Thursday, 31 July 2014

Malin + Goetz Dark Rum Scented Candle review

I'm a bit of an addict when it comes to scented candles.  I always have one on the go in my living room and I love a good browse through the candle section in TK Maxx to stock up every few weeks.

Malin + Goetz are an American brand that offer a wide range of skin and body care products who also make some cracking scented candles. I had a sniff of their range at a recent press day and was drawn to the interesting scent combinations they've created - mojito,  tobacco and dark rum for example.

Malin + Goetz Dark Rum scented candle

The dark rum scent is a really unusual one. It doesn't smell like rum to me but instead is a slightly smokey, slightly spicy fragrance that scents the whole room. It's pretty exotic but I like it! For me it's the perfect autumnal scent - I will be buying another of these when the weather starts to turn and imagine myself sat in front of a log fire with a cheeky rum in hand.

The candles are made from a mix of natural beeswax, soy and vegetable waxes, and contain about 15% eau de toilette (dark rum has 16%) as the fragrance.

Admittedly they aren't cheap at £37 for a 260g candle,  but this should burn for around 60 hours and would make a lovely gift (for you or someone else!). Mine is a travel sized version which is super cute, although I can't see this on sale online at the moment.

You can find Malin + Goetz in Liberty, Space NK and ASOS. I definitely recommend having a sniff next time you're in one of those stores and seeing which of their exotic scents takes your fancy.

What are your favourite scented candle smells?

*PR sample
Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Models Own Sweet Shop nail polish review

If you like sweets and you like nail polish then listen up as I've got the perfect thing for you! Models Own have just launched a new collection of sweet shop inspired nail polishes*, each of which is scented like a sweet shop favourite when dry.

Models Own sweet shop scented nail polishes: fizzy cola bottles, gumball and liquorice

Models Own sweet shop scented nail polishes: fizzy cola bottles, gumball and liquorice allsorts swatches
Fizzy Cola Bottles, Gumballs and Liquorice Allsorts swatches
There are five shades to choose from:

Pear Drops - vibrant coral scented with pear drops

Fizzy Cola Bottles - a neutral brown-beige scented with cola

Rhubarb and Custard - dark red scented with rhubarb and custard

Liquorice Allsorts - an opaque black scented with liquorice

Gumballs - hot pink scented with bubblegum

I've been wearing Gumballs over the past few days and it really does smell like bubblegum when you wear it! The smell fades after about 12 to 24 hours depending on how often you wash your hands but it's definitely noticeable for the first day. If you use a topcoat this will dull the scent of the polish a little - I found it was much stronger when I didn't use my usual Seche Vite over the top.

The polish doesn't smell while its in the bottle so please don't try and sniff it then - you'll just smell normal nail varnish and probably give yourself a headache! Models Own have put a little scratch and sniff top on each of the lids so you can test out each scent before you buy.

It's pretty average for me in terms of wear time - I get about 2 to 3 days before any major chips start appearing, less if I have to do the washing up. 

I think this is a really fun collection and would definitely recommend it if like me you're a bit of a sweet-a-holic!  Each polish is £4.99 and can be found online from Models Own and in their bottleshops now. It will also be launching into Superdrug stores on 30th July. 

Do you like the sound of these sweet shop inspired polishes? 

*PR samples
Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Biore Charcoal Skincare range review

Biore were one of my favourite skincare brands as a teenager; I spent many a night watching Friend's with one of their infamous pore strips stuck to my nose. It's been a long time since those days and they'd sort of slipped off my radar for a bit, but the launch of their new Charcoal range has put them firmly back in my bathroom.

Charcoal might not seem to be the first ingredient you think of when it comes to cleansing your face - it looks dark and dirty, but actually has amazing cleansing properties. It helps to draw out impurities in the skin, and is the key ingredient inside the new range. 

Biore charcoal cleanser, pore strips and self heating face masks

Pore strips are probably what Biore is most well-known for, and the Ultra Deep Cleansing Pore Strips are like a super-charged version of their originals - working to get even more dirt and oil out from your pores. These are really simple to use - you simply apply the sticky side to a wet nose and wait for the strip to dry. After about 15 minutes, gently peel the strip off and you should be left with super clean pores around your nose. If you're a bit disgusting like me, take a look at the nose strip and be horrified with how much dirt it manages to remove. I like to think I'm pretty thorough with my cleansing regime, but these seem to suck out dirt you didn't even know was there!

The Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser is a foaming style cleanser which is infused with charcoal to help purify and give a deep cleanse. If you have very oily skin, then this might be a good option, but I found it to be quite drying (perhaps slightly too cleansing!) for my dehydrated skin so isn't really for me.

The Self-Heating One Minute Masks are probably my favourites from this range. They're the same sort of colour as a mud mask and come individual sachets that have the perfect amount for a single use. Simply apply the mask to damp skin, massage in for a few seconds and leave it to work its magic. The mask naturally heats itself up, drawing out impurities in the skin. You can either wash this off with a flannel after a minute, or leave it on for a little longer for a more intense effect.

The charcoal range is great value - £4.99 for the cleanser, £7.99 for the mask (4 sachets) and £7.99 for a pack of 6 nose strips. You can find them all in Boots stores and Boots online now.

Do you like the sound of this charcoal range from Biore?

*PR samples
Monday, 28 July 2014

Beauty news: Christian Louboutin Beaute launches

It's always exciting when a new beauty brand launches, but when luxury shoe designer Christian Louboutin decides to launch one, you know it's going to be something special.

Christian Louboutin Beaute has just launched it's first product - a classic red nail polish inspired by his iconic red soles. Rouge Louboutin is a deep red shade, confined within a heavy cut glass bottle with the most outlandish handle I've ever seen. The bottle handle is 20cm tall and was inspired by the iconic Ballerina Ultima shoe - Christian's tallest ever heel. Just 2 coats gives the same glossy look as the 20 coats of lacquer originally used to create the red soles on his shoes. The formula is 3-free and has been designed to be long-wearing (I can't comment on this at the moment!). 

Christian Louboutin Rouge Louboutin nail polish and Ballerina Ultima shoe
Christian Louboutin Beauté, Nail Colour, Rouge Louboutin
Christian Louboutin Beaute Pops nail polishes
The Pops
Christian Louboutin Beaute Nudes nail polishes
The Nudes
Christian Louboutin Beaute Noirs nail polishes
The Noirs
You can currently buy Rouge Louboutin online from Christian Louboutin before it launches into its
boutiques and Selfridges, Harrods and Harvey Nichols concessions. Interestingly, it won't be stocked in the main beauty department - you'll need to head to the shoe department to find it. 

Set to launch in September are 30 more nail polishes, broken down into three main collections: the nudes, the pops and the noirs. Each of these also comes with a spike-heel inspired handle, although each collection will be a different tone: rose gold for the nudes, silver for the pops and a darker gunmetal for the noirs.
I think that these are going to be collector's pieces in years to come. The design is definitely meant to be put on display on your dressing table - let's face it, none of us have a 30cm high drawer we could shove these away in! 

The price definitely reflects Christian Louboutin's luxury brand - each nail polish will be £36. Yes, that might be over the top for a nail polish, but it's a hell of a lot cheaper than buying a pair of Louboutin shoes! 

Rumour has it the collection will expand early next year to include other makeup items, and I can't wait to see what these might be. A classic Louboutin red lipstick maybe? 

I'd love to know your thoughts on this launch - will you be buying a piece from Louboutin Beaute? What do you think of the bottle design? 

Saturday, 26 July 2014

My gluten free week with Ilumi

Going gluten free seems to be a popular thing at the moment, but for a lot of people it's not just a lifestyle choice but a dietary necessity due to an allergy. I have a close friend who has coeliac disease and is very ill after even the smallest bit of gluten. As gluten is found not only in things like bread, pasta and cous cous, but also in things like soy sauce, eating out or getting convenience food can be quite hard

I was recently offered the chance to try a week's worth of meals from gluten free ready meal specialists Ilumi. I've often found I get bloated after eating gluten containing foods so was intrigued to see if cutting it out would make a difference and also wanted to try out some foods in order to be able to recommend them to my coeliac friend, as finding gluten free convenience food is a total nightmare!

ilumi go gluten free menu

Ilumi pork, mushrooms and rice

At £45 for a trial week, this seems to be pretty good value. I was delivered a massive box full of gluten free porridge oats for breakfast, a box of oatcakes and oat biscuits for snacks, 2 gluten-free beers and a whole selection of soups, stews, curries and other meals.

All of the Ilumi foods have been prepared in a special way that means you don't need to store them in the fridge. I found this a bit weird to start with as I'm used to putting any meat-related product in the fridge but they vacuum pack them in such a way it's completely safe not to.

I'm not keen on porridge as the texture makes me feel sick, so instead got creative and turned my oats into gluten free granola with some honey, nuts and dried fruit which made for a delicious breakfast.

I had a massive variety of lunch and dinner dishes to choose from - Spicy Tom Yum soup, hearty beef stew and a lamb Rogan Josh curry to name a few.

Most of the main meals are quite 'saucy' - they definitely needed to be paired with rice or some sort of side dish to help make them less runny. A couple were slightly bland (pork and mushrooms) but perfectly edible.  Others were delicious (Tom Yum soup and lamb Rogan Josh for example) and I will be reordering these separately to keep in the cupboard for days when I need something quick to eat. You'll need to add your own fruit and veg to the meals as they are mostly carbs and protein, but I really think there's a great variety to choose from, especially as they are all gluten and dairy free.

After a week of eating the meals, I definitely felt a lot less bloated and have tried to reduce the amount of gluten I have in my diet as a result.

The one week trial costs £45 for one person, but if you fancy trying out specific meals you can order most items individually from the Ilumi site. I'd definitely recommend them if you follow a gluten or dairy free diet. While I wouldn't want to eat ready meal style meals all day every day, they're great for convenience and are pretty reasonably priced.

Have you heard if Ilumi before?  Do you like the sound of these meals?

*PR sample