Thursday, 2 July 2015

Magazine freebies - July 2015

The August issues of the monthly magazines are just starting to hit the shleves and with them comes yet another amazing month of freebies on the front covers! They've got everything from high end skincare through to nail polish covered this month, so the hardest part will be trying to decide which ones to buy (or just buy them all, I say!).

InStyle UK - there's a 50ml version of the new St. Tropez In Shower Gradual tan included with the new InStyle which I think is fantastic! This has only just launched, so if you weren't sure whether or not to buy the full-sized product (like me), then this is a great way to try it as there should be plenty for a couple of applications out of this tube.

Elle - you get three trial sized products from the Organic Pharmacy on the front cover of Elle - a moisturiser, cleanser and lip balm. This is a high end brand, so while the sizes aren't huge, you get enough to trial it to see if you might enjoy the full-size. These minis are also great for travel, so I'll be keeping a set ready for weekend breaks later on in the year.

Marie Claire - if you're a nail polish lover, you'll want to grab at least one copy of Marie Claire this month as it features a mini  Ciate polish duo with a top coat and a coloured shade. There are six different shades available, so hunt around for your favourite. I also spotted this for just £2.50 in WH Smith last night, so track one down there if you can for an even bigger bargain!

Red - yet more nail polish, this time from Red magazine. Choose from four summery shades of Jessica nail polish, all of which are full-size and usually retail for about £10 each.

Cosmopolitan - completing the freebie line up is a choice of New CID makeup items on the front of Cosmo this month. I spotted a few lip glosses and lip sticks, but I believe there are four different products to choose from.

Will you be picking up any of these magazine freebies this month?

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Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream Sun Defence Stick

Summer in England is notoriously unreliable.  One minute it's raining and the next is beaming hot sunshine with no warning at all.

I'm all over the SPF at the merest hint of sun but there are still those moments when you can easily get caught out and for that, Elizabeth Arden's  8 hour Targeted Sun Defence Stick* is the perfect solution.
Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour cream targeted sun defence stick
The Targeted Sun Defence Stick offers an SPF50 and combines the moisturising benefits of Elizabeth Arden's cult 8 Hour Cream with easy to apply, high quality sun protection.

The twist up tube is really tiny, meaning it will fit in to pretty much any sized handbag going, and even your pocket if needs must (so there's no excuse not to have it on hand!). It also makes application easy as you can put it on straight from the tube, without any need to get your hands covered in lotion. As it's oil-free, it won't leave you feeling sticky and it's non-comedogenic, so won't block your pores. There's also no white residue to worry about as it applies to the skin clear, meaning you don't even need a mirror to use it.

It's great for protecting those bits we often forget about - our ears, noses and even our lips. These are all delicate areas that burn so easily and are far too easy to forget about. I also like to use this carefully applied to my hair parting (get someone else to do it if you can so you don't end up with it all over you head) and it's been a total saviour on hot days when I don't have a hat with me.

It might seem like a pricey product for such a small tube (£15), but I think that it's definitely worth the investment. The sun is a wonderful thing, but lobster burn, sun induced wrinkles and god forbid, skin cancer are things we all want to avoid. So pop this in your bag and whip it out whenever you need it. I know I will be!

*PR sample 
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Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Nails: top top coats and the best bases

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I REALLY like nail polish – I probably have about 300 of them at home – but there are very few base/top coats that really make the cut for me. A decent base coat and top coat can make all the difference to your manicure, often helping it to last longer, while protecting your nails from staining and even strengthening them while you wear it. I’ve picked out a few favourites that for me really do the trick.
OPI Matte Nail Envy – for stronger nails, you need some Nail Envy. I like to use this as a bit of a treatment when my nails are in need of some TLC. It contains calcium to help harden nails and used over several weeks will enable your nails to grow without peeling or splitting. This matte version is great as a base coat for regular polish, but also works well for men or those that don’t want a treatment product with a shiny finish to it.

Deborah Lippmann All About That Base* – this beige coloured base coat looks more like a nail polish than a traditional base coat, but it applies very sheerly. A single coat gives nails a flawless looking, matte finish and it also hydrates and strengthens nails at the same time. It’s a great all-rounder!

Mavala Nail Hardener treatment – if you’ve been overdoing the polish and you’re suffering from dry, peeling nails then this little bad boy is the answer. It might be a tiny bottle, but inside is a seriously good strengthener. Think of this like a weekly treatment for your nails – apply once or twice a week for the best results.

Seche Vite quick dry top coat – I’m never without a bottle of Seche Vite’s quick dry top coat and it’s the only one I’ve found that really does live up to its name! A thin coat of this will make your nails touch dry in just a few minutes and will speed up the full drying process to about 10 minutes. It also gives a high shine finish which lasts for days. Double win.

Mavala Gel Finish Top coat* – Mavala’s new top coat will give you the super glossy, plumped up look of gel nails, minus the commitment and painful removal method. There might be a lot of ‘gel effect’ top coats around at the moment, but this is one of the best I’ve found!

Diego Dalla Palma Hardening Base* - DDP's base coat helps strengthen nails and provides a good base to apply polish to, while also looking great used alone on a naked nail. If you find your nails get a bit soft in the warmer weather, I'd definitely recommend investing in a bottle of this stuff, it's great!

What are your favourite top and base coats?

*PR samples
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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

A day at Weleda

Weleda have long been a firm favourite in my bathroom for years, so when I was offered the chance to spend a day at their UK headquarters to see their amazing plant gardens and learn more about the brand, I jumped at the chance.

If you’ve not come across the brand before, they have a staggering amount of products, which are all created using completely natural ingredients. Whether it’s hair care, skincare, baby products and even medicines, you’ll find them all from Weleda. They were founded back in 1921 and have been creating organically grown products ever since.

At their UK site just outside Derby, they have over 13 acres of gardens where they grow the hundreds of types of plants they need to create their range of medicines (the botanicals for the bath/body/skin ranges are mostly grown in Germany due to the quantities they need). Weleda grow all of their plants through biodynamic methods – this means that they’re fully organic, and plant/harvest their crops at the optimum time in accordance with the planets and the seasons. Weleda have received Demeter certification for their growing methods, which is the highest level of award you can receive (nice work Weleda!).

Our little group of bloggers (Jen, Zoe and Bettina) were given a tour of the gardens by retired head gardener Michael, who worked at Weleda for over 30 years and has a crazy amount of knowledge about all of their individual properties and uses!

A day at the Weleda gardens in England
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - Weleda awards
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - bee flying near to flower
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - flowers in bloom
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - gardener Michael
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - chamomile plant
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - chamomile plant tincture
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - chamomile plant tincture
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - garden beds
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - garden beds
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - plants and flowers
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - plants and flowers
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - plants and flowers
A day at the Weleda gardens in England -making soap
A day at the Weleda gardens in England -making soap
Making our own little soaps! 
Many of the gardens are laid out in traditional rectangular beds, but we were also taken to their beautiful wild flower meadows, shown where the Weleda bees live and taken into a more shady, wooded area where they grow varieties of poisonous plants that are used in extremely small quantities in certain medicines. It was amazing to see so many different varieties of plants all in one place!

After the garden tour, we were given a demonstration by Claire (Weleda’s current head Gardener) on how they make their tinctures, this time using a chamomile plant. There was a lot of strenuous chamomile chopping involved (at this point, I slightly regretted being the chopping volunteer!) before it was mixed with a plant-based alcohol to steep. The full tincture process takes a few weeks, but even after just a few minutes you could already see how the two ingredients had started to fuse together.

When buying Weleda products before, I’d never really thought much about the actual plants that go into making them, but after spending a day with the team, it’s amazing to think about all the care, love and attention they put into growing them. I’ll be putting together another blog post with a few of my favourites from Weleda, but I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour around the gardens.

Are you a fan of Weleda products?
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Monday, 29 June 2015

ColourPop makeup haul

ColourPop makeup has been all over my internet feeds for some time now and after a serious perving session over the swatches on Stacey’s blog, I knew I had to have some. Thankfully, my very lovely friend in the US offered to act as my enabler (you can’t get them in the UK yet *cries*), so armed with a long list and some PayPal transfers, she put in an order for me.

The brand have a reputation for creating amazing value makeup that performs incredibly, so I thought I’d order a bit of everything initially to see what products I thought were best. The price point is so cheap – just $5 for an eye shadow, so I was intrigued to see if they lived up to my somewhat high expectations.

ColourPop makeup haul - Kathleen LIghts shadows
ColourPop makeup haulColourPop makeup haul - Kathleen LIghts shadows swatches
When the delivery arrived the other day, there was an audible squeal from me (sorry co-workers) and I’m not going to lie, I started swatching before I took photos. Apologies for the massive blogger crime.

The shadows so far seem to be performing amazingly. They have a slightly odd texture – somewhere in between a cream and a powder – and you only need a small amount to get fantastic pigmentation. They blend really well together, last all day and have pretty much stolen the top spot in my makeup bag at the moment. There does seems to be a bigger focus on non-matte shades in their line up, but don’t let that put you off – they do a pearlized formula which has a bit of a sheen to it, but is far removed from the glittery shimmers you might expect. There are also a few matte shades to choose from - Cop A Feel and Bill are good bets to start with.

A small let down for me was that one of my shadows got a bit smashed in transit, and they do seem to have a reputation for being slightly fragile. The product is quite thin, so I have a feeling I'll easily hit pan on my favourite shadows from this selection, but at $5 each, I'm not complaining. And it’s definitely not enough to put me off buying them again, in fact, I already want more shades!

Another amazing item from my haul was the Stole The Show highlighter. This uses a similar creamy/powder formula to the eye shadows and gives skin an amazing luminescence that I’ve been looking for in a highlighter for a very long time. *orders 6 backups*. They have quite a few shades to choose from in the highlighter formula, but I think Stole The Show is be a really good match for pale skin tones.

I also snuck in a couple of Lippie Stix to my order and a bronzer which I haven’t fully tested yet, but on initial swatching they seem very promising. Watch out for full reviews on these in a few week’s time.

All in all, I’m really impressed with my first ColourPop order. I really hope they launch a UK website or start shipping here soon – I have a feeling they will be very popular!

Have you tried anything from ColourPop before?
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Sunday, 28 June 2015

Beauty freebies: Estee Lauder Harrods gift with purchase

If you're thinking of stocking up on any Estee Lauder products, make sure you head over to the Harrods website asap as they've got an amazing gift with purchase*on at the moment!
I always think the Harrods gift with purchases are something extra special and this one from Estee Lauder definitely lives up to expectations.

Estee Lauder Harrods gift with purchase June 2015
The gift itself is worth over £170 based on cost per ml basis and features seven products plus two gold bags (one large tote and a cosmetics pouch) that are perfect for summer.
Inside the gift, you'll find:
- Re-Nutriv Hydrating Cream Cleanser 30ml
- Gold Deluxe Palette, with three lipstick shades and eight eye shadows
- Double Wear Stay In Place Lip Liner in clear
- Re-Nutriv Ultimate Lift Eye Cream 5ml
- Re-Nutriv Ultimate Cream 15ml
- Sumptuous Extreme Lash Mascara, black
- Pure Color Lipstick (full-size)
My favourite item has to be the gold palette - it's the perfect travel companion  and the eye and lip shades within it are so wearable.  I'm also loving the look of the Double Wear Stay In Place Clear Lip Pencil as I've not tried something like this before so I'm interested to see how it performs. 
There's a great mix of skincare and makeup included in the gift so if you were thinking of making an Estee Lauder purchase, now's definitely the time to do it!
The gift is available both online and in store - each of which has slightly different spend criteria in order to qualify. Spend £75 or more on Estee Lauder products via the Harrods website or if you're able to visit the store you'll need to buy two products, one of which needs to be a moisturiser, eye cream or repair serum. The gift runs until 18th July, while stocks last.
Do you like the look of this gift with purchase? Will you be treating yourself to one?
*PR sample
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Friday, 26 June 2015

Essie Summer 15 collection

Essie’s summer collection* has really impressed me this year. I love to see what new shades they’ll be bringing out each season – sometimes they seem a *tiny* bit random, but they’ve hit the nail on the head with this summer selection. 

Essie summer 2015 nail polish collection
Essie summer 2015 nail polish collection
Essie summer 2015 nail polish collection swatches
There are six new shades to choose from, all of which features Essie’s standard wide brush and classic bottle. You can choose from: 

Peach Side Babe – a sun-ripe peach shade
Private Weekend – a sparkling crisp white with a subtle shimmer
Chillato – frozen cream pistachio
Sunset Sneaks – bright, cushy crimson
Saltwater Happy – sugar-sweet Atlantic blue
Pret-a-surfer – immersive marine blue

The stand out shade for me has to be Peach Side Babe. It’s a gorgeous bright peachy shade that seems to work one everyone that wears it, no matter what their skin tone. These kinds of peachy corals just scream ‘summer’ to me, and my bottle will be getting a LOT of use this summer. 

White polishes can sometimes be a bit of a washout, but Private Weekend definitely doesn’t fall into that category. You only need 2 coats for complete opacity and it looks great with a glossy top coat layered over the top. The shimmer aspect doesn’t really shine though on the nails – it’s incredibly subtle – so don’t let that bit put you off if yor’re hunting for a more traditional white. 

I remember when no-one wore blue nails and now they seem to be a massive thing! Saltwater Happy is probably my favourite of the two as I find the more pastel shades a bit easier to wear with my pale skin, but both the blues in this collection are definite keepers. You could probably get away with one coat of Pret-a-surfer, but I’d go for two just to make sure the finish is completely even. 

Chillato basically makes me think of pistachio ice cream, which is no bad thing (well, except for my diet) and while I don’t think this will be the easiest of shades to wear from some people, if you can make it work, the finish is absolutely lovely. And Sunset Sneaks manages to be bright, bold and yet easy to wear, with a slightly orangey take on a classic crimson red. 

I’d love to see them bring out a minis set of this range – I have a feeling it’d be very popular! Although I’m not sure what shades I’d want them to leave out as they’re all pretty fab. 

The Essie summer collection costs £7.99 per polish and can be found on Essie counters in Boots and Superdug now. You can also find them at the new pop-up nail bar in Debenhams’ Oxford Street store where they’re offering a free manicure if you spend £10 or over during the next week or so. 

Do you like the look of the new collection from Essie? 

*PR samples 
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Thursday, 25 June 2015

Beauty tips: decluttering your makeup bag

How many times have you gone rotting around in your makeup bag hunting for a specific product, when you’ve unearthed a lip balm/liner/blotting paper/whatever that looks like it’s been there since time began? I’m pretty sure it’s something we’re all guilty of (even if you won’t admit it in public!) so I’ve put together a few tips on how to streamline your makeup bag and get rid of the clutter for good. And for all you makeup addicts out there that have a makeup ‘drawer(s)’ on top of a bag, get to work on those too!

Get rid of anything past it’s use by date – all beauty products have limited shelf lives (I’ve written more about these in this post) so won’t last indefinitely. If you spot anything that smells a bit funny, the consistency has changed/split or you can’t even remember buying it because it was so long ago, bin it.

Choose a smallish bag – most women tend to use a lot of the same products day in day out, but somehow still end up with overstuffed makeup bags packed full of stuff that never gets used. Grab yourself a bag large enough to fit your daily essentials and then store any overflow in a drawer (or use it as a good excuse to finally get some Muji storage, ahem). Rotate products in and out of the bag as you need them, rather than trying to stuff in as many as you can ‘just in case’.

When was the last time you used it? – this is something I try to put into practice with all of my stuff, not just makeup. If I can’t remember the last time I used a product, or it’s been over a year since it last saw the light of day, it’s probably time to get rid. Don’t listen to that little voice in your head that says ‘Oooh Kat, you must’ve really loved this. Ooh how pretty, totally keep it’. This is how people end up on Hoarders. It might feel a bit painful for the first five minutes but once it’s all gone, you’ll probably forget you had it anyway. Promise.

Rotate, rotate, rotate – I like to think of my makeup bag as the place I put all of my daily essentials. Every week, I check through it and swap out some products for alternatives to ensure I mix things up a little. This helps to avoid me overstuffing it and also ensures I get to use lots of items from my stash.

What are your top tips for decluttering your makeup bag?
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