Wednesday, 25 February 2015

4 simple nail art looks that even wobbly hands can do

Nail art is one of those things I spend a LOT of time looking at over on Pinterest, but when it comes to real life, wobbly doesn’t even begin to describe my skills. Like a lot of people, I’m pretty proficient at painting one hand’s set of nails but the other one always comes off *slightly* worse for wear. So I’ve been trying to find a few fool proof ways to get some quality looking nail art which doesn’t rely on skill (or false nails) to get it right.

simple nail art looks that even wobbly hands can do

Transfers – for detailed designs, stick on transfers can be a life saver! These are usually small little stickers that only cover part of your nail and feature everything from ice creams to cats. I’ve got quite a few different styles at home that I like to use on an accent nail every now and then – paint your nails as normal and once dry apply the transfer to your nail, sealing with a decent amount of clear top coat. They’ll usually last as long (if not longer!) than your nail polish.

The ‘drag’ method – this is my favourite ‘easy’ nail art look as it looks quite complicated but is actually super simple to achieve. You’ll need 4 colours of polish that all work well together (I like to use a white base and pastel shades on top). Paint a couple of coats of your chosen base colour and leave to dry thoroughly before moving on. Next, grab your first colour and try to wipe as much nail polish as you can off the brush – you want it to be virtually dry if you can. Take the dry brush and then drag it slowly across your nail, which should leave behind a jagged kind of brush stroke in patches across your base colour. Let it dry and repeat with the other two shades. Seal it in with a top coat and you’re good to go. If you find yours looks more splodgy than patchy, you’ve probably still got too much nail polish on your brush. It should look a little like this (excuse the wobbly Instagram photo).

Stripes – if you fancy a simple striped design, then grab some nail art tape and get creative. Simply paint your nails in your chosen base colour and wait until it’s completely dry, then apply the tape across your nails in the shape of your design. Paint the non-taped areas with a contrasting colour or two, wait until it’s dry and the carefully remove the tape. Voila! You’ve got an easy stripey look with minimal effort.

Nail stamps – there are lots of nail stamping kits that have popped up on the market, each offering a multitude of different designs. These use metal plates with the design etched it, which when painted over with nail polish, can be transferred onto your nails using a rubber stamp. I love the range of designs that are available with these, however the rolling method you need to use in order to get a clear stamp on your nail can take a lot of patience and practice. If you’ve got time to have a few practice runs, you’ll be able to get some really intricate designs with minimal effort.

Have you tried any of these nail art methods before? What are your favourite simple solutions?
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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

GOSH Forever Lip Shine review

GOSH’s latest lip launch comes in the shape of their Forever Lip Shines*. Falling somewhere between a gloss and a lipstick, these pigmented crayons are the perfect solution if you like a non-matte texture. 

GOSH Forever Lip Shines
GOSH Forever Lip Shines swatches

These come in a clever twist up design to make application easy, and the thickness of the product is just right for getting a precise application, even if you’ve got thinner lips. Yay! There are ten shades to choose from in the range and they’ve really done a great job at creating everything from a soft natural pink, right through to a deep berry shade. 

As the name suggests, these are designed to be long-wearing and despite having a sheen to them, they last well throughout the day, only needing topping up after a meal. The texture is definitely more sheen rather than full on gloss, which I quite like. I usually avoid glosses as they tend to be sticky and I end up with hair stuck in it no matter what, so for someone who is usually a matte lip lover, I’ve been quite surprised at how much I like them. They also don’t dry out your lips, even with a full day’s wear, so double thumbs up on that front! 

That said, they do have a bit of a synthetic smell to them which turns me off slightly, but I’ve never been one for scented lip products. It’s not so strong to stop me wanting to use them on a regular basis, just something to bear in mind when purchasing. 

My favourite shade is 001 Baby Baby, which is a really nice nude pink shade and one I’ll be wearing a lot over the coming months. 

Forever Lip Shines are £6.99 each and can be found in store and online from Superdrug and GOSH.

Do you like the look of these new lip crayons? 

*PR samples

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Monday, 23 February 2015

US makeup haul - the Lorac edition

Ok, it's time to hold my hands up and admit to another spending ban fail. Clearly this ban is going about as well as some of my previous ones. Ahem. But when your friend decides she's coming to visit for a couple of weeks from the US and asks if there's any makeup you'd like brought over, it would be rude to say no, right?!

So...after about five seconds of deliberation, I went straight to the Ulta website and got a bit Lorac happy. I've been perving over the Pro palettes for quite some time now, so both of those went on the list. As did the Pocket Pro which I ordered for you lovely people as a giveaway prize, so keep you eyes peeled for that coming soon.

US makeup haul
US makeup haul Lorac Pro palettes and Physician's Formula Argan Wear blusher
Because I bought so much Lorac, the kind people at Ulta threw in a trial size Cobra mascara which I'm looking forward to trying. In all the excitement of the Pro palettes, I forgot that they actually sell other kinds of makeup (which is probably a good thing for my bank balance). 

A quick look at the Physician's Formula section also saw me adding an Argan Wear Blusher to my order - I love the look of this; the embossed design really speaks to my inner magpie! 

As I had to think about my friend's luggage allowance, I thought I'd better stop there - it turns out the Ulta website is amazing and I could quite happily have ordered about half of it, which I don't think she'd have been impressed by! 

Sadly Ulta won't ship to the UK, but I'm hoping that at some point they'l change their minds and adopt a Sephora style ordering system. Until they do, I shall be relying on my friend to keep me well-stocked! 

I'll be popping up some reviews on the Lorac palettes soon - have you tried these before? What do you think? Which one would you like to see reviewed first? 

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Sunday, 22 February 2015

Blogging tips: working with PRs - the PRs share their tips

One of the most discussed topics of #bbloggers chats has to be around working with PRs and brands and how as bloggers we can best do that. Rather than give you my own take on things, I've asked some PRs to share their own thoughts on the subject, covering everything from how to approach them and what to avoid.

I hope you find the post useful - for me, it's great to hear things directly from a PR perspective and really understand their thoughts on blogger relations and how these can be improved. A massive thank you to all of the PRs who kindly took part, it's much appreciated!

Blogging tips - working with PRS

As a PR, what are your favourite parts about working with bloggers?

"Meeting different people who have a new perspective and a genuine enthusiasm for products."

"One of my favourite aspects of working with bloggers is observing the limitless creativity that is put into so many of my favourite blogs. Also just conversing with women who have such a profound knowledge and genuine appreciate for the art of beauty."

"I love working with bloggers as they are honest, hard-working and review from a consumer’s point of view. A lot of them have become friends as we share the same interest in beauty!"

"Bloggers have a refreshingly different approach to talking about products and the beauty industry as a whole – they have a genuine passion for it that extends beyond traditional shopping pages. As a PR, working with bloggers opens up a whole new world of opportunities for the brands you represent, not least because they are not restricted to column inches! The last few years has been a lovely time of getting to know a completely new area of the media, and growing up and shaking down together :)"

"Creativity and freedom  - I love the fact that bloggers have the freedom to create their own editorial agenda and can be very honest in their reviews. I have some great relationships with bloggers and would consider many as friends. It’s great that we get to spend time with some really great people, probably one of the best parts of my job!  I understand how much work goes in to creating a blog. Some bloggers are extremely passionate and I love this. It’s great when you talk about a launch and they are genuinely as excited as you are."

"Seeing blogs grow - It’s great to see blogs grow and growing with them. So many blogs have started small and are now hugely successful. It’s great to see the success stories along the way."

"After a long time in PR I still get excited when a great piece of coverage lands on my desk. I love the speed that bloggers can turn things around so you get to see the coverage quickly. It’s also great to see the very tangible effects that blogs can have e.g increased web traffic/sales."

"Seeing the wealth of creativity and passion that people put into their blogs on a day to day basis."

And the worst bits? 

"The lack of knowledge can sometimes be frustrating especially if you are working with a brand which is quite technical. There is a lot of discussion on how a product smells or the packaging, rather than how effective the product is. Also, the influence that certain bloggers have can be frustrating. If, for reasons known only to themselves they take a dislike to a PR/brand, that’s it. They just will not cover the products and other bloggers will follow, for no reason."

"I feel there is a sense of entitlement with some bloggers who don’t understand that a PRs role is to service their client and a brand’s best interests and not their wish lists. If you have a blog whose core readership is the average  15-18 year old student and you’ve requested a £60 moisturiser from my client how am I professionally justified in sampling to you? Unfortunately brands/agencies have set a precedent that has become hard to navigate by accommodating such requests – perhaps for fear of negative reprisals on social media. That’s just not something I stand for."

"Whilst this is not the case with all I feel many blogs have become too monetised. Whereas with the establishment of the UK beauty blogging scene this was not the case and there was far more variation in brands being given exposure."

"It’s often hard to manage bloggers' expectations, especially new starters. It is easy to forget that  PRs have to work to a (paying) client brief and we have to respect their wishes, we don’t have access to endless samples or budgets."

"There are a lot of exceptional bloggers out there who really ‘get’ PR, but on the flip side there are a lot who don’t appreciate the fact that we are ultimately doing a job, and that job is to get the best possible coverage for our clients, manage their expectations, and also manage their budgets! Having to gently let down bloggers when we can’t provide samples or an invite to an event is always sad, and similarly the shopping list emails are incredibly frustrating…"

"Lack of rules/ Changing rules  - There are no rules as such and everything changes so quickly. I try to get it right but it is so easy to get it wrong and upset people and something relatively small can get very big very quickly. As a PR it is really hard to keep everybody happy all of the time. The rise of social media means things are very transparent ( which is a good thing) but it is obvious when somebody hasn’t been invited to an event and sometimes people get upset. 99% of the time, this is not personal. We have limited budgets to work with and have to make decisions based on what we need to achieve for the brands that are paying us to do a job. I love reading blogs and part of the charm is their honesty but sometimes reviews can be scathing and not very fair. I haven’t actually experienced this myself but have seen other brands experience this and the reviews aren’t always written in the most professional manner." 

"Money, money, money  - Not all brands have lots of money. I think people might be surprised to hear about the kind of budgets some brands actually have.   For some, even samples are a huge investment and every sample has to count. Sometimes bloggers don’t understand or respect this which can be frustrating." 

"It’s oh so quiet – sometimes samples are precious and limited. If we have provided a sample at a meeting or event it would be great to get some feedback. It can be quote frustrating having to chase and be that annoying PR who has to follow up. We appreciate that some bloggers get sent a lot and can’t possibly review everything. Sending product and getting no review or feedback can be really frustrating. Even if you aren’t planning a glowing review just keep us posted how you’re getting on so that we can update our clients.  Again, I appreciate that some bloggers receive a lot of product that they are not expecting to receive. If you’d prefer to not receive lots of parcels and would rather select what you would like to be sent then just let us know and we can keep a record."

"Some clients still don’t consider bloggers to be as important as traditional press ( I know, I know) so we have to try and convince them otherwise. We are definitely getting there but it doesn’t help the cause when bloggers write posts that are littered with grammatical, factual and spelling errors." 

"The battles – there are definitely circles of friends amongst the blogging community. Where you have friends, you also have enemies (or bloggers who don’t see eye to eye) . It can be quite tricky when arranging events. We don’t want to offend but it can make our job much more difficult. Our priority should be doing a good job for our paying clients but we often spend our time navigating the blogosphere to avoid awkward situations."

"New bloggers that start blogs purely for samples. Thankfully, I can spot it a mile off, but we have countless emails along the lines of 'I've just started a blog, can you send me some samples?' I find it contributes to bloggers being given a bad name when there are some amazing bloggers who pour their heart and soul into their blog and who work so hard on their space of the internet."

Lots of bloggers are keen to work with brands and PRs - any tips on how you prefer to work with bloggers? And what sort of things do you look for when you're looking for new ones to work with?

"Personally, I like to work with bloggers as if they are journalists and send them products for specific features as well as launches  and not just ad hoc. Some bloggers have started sending through forward features lists which are quite useful, however, we do have concerns sometimes when it comes to product testings as not all (skincare) products are appropriate for every skin condition."

"I personally seek out a lot of the blogs I work with as I still enjoy the process of discovering new voices. The content of your blog and social media is far more appealing than stats for me – something I know a few PR professionals will disagree with. I’m a huge believer in quality over quantity as I feel it resonates better and fosters more dialogue and brand appreciation."

"A point of difference for me; I find haul videos to be truly rubbish as products and brands get lost in them and have no lasting impact with a viewer/reader. I’m also unlikely to sample to a blog that does not update regularly as it’s unlikely that there is a dedicated following attached to it."

"When I receive emails with a shopping list of products they go straight into my junk box. If you’re reaching out to a PR it’s about an ongoing relationship. Suggest a product you’re interested in trying and build it from there."

"As a PR we need to justify every sample we send to bloggers, having access to blog statistics, e.g followers, unique users/views enables us to do this – also making your twitter and Instagram handles easy to find so we can support you back and tweet or regram your posts – sometimes I spend ages hunting for these."

"We look for quality over quantity, great pictures, links to stockist websites (to convert traffic into sales) and promotion across all social channels."

"I actually don’t receive samples to send to bloggers (or, often, press), so bloggers that are open to working with images where possible is always helpful at the moment. Whilst it’s always lovely to catch up face-to-face, the majority of PRs are under constant time pressure (particularly agency-side), so email efficiency is often best!"

"I always try to treat people the way I would like to be treated and most enjoy working with bloggers who are polite, professional and friendly. I appreciate that it works both ways and that PRs are not always friendly back."

"I personally look for personality, a fun writing style and engagement in the comments section."

How do you feel about being emailed directly from new bloggers? What should they exclude/include in their email? 

"I have no problem with being contacted by new bloggers. It is difficult for us to keep up with the number of blogs out there so it is appreciated. However, there is nothing worse than being sent an email from a new blog which basically says, I have a blog, send me loads of products or I have a blog and I can make people aware of your products. Don’t do a round robin and show an interest/knowledge of the brands the PR represents. Start by asking to be added to a mailing list."

"Receiving emails from new bloggers is great. There are so many blogs out there that it’s hard to keep track of all of them. Shopping lists get no love from me – it’s actually quite insulting and suggest you’re out for whatever you can get. Information on you and your particular interests in beauty are great. That way going forward I can ensure that I always update you on specifics things I reckon you’d like."

"We love new bloggers reaching out to us but they have to be realistic in what they can expect from PR’s – don’t be disappointed if you only get images and information, if you are that interested in the product you will go out and buy it!"

"Include a link to your blog – if a blogger doesn’t do this I immediately delete their email without reading."

"Please don’t include a shopping list…it’s a massive turn off."

"I love having emails directly from bloggers – I think it’s a great chance to forge genuine relationships, both professional and personal. It’s always helpful when you hear from a new blogger for the first time, to know their stats / page views, and whether they are keen to hear about affiliate schemes – that sort of thing."

"The worst type of email to receive is the dreaded ‘shopping list’! Brand samples are so limited, and we really do have to prove the return on sending them out. Bloggers that come to you saying that they deserve to receive a product (or sometimes an entire line) purely because they’ve seen that another blogger has received are particularly hard to deal with – it’s so important to remember that a PR’s decision to send a product out isn’t a spur of the moment thing, often the recipients need to be signed off by the brand!"

"We get lots of emails from new bloggers and there are new blogs being created daily. It is really hard to keep on top of all of them so emails can be useful. However, I would advise bloggers to think about what they include in their introductory email. A really long email which features a shopping list, lots of spelling errors and doesn’t include a link to the blog, or any keys stats/info about the blog is a sure fire way of resulting in a PR ignoring you. This doesn’t help anybody. In the same way that PRs should be targeting bloggers in a considered way, bloggers should be doing the same with brands and PRs."

"Try and put yourself in the shoes of the PR. Send a clear, concise email telling us why we should be reading your blog, who else reads your blog and why our brands will want to be featured on your blog and include recent stats.  Sometimes we won’t reply straight away but we do save the details and may get in touch when we are working with a brand/on a  project that is relevant to your blog and readers."

"Blog stats and whether their blog has a niche or not. It's always nice to see passion too!"

Any blogger relation horror stories you'd care to share? 

"The first blogger event we ever did turned into a nightmare, all because of one blogger who didn’t even stay for most of the event. She then proceeded to write a scathing piece, saying that there should have been a chance to experience the products (there was, she didn’t stay for it); being rude about the owner of the company and commenting about pregnant. It turns out her main gripe was about the food and drink."

"I remember a few years back there was the blog post circulating that a blogger had written criticising PR practice and rather patronisingly explaining “How best to work with bloggers”, like we’re dealing with mythical unicorns. Needless to say said blogger did not have to deal with the issue of incompetent PRs as often as they were  rightly dumped from a good few media lists. I found the gall of the post simultaneously hilarious and enraging. Imagine if the tables were turned…"

"Bloggers telling me how to do my job! One continuously argued with me, suggesting I target a wider pool of bloggers to spread the sample allocation – they couldn’t understand that I hadn’t been briefed to do that and that the ‘bedroom bloggers’ as opposed to the higher calibre of beauty bloggers that we were targeting weren’t going to make a difference to sales/traffic which was the clients brief."

"I've had a few. Other than the one mentioned above where we get emails from new bloggers wanting samples, the other story that comes to mind is when a blogger thinks they're entitled to samples. I once had an email along the lines of "I saw you gave so and so samples and I have bigger stats so how come I wasn't involved in your blogger outreach?" Stats do help, but they aren't the be all and end all."

As a blogger it can sometimes be easy to forget that you're under pressure from clients as PRs - what can we do to make things easier for you? 

"I think the biggest help is sending though coverage links. It is impossible to remember/keep up sometimes and we always tweet coverage too so there is a benefit too."

"I feel some people are so unaware of the pressures PRs are under; from clients, journalists, bloggers, other brands etc. It used to make my blood boil whenever I saw #PRFail on Twitter. We’re all here to work together and enjoy our roles and it’s important to understand people are human they make mistakes."

"I never expect anything from a blogger in return for a sample (unless they are being paid) As a PR I am amazed so many bloggers have full-time jobs and then find the time to write amazing posts. Sending coverage links is always a godsend, but as it’s my job I believe PR’s should be taking an active interest into the blogosphere; subscribe and read posts -  discovering coverage for yourself…don’t just rely on it."

"I don’t believe at all in chasing bloggers, as a PR I send samples in the hope of getting coverage but I don’t believe you can chase or demand coverage on a ‘goodwill’ relationship….you don’t owe us anything!"

"Simple things like active links to stockists, I LOVE it when bloggers include their latest stats / links to coverage / links to social media in their email signature – it makes things instantly simpler! Particularly as clients or brands can request this kind of information on the spur of the moment, and it’s so helpful to have it to hand. And any time they can provide details of click-throughs to the product featured, that gives us PRs a measurable result of working with a blogger, which is absolutely invaluable if the relationship is to continue!"

"Thank you for noticing. I love my job but it can be really stressful as we often have pressure from every angle. Most bloggers are really great and it is so helpful when they send links. I would love to be able to read blogs all day every day but I just don’t get the time and it is very easy to miss things so links are super helpful, ideally before they are promoted via social media so that we can give our clients the heads up before they actually see it. We love to share coverage with them and it can be really disappointing if they’ve already seen it."

"I never want to be the chasey PR that hounds you to find out if you’re planning to cover something but it’s great when I get feedback and updates along the way so that I have an idea if you are going to feature something or even if you really don’t like something. At least I can be prepared. As I have mentioned above, we really appreciate if you can try and put yourselves in our shoes sometimes. Even if you are super busy a very quick reply, even to say that you haven’t had a chance to try it yet, is way more helpful than a wall of silence."

"Bloggers who are polite professional and friendly will always be appreciated. I completely understand that some PRs do make this quite tricky at times." 

"Sending over links is always helpful!"

How do you feel about bloggers charging for reviews/tweets/coverage?  Do you feel that this is the future or something you'd prefer to avoid? 

"Definitely prefer to avoid this. The very foundation of PR is that it is free and although we are generous with products, we don’t have budget (or history) of paying."

"I get it, everyone’s out to cash in on this great opportunity whilst they can but if these sort of things become common place it kills an industry that was embraced for its integrity, and non-bias. And then who wins? Not all brands have bottomless pockets to throw money around left, right and centre. I personally don’t want to see an industry where independent brands have no cheerleaders because the  big conglomerates have bought the stadium, the players and the spectators. How dull."

"I have really mixed feelings on this subject, I do believe charges should be monitored and why shouldn’t people make a career out of blogging. However we are sent extreme costs and I wonder how bloggers can justify the amounts they are charging for a tweet or a blogpost (especially when they differ so widely from person to person but their statistics are so similar)."

"I think a great way for both brand and blogger to benefit is an affiliate programme, the blogger receives payment for traffic pushed to a retail site and commission on purchases, the brand wins as hopefully they’re getting more traffic and sales – mutually beneficial."

"I do think it is the future and unavoidable, I would like to see guidelines put in place for charges, at the moment people are abusing the system and will give it a bad reputation for everybody – I also encourage the use of #AD and highlighting when a post has been sponsored."

"Hmm. I feel conflicted about this. I think the visibility that some blogs give is worth paying for, as the ROI can be directly equated in advertising terms. However I do think readers of blogs still appreciate product placement that is completely unbiased (and un-sponsored), so I don’t think that is going away any time soon. I think brands are seeing the value of this more and more, so I am still keen to work with blogs that offer this type of coverage."

"I appreciate that the landscape is changing. For some clients paying for content is a realistic direction, but to be honest for others it is not, in the same way that some clients simply do not have the budget to pay for other forms of advertising.  I believe there should be a balance of paid for activity and genuine posts on a blog as the honest posts are what are at the heart of blogging. It goes without saying that anything that has been paid for should be clear for the reader to see. To uphold the integrity of the blog,  it makes sense to me that bloggers only agree to paid relationships if it’s the kind of brand/product they would have been interested in featuring any way and the majority of the time this is what I see."

"Going forward it is really important that bloggers who are charging for sponsored posts etc. behave in a professional manner, especially if you are working independently rather than being with an agent. You need to be very clear up front about what the post will and will not include so all parties know what to expect."

I'd love to know your thoughts on this post - have you picked up any new tips?

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Accessories - the new shoes

Having wide feet is the bane of my existence – I see so many pretty shoes that I just know I’ll never manage to squish them in to. That said, I make it my mission to find nice looking shoes as often as possible, so after a seriously long gap, I’ve rediscovered my love of Clarks.

New Clarks Dulcie Meg shoes
New Clarks Dulcie Meg shoes
New Clarks Dulcie Meg shoes on feet
Clarks used to conjure up horrible memories for me – there were many trips there to get my school shoes, which because of the width of my feet inevitably ended up looking more like the ones in the boy section, rather than the nice ballet flats my friends were wearing. Moving on 20 years (yes, I am that old), Clarks has had a bit of a renaissance. My favourite hot pink heels come from there and I wander around smugly with an inbuilt cushioned insole, feeling ridiculously comfy and stylish at the same time.

The lovely people at Clarks recently sent me some vouchers to treat myself to a new pair of shoes (which let’s face it, you can never have enough of), so I trotted off to one of their Oxford Street stores for a serious trying on session.

This season they’ve got some absolutely crackers on the shoe front, but it still felt a little early to me to break into the sandal section, so I went for these little beauties (called Dulcie Meg) with a decent heel and a cheeky peep toe at the front. It was quite hard to choose as they had lots of lovely shoes on offer, and I’ll be heading back post pay day to grab myself another pair that caught my eye.

At £50 these aren't cheap shoes, but the leather will wear well for a seriously long time and I think it’s worth spending a little extra on shoes – we spend so much time in them that comfort is definitely worth the extra few £££. As well as wide fitting options on some styles, they also offer half sizes which is an absolute lifesaver and something I wished more brands did.

If you’ve not been to Clarks in a while, I’d highly recommend popping down for a look. Yes, they still have their more traditional shoe section, although this seems to be relegated towards the backs of the stores now to make way for the more fashion forward stuff.

Are you a fan of Clarks shoes?

*PR sample

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Thursday, 19 February 2015

Slendertone Face review

I’ve long been attracted to the lure of Slendertone. The possibility of zapping away the fat on my backside while sitting on the sofa seems like an impossible dream, but over the years I’ve heard seriously good feedback about the brand.

I was recently asked to give the Slendertone Face* a whirl and boy was I excited. Probably more excited than I should’ve been considering I would be voluntarily zapping myself with electrical currents, but who doesn’t want more youthful looking skin with minimal effort?!

Slendertone Face review

Slendertone Face review

Slendertone Face uses similar technology to their other products. It features electrical pads that produce a small current, which when applied to the skin stimulates the muscles beneath. As our facial muscles start to sag as we get older, the signs of ageing become more pronounced. Slendertone Face helps to tone and build the facial muscles, increasing the muscle volume and giving you a more youthful appearance.

The device itself looks a little like a pair of sports headphones. There are two pads, one for each side of your face, with a firm plastic headband to hold them in place. Positioning it is a little tricky – I had to slip it around the back of my neck and then move it up towards my cheekbones, following the instructions given on exactly where it should rest for maximum effect.

Once in place, the device is ready to turn on with the small control panel that’s attached by a long cord. The panel allows you to set the length of your session, plus edit the intensity of the electrical pulses, allowing you to find a comfortable level. As a beginner, I went for the short session initially and started around level 20 (there are 99 to work your way through), which lasted for about 10 minutes. As my sessions progressed and I became more comfortable with the sensation, I increased the level (I never made it past 50!) and the length of time I was using the device for.

I have to admit, the whole thing felt quite odd. I was worried initially that it would be like some sort of painful electrical shock, but it was really more like a tingle. It definitely felt like the muscles in my face were getting a bit of a workout, even on the lower levels and I really like the fact you can amend the intensity at any point throughout your session.

Slendertone recommend that you use the device five times per week for 12 weeks in order to see real results. This is really the only thing I found a little arduous as you have to do it once you’ve cleansed, but before you’ve moisturised and I often went on to auto pilot through my evening regime and forgot to stop post-cleansing which meant I had to miss a night. Apparently the device won’t work very well after you’ve applied lotions so it might be worthwhile having it in front of you when you’re cleansing to act as a reminder to use the Slendertone before moving on with your routine.

The gel pads need to be replaced after every 2-3 weeks, and while the box comes with two sets, if you plan to use the device long term, you'll need to invest in some extra sets which is a little annoying. These cost around £12 for six pairs, so not a huge sum, but something to bear in mind when making the initial purchase.

Over the past 10 weeks I’ve definitely seen an improvement from using this device – my eye area looks a lot more youthful and my skin just seems to look that little bit fresher. I will definitely continue to use my Slendertone Face in the future and if you’re looking for something to tackle fine lines and early ageing then I think this would be a great option.

Slendertone Face costs £149.99 and can be bought from Slendertone online.

Have you tried anything from Slendertone before? Would you want to give this a try?

*PR sample

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Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Bourjois ColourBand Eye Shadow Sticks Review

As much as I love my eye shadow palettes, when it comes to convenience, nothing really beats an eye shadow stick. They’re portable, don’t need a brush and can be applied straight from the stick onto your lid. 

Bourjois’ new ColourBand shadow sticks have just hit the shelves and offer a purse-friendly product with high-quality performance. These crayon-style eye shadow pencils come in six different colours, focusing on wearable shades of gold, bronze and mauve with a few deeper colours thrown in for good measure. 

Bourjois colourband eyeshadow crayons
Bourjois colourband eyeshadow crayons swatches
L-R Beige Minimal, Brun Dadaiste, Mauve, Noir Abstrait
I’ve been really impressed with them in terms of pigmentation – a single swipe will leave you with an easy day time look which can be built up with extra layers for night time. They don’t drag on the lids when you apply them and blend easily with a finger or a brush if you prefer. They can also double up as liners, although the nib might be a little chunky to get a really slim line against your lashes. 

My current favourite combination is Beige Minimal all over my lid with Brun Dadaiste blended into the crease and closer to the lash line for a take on a bronze smokey eye. 

Bourjois say that these are waterproof and while I’ve not tested them out in the shower (maybe I should?!) they are seriously long wearing. I’ve had mine on for a 14 hour day with no fading, which is pretty impressive given the fact they’re a cream product. The only downside for me is that they crease. Quite a bit. This is a definite down point on what would be a five star product otherwise, but a decent eye primer underneath them helps keep this to a minimum. 

ColourBand eye shadows can be found on Bourjois stands and online from Boots and Superdrug and cost £5.99 each. 

What do you think of these new shadows from Bourjois?

*PR samples 

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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Clinique Sculpting Highlight and Contour Chubby Sticks review

Contouring has to be one of the most popular things on the beauty front at the moment. Every brand seems to be developing their own specific contouring products, so whether you like creams or powders, there's something out there for every budget. 

Clinique's latest launch sees them expanding their Chubby Stick line to include Sculpting Highlight and Contour sticks. These look a lot like a fatter version of their regular lip and eye chubby sticks, but have been developed to make the contouring process seriously quick and simple. 

Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour and Highlight sticks
Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour and Highlight sticks swatches
Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour and Highlight sticks swatches on pale skin
Contour and Highlight sticks blended out
The stick design and cream formula makes these a great bet for people in a hurry or for those who aren't quite sure where to start with contouring. The Sculpting Contour is the perfect size for the under cheekbone area - suck those cheeks in and run the Chubby Stick down from the middle of your ear to about halfway down your cheek and blend upwards using your fingers. 

Pigmentation-wise, the Sculpting Contour Stick looks pretty scary in the tube and if you're lighter skinned like me, take a gentle hand when applying as the colour is quite deep. That said, it blends really well, so don't be scared if you're slightly too heavy handed to start with! I'd always advise that you start gently and then add more colour if needed as it's easier to build up than it is to take it away. 

The Sculpting Highlight is a dream for light to medium skin tones. On me it gives a really radiant finish to skin without actually looking like you're wearing makeup, which I think is a massive thumbs up. Again, you can just draw on you face straight from the stick, blending gently after application. 

Both of these are cream textured products so benefit from a little primer underneath them, but used on top of foundation they'll last a good 8-10 hours before needing a little top up. They're also handbag friendly as you don't need a brush to use them, so are good for using on the run. 

The Sculpting Contour and Highlight sticks cost £19 each and can be found on Clinique counters and online from Boots, House of Fraser and other stockists now. 

Do you like the look of these new contour products from Clinique? 

*PR samples

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