Malin + Goetz Dark Rum Scented Candle review

I'm a bit of an addict when it comes to scented candles.  I always have one on the go in my living room and I love a good browse through the candle section in TK Maxx to stock up every few weeks.

Malin + Goetz are an American brand that offer a wide range of skin and body care products who also make some cracking scented candles. I had a sniff of their range at a recent press day and was drawn to the interesting scent combinations they've created - mojito,  tobacco and dark rum for example.

Malin + Goetz Dark Rum scented candle

The dark rum scent is a really unusual one. It doesn't smell like rum to me but instead is a slightly smokey, slightly spicy fragrance that scents the whole room. It's pretty exotic but I like it! For me it's the perfect autumnal scent - I will be buying another of these when the weather starts to turn and imagine myself sat in front of a log fire with a cheeky rum in hand.

The candles are made from a mix of natural beeswax, soy and vegetable waxes, and contain about 15% eau de toilette (dark rum has 16%) as the fragrance.

Admittedly they aren't cheap at £37 for a 260g candle,  but this should burn for around 60 hours and would make a lovely gift (for you or someone else!). Mine is a travel sized version which is super cute, although I can't see this on sale online at the moment.

You can find Malin + Goetz in Liberty, Space NK and ASOS. I definitely recommend having a sniff next time you're in one of those stores and seeing which of their exotic scents takes your fancy.

What are your favourite scented candle smells?

*PR sample


Models Own Sweet Shop nail polish review

If you like sweets and you like nail polish then listen up as I've got the perfect thing for you! Models Own have just launched a new collection of sweet shop inspired nail polishes*, each of which is scented like a sweet shop favourite when dry.

Models Own sweet shop scented nail polishes: fizzy cola bottles, gumball and liquorice

Models Own sweet shop scented nail polishes: fizzy cola bottles, gumball and liquorice allsorts swatches
Fizzy Cola Bottles, Gumballs and Liquorice Allsorts swatches
There are five shades to choose from:

Pear Drops - vibrant coral scented with pear drops

Fizzy Cola Bottles - a neutral brown-beige scented with cola

Rhubarb and Custard - dark red scented with rhubarb and custard

Liquorice Allsorts - an opaque black scented with liquorice

Gumballs - hot pink scented with bubblegum

I've been wearing Gumballs over the past few days and it really does smell like bubblegum when you wear it! The smell fades after about 12 to 24 hours depending on how often you wash your hands but it's definitely noticeable for the first day. If you use a topcoat this will dull the scent of the polish a little - I found it was much stronger when I didn't use my usual Seche Vite over the top.

The polish doesn't smell while its in the bottle so please don't try and sniff it then - you'll just smell normal nail varnish and probably give yourself a headache! Models Own have put a little scratch and sniff top on each of the lids so you can test out each scent before you buy.

It's pretty average for me in terms of wear time - I get about 2 to 3 days before any major chips start appearing, less if I have to do the washing up. 

I think this is a really fun collection and would definitely recommend it if like me you're a bit of a sweet-a-holic!  Each polish is £4.99 and can be found online from Models Own and in their bottleshops now. It will also be launching into Superdrug stores on 30th July. 

Do you like the sound of these sweet shop inspired polishes? 

*PR samples


Biore Charcoal Skincare range review

Biore were one of my favourite skincare brands as a teenager; I spent many a night watching Friend's with one of their infamous pore strips stuck to my nose. It's been a long time since those days and they'd sort of slipped off my radar for a bit, but the launch of their new Charcoal range has put them firmly back in my bathroom.

Charcoal might not seem to be the first ingredient you think of when it comes to cleansing your face - it looks dark and dirty, but actually has amazing cleansing properties. It helps to draw out impurities in the skin, and is the key ingredient inside the new range. 

Biore charcoal cleanser, pore strips and self heating face masks

Pore strips are probably what Biore is most well-known for, and the Ultra Deep Cleansing Pore Strips are like a super-charged version of their originals - working to get even more dirt and oil out from your pores. These are really simple to use - you simply apply the sticky side to a wet nose and wait for the strip to dry. After about 15 minutes, gently peel the strip off and you should be left with super clean pores around your nose. If you're a bit disgusting like me, take a look at the nose strip and be horrified with how much dirt it manages to remove. I like to think I'm pretty thorough with my cleansing regime, but these seem to suck out dirt you didn't even know was there!

The Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser is a foaming style cleanser which is infused with charcoal to help purify and give a deep cleanse. If you have very oily skin, then this might be a good option, but I found it to be quite drying (perhaps slightly too cleansing!) for my dehydrated skin so isn't really for me.

The Self-Heating One Minute Masks are probably my favourites from this range. They're the same sort of colour as a mud mask and come individual sachets that have the perfect amount for a single use. Simply apply the mask to damp skin, massage in for a few seconds and leave it to work its magic. The mask naturally heats itself up, drawing out impurities in the skin. You can either wash this off with a flannel after a minute, or leave it on for a little longer for a more intense effect.

The charcoal range is great value - £4.99 for the cleanser, £7.99 for the mask (4 sachets) and £7.99 for a pack of 6 nose strips. You can find them all in Boots stores and Boots online now.

Do you like the sound of this charcoal range from Biore?

*PR samples


Beauty news: Christian Louboutin Beaute launches

It's always exciting when a new beauty brand launches, but when luxury shoe designer Christian Louboutin decides to launch one, you know it's going to be something special.

Christian Louboutin Beaute has just launched it's first product - a classic red nail polish inspired by his iconic red soles. Rouge Louboutin is a deep red shade, confined within a heavy cut glass bottle with the most outlandish handle I've ever seen. The bottle handle is 20cm tall and was inspired by the iconic Ballerina Ultima shoe - Christian's tallest ever heel. Just 2 coats gives the same glossy look as the 20 coats of lacquer originally used to create the red soles on his shoes. The formula is 3-free and has been designed to be long-wearing (I can't comment on this at the moment!). 

Christian Louboutin Rouge Louboutin nail polish and Ballerina Ultima shoe
Christian Louboutin Beauté, Nail Colour, Rouge Louboutin
Christian Louboutin Beaute Pops nail polishes
The Pops
Christian Louboutin Beaute Nudes nail polishes
The Nudes
Christian Louboutin Beaute Noirs nail polishes
The Noirs
You can currently buy Rouge Louboutin online from Christian Louboutin before it launches into its
boutiques and Selfridges, Harrods and Harvey Nichols concessions. Interestingly, it won't be stocked in the main beauty department - you'll need to head to the shoe department to find it. 

Set to launch in September are 30 more nail polishes, broken down into three main collections: the nudes, the pops and the noirs. Each of these also comes with a spike-heel inspired handle, although each collection will be a different tone: rose gold for the nudes, silver for the pops and a darker gunmetal for the noirs.
I think that these are going to be collector's pieces in years to come. The design is definitely meant to be put on display on your dressing table - let's face it, none of us have a 30cm high drawer we could shove these away in! 

The price definitely reflects Christian Louboutin's luxury brand - each nail polish will be £36. Yes, that might be over the top for a nail polish, but it's a hell of a lot cheaper than buying a pair of Louboutin shoes! 

Rumour has it the collection will expand early next year to include other makeup items, and I can't wait to see what these might be. A classic Louboutin red lipstick maybe? 

I'd love to know your thoughts on this launch - will you be buying a piece from Louboutin Beaute? What do you think of the bottle design? 



My gluten free week with Ilumi

Going gluten free seems to be a popular thing at the moment, but for a lot of people it's not just a lifestyle choice but a dietary necessity due to an allergy. I have a close friend who has coeliac disease and is very ill after even the smallest bit of gluten. As gluten is found not only in things like bread, pasta and cous cous, but also in things like soy sauce, eating out or getting convenience food can be quite hard

I was recently offered the chance to try a week's worth of meals from gluten free ready meal specialists Ilumi. I've often found I get bloated after eating gluten containing foods so was intrigued to see if cutting it out would make a difference and also wanted to try out some foods in order to be able to recommend them to my coeliac friend, as finding gluten free convenience food is a total nightmare!

ilumi go gluten free menu

Ilumi pork, mushrooms and rice

At £45 for a trial week, this seems to be pretty good value. I was delivered a massive box full of gluten free porridge oats for breakfast, a box of oatcakes and oat biscuits for snacks, 2 gluten-free beers and a whole selection of soups, stews, curries and other meals.

All of the Ilumi foods have been prepared in a special way that means you don't need to store them in the fridge. I found this a bit weird to start with as I'm used to putting any meat-related product in the fridge but they vacuum pack them in such a way it's completely safe not to.

I'm not keen on porridge as the texture makes me feel sick, so instead got creative and turned my oats into gluten free granola with some honey, nuts and dried fruit which made for a delicious breakfast.

I had a massive variety of lunch and dinner dishes to choose from - Spicy Tom Yum soup, hearty beef stew and a lamb Rogan Josh curry to name a few.

Most of the main meals are quite 'saucy' - they definitely needed to be paired with rice or some sort of side dish to help make them less runny. A couple were slightly bland (pork and mushrooms) but perfectly edible.  Others were delicious (Tom Yum soup and lamb Rogan Josh for example) and I will be reordering these separately to keep in the cupboard for days when I need something quick to eat. You'll need to add your own fruit and veg to the meals as they are mostly carbs and protein, but I really think there's a great variety to choose from, especially as they are all gluten and dairy free.

After a week of eating the meals, I definitely felt a lot less bloated and have tried to reduce the amount of gluten I have in my diet as a result.

The one week trial costs £45 for one person, but if you fancy trying out specific meals you can order most items individually from the Ilumi site. I'd definitely recommend them if you follow a gluten or dairy free diet. While I wouldn't want to eat ready meal style meals all day every day, they're great for convenience and are pretty reasonably priced.

Have you heard if Ilumi before?  Do you like the sound of these meals?

*PR sample


Bourjois summer 2014 launches

Bourjois are one of my favourite high street makeup brands - they always make fantastic quality products at great prices. I'm a bit obsessed with their cream blushers, so was looking forward to seeing what they had coming out for summer. 

Bourjois summer 2014 makeup launches

Bourjois delice de poudre bronzing duo and golden bronzing powder

Bourjois sun blush shades 05 and 06

Bourjois bronzer swatches
L-R Delice de Poudre duo - Bronzer, highlighter; Delice de Poudre Golden Bronzing Powder, Sun Blush 05, Sun Blush 06
Bourjois contour clubbing waterproof eye liner swatches

The new summer ranges from Bourjois focus a lot on softly bronzed skin and a pop of colour on the eyes.

For summer, they've given their chocolate bronzers a new lease of life in two different formats. The first is a two in one product, featuring a medium toned bronzer and highlighter, all in one compact. The Delice de Poudre duo will be great for light to medium skin tones - the bronzer is non-shimmery and definitely not orange, so it's a good one for fairer skin. The highlighter is a lovely soft champagne shade with a gentle shimmer to it - it works really well used on the top of cheekbones to help contour the face. I love the chocolate bar design of the products and they also have a sweet smell to them which is good enough to eat! Don't worry though, this doesn't seem to translate onto your face! £7.99, launches 6th August. 

They're also launching a Delice de Poudre gold bronzing power which comes in the same chocolatey shape as the 2 in 1 combination, but it feature a LOT more shimmer! This one really is quite golden in tone, and I think will be too harsh on lighter skin tones, but it would look lovely brushed gently over tanned skin and could easily be worn on either your face or body. £7.99, launches 6th August. 

Continuing with the bronzed theme are two new versions of Bourjois' infamous cream blushers. I absolutely love these little pots of blusher - the formula is creamy, long-lasting and easy to blend. For the summer, two new shades have been added, both in deeper, bronzed shades, but still with the fantastic formula of the regular blushers. Shade 05 'Pink Sunwear' is the lightest of the two and works well for light - medium skin tones and 06 'Tropical Coral' will be good for deeper skin tones, or if you like to tan up for the summer. Each will cost £7.99 and are in stores now. 

Last, but by no means least are some new additions to their Contour Clubbing Waterproof Eyeliners. The turquoise shade 59 'Dynamint' is a newbie to this range, and oh my god it's lovely! I'm not usually one for coloured eye liner, but I've been using this along my waterline for a pop of colour and it's beautiful! It also lasts amazingly well - not smudging or fading throughout an entire day at work - and that's in 30 degree heat. If you're adventurous, there's also a hot pink version hitting shelves very soon (I'm not that brave). Each one costs £4.99 which I think is a bit of a bargain considering the quality. 

Do you like the look of these new Bourjois launches? Which one catches your eye?

*PR samples 



Illamasqua Glamore Nude Lipsticks review

When Illamasqua launched their Glamore lipsticks earlier this year, I fell in love with the easy to wear, creamy formula. Long-wearing, moisturising and still semi-matte at the same time, they were basically my dream lipstick. 

For summer, they've expanded the range of Glamore lipsticks to include a much needed nude range* - up until now, every shade was pretty bright! Consisting of 7 nude shades, the Nude collection is designed to help you find your perfect nude.

Illamasqua glamore nude Cherub, Buff and Mix lipsticks
Cherub, Buff, Minx
Illamasqua glamore nude Cherub, Buff and Mix lipstick swatches
Cherub, Buff and Minx swatches
Being pale and ginger, it's quite tricky to find a nude that suits me - the closest I've come so far is MAC's Snob, but even that can sometimes make me look a little washed out if I'm not careful! 

Nudes tend to be soft pink and brown shades that balance warm and cool tones. It's a bit like finding the perfect foundation match - you need to get one that works with the undertones of your complexion. Illamasqua's head of training Daniel Busuttil suggests matching your lipstick to your natural nail bed colour to help you get the right shade. Mine is definitely on the pinker side of the spectrum, so this seems to be a good way of checking! 

The Glamore Nudes are broken down into three spectrums: nude corals, rosy and earthy rose shades. Cooler skin tones should check out the rosy shades: Rosepout and Starkers, warmer skin tones should try the earthy rose shades: Tease, Naked or Buff. If you fancy a nude shade with a little more colour, try one of the nude corals: Minx or Cherub, which have a mix of warm and cool tones so should suit most people. 

I've been testing out Cherub, Minx and Buff and Cherub is definitely the best match out of the three for me. Although not quite my perfect nude, it's definitely close and I will be heading to Illamasqua in Covent Garden for a swatch of Rosepout, as I have a feeling that will be the perfect shade for me! 

If you're a nude lipstick fan, you definitely need to check these out - the formula is just fantastic. At £18.50 each they aren't cheap, but I'd say it's worth it if you can find your ideal nude shade. 

You can find the Glamore Nudes in Illamasqua stores and counters from 31st July. If you're keen to get your hands on one now, they're available on www.illamasqua.com

What do you think of these lipsticks? What's your favourite nude? 

*PR samples



Heat wave heroes

Ginger people and heat are not a good combination, so while some people may be loving the recent heat wave I've been struggling a bit! To stop me boiling over completely I've been keeping a few products to hand that will help me keep cool in the heat.

hot weather heroes

Facial mists - pretty much an essential at the moment I've been rotating thermal water mists from Vichy*, La Roche Posay and Avene. These are pretty simple - just spring water in an aerosol can but the fine mist of water they produce is great at cooling you down, especially if you keep them in the fridge.

Pop bands - when it gets really hot I like to keep my hair tied up as I find it lets a bit more breeze get to my neck. Pop bands won't leave a dent in your hair, even after wearing them all day, which makes them ideal for emergency heat related ponytails! From £5 per pack.

Blotting sheets - let's face it, in the hot weather we all tend to get a bit sweater than normal and skin often becomes a bit more oily. Paul and Joe's blotting papers are my savior for getting rid of excess shine without leaving a powdery finish behind.

Phytocitrus Colour Protect hair mask* - while skin often gets oilier in the sun, my coloured hair seems to dry out completely so needs a lot of extra care. This super rich mask from Phyto is designed to help protect the colour of your hair while also adding back in lost moisture. I'm using this 1-2 times per week at the moment and it's working wonders at keeping my bleached ends from getting frazzled in the sun. £24.50

SPF - almost goes without saying, but when it's 30 degrees outside everyone should be slapping some SPF on! My favourites for the face are from La Roche Posay*,  Bioderma and Susan Posnick; for the body it's Ambre Solaire dry mist or Aldi dry oil.  Whatever you use, make sure you don't forget your ears, scalp and feet. I've burnt all 3 before and it's really not fun!

What are your essential products to see you through the heatwave? 

PR samples


Hydraluron Moisture Jelly review

Hyaluronic acid is one if the hot ingredients in skincare at the moment. A molecule that helps draw moisture to the skin, it can hold over 1,000 times it's weight in water and it great for plumping and hydrating. 

When indeed labs launched Hydraluron, a hyaluronic acid serum, it flew off the shelves in Boots and has since become a firm favourite in many skincare regimes.

Indeed labs hydraluron moisture jelly

This summer, they've expanded their line to include the new Hydraluron Moisture Jelly* - a lightweight jelly texture moisturiser packed full of hyaluronic acid, and PatcH2O - a micro network complex that helps to lock in moisture to skin.

The jelly like texture of the moisturiser means that it sinks into skin really quickly and leaves virtually no trace behind.  Skin is left hydrated but without that slightly tacky feeling some moisturisers give. 

I think it's perfect for oilier skin types or for use in the summer when you don't need a heavy duty moisturiser.  If you have really dry skin then this may not be for you - you'd probably need to add something extra over the top. You can use this as well as your Hydraluron serum - they're designed to work well together and combined will give an extra hydration boost to skin. 

The packaging uses a clever pump system to deliver exactly the right amount of product for each use. I think this is a great idea as I often end up using too much with pump or free pour bottles. My only grumble would be the fact that the packaging is a lot bigger than the amount of product.you get. It's a bit deceiving as while you're getting 30 ml (which is standard for a lot of skincare) the bottle is pretty big so you may think you have more than you really do!

That aside, this will be keeping me company throughout the summer - it's great kept in the fridge and applied cold during the current heatwave!

You can find Hydraluron Moisture Jelly in Boots and it's currently on offer for £16.66 (usual price £24.99).

Are you a fan of Hydraluron?  Do you like the sound of this new Moisture Jelly?

*pr sample


Sew Lomax makeup bags

I have to confess I'm usually more excited by the contents of my makeup bag than the bag itself, but since discovering Sew Lomax, that's all changed!

Sew Lomax are a British brand created by Emma Lomax, and make super cute makeup bags, each of which is decorated with gorgeous embroidered designs. After lusting after a lipstick print bag for ages, I decided to make the most of their recent sale and put an order in.

Sew Lomax makeup bags

Sew Lomax makeup bags

I chose the Raspberry Pop Pouch makeup bag with lipstick design - reduced to £17 from £25. You can even choose to have a message sewn on the bag of most of their bags so went for 'Kat's makeup'. I think this would be a fantastic gift - offering a personalised option definitely makes it really special.

I also chose a second bag, the candy inspired 'Sweet On You' pouch,  which has been decorated with a lollipop design. It's not as roomy as the lipstick bag but I love the design and it was a total bargain at £5.50, reduced from £18.

The Sew Lomax sale is still on for a few more days so I definitely recommend checking it out. If you're super organised you could always buy some Christmas gifts and put them away until December!  They also make ranges for babies which look absolutely lovely.

Have you heard of Sew Lomax before? What do you think of these makeup bags?


Crownbrush blusher palette review

Crownbrush are a brand most commonly know for their good quality, amazing value makeup brushes. But on top of a huge line up of brushes, they also make a range of makeup palettes that are guaranteed to make any beauty addicts eyes light up.

The 10 colour blusher palette has probably every shade of blusher you'd ever need. And then some.
Containing a range of pinks, peaches and soft plums all in powder finishes, the Crownbrush Blusher Palette is a must have for any powder blusher fan.

Crownbrush 10 colour blusher palette

Crownbrush 10 colour blusher palette top row swatches
Top row swatches
Crownbrush 10 colour blusher palette bottom row swatches
Bottom row swatches
While the individual blushers don't have individual names, it's a palette that will work for pretty much any skin
tone. My personal favourites are the second shade on the top row, which looks very natural on pale skin, and the third shade on the bottom row, which is great for adding a small amount of warmth, without going full on bronzer.

The paler pink shades do have a tendency to be slightly lighter in terms of pigmentation, so you may need to build up colour gradually if using these until you get the desired effect.

I love the fact that there's a mix of matte and shimmer blushers included - it's actually nice to see matte shades given more of a preference for a change.

At £14.99, this palette is a total bargain. There aren't many other brands that sell blushers that work out to be £1.50 each and when you think about the range of shades you're getting, it makes it a must-have purchase.

You can find Crownbrush online or at certain beauty trade shows throughout the year, and I definitely recommend adding one of these to your wishlist!

Have you tried any makeup from Crownbrush before? What do you think of this blusher palette?

*PR sample



Salon Science AquaCacteen hair care review

Our scalps are one of the areas that don't seem to get a lot of love in the blogging world. They're not the most glam of topics, but if you've ever suffered from a dry, sensitive or irritated scalp you'll know it's not a great deal of fun.

I definitely fall into that category - my scalp gets very dry and despite using regular moisture treatments for my hair nothing really does the trick in the scalp department.

Salon Science AquaCacteen hair care range

Salon Science are a new hair care brand that will shortly be launching in Boots. Developed by a team of plant stem cell and bio-active experts in Switzerland, they target specific hair issues using powerful plant extracts.

I've been testing out their AquaCacteen range which is designed to help soothe irritated scalps and promote better scalp health. Salon Science focus on scientific results rather than just making a cosmetic difference to hair, which is really great to see.

In the AquaCacteen range there's lots of products to choose from; the usual shampoo, conditioner and deep treatment mask but also some ingenious product ideas such as a cooling scalp spray and a scalp exfoliator. All are infused with AquaCacteen (an organic cactus extract) which works to soothe, calm and cool distrssed scalps, while hydrating it at the same time.

At the launch I was a bit bemused by the idea of exfoliating your scalp, but after trying it, I'm pleased to say I'm a total convert! We often spend lots of time removing dead skin cells from our face and body through exfoliation to make skin feel refreshed and healthy and doing the same for your scalp completely makes sense. The Hydrafoliant Scalp Scrub needs to be applied to your scalp in small sections all around your head before massaging in (do this on dry hair). Shampoo twice to make sure you get rid of all traces of the product and then condition as normal. Not only does this help the scalp stay healthy, it also removes some of the product residue that shampoo doesn't always get.

I also really like the Hydrasoothe Cooling Spray which I think is perfect for summer. It contains AquaCacteen, aloe and bisabolol to help soothe scalps and would be a great addition to your holiday travel bag for applying after a few hours in the sun. You can apply it throughout the day to damp or dry hair and really does leave your scalp feeling refreshed and cooled.

The Salon Science range is mid to high end, with shampoos and conditioners costing £13-£15 and styling products starting at £14. If there's one product from the range you buy, I'd urge it to be the scalp exfoliator.  It's become a regular part of my hair care regime and I can really feel the difference in how healthy my scalp looks and feels.

They also offer ranges for ageing hair that needs a protein boost, thinning hair or hair loss and a repair and radiance range for coloured hair - so there's something for all types of hair complaints. 

Do you like the sound of this range? What do you think of a scalp exfoliator? 

*PR samples


Urban Decay Perversion Mascara and Subversion Lash Primer Review

New launches from Urban Decay always get my heart beating faster, and when I saw they were bringing out a new mascara, I was definitely intruiged. I'm what you might call 'fussy' when it comes to mascara - I want big, bold lashes and I want them fast.

Perversion mascara is designed to do just that. Inspired by the intense pigmentation of their black Perversion liner, founder Wende wanted to translate this onto lashes. It's a super black mascara - none of that brown/black stuff here!

Urban Decay Perversion mascara and Subversion lash primer

Urban Decay Perversion mascara and Subversion lash primer brush wands

Wearing Subversion lash primer and perversion mascara
Wearing both Perversion and Subversion
Inside the tube is a large, but not oversized brush that makes application pretty easy. It gives good lift at the base of the lashes but also allows you to get into the corners and catch the smaller ones that some of the huge brushes can miss.

The formula itself is great - not too wet, not too dry (sounding like Goldilocks here!). It's easy to layer this up to create a bold lash look, or if you prefer, a single coat will give nicely defined lashes with a bit of volume. Your lashes stay flexible too - no matter how many coats I've used, there's been no sign of crispy lashes. It lasts well too - even after a 12 hour day at work, there's no smudging or flaking. It also includes a mix of proteins and amino acids to help stimulate lash growth.

Subversion is a bit like the supporting actress in this duo. It acts as a primer for your lashes before using Perversion, prepping them with a conditioning mix of panthenol and vitamin E and helping to give an even bolder false lash effect.

I've used lash primers similar to this before and have often found they dry very quickly and make applying your mascara a bit clumpy. I'm pleased to say there's none of that with Subversion - whatever they put into it keeps your lashes flexible and soft and I can easily add several coats of mascara over the top without having to rush to do it before it dries.

The only bad thing I've got to say about this mascara duo is that it takes a bit of effort at removing it. Nowhere near Benefit's They're Real (which is the hardest thing EVER to get off), but purely because it's so black, you might need several cotton pads soaked in remover to get rid of all traces. That tiny point aside, I will be using this duo religiously until it runs out, and then dashing off to buy replacements!

Perversion and Subversion launch onto Urban Decay counters on 4th August and will cost £17 each.

Do you like the sound of this mascara duo?

*PR samples


Project empty

Over the next 4 weeks I'm setting myself a challenge: to finish up as many beauty products as possible.

Blogging has meant I often only end up using part of a product before moving on to another to test out. This has meant my bathroom shelves and makeup bag are overflowing with half used products that might never see the light of day again!

I'm aiming to use up as many of these as possible and report back at the end of 4 weeks to see how well I got on. I don't often post about my empties (mostly because there aren't many!) So this will be an interesting experiment to see how many things I can finish off in that time. 

I'd love for you to join me if you've got a shelf of things that need using up - how many do you think you could finish in 4 weeks?


Max Factor Colour Elixir Lip Glosses review

I have to admit, I’m not usually one to vote lip gloss. Given the choice, I love a semi-matte lip, but Max Factor’s new Colour Elixir glosses have tempted me over to the gloss side.

Max Factor Colour Elixir lip glosses
L-R Delightful Pink, Enchanting Coral, Luxurious Berry, Polished Fuchsia
Max Factor Colour Elixir lip gloss swatches
L-R Delightful Pink, Enchanting Coral, Luxurious Berry, Polished Fuchsia
Despite being super high-shine, there’s no hint of stickiness to these, which is what usually puts me off gloss products. There are 9 shades to choose from, and while the formula definitely offers a hint of colour, none that I tried are super pigmented, so you should feel safe applying them without the help of a mirror!

They’re pretty long wearing as far as glosses go – I get around 2-3 hours before I need a top up; less if eating or drinking a lot. The glosses are all infused with a conditioning formula, so leave lips feeling hydrated and smooth, meaning you can wear them regularly without your lips drying out.

My favourite shade that I’ve tried has to be Delightful Pink, which is a gentle pink colour that looks great dabbed over the top of a matte lipstick for a slight sheen. Worn alone, it’s pretty sheer, so if you’re after a glossy product with lots of colour, these won’t be for you.

Colour Elixir glosses are a great buy for summer – they look great worn with more natural makeup during the day, and also work well with a smoky eye for a night out. They cost £7.99 each and can be found at Max Factor stands in Boots and Superdrug.

Are you a gloss lover? Which shade catches your eye?

*PR samples



Summer launches from Paul and Joe

Paul and Joe make some of the prettiest packaged makeup ever. Their lines are always a little bit kitsch and a cat theme is never far away! For the summer, they've launched some exciting new products which definitely don't disappoint - both in packaging and the makeup itself!

Paul and Joe summer makeup launches

Paul and Joe summer makeup launches

Paul and Joe summer makeup launches

Paul and Joe summer makeup launches swatches

First up are a massive range of nail polishes in every shade thinkable. The bottles are vintage inspired and embossed with delicate flowers in the glass. The polish itself is glossy, opaque in two coats and not bad in terms of wear time. I have a bit of a thing for pink nails, so this bright fuchsia shade is right up my street. At £12 per bottle, they aren't cheap, but will definitely look lovely on your dressing table.

Paul and Joe launched their glossy lip colours late last year, so while these aren't completely new, this lovely nude shade will work well for summer - especially on days when you want a touch of colour but without a strong pigment. For me, they definitely fall into the lip gloss territory as they aren't particularly long-wearing, but leave your lips feeling nice and soft post-wear and don't feel too sticky when on. There's also a brighter orange shade in the range, which would be great for any of you that like a bolder lip £20 each.

I've saved my favourite part of the new collection for last. The eye shadow palettes. What I love about these is that the compact cases and shadows are actually sold separately, so you choose your case and then decide which shadow trio you want to pop in it. The gold shadow in this combo is just gorgeous - it works well with the other shades, but I've also been using this with a lot of my other nude palettes, so have a feeling it might run out quite quickly! They aren't the most pigmented shadows I've used, but do wear pretty well and should last at least 8 hours before any fading starts to happen. The cases cost £7 each and the palette trios £23.

You can find all these items at Paul and Joe stockists now - online and in store from Selfridges, Harrods, Fenwick Bond Street and ASOS.

Are you a Paul and Joe fan? Do you like the look of these products?

*PR samples


Nars Dual Intensity Eye Shadows review

There’s a new love in my life (shh…don’t tell my boyfriend) – Nars’ new Dual-Intensity Eye Shadows. You’d think after buying half the Nars stand at this year’s IMATS, I wouldn’t need any more Nars in my life, but boy you’d be wrong.

The Dual Intensity Eye Shadows are Nars’ latest launch and feature 12 metallic shadow shades that can be used both wet and dry.  Applied dry, they give a soft, shimmering wash of colour that can be built up for greater intensity, and used wet with a dampened brush, they get even more pigmented and give a greater impact.

Nars dual intensity eye shadows
Giove, Subra and Sycorax
Nars dual intensity eye shadows
Europa, Dione, Callisto
Nars dual intensity eye shadows dry swatches
Dry swatches
Nars dual intensity eye shadows wet swatches
Wet swatches
In the range there are 12 shades (full list below), covering everything from soft peach to smoky navy. I’ve been testing out six of the shades in a mix of light and dark colours and have to say, it’s definitely love.

Andromeda – Alabaster
Europa – Gossamer pink peach
Dione – Metallic champagne beige
Cassiopeia – Iridescent electric pink
Callisto – Icy pink silver
Desdemona – Rich shimmering burgundy
Himalia – Shimmering topaz
Lysithea – Shark grey
Sycorax – Black
Phoebe – Deep shimmering amethyst
Giove – Navy
Subra – Black orchid

Weirdly, I’ve found that while the darker shades definitely get more intense when used wet, the lighter shades don’t seem to make a lot of difference. Each shade definitely falls into the shimmer category, so I’d recommend using a primer to help reduce creasing throughout the day, but they are all naturally long-wearing and last a good 8-10 hours before any fading starts to happen.

My current favourite combination is a wash of Dione all over the lid, with a little bit of Subra around the crease to create a soft smoky eye.

The packaging is typical Nars matte black, and I love the fact they’ve made the lids magnetic so they snap shut after use. This also makes them perfect for popping in your handbag as they won’t open accidentally!

The Dual Intensity Eye Shadows cost £21 each and are currently exclusive to Space NK until the end of July, when they’ll launch onto all Nars counters from 1st August.

Do you like the look of these new shadows from Nars?

*PR samples


An introduction to: Makeup Revolution

Makeup Revolution are the hottest thing on the high street at the moment, offering budget makeup with trend led colours and a massive variety of products. I've been testing out a selection of their products and wanted to share some of my favourites with you. 

selection of makeup revolution products

Eyeshadows: at £4 for a palette of 12 shadows, you can't go far wrong! There are loads of palettes in the range to choose from, catering from nude lovers like myself, to all kinds of brights for the more adventurous. You'll spot a few dupes of high end palettes such as Urban Decay's Naked series and while the matte shades are a tiny bit chalky, the more shimmery ones definitely live up to their higher priced rivals. They also do single shadows for £1 (um...bargain!) which have some great colour choices, and because they're larger in size, might be a good option for base colours or those you'll use more frequently.

Salvation Velvet Lip Lacquers: a dupe for Lime Crime's infamous Velvetines, these are great for anyone who loves a bold lip. I didn't find them to be particularly matte - I Fall In Love (hot pink) actually seemed slightly glossy to me - but that may be my application technique! I adore the shade range and the doe foot applicator makes it easy to get a precise application. £3 each

Vivid Blush Lacquer - this is an unusual sort of product - it's a bit like a runny cream blush in a pump applicator package. The formula is extremely pigmented, so a little goes a long way, but I did struggle to get a small amount out of the pump - most times too much came out and I wasted a lot. That said, when dabbed on gently with my fingertips, I got a very soft, glowy look which I loved. It just takes a bit of patience to get the application technique right. £3 each.

I also tried a few other products which weren't great loves for me - the One Foundation and the Amazing Care Lipsticks. Unfortunately the texture of the foundation just wasn't for me and the shades were a bit off for my pasty complexion. I loved the idea of the Amazing Care Lipstick, which is pigment surrounded by an argan oil infused clear outer, but I just couldn't get an even application of colour.

Overall, I think Makeup Revolution are amazing value for money and can't wait to see what their counters will look like when they arrive in Superdrug stores (hopefully later this year). They've also got a lot of new products which have just launched on their website which look amazing - I feel a cheeky blusher palette order coming on!

Have you tried Makeup Revolution? What are your favourite products from their range?

*PR samples



Summer 2014 international blogger swap

Summer is finally here (yippee!) so I thought it was a good time to set up another series of blogger swaps. The swap is simple. Simply leave your details in a comment if you'd like to take part, and once sign-up has closed, I'll email you the details of a blogger to swap goodies with. Agree your budget between you (£10-£15 is usually good), find out a bit about their likes and dislikes, then go shopping! Post your parcels on an agreed date and enjoy the goodies you receive.

The swap is open to all types of bloggers – beauty, fashion, lifestyle etc. – and it’s up to you both to choose what type of goodies you’d like to send. Traditionally this has been mostly beauty products, but if you fancy mixing things up a little, why not also agree to send an accessory or novelty item of some sort.

To make this swap as smooth as possible, (pretty) please follow the guidelines below:

- You must be over 16 to take part (I will need your personal details to share with another blogger, so if you’re under 18, please make sure you get your parents’ permission before signing up)
- This swap is open to bloggers only - this is purely to allow you both the security of knowing you'll post about what you received and makes it easier to find out what products they like. If you’re not a blogger but would like to take part, email me and I’ll see what I can do…
- Please post your parcels recorded delivery! No-one wants a lost parcel, so getting a signed for delivery is a much safer option
- The swap is open internationally - I will do my best to pair you with an international swapper if you would like one, it all depends on numbers (you can choose UK only if you'd prefer)
- I love setting these swaps up and will help as much as possible, but I'm not responsible for missing/lost parcels

So, if you'd like to join in, please leave me a comment below with:
- your name
- your blog name
- your email address
- your Twitter handle
- your swap preference of UK only or international

Sign up closes on 31st July and swap partners will be emailed out soon after.

Happy swapping!


Confessions of a beauty blogger

With the help of flattering instagram filers and social media edits, it's a lot easier to give the impression we woke up looking like this *ahem*. Behind the scenes it's a different story. I'm lifting the lid on my beauty habits and sharing some of my deep, dark, beauty confessions...

beauty blogger confessions

I use my full fringe to hide the fact I am ridiculously lazy at maintaining my eye brows. *cough* blonde caterpillars *cough*.

I wear black eye liner flicks so often a friend actually commented when she saw me without them for the first time in years.

I own at least 20 hot pink nail polishes and can't stop buying more despite them all looking the same.

I am hopeless at blow drying my hair properly.  I've often been known to throw a hair brush (and once snapped one in half) across the room in frustration.  Now I just blast it dry and straighten a bit...

I don't really get baths. I love bath products but get bored after 5 minutes of getting in. And I hate that shrivelly finger thing. Urgh. 

In summer, I like to use fake tan but often only do my legs, which can lead to an 'interesting' tan line. 

What's your worst beauty confession? 


Photography: a weekend workshop with Simply Health and Paul Hames

Photography is one of the aspects of blogging I'm always keen to improve, so when an invite to a photography workshop popped in my inbox, I couldn't pass it up! 

The lovely team at Simply Health and Joe's Bloggers had organised a workshop with professional photographer Paul Hames, who made it his mission to get us off the auto settings on our cameras and onto manual. 

I've only had my DSLR for a few months, so the though of using the manual setting was a bit scary, but before we were let loose outside, Paul talked us through the basics and how to create the perfect balance of ISO, aperture and shutter speed. 

Soon it was time to go out and practice in the real world, and we headed over to the monthly Kerb food market just behind Kings Cross station. If like me you're a food lover, I highly recommend getting yourself down to Kerb. There are around 20 different food popups, ranging from pulled pork to hanoi noodles and ice cream to whoopie pies. Our aim was to take photos of the food, people and atmosphere, but I got a bit distracted by all the delicious smells wafting through the air! 

kerb food market sign

kerb food market sign bloggers

Annie holding her camera
Annie taking a photo of me taking a photo of her...
Michelle by the river
The lovely Michelle, who was my photography partner for the day
Donuts with sprinkles being added

Bill or beak burgers

Kerb food market DJ
The amazing DJ at the food market
frying pans with food in

ice cream in front of ice cream van

handmade ice lolly stand

pulled pork feast
My pulled pork lunch feast *drools*
whoopie pies

lady cycling by canal

blogger with fab earrings

After taking lots of snaps and stuffing our faces, Paul gave us some great photography tips, including:

- Fill the frame of your shot
- Be creative with reflections and shadows
- Use the rule of thirds - think of your photo like a grid divided into 9 pieces. Mix things up by choosing where the focus is - left/right, top/bottom
- Be brave - don't be afraid to try new things. Sometimes the best shots happen unexpectedly
- Be patient and anticipate - be ready and wait for the right moment, even if you have to wait a while

I have to say a massive thank you to Simply Health, Paul Hames and Joe's Bloggers for organising this event - it was fantastic and I feel so much more confident using my camera after just a few short hours. Paul runs regular workshops in and around London, so do check him out if this is something you think you might be interested in.

And if you're based in London (even if you're not, make a special trip), get yourself down to the next Kerb food market. I'm already droooling dreaming about more pulled pork...

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