10 things that TV adverts want you to believe

Posted by Judy Johnson On Sunday, 19 October 2014 16:11 0 comments

I watch a lot of TV, and sadly this means I have to watch a lot of adverts. Unless it involves kittens, good dancing or a catchy jingle I enjoy singing along to, I can't stand them - mainly because they all seem to base their ideas on one theme: the audience is stupid. 

But rather than get into an angry rant about evil advertising companies and the media, I thought I'd take a look at the world we would live in if everything in the adverts was true... 

1. Only young, attractive women eat yoghurts. 

2. Yoghurts are also borderline orgasmic. 

3. Women skip around a lot when they are on their period.

4. On that same theme, Mother Nature is an irritating woman with a bad accent who pops up when you least want her to. 

5. Injury claim companies are run by creepy looking gangsters. Wait, that one might be true...

6. Babies are always being cute and giggly. 

7. Breastfeeding is a really calming, enjoyable experience.

8. Cereal can dance. 

9. Wearing perfume or aftershave makes you irresistible to the opposite sex, even if it smells disgusting. 

10. Peter Andre shops at Iceland. Ha!

Got any more? Give me something to read in the ad break... 


My first year without prickly heat & sun cream allergies - updated

Posted by Judy Johnson On Wednesday, 9 July 2014 12:00 10 comments
When I was younger, I tanned instantly and went the kind of golden brown that you now get out of an expensive bottle. My hair was white blonde and quite frankly I probably looked a bit odd, but I was glad that unlike my family, I could go brown without burning first - I was the lucky one. 

That soon changed. As I grew up and coincidentally (or not) after a big allergic reaction aged 18, my skin became very, very sensitive. If you've read any of my beauty posts you've probably gathered that I still have sensitive skin and now have to be very careful about anything I use (not ideal when you're a beauty writer!) - I can't even spray perfume onto my skin, so make do with spritzing my clothes. 

All this is annoying but I can live with it, especially now I've found my trusty brands to stick to (Avene, E45 and occasionally Liz Earle). But when it comes to going on holiday, for the past eight years I have often dreaded going away because I know my skin won't cope with the heat, or even worse, the suncream. 


Until recently I thought that the awful - and I really do mean awful, it covers my arms and legs like an extra layer of alien skin - prickly heat or heat rash was just down to the heat since I'm not great in hotter weather in general, but I couldn't understand why I got it so very bad, to the point that my doctor has to give me steroids on my return from the holiday. I just did a quick Google search and can't find a photo that does it justice - mine was so terrible I even had tests to see if I had a 'sun allergy' but they came back to say I was perfectly normal (insert joke about second opinion here).

Then I started reading up on suncreams and finding out that if you're sensitive, it might be that you're allergic to the chemical filters that give them their SPF - and suddenly it all made sense. I had tried so many brands - Ambre Solaire, Soltan, Nivea, Malibu - but my skin always had an instant rash the moment I was on holiday and became increasingly itchy with use. I can't be certain that I am allergic, but I'm making a pretty good guess that I am; and this year may even have proved it...

Avoiding prickly heat and allergies in the sun
Armed with this info and after asking around, I decided that as I was going on my longest holiday ever this year (a whole 2 weeks - post on it to come), I needed to be prepared. So, I wanted:
1) Something from my doctor 
3) Something to give quick relief if heat rash appeared. 

The first was easy - though I'd heard about getting cortisone injections pre-holiday, my doctor wouldn't agree but did give me Telfast, a prescribed anti-histamine. You're generally meant to take one a day, but she said to increase it to two (one morning, one night time) and start taking them two weeks before I was due to leave. They didn't make me too drowsy, but when I started to feel the effects I dropped down to one a day and they still did the job. 

The second involved a bit of research, but I decided on Piz Buin's Allergy range (the Aftersun is lovely), Ultrasun sun cream, and Avene's tinted SPF 50 for the face which was ideal for going makeup free on the beach. I genuinely feel like these discoveries have changed my life, and yes, I realise that makes me sound like an idiot. The Ultrasun only needs applying once a day and has no fragrance, rubs in deliciously and feels good on the skin - and I had no allergies or rashes in sight. I couldn't believe it - I was in the same country as where I had my worst hit of skin reaction two years ago and yet there wasn't a patch of redness to be seen. Ultrasun, you rock.

The third is so simple but utterly brilliant - Aqueous Cream with Calamine. This stuff is magical. It costs about £1 for a pot from your local chemist or Boots and it's cooling, calming and moisturising in one. I used it on sunburn (I stupidly managed to burn on the last day) and the tiniest hint of heat rash (which only appeared on day 10 of the holiday - miracle!) and within half an hour it had disappeared. Now I am never without the stuff, even at home.

So, it's only taken eight years but I think I've finally worked out the formula for keeping prickly heat away - I still can't cope too well with the hot weather and have to be pretty obsessive about my skin, but it's all worth it if I can go out without looking down at my arms and wanting to cry. I'll never buy a different sun cream again. 

Do you suffer with sensitive skin? What products do you swear by?

It's important to point out here that I may have used the term 'prickly heat' too loosely - I'm pretty sure I am allergic to most sunscreens due to their many chemicals but prickly heat is something which is caused by blocked, sweaty pores and too much heat. That said, the above made sure I had no allergies and no prickly heat so I hope it works for you!

You might also find my more recent column on Get The Gloss helpful - here's my ultimate guide to SPF for sensitive skin, and my top ten sun creams for sensitive skin. 

*UPDATE* I've written a new piece on how to stop prickly heat on Get The Gloss with some great expert advice - check it out and hope it helps! x


The best decisions I ever made

Posted by Judy Johnson On Sunday, 8 June 2014 00:54 0 comments
Image from www.gratisography.com
I am awful at making decisions. I really am. I'm one of those people who has to read the entire menu twice before I can even narrow it down to a shortlist; I'm about to move house and just trying to decide whether I should keep my desk or sell it is giving me a full blown headache. 

Where should I live? Where should I go on holiday? When should I go on holiday? Should I spend money on an iPad or on redoing my site? Should I send that dress back to ASOS? Do I want to go on that date? What nail polish shall I wear? What do I want? I DON'T KNOW. (Answers on a postcard if you know, please.) 

But as my mother keeps telling me, I'll work it all out. Or it'll work out in the end. I'm not sure that's the same thing. It did get me thinking, though, about the few good decisions I have somehow made before. Here are my top 5... 

Getting contact lenses
Ok so it's not laser eye surgery, and I wear glasses in the day to prevent going cross eyed and blind at my screen, but still. I only wish someone had told me to do it sooner. Perhaps if fewer  people, while I was a vulnerable self-conscious teenager, had said 'God you look really weird without glasses' on the rare occasion I'd taken them off and instead said 'You should do that more', I might have discovered that hiding behind frames wasn't so smart after all. It's liberating and I feel like a different person when I'm wearing them. Or maybe I just feel like me? Deep...

Going to Goldsmiths uni
It's one of the stranger places to wind up - full of people in jeans so tight they're cutting off the circulation, hair that even Harry Styles would be ashamed to own and clothes that are apparently 'alternative' except everyone is wearing them there so they're actually the norm. But amid the hairspray and tattoos I found a handful of friends who have led to some of the closest friends I have today; and I like to think all those fees were worth it too as I've now got my dream job.

Ditching jeans
No, I don't wear jeans anymore. As a tall, widely-hipped girl I slowly realised that post '90s-flares (actually thanks to Miss Selfridge they carried on until about 2004), dresses are a far better option. Life is so much easier now I don't have to worry about that button doing up or find a new top to wear every day that doesn't make me look 12.

Joining Twitter
I've written about this before but Twitter not only found me aforementioned dream job (thank you Emma for finding me!), but some amazing friends, inspiring writers to look up to and a community where I can chat about everything from Homeland to hair products and laugh all the way through.

Living in London
It might be ridiculously expensive, occasionally stressful and full of people who will shove you out of their way on a daily basis just to get on a packed tube, but I love London. I love cities and the fact that you can find something new around every corner, and what's even better is that I've got a damn good bunch of fellow Londoners to discover them with. I've made a home here and though I sometimes miss the idyllic village of Lindfield that I grew up in, it's just a train ride away. London is the best place to be young and single - you're never bored of things to do and you never know who you might meet. That beats bumping into the same faces in my old hometown's bar any day...


Review: Homeland Season 3 (contains spoilers)

Posted by Judy Johnson On Monday, 23 December 2013 23:37 0 comments
**WARNING - full of spoilers and crossness at season three finale so don't read it if you haven't seen it yet, or if you dislike people disliking things.**

I've had 24 hours to think about it (and to stop crying), and I've decided, I am still cross about Homeland's season 3 finale. What the hell were they thinking? 

At first, I thought they were right. Brody has definitely used up all his lives and really, to keep it realistic they had to kill him off. 

But then I thought back to the rest of the series and how very irritating it is that they didn't do more with him while they still had him. For weeks I defended it on Twitter, as loyal followers slammed season 3 for having 'lost the plot' or for becoming boring and way too Dana-focused. I thought it was all part of a bigger plan, but then realised there were just a few episodes left and began to question where it was leading. Never did I think it would finish the way it did.  

I was never a Dana fan but I thought that the huge amount of screen time she had at the start was building up to something - more than just that rubbish 2 minutes of him seeing her at her new place and her mentioning that maybe he should have thought of whether she even wanted to see him before knocking. Really, was that all we get?

Because the other thing that bothers me is that they kill off the main character, have the audacity to jump to four months later and don't even show a hint of how his family felt about it all. After all that Dana nonsense, we don't even get to see how she reacts to his execution? I realise we don't need to watch a family mourn for hours on end but a little acknowledgment that he was a father, a husband, as well as a marine-turned-terrorist-turned-CIA-asset would have been nice. 

All in all it felt rushed, yet felt like a finale for the whole series rather than just a season. They had all this time to develop Brody's next steps and instead we didn't see him for weeks, then suddenly he does a crazy murder mission, walks out and is dead 24 hours later. Hours before, he'd learned he was about to become a father again and had made it sound like it was something worth living for - then as soon as he was captured he was all 'Nah, I'm ready to die now.' Infuriating. 

The execution, too, was harrowing to watch - angry Daily Mail reports are saying even Claire Danes found it hard to look at when acting - and I genuinely thought some sniper (perhaps Quinn. WHERE WAS QUINN?) might pop in, Kevin Costner Robin Hood  Prince of Thieves stylee, and shoot at the crane till poor old Brody was released and on his merry way. Yes, I have quite the imagination. I thought Damian Lewis did an incredible job but the simplicity of it all made it so much harder to watch. The general acceptance that what was going to happen was unstoppable made me more upset than anything else - and I think if they'd not rushed it so much they could have made this more interesting, more touching, and if possible more dramatic. 

ALSO. It massively bothered me that the most sentimental, caring lines - the only lines that really said 'Yeah, the fact he has to die is really quite shit' - came from Javadi. You know, the guy that stabbed his wife in the neck with a broken bottle until she died. Nice fella. Really? His comment about 'not just being one thing' may have been a hint that actually, as well as being a cold blooded murderer he has feelings too but come on, it's more far fetched than when they didn't spot Carrie's positively luminous hair in that dark field. 

I loved what he said to Carrie - I thought it was one of the most moving scenes in terms of script. But that should have come from Saul or even Quinn (seriously, MORE QUINN), who has fast become a rather moral, and of course hot, friend to Carrie. If Saul had said it, it could have started to pave their relationship back to what it was - since the two of them stopped trusting each other it's become harder and harder to like Saul at all (and I still thought he was the mole all this time). Plus, the even sadder part was that Javadi was wrong. Everyone didn't see Brody through her eyes - Lockhart refused him a star (and I'm sure others would have backed him on it).

Ah, Lockhart. My other big problem. That utter twerp who the writers really worked well throughout the series to portray as a totally out of touch loon who should never be in charge of anything. He's in charge and four months later everything's wonderful? As if. And then, just to make sure we really get angry, he promotes Carrie - that idiot who has been so incompetent her own colleague shot her to stop her from messing up. Who is also about to go on maternity leave. You don't have to believe in sexism to know that that is the most unlikely ending possible. 

I'm gutted. Gutted that Brody won't be back, that Carrie isn't going to play happy families and that we'll probably see more of Dana in season four in a delayed reaction to her dad's demise. I would have preferred season 3 to go slower, have Brody found earlier, and play out his/Javadi's plans over the course of a few episodes. 

There are so many bits of the puzzle of season 3 that feel either pointless or not tied up, too. I'll be watching next season, but only to see whether I'm right about Saul and whether Quinn gets to be on screen more. In losing Brody, it's lost a lot of its magic. RIP. 


The decline of mags... and the one I can't put down

Posted by Judy Johnson On Sunday, 15 September 2013 21:21 0 comments
Last weekend I sat curled up on the sofa for two hours, devouring Red magazine from cover to cover. Including their Twitter section in which my tweet praising Rosie Green's column was included - and it's not the first time my comments have been featured.

I'm beginning to feel like a bit of a Red mag groupie, truth be told. Since reading my first issue I have tweeted through it, Instagrammed my favourite quotes and shoots and generally overshared my adoration for it to anyone who'll listen. But as a writer, and as a reader, I think it's good to share praise of what is the downward spiralling mag industry. Though the fact it's SO worth commenting on is perhaps most telling of all; before the Internet would we have been as complimentary when discovering a good read? I'd argue not.

The ABC figures recently revealed the stark truth of today's print media; most mags are plummeting, most surprisingly including the likes of Company who have had massive design and content overhauls. Though actually, I'm one of the readers who has abandoned them; an unread pile of subscription copies leading me to guiltily cancelling because their new web and blog-friendly content didn't feel like anything I would miss if I just, say, went on their site.

Red, if I can act as a groupie again, is different. I don't care much for their website; it doesn't grab me but to be honest, none of the mag sites do. But the magazine is packed full of writers I respect, whether I've read them before or not; it has well written, lengthy features on subjects I am interested in and have to mark with post-its to make sure I look up a site, a book, a writer when I'm done. It has interesting cover girls and plenty of humour; it doesn't assume you have babies but it also doesn't talk to you, Single Woman, in a way that suggests you are either madly career driven or desperate for a man. It assumes, without pretentiousness or patronisation, that we can and should have it all.

And it's for these reasons that I don't think the mag industry will disappear. Those two hours were the most calm I'd been all week; it felt indulgent but was also inspiring, I learned, I enjoyed it, and best of all it wasn't on a screen. Yes, other people will want different things from a mag - I know smart businesswomen who love their Grazia fix and I know journalists who will always look to Vogue as their bible - but that's why I think a lot of the mags out there can survive.

From the Internet, I want niche destinations - like the site I work for where health and beauty is our expertise - because if I'm going to read something short and fast I only want to read from the experts. Who has time to filter (Google) through them all? That's why mag sites have never really captured me; there's too much being covered and not in a particularly good way. There's often far more celeb content than is in print (I'm not a fan) and there's rarely thoughtful, inspiring content.

The numbers obviously disagree with me but though I think some will inevitably fail, the success stories, I hope, will be the likes of Red who understand their changing reader in the era of the internet, careers, feminism and general life today, but who don't change what ultimately they always stood for: good writing and engaging content. That's all we really want, no matter where we read. 

Specs appeal... or not

Posted by Judy Johnson On Wednesday, 4 September 2013 20:56 1 comments
Just because.
From www.troll.me
I had a thought the other day: what must it be like to be able to see in the shower? I can't remember the last time I looked down at my toes in there and could see them. All I see is a peachy blur, which makes it particularly awkward/scary when you've heard something drop and you're blatantly about to step on a razor.

People don't really talk about eyesight. I realised this when I was looking online for fashion trends of glasses in the hope I would find some inspiration for my next overdue prescription upgrade. I couldn't find anything, save for a few advertorials claiming a hideous colourful tortoiseshell was all the rage for this season (with no catwalk pics to back it up, obviously).

I would do anything to have laser eye surgery. To not have a semi permanent dent on my nose from wearing glasses almost 24/7. To not have to poke my fingers in my eye whenever I'm going out for the night; to not have to awkwardly tell a guy the first time he stays over that, er, I can't see properly the next day without these things on my face.

Sadly I can't have it yet, as my optician bragged to me last time I saw him as if he had won a game. You have to wait for your eyes to stop going more blind you see, and mine just won't stop. 'Without changing your ways, you'll never be able to have it done,' the barely-out-of-school guy quipped. 'You'll have to stop working at a computer. And you don't want them done after you pass 30 as you won't get your money's worth - at 40 they'll go downhill again.'

Great. Thanks, eyesight's answer to the Grim Reaper. Just what every 27 year old wants to hear. There goes my hope of ever snorkelling and being able to see the fish. There goes any hope of wearing decent sunglasses ever again, and there goes my bank balance as I buy yet another pair of overpriced frames that in six months I won't like... Still. I hate feet. Seeing my toes isn't *that* important, is it?

In which case, if anyone can point me towards some nice frames, let me know... 

If you wannabe my lover, you gotta get with my friends...

Posted by Judy Johnson On Thursday, 29 August 2013 22:01 0 comments
OK, that's the cheesiest title I've ever written but when else can you quote Spice Girls? Not often enough, if you ask me... 

Anyway. I've always said that not only can you judge a guy by his friends, but that my friends would have to like anyone I see too, and it seems I'm not on my own; a recent survey by dating site My Single Friend revealed 86% of us think it's important our mates get on with our dates. 

With that in mind, MSF are taking the idea offline with their new events, 'Date My Single Friend' which allow singles to take along a wingman to a speed dating-like night out. Instead of awkward one-on-one conversations, two pairs of friends are at each table and so your mate can help you find Mr or Mrs Right. 

As someone who loathes dates (it's not so much butterflies, more oh-god-I-might-puke) this is music to my ears and, I think, a great idea. The thought of sitting with three other people, one of which you're finding out if you like, is not scary, not intimidating and pretty much sounds like a (successful) night down the pub. I'm sold. 

So, a couple of months after I swore off online dating, I've now cautiously headed back to the first site I ever tried for online dating: MSF. 

The concept of the site makes sense and actually is different from the rest; you can't have a profile until a friend describes you, and this description sits on your profile alongside your response. It's a nice idea because it's pretty hard to sell yourself to potential dates whereas good friends, I've found, are more than happy to do it for you (and it's really weird to see yourself through their eyes). Plus, when reading up on the men on there, it's really interesting to see what their mates say compared to what they say about themselves (sidenote: any guy who then just writes 'Cheers' on their profile is a muppet). 

So far, so not sure - there seem to be a LOT of men on there compared to the sites I was on before but I've only had one or two odd-sounding guys contact me and haven't paid up as yet to see what the message says (why bother unless I like their profile...?). We'll see - but I'm interested, which is more than can be said for last time...

Keep an eye out for the Date My Single Friend events - dates TBC


Babies: a woman's right to choose...

Posted by Judy Johnson On Tuesday, 20 August 2013 14:10 1 comments
Today I watched two women sit with Kate Garraway to debate whether it was selfish for a woman to choose not to have children. Apparently having your own life that doesn't involve squeezing out some sprogs and wiping up after them for 18 years is something to be ashamed of. 

It amazes me that this is even a question in today's society. Just as with the question of 'should gay people be allowed to marry' and such like, I don't understand why we care quite so much about other people's choices. So long as their choices aren't, say, to murder someone, then why do we need to debate it? I don't know about you but I'm far too busy getting through my own life to worry about whether a woman has six kids or jet sets around the world on her tod (and personally, I know which one would be more annoying on an aeroplane).

I think Daybreak (and others) needs to wake up and smell 2013. In my generation choice is the order of the day - thank god. Call it feminism, call it whatever you like but the point is women can almost do what they like these days - they just can't seem to do it without judgement. Have a baby too old, you're deemed selfish. Have one too young and you're immature and probably scrounging off benefits. Don't have one at all and you get the pity head tilt and idiots on Daybreak whose only argument for saying you simply must have kids or else miss out is because 'It's just an amazing experience'. 

Well you know what? People say that about skydiving. People say it about holding a tarantula. People say it about eating a spicy curry. Not everyone likes to do those and nor should they have to just to make society shut up and think they're a good, well rounded person who has lived their life to the full. People are fulfilled by different things and having kids shouldn't have to be an opt-out option. 

I probably sound like I am one of the children-hating (because clearly if you don't have children or want them in your future, you MUST have evil witch-like thoughts towards them) independent women that society so fears. Actually, I'm not sure what I am yet. The thought of kids neither appeals to nor disgusts me but I know for certain I'm not ready for them and am also somewhat missing one of the ingredients considering I'm single, so this works out rather well. Unless you take society's view that is, in which case I might never experience life to the full if I choose the wrong option. Society, frankly, should mind its own business. 

Twitter: where is the love?

Posted by Judy Johnson On Wednesday, 7 August 2013 21:46 0 comments
Pic from http://icanhas.cheezburger.com/ 
We all know I am a self-confessed Twitter addict. It's the first thing I check in the morning, the last thing I look at before bedtime, it's where I go when I'm sad, when I'm happy, when I can't sleep, when I need to SHOUT SOMETHING IN CAPITALS to vent frustration. But recently it's turned into some kind of playground where anyone who's anyone is looking for a fight.

And when I say playground I mean full on, bitchy little kids' playground. Like primary school stuff. Attention seeking, bickering and - much worse - bullying; not to mention the far more serious and vile threatening behaviour that led to the police getting involved. Let's not go there.

It's not that this stuff shouldn't be talked about. It's not that this stuff shouldn't get us #ShoutingBack and shutting down those 'trolls' (worst term ever, trivialises the whole thing… sigh) when they act up but can we please, maybe, at some point, give it a rest? Every day it feels like someone's got their pitchfork ready to do battle and is just waiting for something to leap on. Anybody mention feminism? YELL AT THEM. Someone mention interns? YELL AT THEM. Journalist say the word 'blog'? YELL AT THEM. Someone say they like the Blurred Lines song? YELL AT THEM. And repeat. This is what Twitter's like at the moment and it's really bloody boring. Enough of the drama. Drama is for Facebook.

So instead, I've devised a list of the stuff we should go back to that Twitter is good at:

  • LOL cats
  • Louis Walsh jokes (at him, not with him)
  • Tranzizzling shizzle on Gizoogle and sharing dem crazy ass shizzle
  • Telling Katie Hopkins to shut up, Holly Willoughby style
  • Praising Willoughby's boobs in that dress
  • More cats
  • Cats dressed as sharks on hoovers
  • Drunk tweeting emotional rubbish 
  • Telling commuters how to commute like a good commuter, just like you
  • Asking inane questions that Google was actually built for 
  • Posting photos of meals you didn't even make yourself
  • Friends quotes
  • Tweeting through <insert any TV programme here> and spoiling it for anyone who's planning on watching on +1
  • Retweeting a picture of Kate Middleton holding a baby just in case the other million RTs didn't get through
  • Ripping X Factor contestants to shreds (metaphorically speaking, obviously) then doing it all again a week later
  • Complaining about the Daily Mail
  • Breaking news that's already been broken a gazillion times

I could go on. Twitter used to be a happy place full of distraction and fun and in-jokes against those people who think Facebook is the best thing on the internet and that selfies are what Instagram was built for. We need to get back to that brilliant, sarcastic, hilarious place that Twitter used to be.

Until then, I'll rely on Tweetdeck and my list of 'friends' aka 'nice people who don't argue with power users and always make me laugh' to keep me sane. 


Books: The Millennium series by Stieg Larsson

Posted by Judy Johnson On Thursday, 25 July 2013 21:42 0 comments
There really is nothing better, I think, than discovering an incredible writer who not only has a great way with words and a unique way of creating intriguing characters, but is also very, very smart. A lot of the books I've read (and loved) have not necessarily been intelligent works of fiction; more just very entertaining reads. But having just read Stieg Larsson's Millennium series I can happily say they're the smartest novels I've read in years. 

I rarely finish a book and a) feel absolutely gutted that there aren't more and b) start researching the author, but that's what I did after finishing The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest. It's not that the ending isn't final enough - the books could easily stop there, it had a great finale - but that I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to those characters just yet. Looking up the author and his history, I'm now even more saddened by it as the man behind the books sounds a lot like Blomkvist, the lead male character.

Plots like this one don't come around often; Larsson was an absolute genius and if it's true that there are two more possible books (it seems he'd intended to write ten before he died - all for fun, too) then I can only hope that his widow (though they never married) manages to fill in the blanks in a way he would have wanted and gets them published. If not, then I'll be satisfied with re-reading the trilogy over and over. Lisbeth Salander is one hell of a heroine and even when you know how it ends, the story still grips you every step of the way. 

The man has been labelled an extremist and a feminist; all I can say is he's one of the best writers I've ever come across. 

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