Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Blog inspiration - creating a mood board

Some days inspiration for new blog posts seems to be never ending - ideas flow and the copy virtually writes itself. Other days, it's not so much a glass half empty situation but a 'trying to find a drop left in the glass'. On days like that, I know it's time to pull out my pritt stick and scissors and start making a mood board.

Mood boards are great ways to get inspired, sometimes about things you didn't even know you liked! Essentially it's a bit collage of words and images you've liked the look of or that resonate at that moment, all stuck on a bit of card. Think of it like a real life Pinterest board but better.

I tend to gather up a stack of magazines and flick through them, cutting out any images, photos and phrases that speak to me at the time. It could be a pair of red lips or a beautiful stack of books - it changes each and every time I make one.

After a while, I grab all my clippings and stick them on my board, grouping them into themes as I go. It's then you can start to see the makings of ideas and how they might translate into blog posts.

I love the fact that these kinds of mood boards are tangible too - I love me a bit of Pinterest but there's something so nice about keeping a solid reminder and it's easy to pop on your desk if you want to come back to it later and use it again.

If you're not one for cutting and pasting, then a private Pinterest board can also work really well. This way you can gather up all your thoughts and ideas in one place, minus the need for craft materials. Be warned that it's easy to get distracted by images of beautiful cakes though!

Have you ever used mood boards for inspiration?
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Life: another year older

This weekend I celebrated turning another year older and while it wasn’t a major milestone birthday (that happened last year), for some reason 31 seemed a lot more scary than 30 did. Like you should have some sort of life plan by now. Which I don't.

Anyhow, after having a bit of a meltdown, I had a word with myself and decided that instead of panicking about what I thought I *should* be doing, instead I was going to spend this year focusing on the things I loved doing and that made me happy. I don’t feel that we should spend our lives doing what makes other people happy, or on those things we think we *ought* to do, because society seems to infer that at a certain age you should be doing them.

I don’t generally make new year’s resolutions as I know I’m rubbish at keeping them, so instead I’ve decided to set myself a few goals for the next twelve months, to keep me on track and to focus my mind on all the positives.

Say yes more often – as I’ve got older I’ve got a lot less adventurous and that’s something I want to reverse. I want to make the most of new opportunities that come up, even if they’re out of my usual comfort zone and instead focus on saying yes to more things.

Stop tracking the numbers – whether it’s my age or my weight, it’s easy to get obsessed over the movement of a number. Over the past couple of years I’ve put on weight and become increasingly unhappy about that, to the point where my moods are often based on which way the scales are swinging. Instead of getting hung up on the numbers, I want to focus on getting fit and making better food choices and shift my focus onto my overall health, rather than just to see if my backside is shrinking.

Learn to cook – the kitchen really isn’t my friend and while I can just about feed myself, I’d love to learn to cook more things and improve my skills in the kitchen. It would be great to whip up tasty meals without spending hours poring over a recipe book and panicking that it is going to come out wrong!

Save more – sometimes you just have to give in to the fact that you’re a grown up and be slightly more responsible. Although I’m not sure I can ever see myself buying a house and settling in one place forever, I want to at least know that might be an option one day. So I’m setting myself a savings goal each month to squirrel away for a possible deposit. Or holiday. Just not makeup!

Take a photography course – one of the things I’d love to develop more skill at is my photography. While I know I’ve improved a lot over the past few years, it’s turned from something I’ve been doing for necessity for the blog into a hobby that I really enjoy and something I’d like to do more of. I’m looking into short courses at the moment – if you know of any good ones, please let me know!

Have you set yourself any goals for the year?
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Monday, 30 March 2015

This Works Energy Bank range

I’m the first one to admit that I’m really not a morning person. Getting up can often prove to be a bit of a struggle and as someone who doesn’t drink tea or coffee, finding something to help perk you up first thing is an ongoing struggle.

This Works’ new Energy Bank range* has proved to be an bit of a game changer for me. Designed to give you a boost of energy and to help stimulate your energy levels, it’s the perfect thing if you need a helping hand to get going in the mornings, or for those dreaded afternoon slumps when your first thought is to hit the chocolate.

This Works Energy Bank range

Energy Bank features six products for bath and body, all of which have been infused with a high level of essential oils that are aimed at targeted your energy levels. Rather than using a heavy citrus blend like a lot of ‘energising’ products do, This Works have focused on geranium, rosemary and ylang-ylang which all help to naturally increase your energy and vitality.

I’ve been using the shower gel from this range every morning for the past week and it’s definitely helped me to perk up more quickly than I normally would do. It’s also sulphate-free so is gentle to skin and is something I will definitely be repurchasing when my bottle runs out.

The stand out product of the range for me has to be the Energy Bank Breathe In rollerball which is a small vial of concentrated oils which can be rolled on to your pulse points any time you need an energy boost. Just a small amount applied to your wrists really does the trick – I’ve been using this during the afternoon when my energy levels start to flag. Normally I’d reach for some sort of sugary snack to give me a bit of a boost (oops), but taking a few minutes out to apply the oil and take a few deep breaths is giving me the same effect, without the need for anything artificial. £18

Other products in the range are a rich hand cream (I’m keeping mine in my handbag!), a non-scented tinted lip treatment, body oil and tinted Sun Flash Facial. Prices start at £15 for the tinted lip treatment and go up to £32 for the Body Makeover body oil.

I think Energy Bank is definitely a range many of us could use and will fall in love with. It launches into Space NK and other This Works stockists in early April. Get yourself down to your local store if you can and have a good sniff. I guarantee you’ll be hooked!

Do you like the sound of this new range from This Works?

*PR samples
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Friday, 27 March 2015

Crownbrush new makeup launches

I've raved about Crownbrush's makeup brushes many times on this blog - they're great quality, super affordable and have pretty much every brush you can think of. So I was really excited to see that they've recently launched a whole new makeup collection which also focuses on affordability but that also packs in a massive range of shades and some really good formulas. 

Crownbrush new makeup swatches
L-R Chubby eye pencils, chubby lip pencils, lip/eye liners, sunkissed bronzer, 3 in 1 bronzer palette
My favourite product from the new ranges has to be the massive 3 in 1 Blush, Bronze, Illuminate. This palette packs in a pink-toned blusher, champagne  highlighter and a mid-toned bronzer, making it the perfect thing to pop in your makeup bag. The palette is surprisingly big - you can see a standard sized bronzer at the bottom left of this photo and this is almost double the size in comparison. Shade-wise this is probably best suited to light-medium skin tones as the bronzer will be a little too light to contour on darker skins but the highlighter and blusher are pretty universal shades. All three are really easy to customise the depth of pigment with - use a fluffy brush and a light hand and build up the colour as you go. £19.99

For those that prefer a more shimmery finish, then give the Sun Kissed Bronzer a try. Although Crownbrush refer to this as a bronzer, I think it's probably a bit light to use it as this for the majority of people, but it will give your skin a lovely radiant finish when used across the cheekbones. £6.99

There are two different types of pencils that Crownbrush have introduced - chubby eye/lip pencils and then the more traditional slim lip/eye liners. 

The Chubby Eye Pencils come in 13 shades and I was really impressed with the pigmentation of these. The crayon format makes them really easy to apply - give your lids a quick swipe, blend and you're ready to go. These benefit from a primer underneath them to help to keep them from creasing but they last well throughout the day and don't fade for hours. At £3.99 each, I think these are a bit of a bargain. 

I wasn't quite so keen on the Chubby Lip Pencils as these felt a little drying on my lips, but they did seem to last well and had some seriously good pigmentation. There are 10 shades to choose from, covering everything from an electric pink, through to your basic nude shades. Again, these are £3.99 each, so very well priced, but I would recommend sticking a bit of lip balm underneath before you apply. 

The slimmer pencils are best used as traditional lip and eye liners rather than all over colour, but they do work really well when used in conjunction with the Chubby Pencils as the shades match up quite nicely. Both the lip and eye liners give great pigmentation, although I did find the eye liners to be a little bit hard, so need a bit of encouragement to transfer over to the lids. £2.99 each. 

All in all I think there are some great products in the new range and at good value for money prices. You can find the full range of shades online from Crownbrush, along with all of their fantastic brushes.

Do you like the look of these new products from Crownbrush? 
*PR samples

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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Elizabeth Arden Sunkissed Pearls SS15 makeup review

While Elizabeth Arden might be best know for their iconic 8 Hour Cream range, take a bit of a detour this season and make sure you check out their SS15 makeup range. 

Sunkissed Pearls* is a capsule range that focuses on glowing radiance and pearl highlights, making it easy to achieve that 'glow' that we're always hunting for. 

Elizabeth Arden Sunkissed pearls ss15 makeup range
Elizabeth Arden Sunkissed pearls ss15 makeup range

I'm a complete sucker for a pretty looking product and the Sunkissed Pearls Bronzer and Highlighter definitely falls into that category. The embossed design divides up the three powder products - two shades of bronzer and a soft pink-toned highlighter - and almost makes it look too good to use. 

The highlighter gives just the right amount of radiance to skin without adding loads of glitter and I love the fact that the two different bronzers give you a range of looks without needing lots of different products. You could quite easily pop this little palette in your bag and you'd have everything you needed for contouring, highlighting and adding radiance. This comes in two different shades - Warm Pearl (pictured) for light to medium skin tones and Deep Pearl for medium to dark skins. £28

For lip gloss lovers, the Sunkissed Pearls Lip Gloss Trio (£28) add moisture to the lips while giving a sheer wash of colour and a high sheen finish. Inside the set are Pink Pearl, Coral Pearl and Berry Pearl which all look pretty bold in the tubes, but actually provide a lovely subtle colour to the lips. These can be used alone or added over a lipstick in a similar shade for a bolder look. I'm not a massive lip gloss user, but I was surprised at how nice the formula on these was. It's not overly sticky and the mango and shea butters in the formula helps hydrate your lips while you wear them.

Also in the range is a Sunkissed Pearls Gel Liner (£17) which for me is a slightly odd addition. This is a deep black shade and I think for a summer range something a little brighter would've been a better fit. That said, the formula is pretty good, although I'd recommend using a better brush than the one provided in the box as I don't think this does the product justice. 

There are also three lovely looking cream eye shadow crayons available, in champagne, bronze and teal tones. These are designed to offer a buildable colour and will work well used alone or all together. £19 each. 

The Sunkissed Pearls range is currently available on all Elizabeth Arden Counters and from Elizabeth Arden stockists online. 

What do you think of this new makeup range from Elizabeth Arden? 

*PR samples 

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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Introducing:My Showcase - the new way to shop for beauty

If you’re looking for a new way to shop for beauty, then listen up – you’re going to love My Showcase. The brainchild of Nancy Cruickshank (who founded Handbag.com), My Showcase mixes up the old school ‘party’ style sales format but brings with it over 30 amazing brands that are less easy to find on the high street. It’s kind of a mix between an Avon party and having Space NK visiting your living room or office.

Among the brands on offer from My Showcase are Aurelia Skincare, Face Stockholm, S5, Elizabeth's Daughter, Dr Lipp, Antonia Burrell  - the list could go on forever. Each brand has personally been picked by Telegraph Magazine Beauty Editor (and My Showcase co-founder) Kate Shapland for being something a little different to the norm.

my showcase beauty products
my showcase beauty book

As well as offering a ‘showcase’ (party) with one of their stylists (this is what they call the salespeople) you can also buy products directly via the website, so if you’re looking to just make a purchase then it’s really easy to do so. That said, I think the showcases are a great idea – it’s not often you get someone coming to you that can talk through so many brands and so many different products, rather than just trying to sell you everything from a single brand. A lot of these brands are often only available online, so it’s a nice way to get to try them out at home with a group of friends and a few glasses of wine.

My Showcase kindly sent me a few pieces from their brands and I have to say I’ve loved everything I’ve tried. If you’ve not come across Andrea Garland’s lip balms before then you definitely need to rectify this! These natural balms come presented in the cutest vintage style pillboxes with different illustrations on the front. They keep your lips hydrated and smooth as well as looking seriously pretty when you get it out of your handbag for a quick top up. At around £15 each, they make a lovely gift idea, or a nice pay day treat for yourself.

Face Stockholm is a brand that I’d seen in Fenwick on Bond Street before but had never really tried myself. They have such a massive range of makeup and nail polish and come in at mid-range prices. I have my eye on a few neon shades from the nail polish line – they’re some of the brightest ones I’ve seen in a long time!

I’m also loving the roll on perfume from Sage. It’s quite pricey (£30) but is a pure mix of perfume oils so the smallest amount leaves you with a beautiful subtle scent for hours on end. The fact that the packaging is seriously pretty is also an added bonus!

My Showcase are adding lots of new brands and products to their lineup for spring/summer including Jane Scrivner, Mio, Vita Liberata and much more. All in all, I’ve really enjoyed my experience with them and I’m looking into holding a showcase in my office one lunchtime as I know a lot of the people I work with would love the brands they look after!

You can find all the information on booking a showcase, the brands and make purchase via the My Showcase website.

Do you like the idea of My Showcase?

*PR samples
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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

ecoTOOLS - Complexion Collection brushes review

ecoTOOLS are one of my favourite high street brush brands – not only are they great value for money, but they’re also eco-friendly and completely cruelty-free. For spring, ecoTOOLS are launching four brand new brushes to their range, which together make up the ‘complexion collection’.

The name is slightly misleading as these are all sold separately rather than as a set, but together they form a fantastic group of brushes that will see you through pretty much any kind of base makeup, whether it’s foundation, powder, concealer and even a bit of highlighting/contouring.

ecotools complexion collection makeup brushes
ecotools complexion collection makeup brushes

In the range are:

Correcting Concealer Brush – for liquid/powder concealers and a precise application
Eye Perfecting Brush – perfectly shaped to use around the eye area to cover dark circles
Skin Perfecting Brush – for liquid products such as bb/cc creams and foundations
Mattifying Finish Brush – loose powders, bronzers

My favourite out of the four has to be the Skin Perfecting Brush which is aimed at giving a flawless finish with bb/cc creams but I find it works just as well with a normal liquid foundation. The bristles in this brush are quite dense, making it easy to get the desired coverage using quite a small amount of product. Because of its size, it also fits nicely into the areas around your nose which I sometimes find a bit tricky with a regular shaped foundation brush and if you only pick one brush from the collection, this would be my top choice.

The Mattifying Finish Brush is lovely and soft and just the right size – not too big and not too small (someone tell Goldilocks I’m stealing her lines. Ahem.). It picks up a decent amount of product without overloading and will work well with most kinds of loose and pressed powders.

If you suffer from blemishes, then the Correcting Concealer Brush is definitely going to be your new brush BFF. This small brush might look unassuming, but it works amazingly well at covering spots and blemishes – just a small amount of product dabbed on with the brush will cover and conceal most things, and the dense nature of the bristles means you won’t need to use loads of product to achieve the desired affect.

While the Complexion Collection might feature the usual bamboo handles and good quality synthetic bristles, I love the new designs they’ve used on the brush ferules. It adds something a little different to a range which might look a *tiny* bit bland otherwise and for me it makes them look so much more appealing.

The Complexion Collection launches into Boots in April and will range in price from £4.99 to £7.99.

Do you like the look of these new brushes from ecoTOOLS?

*PR samples
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Monday, 23 March 2015

Bourjois Magic Nail Care review

Bourjois' One Second nail polish remover pot has been a high street favourite for years. It's such an easy way to remove your polish without all the usual faff and this spring they're adding an exciting new addition to their nail care line up - the Magic Nail Care* pot.
Bourjois Magic Nail Care pot
Magic Nail Care is designed to help nourish your cuticles and nails, using a jojoba oil based formula. It uses a similar sponge style application method as the One Second Remover - you simply pop a finger into the hole in the sponge, give it a quick twist and then repeat.
It's a really quick and effective way of looking after your cuticles - I'm terrible at remembering to use cuticle oils and treatments so something this simple means there's no excuse not to. You can also use it on painted nails without any issues.
Magic Nail Care is currently exclusive to Beauty Mart but will be launching onto all Bourjois counters in April. It costs £5.99 and I definitely recommend picking one up (especially when there's a 3 for 2 offer on!).
Does this sound like something you'd introduce into your nail care routine?
*PR sample
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