Beauty products - how do you know when to throw?

When it comes to food, we’re all pretty clued up on ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates, but did you know a lot of beauty products also have shelf lives too? I’m pretty sure we’ve all got at least one product in our bathroom or hiding at the bottom of our makeup bags that we’ve had for years, so how do you know when it’s time to throw it out?

When should I throw out beauty products text over drawer of makeup

Check the label – each product has a small marking on the packaging which will tell you how long you should keep it once it’s been opened. This usually has a little symbol like an open moisturiser pot, along with a date (in months) that will say ‘6M’, ’12M’, ‘18M’ etc. If you’ve still got it past that date, then it’s time for the bin!

Mascaras – sad news for any mascara hoarders, but you should really only hang onto mascara for about 3 months after opening it. The mascara tubes are a great place for bacteria to breed and because it’s applied so close to your eyes, it’s recommended to be replaced every 3 months.

Creamy makeup (lipsticks, cream blushers etc.) – these tend to last a lot longer; around 12-18 months. This might be a good reason to stop buying lots of new lipsticks as after this time they should ideally be thrown away. Bit of a bummer for my MAC lippie collection…

Powders (bronzer, face powder, powder blusher etc.) – around 2 years. These tend to have less liquid inside them that can go off, so will last much longer.

Nail polish – there doesn’t seem to be a firm rule on when to throw nail polish out – the best thing to do is to go by texture and how it looks. If the polish has separated (and won’t go back to normal with a quick shake) or has dried out and gone gloopy, then it might be time for the bin.

If it smells or changes texture – these are both bad signs when it comes to makeup and skin care. If you notice a funny smell from a product or it’s no longer the original texture/consistency, throw it out.

If in doubt…throw it away! If you honestly can’t remember the last time you used a particular product, then the best thing to do is to get rid of it. I know that I’ll definitely be having a good look through my makeup drawers over the next few weeks and having a bit of a clearing out session.

What are your thoughts on beauty expiry dates?

Magazine freebies November 2014

I've spotted a few good freebies hitting the shelves over the past couple of days as the December editions of the monthly glossies are released. There might be one or two more to add to this list (I'll keep you posted!) but for the moment, here are the beauty freebies you can bag yourself this month.

Elle magazine Benefit They're Real liner freebie

Elle - mini Benefit They're Real Push-Up Liner. I was very excited about this one as I'd wanted to try out the new liner from Benefit when it launched but had heard mixed reviews. Now it's available to try for free on the front of a £4 magazine it's a great time to see if it lives up to the hype without the high price tag. It's a tiny little sample (about a tenth of the full-sized product) which is a bit disappointing but it should be enough for a few uses.

Glamour - the new issue features a choice of four different Nails Inc polishes in lovely shades for Autumn/Winter. These are all full-sized, so at just £2 for the magazine, this is a great value freebie. I spotted a lovely rich purple, deep red and a silvery/gold shimmer on the shelves of my local newsagent.

Tatler - a handbag sized hand cream is always a good treat so make sure you pick up the new issue of Tatler for a 50ml Cowshed hand cream. I've tried these before and they're really hydrating, making them the perfect winter companion.

Will you be picking up any of these magazine freebies?


Must-have palettes for your Christmas list

Now, I know it;s quite early to start talking Christmas gifts, however there are some cracking limited edition palettes available this year and so I'm making an exception and putting this post up a little earlier than planned. I have a bit of a palette obsession - there's just something so nice about having multiple shades/products in one place to choose from. I've chosen five palettes which I think need a mention on your Christmas lists this year, although as you can see from the photo, I was too impatient to wait for mine!

must have christmas palettes

must have christmas palettes

Too Faced Chocolate Bar* - makeup that smells like chocolate is basically a winner in my book. This superstar palette from Too Faced is one of my ultimate palettes - the combination of shades allow you to create multiple looks and the easy-to-wear formula means they blend like a dream and wear all day. Add in the fact they've been infused with cocoa and actually smell like chocolate and you've got yourself a cracking palette. £45

Benefit Cheeky Sweet Spot - Benefit's Christmas gift sets are always amazing value and I think that this blusher set steals the top place from all of the others. Inside there are 6 of Benefit's most loved powder blushers and bronzers, as well a a mini Watt's Up highlighter and brush. This is amazing value - most of the blushers are 5g, so not much smaller than their full-sized versions. The sturdy tin also means you don't have to worry about ruining any cardboard packaging and the cute house shape makes it something I'll want to keep even after the products run out. This is a limited edition Christmas set and is very popular, so I wouldn't leave it until the last minute if you've got your eye on one of these. £29.50

Diego Dalla Palma La Vie En Rose* - If you're looking for a non-brown but still everyday palette, then Diego Dalla Palma's La Vie En Rose is the perfect solution. It's got six pinky/purple toned matte and shimmer shadows inside that all work well together to create a multitude of looks. The formula is super-soft and long-wearing and I love the simple black and white case. You'll find DDP in the M&S beauty halls and it's definitely a less well-known brand to check out. £27

Urban Decay Naked Basics 2 - the latest offering from Urban Decay, Naked Basics 2 is the perfect gift for matte shadow lovers that are looking for a good mix of cool-toned nude shades. The formula of the shadows live up to Urban Decay's usual high standard and at £22 is a good option for slightly lower budgets. If you prefer warmer toned shadows, then the original Urban Decay Basics will be a great alternative instead.

Illamasqua Facets palettes (Aura/Semblance)* - another limited edition release, the new palettes from Illamasqua's Facets collection are seriously good. Inside each one there's a mix of face and eye palettes, with each one featuring some of Illamasqua's hero products. If you're looking for an introduction to the brand or buying for a friend who's always wanted to try Illamasqua, this is my top pick. Aura is best suited to paler skin tones, and Semblance is better for medium to dark tones. (Full review of the Aura palette here). £45 each.

Have you got any of these palettes on your Christmas list? Which one do you like the look of best?

*PR samples



Beauty news in brief - October 2014

House of Fraser launch beauty reward card – HoF have launched a new reward card, allowing you to earn points on purchases and exchange them for rewards across the store. You can earn 1 point per £1 spent, however until 4th November there’s a special introductory offer of 5 points per £1 spent. For every 500 points, you’ll receive £5 off both online or in store. You can sign up for the programme on the House of Fraser website.

3 for 2 at Superdrug – Superdrug are running their massive 3 for 2 offer across all makeup brands in store and online. The offer runs until 25th November so there’s still plenty of time to decide what to add to your ‘must have’ list! I’m on a spending ban so trying to avoid this one, but it’s a seriously tempting offer…

New Kevyn Aucoin Celestial Powder to launch – Kevyn Aucoin’s Celestial Powders are a bit of a cult beauty product and from November there’ll be a new shade available called ‘Starlight’. They act as gentle highlighters, helping to capture the light on the skin and really do an amazing job at a gentle, but flawless finish. I had a preview at a recent event and oh god, it was pretty. It’ll be hitting Space NK stores from November and is priced at £35.

More beauty news soon!

The Body Shop Lip and Cheek Doll

The Body Shop definitely win the prize for cutest looking lip product this year in the form of their new Lip and Cheek Doll*. As part of their Christmas range they've created a red version of their iconic lip and cheek stain and have packaged it up in a super-cute doll design bottle.

Inside the bottle you'll find a doe foot applicator which can be used to apply the lip and cheek stain. The shade is a lovely true red which can be dabbed onto the lips for a long-lasting wash of colour or blended out on the cheeks for a rosy-cheeked look. 

The stain dries pretty quickly, so if you're using this on your cheeks you need to be quite fast at blending to avoid crossing the line from 'rosy cheeked' into 'red cheeked'. Let's face it, none of us want to look like we're permanently blushing all day! 

I prefer to use this as a lip stain, purely as the red shade is a little bold on my pale cheeks, but for medium and darker skin tones it's a great multi-use product. 

It is a limited edition, and as far as I know won't be available past Christmas, but one 8ml bottle should last a good few months even with daily use.

The Lip and Cheek Doll costs £10 and should be filtering into Body Shop stores and online from about now. It will make a great stocking filler if you're thinking about Christmas presents, or something a bit different to add to your makeup collection. I have a feeling mine will sit firmly in the 'display corner' of my dressing table - it's too cute to put away in a drawer! 

What do you think of this new product from The Body Shop?

*PR sample


Halloween: Flamingo Candles Cinnamon Appleberry Candle

Halloween and  Bonfire Night always make me think of apple bobbing and toffee apples. Even as an adult apple bobbing is a bit of a Halloween tradition, and this year alongside the apple bobbing, I'm going to be burning Flamingo Candles Cinnamon Appleberry candle*.

Flamingo Candles Cinnamon appleberry candle

I'm a big fan of Flamingo Candles - they're eco-friendly, hand-made in Britain and last for absolutely ages. The Cinnamon Appleberry version is a great option for autumn - it's fresh, fruity and a little bit sweet. It also makes the whole room smell like a giant toffee apple, which definitely isn't a bad thing! 

The burn time on these candles is around 50 hours, so if you're planning to use it at a Halloween party like me, you'll still have loads of burning time left after the party. 

I'll be popping mine inside a pumpkin for the night and will have a few toffee apples on standby in case the smell makes everyone hungry!  

Flamingo Candles cost £12 each and can be ordered directly via their website (where there's dozens of other scents to choose from if this one isn't your thing). 

Do you like the sound of this candle? 

*PR sample


Halloween beauty products for all budgets

Halloween is just a few days away and if like me, you're still a bit undecided on what to dress up as at a Halloween party, this collection of gothic inspired makeup should hopefully make that choice a little easier.

Halloween inspired beauty products

Makeup Revolution's 'Give them nightmares' palette* contains an amazing selection of blue, purple and green eye shadows which could be used to create any kind of look from a smokey-eyed witch to a half-dead zombie. They're all really pigmented so won't need layers and layers of product to build up a bright look and at just £6 is a great budget buy.

Superdrug own brand B. have also released a limited collection* for Halloween and I love the line drawings that have been added to the packaging of these. The eye shadow palette is less bold than Makeup Revolution's and contains a smaller shadow selection, but it will work perfectly if you're thinking of a less dramatic look or want to have some shadows you can use again. The berry lipstick is definitely a keeper post-Halloween and its creamy formula will make it easy to wear all night. I think these two would look great together as a vampire look - add lots of white face powder and maybe some fangs and you're good to go!

For the nails I'm loving Deborah Lippmann's new collection* which features a metallic lime green (Weird Science) which just screams 'witch' to me. If you fancy a bit of glitter, there's also Magic Carpet Ride (a mix of large and small multi-coloured glitter in a semi-opaque base) which could be layered over a darker polish shade for a spooky but glittery finish or if you've got plenty of time, layered up on its own to an opaque glitter. Illamasqua's Melange shade is also another great nail shade for Halloween - it's less bold than Weird Science but still feels a little eerie and the hint of gold in it makes it really wearable post-party. 

What are you planning to be wearing for Halloween? 

*PR samples


NudeStix review

It’s no secret that I love nude eye shadows. A lot. So when I heard about a makeup brand that specialised in the ‘no makeup makeup’ look, I knew it was going to be the perfect match. 

NudeStix was created by a family in America – Ally and Taylor are sisters who love barely there makeup, so along with their mother Jenny (who has over 20 years experience in the beauty field) they developed a collection of the perfect nude shades, all of which come in a crayon style format. 

The range focuses a selection of nude shades that work well together; most of which are universally flattering to all skin tones. 

Nudestix makeup crayons

Nudestix makeup crayons

Nudestix makeup crayons swatches

I’ve been testing out one of the eye shadow sticks and also a lip and cheek crayon. When I first received them I was expecting the finish to be a little powdery, especially with the eye pencil, but boy was I wrong. Both products are really creamy in texture and apply to the skin without any dragging at all. The chubby crayon style means that application is easy – you just apply straight to your eye lid/lips/cheek and then blend with either a finger or a brush. 

I love the simplicity of these – add a touch of mascara and you’ll be ready to go in less than five minutes, making them the perfect low maintenance makeup companion. They’re also perfect for popping in your handbag as you don’t need extra brushes and tools to get the best finish. 

Personally I preferred to use the lip and cheek crayon just on my lips as I didn’t get on as well with applying and blending it onto my cheeks – you need to be pretty swift before the colour sets. The eye crayons lasted pretty well throughout the day without creasing, however I’d recommend using a primer underneath to help make it stay put – mine lasted around 6 hours before needing a little top up. 

Each NudeStix costs £24 and at the moment the brand is exclusive to Space NK and Cult Beauty in the UK. 

What do you think of this nude makeup range? Is it something you’d buy? 

*PR samples 



Library of Fragrance perfume review

Fragrance is a very personal thing and what one person loves another person might hate. So imagine having the choice of over 100 different scents to choose from - all of which can be layered over each other to create your own custom blend. 

The Library of Fragrance has just launched in the UK and has done exactly that. They've created a massive library of scents, each focusing on single notes and subtle blends. You can choose from anything from Fresh Ginger (a slightly fruity, spicy scent), to Lavender, and Leather to Snow (crisp, fresh and very hard to describe but lovely).

The Library of Fragrance perfumes

My favourite of the three scents I've tried has to be Gin & Tonic. It smells almost exactly like the drink, and while it won't leave you smelling like you've been in the pub a bit too long, it has a wonderful refreshing mix of gin botanicals and fresh lemon. It's very fresh and perfect for a pick-me-up daytime scent. 

I especially love the fact you can layer these scents up to create your own custom blend. It reminds me a little of Jo Malone's infamous colognes, only at a fraction of the cost. While not all of them will work well together, there's definitely thousands of combinations to be had - and it means that you can create your own custom scent that no-one else is wearing.

The fragrances are all colognes, so aren't particularly long-wearing, however they do deliver a lovely burst of scent for at least a few hours after application. If you're out all day, then I'd recommend popping a bottle in your bag for a top up, but for a night out they'll be perfect. The scents are all pretty unisex which is a nice change - it's up to you which ones you prefer and how you choose to wear them.

A 30ml bottle costs £15, so it's much cheaper than other cologne brands and a selection of their fragrances has just launched into larger Boots stores and on their website. I think these would make a lovely gift option for men and women alike - there's really something for everyone. The price point means it's also a good treat to yourself without the usual feeling of guilt buying a bottle of perfume would usually involve. I tend to only get perfume as Christmas/birthday gifts as it's pretty pricey, but at £15 each, this is something I won't mind adding to my own Boots basket every now and then! 

Do you like the sound of these new fragrances? Which do you think will be your favourite? 

*PR samples



Max Factor Gel Shine Lacquer Nail Polish Review

I've always loved the high-shine finish of gel nails, but have been a bit scared to take the plunge because I like to change my nail polish so regularly! Max Factor's new nail launch is the perfect compromise - offering a high-shine, gel-like finish, but without the need for UV lamps or a two-week wear time.

Max Factor Gel Shine lacquer nail polishes, Gleaming Teal, Lacquered Violet, Sheen Merlot, Patent Poppy

Max Factor Gel Shine lacquer nail polish swatches Gleaming Teal, Lacquered Violet, Sheen Merlot, Patent Poppy
L-R Gleaming Teal, Lacquered Violet, Sheen Merlot, Patent Poppy

There are nine shades in the Gel Shine Lacquer line, and I've picked out four shades that I think are the perfect autumn winter companions. I've completely fallen for Sheen Merlot, a dark berry shade, which is seriously rich in pigment and is almost mirror-like in its shine. You definitely need two coats to get an even finish, but they dry pretty quickly so it's not too much of a pain to deal with. 

Lacquered Violet is a gorgeous purple shade that's a bit different for AW, but I love the depth of the colour and it's a nice way to wear something that's a bit bold, without reverting to the typical brights of the summer. 

All of the shades I tried had seriously high-shine finishes to them - the swatches pictured are taken without any topcoat over them. They really do have that gel nail look to them. I was even asked a couple of times if I was wearing a gel shade when I had Sheen Merlot on, so that's definitely a good sign!

The wear time is pretty average - I get around 3 days before chips start to appear, so although you'll get the finish of a gel nail, you definitely don't get the staying power. That's to be expected - I've only found one non-gel nail polish that lasts a week on me, so I don't expect miracles without a UV lamp involved! 

The Gel Shine Lacquers are in Boots and Superdrug stores now and cost £6.99. If you prefer brighter shades, there's an amazing neon orange called Vivid Vermillion which is calling my name. I'm hoping they bring out some pastel shades in this finish for the spring - I can fast see it becoming one of my favourite nail polish formulas and a larger shade selection would be great.

Have you tried the new Gel Shine Lacquers from Max Factor? What do you think of these polishes?

*PR samples


Urban Decay Naked palettes - which one's right for you?

Urban Decay's Naked palettes are probably the most iconic nude palettes there are in the beauty world. But with the recent launched of their fifth 'Naked' offering, it's becoming tricky to know which one will suit you the best. I've put together a quick guide to help make the decision a little easier. Of course, if you're a nude fanatic like me, there's no reason why you have to stop at just the one! 

Naked - the original nude palette from Urban Decay, Naked is made up of 12 eye shadows in a mixture of shimmer, glitter and matte finishes. These shades are slightly warm in tone, so suit warmer skin tones the best. There's also a predominance of shimmery shades, so if you're looking for a matte palette, you'll need to look a little further down this list. £37

Naked 2 - the follow up to Naked, Naked 2 features 12 cooler toned shadows; again in a mix of shimmer, glitter and matte finishes. While Naked might have some smokey blue/black options included, Naked 2 is a powerhouse of bronze and beige tones with a single black thrown in for good measure. Again, it's all pretty shimmery with one or two exceptions and is best suited to those with neutral or cool-toned skin. £37

Naked 3* - with 12 completely new shadows inside, this rose-hued beauty is one of the latest Naked launches from Urban Decay. All of the shadows have a hint of rose or rose gold to them, again in a mix of shimmer, glitter and matte finishes. These shades are a little more tricky to get away with - if you've got pink undertones to your skin I'd avoid this palette, but if you look good in rose-gold jewellery, then this will be the perfect pick for you. £37

Naked Basics - Urban Decay's first matte neutral offering, Naked Basics was a massive hit for many people who loved nude shadows but wanted to avoid a shimmery finish. It contains 6 matte shades (one demi-matte) which are all warm in tone. If you're best suited to the original Naked palette, then this is the Basics choice for you. £22

Naked Basics 2 - a brand new launch, Naked Basics 2 is perfect for matte shadow lovers as it contains 5 mattes and one slightly shimmery highlighter shade. These are all cooler in tone than the Naked Basics palette, so is a good matte partner for those that suit the Naked 2 palette and is the perfect size to pop in your handbag. £22

Are you a fan of the Naked palettes? Which one's your favourite?

*PR sample



Illamasqua Facets collection Aura palette review

Illamasqua’s latest collection is one that’s got me a bit hot under the collar. I’m not ashamed to say I’m a nude makeup lover – give me mushroom and taupe over hot pink and blue any day of the week. So when I saw the new palettes from the Facets collection I did a little squeal. Out loud. In public.

Facets is a celebration of nudes, and while it’s a world away from Illamasqua’s usual bold looks, I think it’s a collection that’s going to appeal to a massive market. The highlights of the collection are two new palettes – Aura and Semblance – which are pretty much the ultimate Illamasqua travel palettes.

Instead of just focusing on eye shadows, they’ve put together a selection of everything from brow powder to contour cream and made it into something that’s the perfect handbag companion.

Illamasqua Facets collection Aura palette

Illamasqua Facets collection Aura palette
Illamasqua Facets collection Aura palette swatches
Aurora highlighter, Tremble blusher, Hollow pigment, Thunder eyebrow cake

Illamasqua Facets collection Aura palette swatches
I’ve been testing out the Aura palette*, which is perfect for paler skin tones and I’ve been super impressed. Inside the palette you get: Gleam highlighter in Aurora, Cream Pigment in Hollow, Eyebrow Cake in Thunder, Powder blusher in Tremble and four powder shadows in Vision, Servant, Feint and Machine. While none of these are brand new shades, it’s basically a line-up of Illamasqua’s super star products – throw in a Glamore lipstick and you’re pretty much set up makeup-wise.

Hollow is a really great contouring product for lighter skin tones – it’s slightly ashy in colour, so won’t leave you with that tell-tale contour line running down your face, but instead gives you some seriously good cheekbones.

Thunder is a little on the dark side for my blonde brows, but is a great all round shade and is one that I’ll use instead as a darker shadow to complement the others in the palette.

All of the products in the palette are the same quality you’d expect from full-sized products. They’re long wearing, pigmented and easy to blend. You just get smaller sizes and more choice in the one case.

At £45, I think this is a great palette to have – it’s flexible enough to create multiple looks from, and is a great way of trying out lots of Illamasqua products in one go. If you’re darker toned, give Semblance a try. This contains Gleam highlighter in Mirage, Cream Pigment in Hollow, Eyebrow Cake in Thunder, Powder Blusher in Hussy and four slightly stronger eye shadows.

These are limited edition palettes so if you like what you see, I’d recommend picking one up sharpish. Or maybe pop one on your Christmas list and see if Santa delivers!

What do you think of the new palettes from Illamasqua?

*PR sample



2014 beauty advent calendars:The lowdown

Beauty advent calendars have become seriously popular over the past few years. This year seems to have created a bumper crop, so I’ve put together a comprehensive list to help you decide which one is the perfect choice to grace your mantelpiece through December (or open immediately if you’re impatient like me. Ahem.)

beauty advent calendars 2014
You Beauty Discovery £49.95 - includes luxury samples and full sized products from brands such as Sisley, Laura Mercier, Aromatherapy Associates, Benefit and more, the contents are worth over £240 – out now

No7 25 days of beauty secrets £35 - 25 (yes, you even get one for Christmas day!) minis from the No7 range with contents worth over £130. Online and in Boots stores from 29th October

Elemis 12 days of beauty £59.50 - 12 luxury Elemis products, available now - not your traditional advent calendar as there are only 12 doors, but it's packed full of lovely treats for face and body and would make a gorgeous early Christmas gift for someone special. Inside you'll find everything from the Pro Collagen Cleansing Balm to the Pro Radiance Hand & Nail Cream and my favourite the Papaya Enzyme Peel. I say buy this one as a treat to yourself to make up for all the hard work you'll be doing throughout December.

The Body Shop Beauty Advent Calendar £50 –  this is completely stuffed with some of the Body Shop's best sellers, along with new products like their Colour Crush nail polishes and Glazed Apple collection. There's a good mix of travel and full-sized products and let me tell you, this bad boy is heavy! As an added bonus, The Body Shop are also donating to their chosen charity War Child every time you buy selected Christmas gifts, including the advent calendar. It's in selected stores only, out now.

W7 Countdown to Christmas £29.95 - one for all you makeup lovers, this is a good budget buy that's full of nail polish, mascara and lip treats. It's a little harder to track down as it's not on their website yet, however I did find a version of this on the TK Maxx website for a bargain price of £19.99.

L’Occitane £45 – There are 13 pampering treats from Provence inside this calendar, because 13 is the traditional number of desserts to have on your Christmas table in Provence (a tradition I mgiht have to borrow myself). There are lots of their key products hidden away inside so is an excllent way to test out the brand if you're new to them, or just a great treat for you (obvs) or someone else. It's online from 3rd November.

Yankee Candle £21.99 - not quite beauty, but we all love a good scented candle and Yankee Candle do a fab range for Christmas. This is full of tealights in six seasonal scents and is perfect if you fancy something a bit different. Out now.

Selfridges Enchanted Spells £85 -  containing a mix of products from Lancome, Kiehl's, YSL and more, this is a beauty lover's dream. They're all good sized minis or travel sizes, and will make a lovely treat for December. Out now.

Jo Malone £250 - the most luxury of them all, this is heaven for Jo Malone addicts. Yes it's pricey, but if you've got money to burn and want some lovely fragranced products, this is the one to get. It launches in Harrods on 20th October/nationwide 10th November.

Liberty £149 – Another pricey offering, but one that looks so pretty and it's full to the brim of different brands from their beauty halls. It comes in a signature Liberty print and inside you'll find the likes of Nars, Espa, Diptyque, Weleda and Deborah Lippmann. It launches in November and will no doubt sell out very quickly despite the price!

Ciate Mini Mani Manor £49 - I've bought this calendar every year since it started as I love the variety of nail polishes hidden away inside it. You get 23 mini Ciate polishes (plus one full sized!) in lots of different finishes and makes the perfect gift for nail polish addicts. There are 17 cult Ciate shades, 5 exclusives, 1 full sized and a set of festive nail transfers included. It's out now and can be found in Selfridges, John Lewis, ASOS and Ciate online.

Benefit Candy Coated Countdown £60 - There are 24 minis tucked behind the doors, with iconic products like High Beam, That Gal, PosieTint and more. Now, this launched yesterday (16th Oct), however Benefit are going on my naughty step as they sold out in hours after only producing a (very) limited amount. Rumour has it that more will be launched on 1st November so keep your eyes peeled if you're desperate for one.

Primark Jewellery Advent Calendar £10 - another non-beauty one, but I couldn't resist popping this into the list! A bargain option at only £10, Primark have put together 24 days of jewellery, with a mix of earrings, midi rings, charm bracelets and necklaces behind each window. The designs are all very cute and dainty and would make a lovely gift for fashion lovers.

Which one takes your fancy?



Rant - blogger competitions

The past few weeks have been a sterling illustration of the world of blogger competitions. At least once a day, I’ve received an email asking me to write a blog post as my entry in to a ‘fabulous competition’ in order to be given the chance to win a prize of varying quality.

Now, I like to win things as much as the next person, but there’s a reason why these blogger competitions need to be stopped. A traditional competition that’s open to the wider public is often about profile raising for the brand in question – you might get to win something exciting in exchange for providing your name and email address which they will probably then use to send email marketing to you.

Blogger competitions are really just cheap SEO tactics put into play. Not only does the brand get a whole load of mentions in blog posts that would usually fall into the category of ‘sponsored content’ and which would usually be charged for, but they also get to build up the amount of inbound links coming into their website – a condition of entry to a blogger competition is usually that you have to include a link to a specific link on their site. Again, this is something that brands usually pay for as part of a sponsored post.

Link-building is a part of SEO that’s open to much debate – it used to be that the greater the number of external links you had coming to your site, the more Google would consider it to be trustworthy and important. Now the emphasis is shifting to quality links over quantity, but these old school SEO methods are still in force. If you’ve spent time building up the reach and influence of your blog, do you really want to be passing it on to brands without any kind of reward? I’m not just talking about money – it could be things like social sharing, or a mention on their website. The day Urban Decay shared a link to a review I wrote on their recent mascara, my traffic went up over 10 times what it normally was. I’d consider that a (very) fair trade!

I’m not against people entering these competitions, but if you are going to do it, please have a think about what they are asking you to do and why. Yes, you *might* be in with a chance of winning a wonderful prize, but is it really worth the free coverage and link that you’re being asked to provide? It’s definitely a no from me.

Rant over. What are your thoughts on blogger competitions?

Matte lipsticks you need

Matte lipsticks often have a bad reputation for being drying, hard to wear all day and something that will show up every little fault in your lips. I've been putting a massive range of matte lipsticks to the test to find out which formulas are the best. These beauties all give a matte finish but don't need hours of prep before you wear them and won't leave you crying out for lip balm.

the best matte lipsticks
Charlotte Tilbury Glastonberry, Urban Decay Mrs. Mia Wallce, Bourjois Grand Cru, GOSH Red 145 and Illamasqua Luster

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution - these are a new launch, but the silky smooth, easy to wear matte finish has already moved them straight to the top of my lipstick list. The formula lasts for hours, surviving eating and drinking pretty easily and doesn't dry lips out. The vintage style luxe packaging is also to die for. Yes, they're pricey at £23, but I promise you won't regret the investment. There are eight shades to choose from, ranging from nudes and soft pinks, all the way through to deep berry shades like Glastonberry (pictured).

Urban Decay Revolution* - most people think of Urban Decay as the palette queens and while that title is well-deserved, I beg you not to overlook their lipsticks. Revolution lipsticks are slightly more satin finish than 100% matte, but this makes them easy to wear all day, and the pigmented finish means you don't need to top-up very often. If you're usually a MAC lipstick lover, these are around the same price at £15, but in my opinion are infinitely better. Choose from over 20 shades - I have several in my collection, including the new Mrs. Mia Wallace red from the recent Pulp Fiction collection.

Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet* - these lip stains from Bourjois come in a liquid format with a doe foot applicator and once dry, provide a long-lasting matte finish that will see you through the day. You need to be precise with application as the staying power is pretty impressive and once dry, they really don't budge! There are eight shades to choose from and cost £8.99 each.

GOSH Velvet Touch lipsticks* - smooth in texture, highly pigmented and with a semi-matte finish, GOSH's Velvet Touch lipsticks come in every shade you could ever need. They feel a lot more expensive than their £6.49 price tag and are the perfect choice if you want matte lips on a budget.

Illamasqua Glamore lipsticks* - when Illamasqua launched their Glamore lipsticks, I got a bit over excited. The creamy formula made them super easy to wear all day, but still had a matte finish to them. Although the shade selection started off a little smaller than some others, they're adding new ones all the time (including a classic red called Virgin, and seven nude shades) and I think they're a must have for any matte lippie lover. £18.50 each.

What are your favourite matte lipsticks?

*PR samples



Fringe top tips

I've had a fringe on and off for most of my adult life and while most of the time I love it, it's not always sunshine and roses.  Fringes take a lot of upkeep, especially if you choose a blunter style and trust me when I say that rain and humidity are not the friends of a fringe.

With that in mind, I've put together a few top tips if you're thinking of getting a fringe (or already have one) and a few 'fringe problems' you might identify with if you're already in the fringe club. 


- To get an even, straight looking fringe without much hassle, blow dry your fringe to the left then to the right and repeat. For an even smoother look, do the same but with a soft brush and you'll have fringe perfection in just a few minutes, 

- Find out if your hairdresser offers free fringe trims. In order to keep my fringe at the perfect length, it needs cutting about every 2 weeks. If your hairdresser offers free fringe trims in between your usual cut this can be a total lifesaver and won't end up costing you lots of extra money to maintain.

- Fringes tend to get greasier a lot easier than the rest of your hair, so a mini can of dry shampoo is great to have on hand to freshen it up. Blotting sheets are also perfect for absorbing any shiny bits on your forehead and stopping it transferring onto your fringe.

- Don't take the decision to get a fringe cut in lightly. Believe me, they're a pain in the bum to grow out if you decide you don't like it. Why not try putting a fake fringe before getting the real thing done - that way you'll know if it's something you'll love for longer than a week. You can either get a clip in one to trial at home, or even just pull some of your hair forward to give you a rough idea of how you might look. 

- Keep a comb with you at all times. Fringes are prone to tangling and can then look a bit greasy. An emergency bag comb will sort this out in seconds

Fringe problems:

- You'll forget what your forehead ever looked like. If you tan easily, you might want to clip it out of the way on holiday to avoid the white forehead syndrome that a fringe can bring. 

- Rain and humidity are not friends of your fringe. You will almost definitely end up with fringe horns - unattractive bits of hair at either end of your fridge that poke out like mini devil horns. Not cool. 

- The same goes for 'fringe curtains' - this can happen easily if you let a blunt fringe grow too long and your fringe starts to part in the middle like a pair of curtains. 

- Some up dos will never look quite right. Try to find pictures of celebs with fringes similar to yours if you're going for an up do - that way you'll know the style suits a fringe.

What do you think of fringes? Are you a fan? What's your biggest fringe problem? 



The holiday haul

A holiday's not a holiday without a little haul, right? Along with about 3kg of Turkish Delight, I managed to squeeze a few beauty products into my suitcase on my recent holiday to Turkey.

Like a lot of holiday hauls, mine started in the Duty Free area of the airport, where I met up with Sukhi, the World Duty Free personal shopper. Sukhi showed me around all of the counters, helping me to find lots of travel exclusives and pointing me in the right direction for my favourite brands.

In the end, I went for a travel exclusive Lancome palette which contains a mixture of eye shadows, lip products and bronzer/highlighters and cost about £40. I also picked up their new Grandiose mascara which has an unusual looking wand and I'm hoping it delivers in terms of volume and length! On my way to the till I spotted the new OPI Nordic collection mini polish set, so decided to grab a set of these, although the discount wasn't particularly massive.

the holiday haul

Sukhi very kindly left me with a massive bag of samples from across the World Duty Free beauty brands, so I left laden down with my purchases and lots of little travel sizes to play with on the plane.

I'd never really looked into Turkish beauty brands, however there were a few little pharmacies near my hotel, so I spent some time having a browse and ended up with a variety of nail polishes from different brands and a lipstick from a brand called Florimar. I haven't tested any of the nail polishes out yet, but at just under £1 each, they were a bit of a bargain! The lipstick cost approximately £5, so falls into the Rimmel price range. It's a bright pink, semi matte shade - they had so many to choose from I ended up going for a safe choice as there weren't proper testers available.

I also picked up some olive oil soap from the local market one day - this is great for pretty much everything and the olive oil leaves your skin feeling lovely and soft. At £1 per bar, it's also pretty cheap!

I'm really pleased with all my purchases - if I go back again I'd like to spend some more time looking up Turkish brands and try a few more things out. I did spot a few Maybelline and Max Factor counters while I was there but the prices were pretty much the same so I didn't worry about picking anything up from them.

Have you tried any of these products before? Would you like to see a full review on anything from this haul?


The holiday dress

Have you ever found a dress and just known it's going to be the one? I had an epiphany moment in Warehouse a week or two before my recent holiday when I was on the lookout for a 'evening' dress that I could pack easily in my suitcase without getting crinkled and still look glam at the same time. 

This navy Grecian style beauty was the perfect answer - with a jersey underlay and a soft chiffon on top, it took up next to no room, but was perfect for a night out. The fact it wasn't too clingy also helped with those 'oh god, I've even too many Turkish pancakes' moments which don't do your body confidence too much good! 

I really love the back detailing on this dress - it's pretty simple overall, but the back really steps it up from just a 'nice' navy dress to something you feel pretty special wearing. I've already worn it to a birthday party since getting back, and I can see it lasting well through the party season this Christmas! 

At £55, it's a pretty good wardrobe staple to buy. If like me, you're a bit more pear shaped, you might want to size up to stop it clinging too much on the bottom and as the top is quite drapey, you won't need to worry about it looking too big in contrast. 

You can find the Strip Back Dress online and in store at Warehouse now, and lots more of their dresses online. What do you think of this dress? 

*PR sample



The holiday photo diary

I don't often do lifestyle posts, but I thought it might make a nice change to share a little photo diary of my recent holiday to Turkey. 

I spent ten days eating lots of food, swimming in the beautiful Mediterranean sea and generally relaxing. The weather was amazing considering it was the end of September - almost 30 degrees every day. 

I'd highly recommend this area of Turkey - we spent most of our time around the beach of Oludeniz, in the town of Fethiye and in the ghost village of Kaya Koy. 

I'll leave you with a few photos from the trip - I hope you enjoy them! 

Fethiye umbrellas
Umbrella ceiling on a Fethiye street
Fethiye harbour

olive oil soap

Kaya Koy ghost village
Kaya Koy ghost village
balcony view of mountains in the mist

Oludeniz beach

Oludeniz beach with hot dog legs
Extra white hot dog legs by Oludeniz beach
Eating turkish gozleme pancakes

Eating turkish gozleme pancakes
A traditional Turkish gozleme pancake stuffed with feta, spinach and spring onions
turkish menemen
Turkish Menemen - a traditional breakfast dish of fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions and eggs served with lots of fresh bread. 
Have you been to Turkey before? 


Beauty advent calendar giveaway

Over the past few years there's been a massive increase in the number of brands releasing their own beauty advent calendars, including Selfridges, Benefit, The Body Shop and more. Getting a beauty treat every day in December is a pretty good way to count down to Christmas, so I'm giving one reader the chance to win their own customised beauty advent calendar created by me.

beauty advent calendar giveaway

You'll receive 24 luxury samples (and even a full sized product or two), and I hope it will be a nice surprise for the winner!

To enter, simply fill out your chosen entries on the Rafflecopter widget below. This giveaway is open internationally and the advent prizes will be customised for the winner. Entries close on 26th October and one winner will be picked at random.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Bare Minerals Bare Skin Foundation Review

Bare Minerals was one of the first foundations I ever bought and their 'swirl, tap, buff'' application system has stuck with me for years. While they might be well known for their mineral powder products, they've just launched their first ever liquid foundation, which is pretty exciting news! 

Bare Skin has been designed to feel super lightweight on the skin, while still offering a good level of coverage. It's an almost serum like texture and promises to help even the skin tone and brighten the skin while you wear it. 

Bare Minerals Bare Skin foundation

The consistency of Bare Skin is very runny - much more so than a usual liquid foundation. It reminds me a little of the Armani Meastro Fluid foundations with their slightly oily/watery texture. You need to be careful how you apply this in order to stop it running off everywhere! The bottle also needs to be shaken thoroughly before you squeeze any product out - if you don't, the serum base and pigment don't mix and you'll end up with just a lightly coloured clear liquid appearing. 

There are 20 shades to choose from in the range - I am Bare Porcelain, the lightest one, but they cover pretty much every end of the colour spectrum. There's also a special brush been developed to aid application which has an indent cut out in the centre of the bristles. This means you can pour a little of the shaken foundation straight into the well in the brush, before buffing gently across the face. 

I'd say the coverage initially is light-medium; if you like more coverage in certain areas, you can build this up as required without ending up with a cakey finish. For more oily skins, you'll need to set the foundation in place with a bit of powder - it's quite a slippy formula and definitely benefits from having some powder in key areas over the top. 

The texture is almost invisible once applied to skin, making it great for a 'my skin but better' look, which is something that always appealed to me about their powder foundations. It's great to have that option in liquid format too. 

The only thing I was slightly disappointed with was the wear time - because of the liquid nature of the product it doesn't seem to last beyond 4 hours on my t-zone without needing a top up, so isn't something I can wear all day to work without bringing it with me to reapply. Because of that, it's a foundation I'm saving up for nights out or at the weekends when I don't need something to last me a minimum of 12 hours with as little intervention as possible. If I'm honest, I still prefer the Original Powder foundation, but I'm pleased to see them experimenting with liquid foundations at long last! 

Bare Skin costs £26 for a 30ml bottle and the Perfecting Face Brush is £24. You can find them both online from Bare Minerals and at Bare Minerals counters now. 

Do you like the look of this new liquid foundation from Bare Minerals? 

*PR samples


Autumn nails from Collection

Hi everyone! You might not know me but I blog over at cherrypieblog.com. Yes, my name is actually Cherry (as in the fruit) and I'm so happy to be writing a guest post for Kat's blog. It's a regular read for me. I've never done a guest post before so hope you enjoy!

As autumn is fast approaching I thought I'd do a little product review for you guys on some great autumn nail colours I picked up from Collection Cosmetics. These little beauties were sat sparkling away on the shelf and they're so cheap I just had to pick them up.

The colours are very autumnal, Scorched Copper and Fool's Gold, and they look great worn together on the nail, although slightly Christmassy thanks to the sparkle in them. I adore Scorched Copper as its a really burnt orange/red colour, very reminiscent of autumn leaves, so it's perfect for this time of year.

Collection autumnal nail polishes

Collection autumnal nail polishes

The polishes are really lovely to apply and dry extremely quickly. Unfortunately Fool's Gold is really thin so you need to really build up the layers. Usually if you wear lots of layers then the polish comes off pretty easily but both polishes have lasted a good week and have passed the washing up test. (If you're a regular reader of my blog you'll know this is a very thorough test that nail polishes need to pass!)

As I mentioned I wore these two colours together but they'd work equally as well worn individually and probably wouldn't look so Christmassy if you wore them this way. They're perfect for every day as well as wearing for a night out or special occasion. They're absolute bargains too so I'd definitely recommend picking them up as part of your collection.

Have you tried these autumn nail polish shades?

A big thank you to Cherry for her great post - you can find her blog at www.cherrypieblog.com and on Twitter @cherryp13. Make sure you pop over for a read!


The travel essentials

Whether you're having a late summer holiday or planning to go away closer to Christmas, packing light is a bit of an art form. And an art form that I've yet to master! I'm currently away on holiday so have been trying to make the most of limited luggage space and maximise the beauty products I've taken with me, without making my suitcase weigh more than I do. These are some of the products helping me do just that. 

travel essentials with Diva pro styling travel dryer

travel essentials

A decent washbag - not the most exciting thing at the top of your travel list, but hey, you've got to have something to carry it all in! This brightly patterned two sided bag comes from Wilko, so it's budget friendly, yet large enough to carry a week's worth of stuff without any problem at all. It's got clear zipped pouches on both sides, so you don't have to worry about possible leakages over the rest of the contents of your bag. 

Travel minis - don't ask me why, but miniature size products always seem more fun that full-sized ones (just me?). I've been saving up travel sizes of some of my favourite products over the past few months so I don't have to weigh my case down with full-size versions of everything. I've packed everything from mini cleansers to mini shampoos and have even found a dinky bottle of Moroccan Oil in a travel sized gift set* that I have to keep my hair looking smooth, without the need for a heavy glass bottle. The trick is making sure you know you've got enough to last you the duration of your stay. For example, I know I usually make a 200ml shampoo last 2 months, so these 70ml minis should be fine for anything up to a 2 week stay. And don't throw them away when you're done - you can always re-fill them for your next trip! 

Travel hair dryer - small in size, but not small in power, this Diva Pro travel dryer* is going on every trip with me from now on. Call me fussy, but I like to take my own hair dryer away with me on holiday - you never know what to expect from the ones provided in hotel rooms. This little beauty is tiny, but dries hair almost as quickly as a full-sized dryer and had the added bonus of folding in half, so it takes up next to no space. It also comes with the cutest little diffuser I've ever seen. At £19.99 it's a good investment if you travel regularly. 

Multi-purposers - when space is at a premium, you want to make sure you've got hard-working products that can be used for more than one thing. Dr. Bronners soap is always an essential travel product for me - I use it as my shower gel, but it can also be used as an emergency shampoo or to wash clothes if you need to do a quick travel wash while you're away. I'm also packing a big tube of pure aloe vera gel, which is perfect for any bits of sun burn you might have, but is also great for cooling down insect bites or rashes. 

What are your travel essentials? 

*PR samples



The autumn staples

Hi everyone! I'm Ayesha and I usually blog at Miss Tinks Beauty. With summer becoming a distant memory, autumn is definitely on the horizon. I personally love this season, it marks the beginning of normality after the Summer break. The weather is changing, it’s quite mild, not too hold, not too cold which means your skin, hair etc is bound to have different needs. This is the time I personally re-evaluate my 'go to' choices and make some weather appropriate changes.

Jurlique herbal recovery face oil
autumn eye shadow choices
(Clockwise- Face Stockholm Plum, MAC Twinks, Face Stockholm Aubergine and Laura Mercier Black Plum)
topshop ankle boots

Throughout the spring/summer months I favour a lighter foundation or tinted moisturiser and I reached for my Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser religiously. However due to the change in weather I need something with more coverage, not as dewy, but still moisturising. The only product that springs to mind is Nars Sheer Glow Foundation. This will definitely be my foundation of choice for autumn/winter.

I also tend to gravitate to more autumnal colours. In the summer I stick to nudes and golds however I’m starting to reach for plum/aubergine tones which look great with my brown eyes. The Face Stockholm eyeshadows are completely matte with great colour pay off. They are currently on sale on BeautyBay.com, so grab a bargain while you can.

I’ve noticed that my skin is getting slightly drier than it has been so adding a oil is a great way of adding some moisture and nourishment. I’ve switched from a body butter to a body oil and I also add a couple of drops of facial oil to my moisturiser, both morning and night. My top picks have to be both from Jurlique. This brand has grown on me and I’ve become a huge fan. I feel oil is definitely more nourishing and can penetrate deeper into the skin. They both smell lovely and the face oil helps combat spots and leaves my skin feeling smooth and brighter.

I seem to use a lot more dry shampoo in the autumn/winter months. I don’t know whether this is pure laziness or the fact that in the colder months washing my hair every other day seems to be a chore.In the summer I can let it air dry and I am good to go. My all time favourite is Batiste Dry Shampoo. I have tried lots of different dry shampoos on the market and nothing comes close. It’s a great price point, does exactly what you want it to do without feeling heavy and if you are lazy like me when it comes to root touch ups, the coloured versions are great at disguising regrowth.

Last but not least and probably the one thing that excites me the most is I can finally start wearing my ankle boots again. These beauties are from Topshop and are a few years old (I’m on the hunt for a new pair) but they're so comfortable and go with everything from skinny jeans to dresses with tights.

I'm looking forward to all the layering, hot chocolates and snuggles. What changes do you make as autumn approaches?

A big thank you to Ayesha for her guest post - I hope you enjoy more of her posts over at www.misstinksbeauty.blogspot.co.uk, Kat x


LightStim for Wrinkles review

The ageing process is something we're all trying to slow down and there are literally thousands of products on the market targeted at reducing fine lines and other signs of ageing. LightStim for Wrinkles is a new device that uses red light technology to help stimulate collagen production and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, giving a more youthful appearance.

LightStim for Wrinkles

LightStim for Wrinkles

LightStim for Wrinkles

The device is hand held and uses 72 therapeutic LED lights, which you simply hold against the skin in the areas you're keen to target. Red light therapy has often been used in expensive salon treatments so it's quite interesting to see a device that can be used at home for a fraction of the overall cost.

The red lights work by stimulating your natural collagen and elastin production, helping to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.  While they might look firey, the lights only give off a very gentle warmth and I found it quite therapeutic to be honest!

You have to use the device regularly in order to see any proper results - preferably daily. A session takes around 10 minutes - you need to hold the device next to each area you want to target for 2-3 minutes each, so depending on how many areas you're working on it can be a bit of a commitment. I didn't manage to use mine as often as I'd liked but in the end got several treatments a week in when I was sat in front of the TV at night. It takes around 8 weeks to start to see any effects - it's not a quick win, but over time you'll start to see results. 

I've definitely seen a small improvement in the fine lines around my eyes and I'm hoping that with continued use this will improve more and more. 

LightStim for Wrinkles definitely isn't cheap - at £250 it's an investment purchase and is something I feel would be better suited to those aged 35 and over. If you're in your late 20s/early 30s it's great to help reduce potential ageing, but I don't think you'll see as dramatic results as you would if you're a bit older.

You can buy the device from Space NK and QVC in the UK - if it's something you're keen to try, maybe time the purchase with one of Space NK's goodie bag offers and get yourself a little treat at the same time! 

What do you think of LightStim for Wrinkles - is it something you'd be keen to try?

*PR sample
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