The Body Shop Christmas collection

There are so many good Christmas gifts around this year, and the Body Shop are no exception. They've launched some gorgeous collections for the festive period and are topping that off with a fantastic charity programme.

The Body Shop have worked with Community Fair Trade schemes for over 20 years, helping to support communities across the world via the use of certain ingredients, such as the honey in their recent Honeymania collection. This year, they've pledged to donate £200,000 from the sale of their Christmas gift sets to help fund 5 school projects in communities in Nepal, India, Honduras and Ghana. The money will go to communities that otherwise might not be able to provide education for the children in that area.

Here are my top picks from the Christmas range, including the School Gingerbread House - a paper house stuffed full of bath goodies, that's been handmade by Get Paper Industries - one of the community programmes that will receive school funding from the Christmas gift sets.

Body Shop Christmas Collection

Advent Calendar - £55 - Packed full of 24 Body Shop treats, this is perfect for any super fans of the brand. It contains a mix of travel sized bath, body and skincare products, plus makeup and even an eye shadow brush.

4 Step Smokey Eyes Plum - £15 - There are two versions of this gorgeous smokey eye kit, which is limited edition for the festive season. Choose from either the plum shade or a bronze version. Each kit contains 4 eye shadows, plus 2 mini brushes. They are also wrapped up as part of an extra value set with a body shimmer spray for just £20 in store (RRP £30 separately), which would make a gorgeous gift! 

Mango Lip and Body Butter Snowman - £7 - Inside this cute little snowman you'll find a mango lip balm and a mini mango body butter, both perfect for keeping your skin hydrated throughout the colder months. The scent is also delicious! 

Body Butter lollipop - £20 - Stuffed with 5 50ml versions of the Body Shop's amazing body butters, the lollipop design is guaranteed to put a smile on anyone's face (although it might be a bit tricky to wrap up!). 

White Musk Smokey Rose duo - £20 - Smokey Rose is the newest scent in the Body Shop's fragrance collection and is a soft, floral scent. Inside the set you'll find a 60ml EDT fragrance and a 100ml body spray to pop in your handbag and refresh your scent throughout the day. 

Gingerbread School House - £17 - The symbolic gift of the Community Fair Trade programme the Body Shop is supporting this year, the Joyful School House contains a 60ml Cranberry Shower Gel, 50ml Cranberry Body Butter, 60ml Gingerbread shower gel, a 50ml Gingerbread body butter and a bath lily. 

Which one of these would you like to see under the tree this year?


REN Vita Mineral Lip Balm review

REN are one of my favourite skincare brands – they don’t fill their products with loads of rubbish and create products that really deliver results. Their Hydra Calm range is always on the shelves in my bathroom, so I was really excited to test out their Vita Mineral Lip Balm* and see if it would become another daily staple.

The Vita Mineral Lip Balm comes in a tube with a shaped applicator, and is designed to help repair dry and chapped lips – something that the cold weather can really have an effect on. It’s packed full of shea butter, vitamin E and calendula extract and has a slightly waxy texture when first applied.

The lip balm sinks easily into lips, leaving them feeling moisturised, without being at all greasy. I love the way this lip balm leaves my lips soft and hydrated and will definitely look to repurchase once it runs out. The only down side for me is that it comes in a squeezy tube and for some reason is quite hard to actually get out! Don’t be afraid to squeeze hard – it’s just a bit stubborn!

At £9, this might seem a bit pricey for a lip balm, but you get 15ml of product for this price, which is around 3 times the size of my usual Nivea one, making it pretty good value for money.

You can find REN’s Vita Mineral lip balm online from REN, and in store at Space NK, John Lewis and other REN stockists.

What’s your favourite lip balm?

*PR sample


My Fruveju mini juice cleanse

Juice cleanses have been popular for a while now as a way for people to either bump start a health kick or for a detox. As someone who likes eating (a lot), the thought of just drinking juice for several days is a bit scary, but when Fruveju asked if I'd like to try out one of their one day mini cleanses*, I thought this would be the perfect way to see if juicing was for me.

Fruveju are a company that specialise in juice cleanses, and provide everything you need for the duration of your cleanse. All of their juices are cold-pressed and organic and contain a mixture of fruit and vegetable juices.

Fruveju juice cleanse

Fruveju juice cleanse

You can choose between one, three and five day cleanses, and each day consists of six 500ml juices, which are numbered in the order you need to drink them. As well as the juices, you can drink as much water and herbal tea as you like during your cleanse.

For my one day mini cleanse, I received a refrigerated pack, delivered by hand to my office the afternoon before my cleanse started. Inside, I had two Pure Greens juices, a Watermelime, a Spicy Lemonade, a Red Pineapple and a Cashew Milk.

I was quite suspicious of the green juice, which was a mixture of kale, lemon, ginger, celery, spinach, cucumber, green apple and spring green. As this was the first juice of the day, I gave it a tentative sniff before taking my first sip, but was pleasantly surprised by the fresh flavour, which didn't taste anything at all like the cabbagey taste I was expecting!

Two hours later, it was time for the Watermelime, which was a mix of watermelon and lime juice and was very refreshing. It does have a strong melon taste to it, so if you aren't a fan of this, it probably won't be your favourite!

The Spicy Lemonade tasted like traditional flat lemonade with a very subtle hint of cayenne pepper in the aftertaste. It wasn't particularly spicy, but went down a treat.

Red Pineapple turned out to be my favourite out of all the juices and contains a mix of pineapple, red apple, carrots, beetroot and ginger. The pineapple and beetroot tastes were the strongest flavours and so the juice was a kind of earthy, sweet one, which I could quite happily have drunk again and again.

The last juice of the day was Cashew Milk, and was actually the only one that I really didn't enjoy. It was quite sweet, but with a lot of cinnamon and vanilla in. I have to be honest, I'd prefer not to drink it again, but I'm not a cinnamon or vanilla fan, so this probably explains why!

I really enjoyed doing the cleanse. I chose to do it on a weekend when I didn't have much planned and I'd recommend doing this as while I didn't suffer from a lack of energy, I did feel quite hungry and after drinking 3 litres of juice and several pints of water, I had to pee a lot! I don't think I would do very well on a longer plan of just juice, but I can quite happily see myself making my own green juices on a regular basis for bit of a perk up at breakfast time.

Fruveju cleanses are available easily within London at the moment, but delivery outside London can be arranged by contacting the team. A one day juice cleanse costs £70 and a three day plan £200. You can find all the information on their cleanse plans over on the Fruveju website.

Have you ever tried a juice cleanse? Do you like the sound of this one?

*Fruveju kindly provided me with a one day juice cleanse to trial for this review


Big Space NK haul and gift with purchase

Last Wednesday, Space NK held one of their amazing events where you get a gift with purchase when you spend over a certain amount. The advertised gift with purchase was good, but made amazing by the fact it contained a £50 voucher for Space NK for you to treat yourself to something extra after the event.

This had me sold, and so I called up my local store to try and get a ticket (no ticket, no goody bag). They were in high demand but I managed to get the last one by a matter of minutes, so set about making my list ready for the big day!

In order to get the goody bag, you had to spend £150 or over, which was a lot, but I decided to get a mix of my regular products, a couple of Christmas sets and to take a leap into the world of luxury brand By Terry.

Here's what I bought:

Nars Guy Bourdin Lip Crayon set - this is a limited edition kit for Christmas and contains 5 mini lip crayons inside a lip print makeup bag. I really like the variety of shades within the kit, and the makeup bag is gorgeous! £30

Laura Mercier mini eye shadows crayon set - another Christmas gift set, I'd been swatching these for a little while before making the final purchase. It contains 4 easy to wear shades that all work well together for a soft, gold makeup look. I love the formula of these and have a feeling I'll be going back for more full-size ones after Christmas. £28

REN Hydra Calm Global Protection Day Cream - this is my regular day moisturiser which I'm almost out of, so it was a good time to stock up. £27

By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra-Powder - this is a bit of a cult product and I really wanted to see what all the fuss was about! £41 for a powder seems a bit crazy, so I'm hoping it will work miracles. Look out for a review soon.

Phyto Volum Actif spray - I haven't tried anything from Phyto before, but I recently read a review on another blog who said it was amazing for adding volume to fine hair, so thought I'd give it a try. £15.50

Diptique mini Oriental Spruce candle - every year Diptique bring out a set of Christmas candles and this year I fell in love with the Oriental Spruce scent, which smells like you're sitting in a pine forest (no toilet cleanser smell here!). I'll probably save this one for Christmas day, to mask the fact I'll be having a fake tree, ha ha.

And not forgetting the gift with purchase...

The Becca blusher and Aromatherapy Associates oils are probably the things I'm most excited to try, although I'm hoping the Kevin Aucoin mascara is good too. Everything is either full size, or a very generous travel size, which is great!

I still need to decide what to buy with my gift card - what would you pick?


Topshop Makeup Christmas gift selection

Topshop makeup is one of those really nice surprises - you don't expect a make up range from a high street fashion store to be that great, but Topshop make some of my favourite cream blushers and their nail polish selection is amazing.

This year they've put together some fantastic gift sets for Christmas, all of which are at budget friendly prices, and perfect for fashionistas and beauty addicts alike. 

Topshop mini nail set

Topshop mini nail set

Topshop Smokey eye kit

Topshop Smokey eye kit contents

Topshop Christmas nail polish tree decoration

Top of my list is the Mini Nail Trio*, which has a dark navy shade, multi-coloured blue, purple, silver and pink glitter and a silver foil shade. These will work perfectly together, giving multiple looks. The polishes are slighlty smaller than their full size ones, but still plenty big enough for dozens of applications. Each kit costs £14 and there are 3 different sets to choose from.

Next on my list is the Smokey Eye Kit*. This is excellent value for money at £22, as it contains a full size Golden Aura eye shadow palette, 3D Curve mascara and kohl pencil in Coal (black). The eye shadows are very soft and easy to apply and have been designed to all work together for a bronzed smokey eye. I also think the hot pink pvc envelope it comes in would make a cute clutch bag or pouch for inside your handbag once you've taken the makeup out.

Last, but definitely not least, is the Mini Nail Pyramid*, which contains a nail polish in one of four glitter finishes. These are £5 each, and is perfect to hang from your Christmas tree as a little stocking filler. Topshop have also got similar tree decorations that are filled with a mini lipstick that comes in a choice of 2 shades, so if nails aren't your thing, why not pick up one of those instead - they're also a fiver. 

Which one of these is your favourite?

*PR samples


Avon Luxe collection review

Avon have done it again with another cracking collection, just in time for Christmas. The Luxe range combines luxury feeling packaging, with their wide range of colour choices and still with the same purse-friendly prices.

I recently went along to the launch of the new collection and when I saw it, I was so impressed. It all looks (and feels) much more expensive that it really is, so when I tell you that everything comes in at under £10 per product, I think you'll be surprised! 

Avon luxe collection

Avon luxe collection

Avon luxe collection highlighter

Avon luxe collection eyeshadows
Avon luxe collection swatches
Highlighter, then eyeshadow palette swatches
Avon luxe collection

Avon luxe collection swatches

My favourite from the collection is the highlighter. Embossed with a cute studded design, this offers a subtle shimmer, and is perfect for using on the cheekbones, brow bones and I even like to use a tiny bit on my nose. It's not super light, so will work with a variety of skin tones and for £10 is a bit of a bargain.

Next up on the list are the eye shadow palettes. Coming in 6 varieties, these use the same True Colour technology as their previous releases and have a good colour payoff and blend really easily. Each palette has every shade you'll need for a day look and a more smokey one and I highly recommend adding one to your order, especially at the bargain price of £10.

The Luxe foundation comes in a really heavy glass bottle, which makes it feel very expensive. This is a light-medium coverage foundation and while it will work well for drier skin types, I found that it disappeared quite quickly on the oily areas of my combination skin. It is lovely and lightweight though, and for £10 is worth a try if you have dry skin. There are 5 shades, which will work mainly with light to medium skin tones. 

Last but not least, the lip glosses! I generally tend to avoid lip gloss as I don't like the sticky feeling on my lips, but these give a high shine finish and work really well over the top of a lipstick. My favourite shade from these is dainty pink, which is almost clear, but with soft iridescent particles in and looks amazing over the top of a soft pink lippie. There are 8 shades in total and cost £6 each.

The Luxe range is available in the next week or two and can be bought via the Avon catalogue

What do you think of this range? 



Clinique Party Eyes Holiday Makeup set review

Christmas time means Christmas gift sets and I get far too excited about the thoughts of the limited edition palettes, brush kits and beauty advent calendars that come out around this time of year.

The Clinique Party Eyes Holiday Makeup set is no exception. A Selfridges exclusive, it contains everything an eye make-up junkie like myself could wish for.

clinique holiday eye set

clinique holiday eye set

clinique holiday eye set

clinique holiday eye set top row swatches
Top row swatches
bottom row swatches and eyeliners
Bottom row swatches and eye liners
There's a palette of 8 eye shadows, a full-size High Impact Extreme mascara, two good sized Cream Shapers for eyes (eye liners) in black and purple and a two piece brush set for easy application.

It's been a while since I used Clinique makeup, and after trying this kit, I'm not really sure why I've left it so long! The eye liners are super creamy, and apply really easily without any dragging. They wear pretty well, giving at least 8 hours of wear before needing a top-up and also smudge nicely for a smokey eye look. They are around two thirds the size of the full-size liners, so will last you months, and are worth almost £12 each.

Eye shadows

The 8 eye shadows are a mixture of shimmery shades, and have enough choice in colours for you to create multiple looks. I'm usually a brown/gold fan when it comes to eye colours, however I've been really drawn to the navy shade in this palette which works really well with a hint of the silver for an alternative smokey eye. The quality of the shadows is really good - they last well with or without a primer, and while some are a little more sheer than others, they blend together beautifully without too much effort.

There are also four cards within the kit which give examples of looks you can achieve with the products, which is a really nice touch and great for inspiration.


The mascara is actually a full size, which I was surprised by, as very often these kits only contain mini versions. I've said before I'm a fan of big lashes and I'm very loyal to my favourite YSL False Lash Effect, however this gives good volume and separation, and a really true black colour to lashes. The brush is a plastic bristle brush which took me a little getting used to, but if you're a fan of these (similar to Benefit's They're Real brush), then I think you'll love it. The full size mascara retails at £17, so this is a really good addition to the kit.

There are two brushes included in the set, which are reasonable quality. I wouldn't use them daily, but they work well within the kit, and provide an easy solution if you don't want to take bags of stuff with you for travelling.

This isn't something you'd pop in your bag - the size is a little longer than one of the Urban Decay Naked palettes, however it would be perfect if you're going away over Christmas, as you'd only need to take some base makeup and a lipstick with you in addition to this.

Merry Christmas!

I think this would make a lovely gift for Christmas. I know that my Mum uses a lot of Clinique makeup and I'm sure she'd love to see this under the tree. It's a really good introduction to the brand if you've not used their makeup before and everything within it is a really good size.

The Party Eyes Holiday Set costs £40 (bargain!) and can be found exclusively from Selfridges. I've also been eyeing up their Chubby Stick Christmas set, which looks amazing! Have a look at the full range of Clinique at Selfridges - I'm sure there'll be something that catches your eye.

*PR sample



My 7 deadly sins of beauty

We've all got bad habits. I like to think of mine as my 7 deadly beauty sins. None are actually deadly (or at least, I hope not!), but they're all things that I can't seem to stop myself doing, no matter what!

1. I try to make myself experiment with colour, but still have more neutral eye shadow palettes than is healthy, and the stash keeps growing!

2. Nude lipstick just doesn't do it for me. Bright lips or not at all. I can't get excited over the thought of a MAC Creme Cup.

3. I forget about the skin on my body. My face gets well treated for 15 mins, twice a day like clockwork, but the poor skin on my body is lucky if it gets moisturised and scrubbed once a week. Must try harder.

4. I only ever fake tan my legs. This can lead to interesting tan lines if you're ever expected to go swimming unexpectedly.

5. I have so many nail polishes, most only get used once. And then I buy another one. *shame face*

6. I spend so long swatching things in Superdrug and Boots I get followed by the staff who clearly think I'm a shoplifter.

7. The words 'limited edition' seem to turn my rational brain to mush, and flick a switch inside my head which means I MUST buy the product, regardless of if I have a need for it. I have justified many things this way, including MAC Archie's Girls products, Urban Decay Vice 2, and many, many more.

What are your beauty related bad habits?


Christmas gift perfume picks

Perfume is one of the most popular gift choices at Christmas and I love to see the gift sets that come out each year. They're often really great value, as you only pay for the perfume, but also get extra treats such as body lotions and shower gels thrown in for the same price. I've selected some of my favourites which I think will be pretty popular this year.

One Direction Our Moment - I'm not a One Direction fan (sorry!), but I think this would make a great gift for anyone that's a fan of the band. The perfume has a sweet, floral scent to it, and they have several types of gift sets, the best value being a 50ml EDP, 150ml body lotion and a postcard of the boys. £28.50

Marc Jacobs Honey and Dot - every year I always ask for a Marc Jacobs perfume set. They're some of my favourite scents and the packaging on the gift sets this year is so cute! Honey is the newest fragrance from Marc Jacobs and has a fruity scent with a honey heart. Dot looks like a little red ladybird, and is more floral, but still has some lovely fruity notes to it. Set retail at around £52.50 each

Thierry Mugler Alien - I think this is one of those scents you either love or hate. His Angel scent is iconic, but my heart lies with Alien. It's an unusual scent, with both woody and floral notes, and a 30ml refillable EDP with 100ml body lotion and mini shower gel costs £49.50.

Calvin Klein Down Town - this is a new scent from Calvin Klein, and it's definitely something a bit different. It has a lovely fresh, yet floral scent to it and it's probably my favourite scent from CK in a while. Grab a gift set with a 50ml EDP and 100ml body lotion for £46.

There's always a difficult person to buy for, and this is where my final choice comes in. The Perfume Shop have launched their VivaBox, which contains 7 perfume samples, and a voucher for one full-sized bottle of perfume. It allows the recipient to try out each of the 7 perfumes enclosed in the box, and then choose a full-size of their favourite. They do one for men and one for women and cost £37.99 each.

Will you be asking for any of these this Christmas?



Gamila Secret skincare review

If you'd told me a few months ago I'd be raving about washing my face with soap, I would have laughed at you. That was until I was introduced to Gamila Secret.

Gamila Secret is a Palestinian brand that have launched in the UK with a range of natural cleansing bars and facial oils that help to nourish and soften the skin and return it to it's natural balance.

The cleansing bars are made up of over 80% cold pressed olive oil and also contains a mixture of 15 herbs from the mountains and foothills of Galilee. There are several varieties of the cleansing bar, all designed for different types of skin. Most contain essential oils, however there is one unscented version if you have very sensitive skin or prefer not to use scented products.

I've been testing out the newest cleansing bar* in the range, which is a Pomegranate version. Suitable for all skin types, it treats skin to a high level of  vitamin c and also potassium, both of which help to revitalize the skin and even out skin tone. To use the cleansing bar, simply wet it, and massage between your hands to create a soft lather (it won't foam heavily as it has no harsh foaming agents in). Massage the lather into your skin to cleanse and rinse away using a warm flannel.

I was really pleased with how gentle this cleanser was - it was really effective at removing my makeup, but didn't leave my skin feeling at all dry. The pomegranate scent isn't particularly strong and doesn't linger once washed away. I also tried the Lavender* version, which works just as well, and has a lovely soft scent to it.

The cleansing bars aren't cheap, with the Pomegrante costing £30 and the Lavender costing £22, however, they will last a good few months, and I think would make the perfect choice for anyone with sensitive skin. They also do mini versions of the soap for around £12 which would make a good way to test them out before investing in a fuller size product.

Another product in the range that I've really enjoyed using is their Wild Rose facial oil*. I tend to use this as a night treatment, applying a few drops to my skin after cleansing and toning, in addition to a moisturiser. It really helps make the skin feel soft and supple and sinks in quickly without leaving a greasy residue. For me, this is a little too heavy to use in the day time, however it's perfect at night for a more intensive moisture burst.

Like the Cleansing Bars, the Wild Rose Facial Oil is full of natural ingredients and contains no nasties, and is a mixture of pure pressed vegetable oils, rose otto, rose essential oil and Gamila's mixture of 15 herbs. It's quite pricey, at £85 for 50ml, so is definitely a luxurious treat!

You can find the entire Gamila Secret range in selected House of Fraser stores and at House of Fraser online. I'm so glad I tried it - I now know that not all bars of 'soap' are created equal!

What do you think of this range?

*PR samples


My Salon Looks gift with purchase

I love a good gift with purchase. The Liberty and Space NK ones are legendary, but you have to spend a huge amount of money in order to get the goodies. My Salon Looks have launched a great GWP, and you only have to spend £30 to qualify. 

All orders of £30 or over, get to pick two items from the selection below, many of which are full size, and can be worth up to £15.80 each. 

You can choose from:

- L'Oreal Steampod replenishing cream (full size)  - worth £15.80
- Decleor Moisturising Body Milk (50ml) - worth £6.50
- OPI nail polish (full size) - worth £11.50
- GHD final fix hairspray (75ml) - worth £3.95
- St Tropez self tan bronzing mousse (50ml) - worth £8.50
- St Tropez instant tan light/medium (50ml) - worth £7.50
- Murad Illuminating Night Moisture (10ml) - worth £13.90
- OPI Avoplex to go oil (full size) - worth £9.95
- Decleor Aroma Cleanse relaxing bath and shower gel (full size) - worth £12.60

My top picks would probably be the OPI Avoplex oil and the GHD hairspray, but there are some really good choices there! The special offer runs until Christmas, so if you're planning to buy some beauty gifts, check out My Salon Looks and get a little treat for yourself at the same time. To get the offer, simply choose your items worth over £30 and then select your free gifts when in the 'basket' view. 

Which ones would you pick? 

*PR samples


My beauty preparation pack

Like it or not, Christmas can be an expensive time of year. Whether it's presents, food, nights out, a hair cut or an outfit for the work Christmas do, it can easily run up into the hundreds of pounds.

I like a challenge, so when Voucher Codes sent me an email asking me to put together a party essentials pack that would see me through the festive season, for a budget of only £60, I got planning.

If like me, you often have to go to Christmas parties after a full day at work without the chance to go home and spend some quality time getting ready, you'll know that a small set of staples is really important in helping you get ready, and fast. I've picked out a selection of items that can all be stashed away in your desk drawer, which will help get you dance floor ready in minutes, and can be used over and over throughout the party season.

Beauty preparation pack

Beauty preparation pack

Nars Crime of Passion face kit

Nars Crime of Passion face kit

Now, at first glance, this Nars Crime of Passion face kit (£35) might not seem like a very bargainous purchase. However, inside this highly portable little palette are 3 eye shadows, a blusher, a bronzer and a lip gloss. The eye shadows are perfect for a day time look when you're in the office, and can then be made into a quick smokey eye for the evening. The bronzer and blusher are space savers and in shades that should work for almost anyone, coupled with the perfect soft pink lip gloss.

Add some of these Eyelure individual lashes (£5.99) to the corners of your eyes to really help make your eyes 'pop'. They're also much easier to apply than full strip lashes, making them much quicker to get into position.

For the hair, I'd keep a mini can of Batitse (£1.49), and a small back-combing brush on hand to help add some volume and work up a more tousled look for the evening. You can get back-combing brushes for just over £1 in Primark, so it's really not a pricey investment. Some subtle back-combing at the roots can really help to add volume, without making you look like you're off to a 60s party.

For a second hair look, I bought this £1 hair donut (again from Primark!), which is exactly the same as the £5 ones they sell in Boots. If you don't fancy having your hair down. pop it up quickly into a neat bun, and secure in place with a hair elastic.

On to the nails! I've picked this double-ended Model's Own nail art polish (£4, ASOS). I'd paint my nails pink the night before, and then before heading out after work, add a fine layer of the glitter shade over the top to add a more glam feel. A pot of nail remover pads is also good to keep on hand for any emergency touch-ups needed, and these Quickies are a snip at £2.

One final thing would be to give your face a quick spritz of this Avene Eau Thermale water (£3.15), which really helps to refresh the skin, and also wake you up - something you might be in need of after a long day at work.

And that's me ready! I'll pop the kit back in my desk drawers, ready for the next event.

I had £4 left over in my budget, so decided to treat my feet to something soft and snuggly to put on, once all the partying is over...

Festive fluffy socks

My top tips for making the most of your money:

- Look out for in store offers - Boots currently have 3 for 2 across all their makeup, plus you get Advantage points as well
- Check to see if it's cheaper online. Sites like VoucherCodes.co.uk often have great discount codes that can make shopping online much cheaper than buying it in store
- If there's a site you use often, sign up for their emails - you'll often get sent discount codes
- Check places like Primark - not just a good place for bargain clothes any more, they have a wide range of beauty bits, from cotton wool to hair oil, and most are just as good as the ones you'll find in Boots and Superdrug
- If you use ASOS a lot, consider joining their Premier membership. For under £10 a year, you get unlimited free next day deliveries and also get emailed sale previews, discount codes and a monthly magazine in the post
- And at the end of the day, know your budget and stick to it. Christmas is supposed to be fun, not about spending money that you don't have. If you're short on cash, why not arrange a swap party with your friends and trade some of your goodies for theirs. You'll get to try out new things without spending a penny!

What are your money saving tips for the festive season?

*Post written in collaboration with VoucherCodes.co.uk



My de-stressing saviours

Stress. It’s one of those things that everyone feels to varying degrees and can affect us all in different ways. Whether you get cross, go quiet, have a bit of a cry or eat biscuits (that one’s definitely me!), managing stress can be really important. I find it very hard to switch off when I get stressed out, which often leads to a bad night’s sleep, making it even worse.

Over the years, I’ve learnt a few tips that work for me and have been trialling a few products that help me to relax whether I’m at my desk at work, or at home after a long day.

1. Go for a walk – sometimes getting out in the fresh air can help clear your mind and also give you time to burn off a bit of nervous energy!

2. Take some deep breaths – Breath in and out, slowly and deeply for a few minutes. I'm not one for meditation, but there are some excellent meditative breathing exercises that you can do (even at your desk) to help reduce tension and calm the mind. Also, adding a few drops of Frankincense oil to a tissue and inhaling gently can really help - Aromatherapy Associates founder Geraldine swears by this little bottle of essential oil* (£25)!

3. Make a list – sometimes writing down what’s stressing you out can really help. Making to do lists helps me to feel more organised, and less overwhelmed as I can see what tasks I need to complete and can then prioritise them. It also gives me a good excuse to buy a nice notepad as a treat...

4. Have a bath – as someone that’s really a shower person, a bath is a luxury treat for me. I tend to save for for when I feel really stressed and need some ‘me’ time or if I’m feeling a bit under the weather. This De-Stress Mind bath and shower oil* from Aromatherapy Associates (£39) is amazing as it really helps promote a calmer mind and relaxation – perfect for before bed.

5. Talk to someone – if you’re stressed about work, speak to your boss and explain why – they might be able to help. Talk to your partner, or a friend who will make you laugh – ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ is a massive cliché, but it really helps to talk sometimes, even if it’s just to have a chat and get stuff off your chest. I’ve had numerous What’s App rants at close friends, and always feel better for them, even if I’m not able to speak with them in person.

I also like to use Elemis' Quiet Mind Temple Balm* (£16). This is small enough to keep in my handbag, and I can apply to my temples at my desk without looking too obvious. The scent is really calming and will help you de-stress without putting you to sleep!

What do you use to help you de-stress?



Ministry of Waxing opens new salon

London's top waxperts ( and my favourite waxers), the Ministry of Waxing have opened their third London store on Upper Street in Islington.

Offering a full range of waxes for both men and women, I popped along to check out the new salon and to have a wax with the lovely Amy.

Like their other stores, it has a very unique feel to the interior decor, and you won't find flowers and frills here, making it really friendly to both sexes. This store is also a 'smart store', using shoppable window decals, blogger lounge, live social streaming, and iPads that showcase the fashion trends from all the Ministry of Waxing stores worldwide.

I'd previously been to the store in Covent Garden, which looks completely different, however, all of the MOW salons use the same waxing method that they have to go to wax boot camp for 4 weeks to learn! There's no double dipping, you get your own personal hygiene pack and I had a very cute little stress hippo to squeeze if I needed to take my mind of the waxing process.  I can safely say that this wax was just as amazing as the one I had at their Covent Garden branch, and will definitely go back.

I can highly recommend a trip to the MOW, whichever store you go to. I'll be taking my friend here in a few months time as a pre-wedding treat for her and I'm finding myself becoming a regular customer. If you're ever in London, book yourself a trip here - you won't regret it!

*My visit was complimentary, however I will be back!


Urban Decay Vice 2 palette review

Urban Decay, in my opinion, make pretty much the best eye shadows around. My Naked 2 palette is one of the few things I've ever hit pan on (and for multiple shadows!), so when I saw that they were launching the limited edition Vice 2 palette, I headed straight to House of Fraser to check it out.

Urban Decay Vice 2 palette

Urban Decay Vice 2 palette eye shadows

Urban Decay Vice 2 palette top row swatches
Top row - Smokeout, Lovesick, Shellshock, Coax, X-rated
Urban Decay Vice 2 palette second row swatches
Second row - Prank, Madness, Strike, Stash, Poison
Urban Decay Vice 2 palette third row swatches
Third row - Radar, Damaged, Voodoo, Betrayal, Derailed
Urban Decay Vice 2 palette fourth row swatches
Fourth row - Dope, Toxic, Habit, Ambush, Rewind
The Vice 2 palette is a large, rectangular palette, stuffed full of 20 shades in a kaleidoscope of colours covering everything from neutrals, right through to purples, blues and even a green. If you're a matte shadow fan, this palette isn't going to be for you - most of the shades are shimmery, although they achieve this without a ton of glitter. 

I was sucked into buying this palette by the Stash, Strike and Ambush swatches, which are all bronzy/brown tones, not too far away from my comfort zone, but very different from anything in my current collection. As someone who's not that brave with colour, I also really wanted to have a play with Voodoo and Betrayal, which are shot through with the most beautiful duochrome effect. 

All of the shadows are highly pigmented - my swatches are a single swipe, and there's not a disappointing swatch out of all of them. They wear extremely well, giving over 12 hours of wear before any fading starts to happen and  I haven't experienced any fall out so far with the shades I've worn. I think my favourite shades are Stash, Radar and Voodoo, although it's quite hard to pick as I love them all! 

As well as the shadows, there's a double ended brush, which is more than adequate, although I do prefer my Real Techniques and Crown Brush ones instead. The size of the palette means it's not very portable - it's definitely not something you'd put in your handbag for a touch up, but it does feel very sturdy, and has a massive mirror inside for easy application. 

At £42, this palette works out to just over £2 per eye shadow, which when you think about it like that, makes it seem pretty good value. I think it would make an amazing gift at Christmas, and would make the perfect introduction to Urban Decay. 

You can find Vice 2 in House of Fraser, Debenhams and other Urban Decay stockists, but do be quick  - it's limited edition so make sure you grab one while you can! 



It's for the tree not me - Christmas beauty gifts in disguise

There are so many beautiful Christmas gifts on offer this year, and I will be doing a series of gift guide posts covering things for all budgets. My first takes a look at some beauty gifts masquerading as Christmas tree decorations or crackers, giving you the perfect excuse to say 'but it's for the tree, not me!' to anyone who questions you.


Nails Inc Crackers - £29.50
Inside these Nails Inc crackers are 6 full size polishes, in a mixture of glossy, glitter and foil shades, each with a fashion quote. As each polish usually retails at £11 each, these are amazing value and would definitely make fantastic table settings for Christmas dinner. Find them in House of Fraser and from Nails Inc.

Mavala Baubles* - £5 each
These Christmas baubles contain a full size Mavala polish in either Rouge Rubis or Pure Diamond and will look super cute hanging from the Christmas tree. My favourite shade is Pure Diamond which is a sparkly silver glitter. Hang it from the tree and open it Christmas eve for some super bling nails. Available in John Lewis.

Liz Earle Christmas Star* - £5.50 - £14
This year Liz Earle has released three different types of Christmas Stars. Each is a tin that you can hang from the Christmas tree and either comes with a mini Cleanse and Polish and muslin cloth (£5.50), a Strengthening Nail polish in Ebb Tide or Moment in Time (£7.50) or a Signature Lip Colour in Tea Rose or Hibiscus (£14). I think these would make lovely stocking fillers, and having tried the nail polishes before, I can definitely recommend getting one of those to hang from the tree! Find them at Liz Earle and in selected John Lewis stores.

Mavala tree angels £4.50 each
Another cute choice from Mavala, they have 6 of their Diamond finish polishes, each individually wrapped in a little plastic angel which can be hung from the tree. Available in Violet Diamond, Red Diamond, Pure Diamond, Pink Diamond, Black Diamond and Gold Diamond, each is a beautiful glitter polish. Find them in Mavala stockists.

Clarins crackers - £39
If nail polish isn't your thing, try these crackers from Clarins. Each contains a mini treat such as their infamous Beauty Flash Balm, Hand and Nail treatment and Mini Wonder Perfect mascara. Find them at Selfridges.

Aromatherapy Associates Little Bell* - £10
This sweet little bell is the perfect introduction to Aromatherapy Associates. Inside it contains a mini 7.5ml (enough for three uses)  Revive Morning bath and shower oil, which contains grapefruit, rosemary and juniper for a jump start to the day. This is one of my favourite scents from Aromatherapy Associates and is perfect for those winter mornings when you're struggling to get out of bed! Find it in Space NK, Selfridges and online.

Which one is your favourite?

*PR sample


Autumn beauty swap parcel

A little while ago, I arranged another beauty swap and lots of lovely bloggers signed up to send a swap parcel to another blogger. As we had an odd number of bloggers that signed up, I actually had two swap partners, and the first of my packages arrived late last week.

My swap partner was Shelley, who writes The Shelley Diaries (go check out her blog!). After having an email chat about our likes and dislikes, she put together an amazing parcel for me with a few items I'd been lusting over for ages!

Inside my swap parcel was the Barry M Neutrals palette, which I had wanted to buy but had resisted because of my spending ban, Sleek's Rose Gold blush, Barry M waterproof Lash Vegas mascara, Barry M Matte nail polish (another item from my lust list!), Turquoise Collection cream liner and a Revlon lipstick.

I'm really pleased with my parcel and have to say a big thank you to Shelley for picking perfectly for me. I'll make sure to link up to Shelley's post on the swap once it goes live.

I hope to arrange another set of swaps in the New Year, so keep your eyes peeled if you fancy signing up. If you took part in this season's swap, please feel free to share your parcel links in the comments below so we can all have a nosy.

What do you think of these goodies?


Touché by Flavien haircare

A few weeks ago, I was invited along to discover the Touche by Flavien hair care range, and meet the man behind it, celebrity hairdresser Flavien Abbas.

Touche by Flavien is a luxury hair care brand that uses a combination of natural ingredients, with an exotic jasmine fragrance. Key to the range is prickly pear oil, which runs through the product collection, This is a high priced oil that contains double the amount of fatty acids, fibre and protein than argan oil, and a high moisture content, all of which contribute to healthy hair.

Touche by Flavien haircare

Rather than creating hair care based on your hair type, Flavien has instead decided to focus on different scalp types as he believes that healthy hair comes from having a healthy scalp. The range has three types of shampoo: dry scalp, balanced scalp and oily scalp. Each helps to balance your scalp's needs, and won't overload oily scalps with moisture, or dry out dry scalps, but instead provides the right balance of oils for a healthy head of hair.

There are also three conditioners - Moisturising Repair, Volume Up and a leave in conditioner. Again, these work with your scalp type, but also add moisture or volume where needed.

My favorite product from the range is the Intensive Nourishing Treatment*. This is a deep conditioning treatment designed to be used once or twice a week, and leaves hair feeling super soft, glossy and healthy. To use it, you simply apply to damp hair, leave on for around 10-15 minutes and then rinse off. Even though I have quite fine hair and can sometimes find that deep conditioning masks can weigh my hair down, this still left it with plenty of volume, but still felt super nourished.

The range definitely falls into the 'luxury' bracket (and the fact it's stocked at Urban Retreat in Harrods also adds to that fact!) with shampoos retailing for £29 for 250ml, conditioners £33 and the treatment mask £68 for 300ml. If, like me, the thought of shelling out that much for a shampoo without knowing how your hair will respond is a bit scary, they also do 50ml travel size bottles, which range from £12-£17.

I asked Flavien what his top tip for healthy hair was, and he said to stop putting oils on wet hair before blow drying. This damages the hair as the oil heats up on the hair in the same way cooking oil would do in an oven, baking your hair! He advises to only use hair oils after styling, to help smooth the final look and add shine. I'll definitely be trying this out and seeing if it makes a difference to my hair!

You can find the range online from the Touche by Flavien website, in store at Harrods and Harvey Nichols Beauty Bazaar.

Do you like the sound of this range?

*PR samples


Red and White makeup look

I was recently tagged by the lovely Stephanie from Nerd About Town to put together a red and white makeup look. Initially I had a bit of a panic, as white isn’t exactly a colour I usually go for in makeup.

After a flicking through some magazines and beauty books for inspiration, I decided to go for a reverse version of Illamasqua’s Imperfection speckled effect liner, teamed with an orangey-red lipstick from Urban Decay.

Red and white makeup look

Red and white makeup look

Red and white makeup look - close up

Red and white makeup look

To create the look for my eyes, I used Illamasqua liquid liner in Scribe (white) to draw a thick, winged liner across my lids. Once dry, I used Illamasqua liquid liner in Abyss (black) to very carefully dot small black dots across the white liner, creating a polka dot effect. A couple of coats of YSL false lash effect mascara and that was the eyes done.

On my lips, I used Urban Decay’s Bang lipstick, which is really creamy, with a semi-matte finish and lasts for absolutely hours.

Although I won’t be reaching for the white liner on a daily basis, I think this looks quite effective all together.

You can see Stephanie’s red and white look over on her blog, and I’d love you to link me up to your posts/pictures if you decide to have a try yourselves.

What do you think of this look?

© Tales of a Pale Face | UK beauty blog | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig