The skincare tag

Skincare is one of my favourite things to talk about on my blog and you all seem to love a tag post so I've combine the two for my skincare tag!

Anyone is welcome to do the tag themselves, I'd just appreciate a little mention if you do :)

On with the tag...

Describe your skincare routine in 5 words
Cleanse, tone, eyes, serum, moisturise

What's your skin type?
I have slightly combination. dehydrated skin.

What's your favourite skincare product?
That's a tough one! I would have to say my current favourite is my Green People Sensitive cleanser. It does a great job at removing all my eye makeup and also works well as a facial cleanser too.

Top blemish zapper
I like to use either plain and simple tea tree oil or the Witch skincare blemish stick.

Face wipes yay or nay?
Nay! The only times I ever use face wipes is in an emergency camping situation. I'm not a fan; I think they just move the makeup around on your face and don't do a very good job of removing it.

Toner yay or nay?
A definite yay to toner! I think toners get a bad name as traditionally they were full of alcohol which dried out skin, but I love gentle, alcohol free toners which leave my skin feeling really fresh after cleansing. At the moment I'm loving Elemis Apricot toner and Sukin Hydrating Mist toner.

High end skincare or high end makeup?
If I could only choose one, I'd go for high end skincare. I think that good skincare means better skin, therefore requiring less makeup. Not all expensive skincare is worth the price though, so it would really depend on the items.

What's the most unusual skincare product you've tried?
Hmm...probably some Gold Collagen masks. They actually contain mineral gold, which is something I'd never thought of putting on my face before! I've also got a face mask at home that contains snail serum, but I haven't tried it yet!

You're in a French pharmacy and can only pick one item - what is it?
Hmm...tricky one as the list is seriously long! I would probably try to find something a little random that I can't get in the UK. It would be a lucky dip I think.

Tell us your top skincare tip
Never go to sleep with your makeup on. Not only does it end up all over your pillow, but will block pores. Sleep is your body's natural time to repair itself, so make the most of that time and take off your makeup (not with a face wipe!) and treat it to a nice moisturiser while it does it's thing.

A few people I tag to do this are:

Alice - Bright Town Girl
Jess - Spoilt Face
Andy - Pampered Prince
Joanna - Mademoiselle LaLa
Natasha - Shot of Beauty



REN BB cream review

When REN come up with new products, they immediately go to the top of my list to try. I'm a big fan of the brand, so when I heard that they were launching a BB cream, I was very excited, but also concerned it would fall into the usual 'one shade - too dark' category that BB creams usually do for me.

REN BB cream

REN very kindly sent me a small sample of it to try, and when I opened the tube, my heart sank at the orangey looking cream that squirted out. Still, in true beauty blogger fashion, I applied anyway, tapping gently into my skin as recommended by REN, rather than rubbing or brushing on.

REN BB cream swatch

Me wearing the REN BB cream

I'm not sure what sort of magic happened, but once I was finished, it matched! Somehow it went from a mid-range shade to something that was almost perfect for my skin tone. Granted, in the winter I have a feeling it will be a tiny bit too dark, but for the summer months, I shall be wearing this repeatedly!

The BB cream contains lots of anti-oxidants and and SPF 15. It leaves skin with a dewy finish, so if you prefer something matte, you'll need to powder over the top. It's also a very light coverage, so not something if you prefer a full coverage foundation.

I think this will be a great option for most people for the summer months when you want something a bit lighter on your skin, but still enough to help even out skintone.

REN's BB cream retails at £26 for 50ml and can be found on REN counters or online on their website.



The SPF Series - La Roche Posay Anthelios XL Dry Touch Gel Cream SPF 50

Welcome to the start of my new SPF series! SPFs are a key part of my summer regime - even a mildly sunny day in England can give me sunburn, so after many years of using thick, sticky SPFs, I'm going to be sharing a series of posts with my best SPF finds.

First on the list in a new dry touch gel cream* from La Roche Posay. Part of their Anthelios XL range, this SPF 50 is specifically designed for those who need a high protection level on their face, but have combination to oily skin.

La Roche Posay Anthelios XL dry touch gel cream spf 50

The Anthelios XL range is designed for sensitive and sun intolerant skin and contains no parabens, fragrance and is non-comedogenic (pore-blocking).

The product applies smoothly and has a medium consistency. It melts super quickly into skin and once absorbed, leaves virtually no trace that it was there.

I've applied mine before makeup, and have still managed to buff mineral foundation over the top without experiencing any issues.

I've been really impressed with this SPF and will be continuing to wear it throughout the summer.

It retails at £16.50 for 50ml, so is definitely on the pricey side, but finding a non greasy SPF 50 is something of a miracle, so it's definitely going to be a repeat purchase for me.

You can find the Anthelios XL Dry Touch Gel Cream in Boots (so Advantage Card points too!).

Which SPF do you usually use?

*This post contains a PR sample. My views are honest as always.


Shavata brow bar and brow tamer review

Last week I hopped off to the Shavata Brow bar in House of Fraser Oxford Street for a brow shaping appointment.

Shavata have several brow bars in department stores across the UK and offer a range of treatments from threading to tinting.

My eyebrows are completely blonde and I find plucking them quite tricky as I need the right light in order to even see some of the hairs, so threading makes my life a whole lot easier!

The Oxford Street brow bar is situated on the ground floor of House of Fraser, next to the Nails Inc nail bar.  I was shown to my seat super quickly, and after a very brief chat with the therapist, she lent me back in the chair, and started the threading process.

Eyebrows post threading
Brows post treatment (back at home)
Threading uses cotton thread to pull out hairs, and is often used for more sensitive areas such as brows, upper lip etc. I found it to be reasonably painless, except for a few hairs that were on the underneath of my brow which stung a bit. My eyes are quite sensitive, and they did run quite a bit, but I was quickly given a tissue to help mop up the mascara (note to self, do not get eyebrows threaded without waterproof mascara).

The appointment was over and done with in less than 10 minutes. Despite being pleased with the shape, I felt a little bit rushed through the process, which given that there was only one other person having their brows done and 2 free therapists, I'd have maybe liked things to be a little more relaxed. It's certainly not something I'd recommend as part of a relaxing day, but if you're looking to get in and get out, then it will be perfect for you.

Shavata brow tamer
The brow tamer
I've been maintaining my brows since using the Shavata brow tamer*, which contains a clear gel to help keep brows tidy and in place. You can use it on it's own, which I do most days, or over brow powder/pencil and works well in both ways. It helps to keep my brows looking nice and neat and I think it works better for me than some of the setting gels I've tried before.

An eyebrow shape at Shavata costs £17 and the brow pen is £14.50.

For full details on all of their services and other products, visit their website.

*The brow shape and brow tamer were provided for me for review, my views are honest as always.



Illamsqua sale haul

When Illamasqua announced a 50% off sale recently, I knew that yet again, my spending ban was going to take a beating.

I'd been lusting over the Paranormal UV polishes since the previews had been shown, so this to me was a sign. It was purchase time.

Illamasqua haul

I decided to go for Ouija (the hot pink shade) and Seance (purple). I also ordered one of the Imperfection speckled polishes in the pastel purple shade called Speckle.

I'd wanted to try an Illamasqua lipstick for ages, and following on with my love of hot pink lips, chose Euyrdice - a matte, hot pink shade.

My final purchase was one of the Gleam highlighters, in the shade Aurora. I'd heard such good things about these, and this looked like a perfect shade for my skin tone.

I have to be honest, part of me wishes now that I'd ordered some of the cream and powder blushes, but I know that I already have plenty in my collection to keep me going!

Did you order from the Illamasqua sale? I'd love to hear what you bought.


NOTD The Coachella Mani

Coachella may seem a thing of the distant Californian past, but festival season is just starting to gear up in the UK.

I was tasked with creating a fun nail look that would be perfect for the upcoming festivals, and this is what I put together.

coachella manicure polishes

coachella manicure finished look

The pastel blue polish is really summery, and a hint of glitter on the ring fingers helps to create a nice accent. I think festivals are a good time for experimenting with your look, so added a heart shaped nail tattoo to each of my index fingers.

The nail tattoos are a little fiddly to apply, but once in place and sealed in with a top coat, they really don't budge!

The nail tattoos can be found in Boots and retail at £5.99 per pack, and the polishes are £3 each and available from skinartuk.com.

So that's my take on a festival nail look - what do you think?



Pixi Glow Tonic review

Pixi Glow Tonic is part of a small range of skincare that make up brand Pixi offer. Raved about by Caroline Hirons, I bought a bottle on a recent trip to their Carnaby Street store. 

Glow Tonic offers a gentle exfoliation for skin and can be used every day after cleansing. It's essentially an exfoliating toner, and contains glycolic acid that helps to break down and remove dead skin cells. It's alcohol free, so non-drying and also contains aloe vera and witch hazel.

I squirt a few pumps onto a cotton pad and swipe over skin, usually at night, about 3 to 4 times per week. It leaves my skin looking refreshed and I've found I don't need to use face scrubs to exfoliate anywhere near as often as this does most of the work for me.

Originally I did start off using this every day, but it was a little too much for my slightly sensitive skin. My recommendation would be to try it once every other day and see how you get on.

Glow Tonic retails at £16 for 250ml which might seem expensive, but I think a bottle of this will last at least 6 months used a few times per week, so works out to be good value over time.

The only downside is that you can't order it online. The only place that sells it is the Carnaby Street Pixi store  in London. I believe that they will take telephone orders for it though, and will ship it out to you.

Have you tried anything from Pixi before?



Colour Wow One Minute Transformation Styling Cream

Colour Wow is a new line of hair products, created by Gail Fedirici, one of the people behind John Frieda hair care company.

It's designed to help treat problems associated with coloured hair and has a wide range of products from shampoos and conditioners, to styling products.

I've been testing out the One Minute Transformation styling cream* for a few weeks now and have been really impressed. My hair is quite fine, so usually styling products weigh it down and make it look greasy very easily, but this has been fantastic.

I apply a small, pea-sized amount to my hands and then rub into the ends of blow dried hair. I comb it through afterwards to help ensure it's evenly distributed and that's it! It makes my hair look much less fluffy, gives it a little shine and also helps hold my style in place.

Despite the range being for coloured hair, I think this product is suitable for anyone. My hair was last dyed about 2 years ago, so has pretty much reverted to it's natural colour, but I still find myself reaching for this every time I wash my hair.

A 120ml tube of this retails at £16.50, which is a little pricey, but given that you only need a tiny amount each time, I think it's very good value for money as the tube will last for ages.

At the moment you can purchase Colour Wow products from their website, but it will soon be available to buy from Space NK, Victoria Health and QVC.

Will you be trying this range?

*This post contains a PR sample, my views are honest as always.



May Blog Sale

It's blog sale time! If you spot anything you'd like, please just leave a comment on the bottom of the post with your email address and I'll send you over an invoice. I'm open to offers - feel free to email me at katherineclark1984@gmail.com.

1. UK only I''m afraid, purely due to postage costs.

2. Postage is £3 for up to 5 items, any more than this, please ask. All items will be sent 2nd class. If you would like recorded delivery, this will be £1 extra - please state when ordering.

3. PayPal payments only please. Leave a comment with your desired items and I will email you a total amount and the payment address.

4. Please pay within 24 hours of receiving your invoice email. If you don't pay within this time, items will be offered to the next interested person.

5. All items are sold as seen and condition is described as accurately as possible.

On to the sale....!

Urban Decay Mariposa palette - swatched - SOLD

Maybelline Color Tattoo 'Light in purple' - brand new, still sealed - £3
Wet n Wild Don't steal my thunder trio - brand new, still sealed - £4
Bobbi Brown single shadow 'Sage' - used 3 to 4 times  - £6

Lancome le crayon kohl black - travel size - new - SOLD
Laura Mercier eye base 'wheat' - travel size (2.8g) - new - £5
Clinique high impact mascara black - travel size - new - SOLD

Marks and spencer limited collection 'gold shimmer' - new - £2
Models Own Lili's Pink - new, still sealed - £3
Models Own Mixed Up - used x1 - £2
Seche Memoire - new - £3
Nails Inc Lowndes Square - used x2 - £3
L'Oreal Opulent Pink - used x1 - £1.50

NYX cream blush 'Tickled' - new, still sealed - £4
Balmi blackcurrant - new - SOLD
Nars full size velvet gloss lip pencil 'Frivolous' - swatched - £12

Steamcream - used x3 - £4
Margarent Dobbs intensive hydrating foot lotion 50ml - new - £3
Decleor moisturising body milk 50ml - new - £4
REN Rose Otto body cream 100ml - new - £6

Seche Vite full size quick dry top coat - SOLD
Essie Penny Talk - used x1 - SOLD

Ciate mini fade to griege - new - SOLD
Ciate mini Cookies and Cream - new  - SOLD
MUA nail constellation Scorpio - new - SOLD
Revlon nail art french mix 'Chance Encounter' - new - SOLD

Ciate caviar manicure mini Candyshop - new - SOLD
Ciate caviar manicure mini Prom Queen - new - SOLD
Ciate caviar manicure mini Sundance - new - £2

Rimmel perfect match shade 010 Light Porcelain - new - £3
Clinique Butter Shine Lipstick 'Pink a Boo' travel size - new £4
ELF glitter gloss 'Jewelled Jam' - new - £2

Creme de la Mer moisturising gel cream mini (3.5ml) - new - SOLD
Clinique mild liquid facial soap 50ml - £2
Skin Doctors bio serum skin repair oil - new - SOLD
Eve Lom Rescue Mask travel size 15ml - new - SOLD

Molton Brown Naran Ji hand cream 75ml - new - £4
Simple facial aftersun - new - £2
Simple sun sensitive lotion - new -SOLD

Percy and Reed moisturising shampoo - new - SOLD
Percy and Reed moisturising conditioner - new - SOLD
Hask Argan Oil - new - SOLD


Products that don't work for me #1

I love to give positive reviews, but sometimes you come across products that no matter how hard you try, they just don't work for you. I'm talking about two of those today. 

Benefit They're Real mascara

This mascara is possibly one of the toughest things I've EVER tried to remove from my lashes. Even with eye make up remover, it takes a lot of scrubbing and I still end up with residue leftover. That aside, I also find it wet, and gives me really clumpy, spidery lashes, no matter how I try to apply it. I know most people love this mascara, so maybe I'm doing something wrong, but I definitely won't be repurchasing this one!

Dr Jart Water-Max Sleeping Mask*

This mask is designed as an overnight moisture treatment for dry skin. I love the light gel texture of it, however it seems to break my skin out almost immediately. It's such a shame, as the few times I've used it I've woken up with lovely soft skin, but also a few spots. As someone not prone to blemishes, if a product breaks me out like this, it doesn't get used again. 

Have you tried either of these? What are your thoughts? 

*This post contains PR samples. My views are honest as always. 



EcoTools kabuki brush review

The EcoTools Bamboo Kabuki Brush* is part of the wide range of brushes made by cruelty free brush brand EcoTools. I've tried a few of their eye brushes before and been really impressed, so I was looking forward to seeing how the Kabuki Brush compared.

The brush has two-tone synthetic taklon fibres which feel super soft against skin and pick up powder products really nicely. 

I've been using mine mostly for translucent powders and to give a soft wash of blusher, however it will also be good for bronzer as the brush is quite large and will give good coverage. 

The soft texture of the fibres means that you get a really light coverage with your powder or blush, but I've found you can build this up nicely if you prefer something a bit stronger.

I've washed this a few times now and not noticed any shedding, with the fibres remaining in shape and retaining their softness. 

The Kabuki Brush retails at £9.99 which I think is a great price for the quality of this brush and also makes a great choice if you prefer cruelty free brands. You can find them in store and online at Boots

Have you tried any EcoTools brushes before? 

*This post contains PR samples. My views are honest as always. 



Summer beauty swap sign-up

Getting a surprise through the post is always good, so after taking part in a few swaps last year, I thought it was time to get organising and set up a summer beauty blogger swap!

Sign up is now closed

How it works:

1. Leave a comment a on the bottom of the post to say you'd like to take part - leave your email address, blog address and also whether you'd prefer UK only or are happy to do an international swap. Sign up closes on 2nd June.

2. I will pair you up with another blogger, and send you their contact details so you can get chatting.

3. Agree a budget between you for your swap - I think £15/20 is a nice amount, but it's up to you if you prefer more or less.

4. Go shopping! Try to find out a bit about your swap partner's likes and dislikes and buy them some goodies to your agreed budget.

5. Post your swap parcel to your swap partner - try to arrange it so that you receive them at roughly the same time!

6. Enjoy your new goodies! It would be great if you did a blog post on what you sent/received and shared it with us here.

So how does that sound? Fancy taking part? Just leave me your details in a comment below.

The boring stuff: 

I've taken part in several blog swaps before and never experienced any issues. Sometimes this does happen, so although I'm helping to organise your swaps, I'm not liable for missing/unsent parcels.

Please send recorded delivery if you can, as this helps ensure that if any parcels do go missing, you have some extra way to claim from Royal Mail. Also, if doing an international swap, check what you can/can't send and any customs issues. Nail Polish can no longer be sent out of the UK by Royal Mail, so please be careful of what you send.

If you're under 16, please get your parent's permission to take part in the swap before signing up.



Share the Love Blog Hop #11

I'm really excited to be a co-host for this weeks 'Share the Love' blog hop. Blog hops are such a fun way to find new blogs and I've found lots of my favourites through previous ones. I hope you enjoy taking part, and a big thank you to Jane for letting me co-host.

Welcome to Northern Beauty Blogs 11th Blog Hop.
Blog Hops are a Great & Fun way to be discovered, Meet new People, gain new Followers, and to be inspired by other Bloggers. 
This hop will be Open from Sunday 19th May  2013 for 1 week.

Your Host.
Jane from Northern Beauty Blogs

The Lovely Co-Hosts 
Rachel from Beauty Queen UK
Kat from Tales of a Pale Face
Hannah from Hannah Marie Beauty

To Join the Hop.

**There are a few very simple rules to make the Hop really work for everyone...**

1. Please FOLLOW The Host & Co-Hosts on GFC & BlogLovin
leave a comment to say 'Hello'.

2.Hop around 'Share the Love' and be inspired - Go say Hi to at least 2 New Bloggers, if you like what you see Follow them too and don't 
               forget to let them know that you found them through our blog hop.

<a href="http://northernbeautyblogs.blogspot.co.uk/p/bloghop.html" target="_self"><img src="https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-XUOHyCz9DlI/UI7rAlGiMyI/AAAAAAAAAYc/BgCDKVK0GJE/h120/Bloghop.png" alt="Sharethelove" width="125" height="125" /></a>

3.If you would like to help Promote this Blog Hop, Please Copy & Paste the Blog Hop code  for the grab Button (Cupcake) above & Display it on your Blog in the side bar.

If you would be interested in Co-Hosting my Blog Hop with me, please email me on 



Spending ban fail and a Liberty haul

On Thursday I made a quick trip to Liberty London, as I'd received my monthly beauty newsletter and found  out about a REN face mask freebie they were giving away (full details on how you can get these freebies too in this post).

Liberty are currently running a series of beauty events and workshops and so the beauty halls were packed. Free champagne was flowing and so it seemed rude to  say no. I probably should've turned it down as a glass later (on an empty stomach), not only had I got my free Glycolactic Face mask, but I'd also found out about a free gift with purchase if you spent over £100 (you can see where this story is going).

Before I knew it, I was at the Hourglass stand, repurchasing my favourite liquid liner, and also decided to try one of their liquid lipsticks and film noir mascara. A repurchase of REN's F10 face mask and a bottle of Weleda Birch Cellulite Oil later, I was ready for my free goodie bag and a lighter feeling wallet.

Ren face masks and Hourglass lipstick
Haul part 1
Hourglass mascara and eyeliner and Weleda birch cellulite oil
Haul part 2
I have to say, the contents of the goodie bag are amazing. not only is there a full size Nars Lip pencil, full size Seche Vite topcoat and a Trish McEvoy liquid blush, there's a whole host of trial sizes, samples and lots more - you can see everything in the photo below. I've since found out that this gift was on offer for one day only, so I was very lucky to get one.

Liberty beauty gift with purchase
Part 1 of the free goodies
Liberty beauty gift with purchase
Part 2 of the free goodies!

I'm aware i've been incredibly naughty, and have restarted my ban immediately. I'm going to extend it to pay penance for my naughtiness  so with the exception of a trip to the Organic and Natural Beauty show on 2nd June, my ban will now be lasting for a month from today.

All that can be said now is: don't accept free booze in Liberty. It doesn't end well...



Eye cream picks for all budgets

Our eyes are often referred to as the 'windows to the soul'. I'm a little bit obsessed with keeping my 'windows' looking fresh and youthful, and love a good eye cream.

As the skin around your eyes is much thinner than anywhere else on your body, normal moisturisers are too heavy for this area. Here are my top eye cream picks, whatever your budget.


Aldi Lacura wrinkle stop (not pictured) – under £5
This is a really light, creamy eye cream that's absorbed easily. The packaging makes claims regarding wrinkle reduction, and although I saw small results, this is probably more suited to those who just need a good hydrator. Full review here.

Mid price

Green People scent free eye cream - £9.50
This is perfect for anyone with sensitive skins. It's creamy, soft and a little goes a long way. It's super hydrating and I like to use it at night time to give it time to sink in.

Dr Renaud Apple anti-tiredness eye care - £25
A lighter, gel texture eye cream, this really hydrates and helps eyes look a little bit more awake! I love to use it in the mornings for a refreshed eye feeling. Perfect for the summer, or if you prefer something less heavy in texture.

High end

Creme de la Mer the eye concentrate - £125
The most expensive eye cream I've ever tried, this really feels like luxury in a jar. It hydrates, and helps deal with dark circles, as well as offering anti-ageing properties. I've only tried a small sample of it, but loved it, using it at night to make the most of it's restorative properties. It's somewhere between a gel and a cream in texture. Full review here.

What's your favourite eye cream?


How to: Leopard print nail art

My nail art skills are what you might refer to as 'limited'. I've had a few attempts recently that I've been pretty happy with, but wanted to branch out and try something more adventurous.

Cue hot pink leopard print nails. These were actually easier than I imagined, as the splodgy nature of the design.

To create these, I used:

- Bali Mavala polish
- Model's Own nail art pens in black and pastel blue
- Seche Vite quick dry topcoat

Start by painting your nails with your chosen base colour. I used two coats of Mavala's hot pink shade Bali.

Once thoroughly dry, take the pastel blue nail art pen, and using the brush part, carefully dot small splodges of polish in random sections of your nails. Try not to do them too close together as you'll need the space to make outlines in a minute.

Once your blue splodges are dry, take the black nail art pen and using the fine pen nib applicator, draw roughly around your blue splodges. There's no need to be too neat - balance them by drawing around half of some, three quarters of another etc, so they don't all look the same.

Wait until everything is totally dry, then apply a topcoat. Ta-dah!

Will you be trying this look at home?


Big Green Tree Lime Mandarin and Basil shea salt scrub review

Big Green Tree are a British company that make a range of natural body and skincare products.

Their Lime Mandarin and Basil shea salt scrub* is possibly one of the nicest smelling body products I've ever used (no exaggeration). I'm a big fan of the Jo Malone fragrance with the similar name, and this citrusy pot of goodness smells almost identical.

Lime Mandarin and Basil shea salt scrub

Lime Mandarin and Basil shea salt scrub open pot

I've been using a small amount whilst in the shower a few times a week. The salt grains aren't too large, but still exfoliate well, and the shea butter means that skin is left feeling soft and moisturised, rather than the dry feeling I've had with some other body scrubs. It can make the shower a little slippy when you've rinsed it off though, so do be careful! You don't want to end up in A+E; although if you do, you will at least smell good!

This scrub contains no parabens, and is suitable for both vegans and vegetarians. The pot is pretty sturdy, and the labels are both oil and waterproof, so no worries about bits of paper in the shower!

A 350g pot of this scrub retails at £9.99, which I think is really great value. I will definitely be repurchasing this once my pot runs out! If you aren't a fan of citrusy scents, the scrub also comes in spiced Plum, Fig, Coconut and  Red Poppy and Ginger scents. You can buy all of these over at the Big Green Tree website

*This post contains PR samples. My views are honest as always.



The 5 item face

If you could only pick 5 items from your makeup bag to go out in, which would you choose?

I've been deliberating mine for a while, but I've finally decided on:

5 item face makeup products

Me wearing the makeup

Urban Decay Naked 2 palette - always my go to shadow palette, I used 2 shades to help define my eyes as I didn't choose eyeliner as one of my 5 items.

REN BB cream* - Perfect for light coverage, this has evened out my skin nicely, without making me look too 'done'. This is a one shade product, but somehow miraculously blends perfectly with my pale skin despite looking a scary, slightly orange colour when it comes out of the tube!

Topshop Blusher in Prime Time - This is my favourite blusher ever. I love how scary it looks in the pot but yet when blended out it gives  a lovely natural flush (just don't get carried away or you'll look like a doll!).

GOSH Growth Serum Mascara* - I'm a total convert to this mascara. It's gotten better as it's dried out a little, and gives good volume and separation with two coats.

Collection illuminating concealer - I used this under my eyes and a little on my nose to help conceal dark shadows and redness. Despite how the packaging looks, i've only been using this for a couple of weeks and love it.

What would you pick if you could only choose 5 items to do your makeup with?

*This post contains PR samples - my views are honest as always.



Birchbox UK May 2013 sneak peak

Let me tell you now, my May Birchbox* is a goodun'! Look away now if you don't want any spoilers.

This month's theme is all around being red carpet ready and contains 4 good size beauty samples, one sachet and a 'lifestyle extra'.

Birchbox UK box

Birchbox UK May 2013 contents

I received:

OPI mini in a classic red shade - full size retails for £11.50

Elemental Herbology Cell Plumping Facial Moisturiser 30ml (full size is 50ml and costs £42) - I'm a big fan of this brand and this is an excellent sized mini to find in my Birchbox.

Make Believe highlighter - Another good size product from a well know brand, it was a relief to me to see that this was a highlighter, rather than a bronzer as Make Believe are well known for their tanning products! (Full size starts at £7.50)

B/Attitude Body Souffle - I've never heard of this brand before but apparently they have a spa in Paris. It smells really good, feels quite light and is definitely something I'll use. (Full size retails for £24.00)

Doctor Duve eye cream - this is the only sachet in this month's box, and is a seriously pricey eye cream. It'll be nice to try it out, but the £115 price tag on the full size will no doubt mean I won't be buying it, no matter how nice it is!

Kusmi Tea Detox Tea - I don't really drink tea, so this isn't much use to me, but apparently it will help boost energy levels and lower stress levels, so I might have to give it a go!

I'm really pleased with this box. I know there is some variation with Birchboxes, and I would be intrigued to find out what you receive if you subscribe. I would happily pay the £10 (+£2.95 postage) cost for this box, but previous months' boxes I've seen haven't always been as good.

What are your thoughts?

This post contains a PR sample. My thoughts are honest as always.



Guest Post: Beauty is a state of mind.

Today's guest post comes from Bethan, from The Audacity of Food. As part of my healthy eating series, she's kindly offered to share her story about weight loss and feeling beautiful. Over to you Bethan...

Doves “campaign for real beauty” has been part of their marketing strategy since 2004 and whilst some find it gimmicky, it has attempted to promote an awareness of both inner and outer beauty. You may have seen the recent “Dove Real Beauty Sketches” video, which clearly displays how women negatively imagine and talk about their own appearance.

Bethan before and after losing 5 stone

I have struggled with inner and outer beauty for most of my whole life, like most women of my generation I have grown up in a culture obsessed with youth, beauty and overt sexuality. However, over the past year and a half I have had a ‘transformation’ term of my appearance. Since October 2011 I have lost 5 stone, which represents about a third of my body weight.

Whilst this has had obvious implications in the way I look, I found the biggest change was in how I felt about myself and the shift my attitude towards my body. Food went from being something problematic, a comfort in times of stress, to being a source of nutrition.

I attribute most of my weight loss to my discovery of good food, meaning the kind of food that nourishes both body and mind, and a whole lot of running. Losing the weight didn’t make me happy, or even better looking. The self-confidence I got from being able to successfully look after my own body altered how attractive I felt.

I strongly believe that this confidence is the key to both inner and outer beauty, and the nice thing is that it’s something everyone can achieve, regardless of how much you weigh.

I offer no quick fixes or crash schemes; you should be on no other schedule than your own. If you are trying to lose weight or simply become healthier, it takes time. Stick with it, I promise it is worth it.



Bodhi Pep Noir body wash and body lotion

Bodhi make luxury skincare and bathing products, from natural ingredients and are my new love, ever since trying their Mint The body wash!

Skin Nutrition kindly sent me two of Bodhi's Pep Noir products to try out, and I couldn't wait to try them!

The Pep Noir body wash* and body lotion* contain a spicy smelling combination of black pepper, white thyme and bergamot. Designed to energise you, they really live up to expectations!

Like all Bodhi products, these are both formulated without synthetic ingredients, aren't tested on animals and contain ethically sourced ingredients.

My initial thoughts on these products was that the smell was a bit overwhelming. The first scent I caught was the black pepper and was a bit worried I would come out of the shower smelling like a condiment.

I needn't have worried, as once I actually used them in, and after my shower, the scent mellowed slightly  and I found that I really enjoyed the energising scent of the body wash.

All Bodhi products are designed to be unisex, however I would definitely say that Pep Noir swings slightly towards the more masculine side of the camp. If you aren't a fan of spicy, strong scents, these aren't for you. I prefer the body wash over the body lotion, purely as I find the scent lingers quite strongly with the body lotion and interferes with my perfume. The actual formula of the body lotion is fab - really light but gives super soft skin all day. I would just prefer it in another scent.

The body wash and body lotion retail for £23 each. Pricey? Yes, but these bottles are full of good ingredients, which to me helps to justify the price. I like these as a treat, and one that I definitely won't be sharing with my other half who slaps on shower gel like it's going out of fashion.

Have you tried anything from Bodhi before?

*This post contains PR samples - my views are honest as always.

Skin Nutrition's sister site Nutrition Centre is currently celebrating it's 40th Birthday and is celebrating with lots of special offers over the next month. All the details are on their website.


Let's talk body image

For as long as I can remember I've been unhappy with my body. I've been fat, I've been thin and I've been somewhere in between.

Despite all these changes what has stayed consistent is a sense of self loathing about how my body looks. Even at my thinnest, when my parents asked me if I was making myself sick after eating (I wasn't), I was still unhappy with how I looked.

I don't think these types of issues are just limited to me. I see the same problems in a lot of my friends. Some focus on one part of their body, others say 'I'll do xx when I've lost xx lbs'. The fact that how they feel about their bodies stops them enjoying their lives to the full, makes me sad.

I wish that we would see ourselves how other people do. If we did I'm sure the picture would be much different.

I was in a shop with two friends the other day and wanted to try something on. My friend picked something out for me and asked what size I wanted. When I said medium, they replied 'surely that will be too big'. It wasn't. In fact, the medium was a bit snug but it just goes to show you how other people perceive your figure.

I'm tired of feeling self conscious of my body. It might not be perfect and I'm working to make small changes physically, but unless we crack our mental blocks when it comes to our bodies, no amount of weight loss, exercise or cellulite cream will make a difference. I used to weigh eight and a half stone. I exercised 5 hours per week and smoked 20 cigarettes a day. I wasn't that healthy, and I still wasn't happy with what I thought I saw in the mirror.

So  how about we focus on how other people see us instead.  After all, their 'mirrors' seem to be much clearer than our own.


Sunscreen is for life, not just for summer.

Last week I took a little trip along to a riverside park in London with Alice from Bright Town Girl to find out more about SPFs and sun protection from the team at La Roche Posay.

It was actually a perfect day for it as the sun was beaming down, so a good SPF was more important than ever!

This was the first day of a summer tour taking a sun awareness tent around the UK to parts of London and later on this summer to some of the major festivals.

The team were on hand giving out samples of La Roche Posay spf for the face, body and for children, and you could also see a dermatologist if you had any questions about moles or wanted to get one checked out.

I've had a mole in between the little and ring fingers of my left hand for as long as I can remember so decided to get it looked at quickly. I hadn't noticed any changes, but better safe than sorry! The fab dermatologist I saw confirmed it looked healthy and then followed up by telling me a little about the types of signs to look out for if it did start changing later on.

As part of the awareness event, 3 models had been made up with half of their face normal and the other half showing signs of sun related skin damage and also types of skin cancers. These had all been based on real examples and it was quite scary to see. I shall be slapping the factor 50 on my face religiously from now on, let me tell you!

Models showing sun damage on face
The models with their faces made up. 
Alice and I also had our faces analysed by a Wood's lamp which uses UV light to spot any underlying sun damage on your skin that might not be evident on the surface yet. You can see how my face looked in this below:

Apparently the purple means that my skin is dehydrated, but other than that, I wasn't showing any obvious signs of sun damage which is a relief given my pale skin tone and how easily I burn.

After attending the event, I've realised that we all need to be more sun aware. Just because the sun isn't out, or you're in the UK, it doesn't mean that it's not there! Not only will a good SPF for your face and body help to prevent you burning and raising your risk of skin cancer, but it will also help slow down the effects of ageing on your skin. Sun damage is one of the greatest things that can age your skin, so looking after it with a good SPF will really help.

A tan might look nice, but from now on: fake it, don't bake it!



Jamela 24k Gold eye masks

Hands up who wants firmer, more radiant looking eyes? Well, that's what these 24K gold collagen under eye masks* from Jamela Skincare promise.

Jamela 24k gold collagen eye masks
The masks

I saw these over on Pampered Prince a while back and Jamela very kindly offered to send me a couple of sets to try out for myself.

The masks are kidney bean shaped and are designed to sit underneath your eye. They contain collagen, plus 24k mineral gold, which together help to firm skin, remove toxins, brighten your complexion and moisturise at the same time.

You apply each pair - one under each eye - and sit back and relax for about half an hour whilst they work their magic. I took this time out to not only take a 'selfie' but also to chill out with my book. 

Me wearing Jamela 24k gold collagen eye masks
Wearing the masks - no makeup (scary)! 
As the masks don't have any kind of 'glue' to hold them on, I would recommend moving around as little as possible while you're wearing them. Although mine stayed perfectly still, I think these are best for 'pamper time', rather than slapping them on and doing the housework! 

Half an hour later, I peeled them off, and was left with the results below - under my eyes felt a lot firmer, plus also looked smoother and a little brighter. 

After using Jamela 24k gold collagen eye masks
After using the masks
The effects lasted a couple of days for me, which I didn't think was too bad given that i'd showered and cleansed as normal after using them. 

The masks retail at £32.50 for 16 pairs, making them about £2 per use. They are pricey, but I think I would repurchase them myself as a treat (and partly for the novelty of wearing gold on my face). As well as the under eye masks, they also make ones for your whole face, neck, boobs and lips. If you fancy giving them a try, you can purchase them from the Jamela Skincare website

Would you try gold masks? 

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