple joys for me these days. The ‘bee lovely’ hand wash that was meant for the guest bathroom has managed to find a permanent home on my bathroom shelf – and it’s currently on sale! Hooray! I’ve also enjoyed some really special moments with my 3-year-old daughter Phoebe using Neal’s Yard. She loves the ‘bee lovely’ range – especially getting to sit with her hands in a bowl of warm water with the hand wash and getting a little special treatment from mummy. She adores the smell and getting to put the hand cream on! The last time we did it together I had a real God-moment – He reminded me of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet and the call to service. Like I said earlier, for me, Neal’s Yard is another way I can serve and bless others. 

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Life is busy. Life is stressful. For me, Neal’s Yard is my way of injecting a little joy into my days. Whether it’s just washing my hands, moisturising my face or whether it’s those special moments of important self-care: taking a bath or putting a facemask on – Neal’s Yard products put a smile on my face every time I use them. This same experience is what I want to share with you. Even in the short time that I’ve been a consultant (just a few weeks) I’ve enjoyed watching some of you fall in love with the products and been delighted to treat you with samples or a bit of pampering. More of this please!

If you are in Northern Ireland and would like to get sampling some products with friends, please drop me a line. I’d love nothing more than to come and to serve and pamper you, while introducing you to Neal’s Yard. As a host you receive a free host gift and discounted shopping too! Or, if you’re reading this and thinking that being a Neal’s Yard consultant could work for you – I’d love to have a chat and give you the details on the huge range of benefits you can enjoy as a consultant. Plus, you’d be joining my team and we could journey together!

 The award winning, multi-use wild rose beauty balm!

The award winning, multi-use wild rose beauty balm!

You can nosey and order through my own consultant website for Neal's Yard - just click here. Alternatively, if you've any questions about NYRO or being a hostess I'd love to hear from you!

Things are a’changing a little for My Little Duke. The rebrand is nearly complete and I’m so excited to share the new online space with you and see where the next season takes us!

As always, thank you for reading and sharing in my journey! I love having you around ...

Steph xox

Good Skin for Life

Beauty, MotherhoodSteph Duke2 Comments

Hello my lovelies! I'd love to take a little time and tell you about my skin. In my mid/late teenage years I really struggled with acne-ridden skin. This, coupled with being a bit overweight, meant that I also struggled with self-confidence. I didn't like my appearance at all if I'm being totally honest. I tried to over compensate by being the funny friend, or the trustworthy one who always ended up stuck in the middle of arguments! It wasn't until I was about to begin my first year at Uni that Mum and I sought out proper treatment for my acne. 

After trying several topical creams and ointments (with no improvement) I was prescribed the drug Roaccutane. You can read a little info about it here. I was completely trusting of my doctor and was desperate to try anything. Just googling 'Roaccutane' you'll find a plethora of information, cautions, horror stories and miracle transformations. Thankfully, it did work for me - for my skin. What it didn't work for, was my mind...

Looking back, had I known what I'd go through whilst taking this stuff ... I'm not sure I would use it again. It's a tough one though - the noticeable improvement in my skin gave me a boost in confidence, yet, ironically, my mental health took a beating. I became insanely jealous, overly sensitive, more moody (if that was even possible!) and felt extremely low at times. Hindsight is a wonderful thing ... it's only now I can truly see the potentially devastating side-effects the drug was having on me. I honestly don't know how Matt (my then boyfriend, now husband) stayed with me. I was unbearable at times. Totally and completely unbearable. My mood swings were off the scale and I acted like a maniac - that's putting it lightly. I was irrational and paranoid, over the most stupid things. I didn't like the person who I became while taking Roaccutane - actually, I don't even recognise her! Matt must have known he was in it for the long haul, enduring such ludicrous behaviours from me! I actually threw stuff out the window of our uni halls of residence at him (3 floors below) because I was having a 'moment'!

I asked a few lovely Instagram friends if they would share their experiences with the drug and I was overwhelmed by the response! So many of you have used it and thankfully found pleasing results! You can read some snippets of their experiences below:

 

"While I was on Roaccutane, it was the only thing that cleared my skin.  However, it caused major problems with my eye ducts - I had to put hot compresses on my eyes, morning and night. Thankfully, my skin stayed acne-free for about 6 months afterwards, but, eventually I had just as bad acne as before. I also remember feeling down and pretty apathetic about life but thankfully had folk looking out for me. My brother suffered with awful acne right up until last year when, aged 30, he took Roaccutane and it really did the trick for him!" - Zoe, @zoephenix

 

"I'm a pharmacist and counsel on Roaccutane - the patients I see have massive improvements in their skin, but can find it really dries out their skin and can make them feel nauseous, especially at higher doses. You 100% can't get pregnant on it and have to take a test every month - so if you were thinking of a baby then definitely hold off! Also, your skin is sensitive to sun, even in winter, so summers/holidays could be hard, especially for sun worshippers! You have to wear SPF all the time and we generally advise against heavily perfumed products for the skin." - Emma, @emma.wright_

 

"I was on Roaccutane during my GCSEs. It's a tough drug and I dislike how it's projected as a 'miracle cure' for acne. My doctors never took my acne seriously from age 12 which led to a lot of scarring because I was put on Roaccutane too late. Unfortunately, I've found that GPs don't take dermatology seriously. Even after taking the drug, I had x6 laser procedures!" - Charlotte, @5ft_small

 

"I haven't used it myself but wish I'd known about it in my late 20s as I've been left with some scarring from hormonal acne. My 3 cousins have all used it and despite being tough going (ie. peeling, sore lips etc) the results are pretty fabulous - they all now have the most beautiful skin." - Kathy, @yellowbirdjewels

 

"I got quite a quick referral to the dermatologist and was put on Roaccutane within the month. I didn't really have any of the negative side-effects, In fact, a bonus side-effect for me was that there was literally no moisture coming out of my pores, so my hair was never greasy! My one concern was the potential effects on my mental health, but whilst taking the drug, I didn't really notice anything. It's only now I realise that it was the mandatory pill - that you have to take alongside Roaccutane - that was having more of a negative impact on my mental health. I felt I was forced to take it - even though there was no chance of me getting pregnant - and now I wonder about how much the pill messed up my hormones." - KT, @lonecrayon

 

"I had a 6 month course of Roaccutane when I was 18 and it literally transformed my skin! I had been back and forth to the doctors, tried medication, steaming my face, a Clinique skin consultation, I even slathered my face in yoghurt and honey for months! Nothing worked until I was put on Roaccutane. My mother had to really push for it as the doctors were really reluctant and kept listing all the side-effects. She was adamant and I had it on a monthly basis. We noticed a huge difference in a week and it was the happiest I'd been in years. My skin gradually got less and less angry looking and eventually the spots cleared completely with no scarring. At 30 now I still get the odd breakout, but nothing compared to what it was. We were really cautious of the potential for mental health problems - my mother was checking in with me everyday to make sure I was ok and luckily it didn't effect me that way." - Emma, @lookingaftermama

 

"I haven't used Roaccutane myself, and in many ways would love to, but my sister's experiences have put me off. Not only did they finally discover she was allergic, but she also became very paranoid. Knowing that psychiatric disturbances are a possible side-effect, I'm staying away ... for now." - Jill, @mulligug321

 

"Roaccutane was the first thing to clear up my skin! At 21 I broke out really badly - I was working as a beauty therapist at the time and was even more conscious of my skin when treating others. Honestly, it was amazing and I actually worried about stopping it, but when I did, my skin remained fine. Good experience for me!" - Kathryn, @k.a.m.d.o.n

 

"I used Roaccutane when I was 24 for 6 months just before I was married. Apart from extreme thirst and very dry skin, I found it to be amazing! It totally boosted my confidence and my work were very good at allowing me to go for the monthly check up at the hospital which helped." - Lyndsey, @lyndseyriddle88

 

"I've never used Roaccutane myself, but I work in mental health and we are always warned in training about the suicidal thoughts that people can experience when on it." - Cheryl, @ca_graham

 

“I was on Roaccutane when I was 17/18 and it really, really worked. I’ve had the odd flare up of bad skin, but never anything as bad as the chronic, painful acne I used to have! BUT … it had very bad side effects like super dry skin and lips, dry eyes, very dangerous if you’re planning on getting pregnant (I accidentally ended up getting pregnant when I was 18 and the docs were seriously concerned that my baby would be deformed!) Lastly, the worst side effect was the effect it had on my mental health – I was low for most of the time whilst on it. It’s a side effect quite a lot of people struggle with when they go on it. In some countries, Roaccutane is illegal as it’s so severe. My medicine friends tell me these days that docs only prescribe it in absolutely worst case scenarios. I can understand why. But, I did have perfect skin for a while after it!! We used to joke in school that you’d know if boys were on Roaccutane because they’d reluctantly always have carmex on them! Oh! And no matter what age you are, if you are taking the drug, they make sure you are on the pill alongside it too and make you do blood and pregnancy tests at monthly check ups – it’s insane!” - Rebecca, @rebeccafinlay

 

"I have used it twice! Great results, but sore on the body!" - Laura, @lauramcfarland_

 

"I went on Roaccutane when I was 18 and it was GREAT. Made a huge difference to my skin, face, back and neck. The only side-effect I noticed at the time was the dryness of my skin ... but what a huge improvement to my acne! I then got my face lasered and my skin was the best it had been in years. Fast forward 7/8 years and my face began to flare up again. The hospital gave me Roaccutane straight away and boy did I notice the side-effects this time: sore skin, hyper-sensitive to heat, dry skin, emotional, dry hair, brittle nails - I felt a yuky mess! But, it worked ... and was well worth it, for me. The positives outweighed the negatives, but then again, I wouldn't go on it again and only for the sake of my mental health." - LJ, @ljwatt

 

"I was on Roaccutane for about a year and a half, about 4 years ago. Previous to that, I seemed to have been on every prescribed cream / ointment / wash / tablet the doctor could give me. I had been on a couple of variations of the pill as well, but nothing seemed to work and Roaccutane was always going to be the last resort! I found it easy enough to cope with, even though there was a lot of talk of mood changes while on it!! My biggest problem was dry skin!!! So, so, so dry ... and not just my face! My whole body and particularly my lips ... I could have peeled layers off my lips every day!  Even now, so many years after, I still have rather dry skin (mainly hands and lips.) But, other than that, it worked miracles on my skin! I still get the odd break out, but it's never as bad as it would have been before!" - Karen, @karen.brown.7588

 

Undoubtedly, Roaccutane is a strong drug and has been proven, time and time again, in making a real positive difference for those struggling with acne prone skin. I was terrified of my acne returning when I can off the drug so I stayed on the pill, right up until Matt and I were ready to try for a baby. I must have been on the pill for about 7 years and that helped to keep my acne at bay. I did notice, coming off the pill, that my acne quickly returned, staying for the duration of my pregnancy and until I'd finished breastfeeding Phoebe at 9 months post-partum. As soon as I'd finished breastfeeding, I went straight back on the pill. For 3 reasons really: 

1. I was NOT taking any chances with regards to getting pregnant again. I had a terrible pregnancy and labour and was in no way ready to go through it all again!

2. I missed the 'control' I had over my body when on the pill. I loved having the choice to run through a packet and miss having a 'period' if I was going away or on holiday etc.

3. Goodbye spots!

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Let me take you to just a few months ago ... I was in a season of learning to 'let go' of a lot of the 'control' I was exercising over my life. Phoebe was also just about to turn 3 and I would love for her not to be an only child! I had finished a packet of Yasmin (can I just say here that Yasmin is the only pill that really agreed with me - several others caused awful hormone swings and cramps!) and gone through my 7 pill-free days. I reached into the cupboard to get another packet and there was none to be found! I knew I had another few packets in the medicine box as I'd only recently been to the doctors and got my 6 month supply. Yet, they had mysteriously disappeared ... I knew instantly that I was having to make a decision. In that season, part of my 'letting go' also meant ridding myself of the hormone controlling 'protection' of the pill. in those moments, I submitted everything to God, praying that whatever happened ... it was him in control, not me. If I was to get pregnant again, then so be it. Even writing those words fills me with anxiety and fear ... but that's ok.

Coming off the pill, I feared that the acne would return, especially as I was also about to begin to use a new skincare brand - Boots own brand - Your Good Skin (YGS). My skin would be quite sensitive and from using Roaccutane, my mum got me onto Liz Earle skincare as it really helped my dryness. I fell in love with it completely, especially the Cleanse & Polish and Eye Bright. I've been using Liz Earle loyally for about 10 years. The products are simply beautiful. Scent, texture and branding are simply spot on. However, I would have to say, that it's definitely a luxury product, for me anyway, and more pricey than the high street alternatives. I was always happy to spend the extra, as I felt it was well justified and the products always lasted for ages. Yet, it's amazing how timely some things can be. Just as I was quitting my job and coming off the pill, a lovely insta-friend (Ydele, @ourlifeatthewhitehouse) asked if I'd be interested in getting involved with a brand campaign for YGS. I did a wee bit of research (as you do!) and thought it looked like something I'd genuinely like to try. 

YGS were running a 28 day challenge and I signed up to give it a good, honest go! I was kindly sent x4 products from the range and I excitedly began the challenge. If I'm being brutally honest ... I was more than a bit skeptical. Being a Liz Earle die-hard fan, I wasn't convinced I'd like anything else! I was also super nervous to see how my skin would react to not only a huge hormonal change coming off the pill, but a change in product. I used the YGS products religiously, morning and night, for the duration of the challenge. I instantly fell in love with the Balancing Skin Concentrate. It's smooth and silky on the skin, with that 'luxury-feel' I'd been used to with Liz Earle. I went from barely using make-up remover and moisturiser in the mornings, to taking much better care of my skin. As much as I never liked using make-up remover wipes, I now really like using the YGS ones. They suit me - I'm lazy! Far too often I've slept in my make-up (I know some of you are physically wincing at the thought!) but there is little I hate more than doing that before bed! Now, with the handy wipes - it's quicker and easier! Hurrah! 

And, get this ... I'm even using toner - twice a day! I must like this YGS stuff! I'm not needing to use my make-up primer either, so there's another little saving there. The biggest win for me though, of course, is that since I started using the range, I haven't had a single spot. Not ONE! I don't know if YGS is the sole reason for that, but while the going is good, I'll keep going! 

Here's what I'm currently using from the YGS range:

1. Moisturizing Make-Up Remover Wipes - £3.99

2. Pore Minimizing Tonic - £4.99

3. Balancing Skin Concentrate - £16.99

4. Refreshing Face Wash - £4.99

5. Anti-Shine Base Lotion - £9.99

6. Instant Dryness Rescue - £9.99

 My YGS beauty basket

My YGS beauty basket

There's lots more in the range too, you can view the whole line here. I bought my sister some of the key pieces to try at Christmastime when Boots had their buy one, get one half price offer on. Do watch out for offers! But, hopefully you agree that it's quite affordable and I love that I can get points on my Boots card too. The Anti-Shine Base Lotion is on offer at the moment - 50% off with the code 'YOURGOODSKIN2' :)

 Use code YOURGOODSKIN2 for 50% discount!

Use code YOURGOODSKIN2 for 50% discount!

I know that this range mightn't suit everyone, but it suits me at the moment and is more affordable too! Sorry for the long post ... but hopefully it gives you a little insight into my skin journey. I also want to honour those running the YGS campaign, for generously sending me the products to try. I wasn't asked to do a blog post, just a little promotion through IG. This is genuine promotion of products that I've found really working for me at the moment and I'm hoping that someone else might enjoy using them too!

Lots of love my sweetpeas,

Steph 

xo