Christmas: Burt's Bees Honey Pot gift set

I have to hand it to Burt's Bees, just when I thought it wasn't possible to love the brand any more, they come up with this ridiculously cute Honey Pot gift set* for Christmas.

Burt's Bees honey pot gift set

I'm a big sucker for packaging, so the hanging honey pot design definitely drew me in, but it's not all style of substance - inside the pot you'll find a Honey Lip Balm, Beeswax Lip Balm and a handbag sized pot of Hand Salve. I've always found Burt's Bees lip balms to be super hydrating and long-lasting. you don't need to re-apply them every 5 minutes like some!

For £7.99 I think this is the perfect stocking filler for Christmas. The glass jar will make a lovely candle holder and you get a great value set of products inside that I think any beauty addict will love.

You can find the Honey Pot online from Burt's Bees and in store at larger Boots.

What do you think of this cute stocking filler?

*PR sample


Deborah Lippmann Dance Music gift set

Christmas means glittery nails in my book - if you can't have a bit of sparkle during the festive season, when can you! I love the little duo sets Deborah Lippmann often releases and the Dance Music Duo* is just perfect for a bit of Christmas bling.

Deborah Lippmann dance music nail polish duo

Deborah Lippmann dance music nail polish duo swatches

For £17, you receive a super cute glittery pouch that comes with two Deborah Lippmann mini polishes inside. There's Single Ladies, a deep burgundy red creme with a high shine finish, and Glitter and Be Gay, a multi-tonal glitter with gold and yellow flecks. 

The two shades look great layered up together, although I think Glitter and Be Gay would also look fab over the top of a deep purple or royal blue shade. Red and gold are definitely traditional Christmas shades, but I plan on wearing these long after the festive season finishes! 

The little pouch is definitely on the mini side and does tend to leave a glitter trail in its wake, but the magpie in me can forgive that.

Like all Deborah Lippmann polishes, these are 3-free formula polishes and have been enriched with biotin, green tea and aucoumea to help keep nails healthy while you wear them.

The Dance Music Duo is on sale exclusively at Harrods and Harvey Nichols or via their websites.

What do you think of this glittery nail duo? 

*PR sample


L'Occitane The Best of L'Occitane collection - Christmas Gift Guide

If you're a fan of L'Occitane (and let's face it, who isn't!), their Christmas collections are definitely a must-have item for your gift wish list this December.

The Best of L'Occitane set is exactly that - jam-packed with cult favourites from across L'Occitane's different ranges, packaged up in a beautiful gift box.

L'Occitane the best of l'occitane collection

L'Occitane the best of l'occitane collection

Inside the box you'll find:
- 250ml Almond Shower Oil
- 250ml Cherry Blossom Shower Gel
- 100ml Ultra Rich Body Cream
- 100ml Lavender Foaming Bath
- 75ml Shea Butter Hand Cream
- 30ml Shea Butter Foot Cream
- 20ml Verbena Eau de Toilette.

I don't think there's a disappointing product inside this box - it's the perfect mix of things for your body, hands and feet, and is a great selection for brands fans and newbies alike. It's also great value for money as the contents are worth over £91.50 but the set costs £65, so you're essentially getting two products for free.

If you're a fan of a particular range from L'Occitane, they also have plenty of scent-specific gift sets which are definitely worth checking out. These are slightly smaller than the Best of L'Occitane, but are still packed with goodies. Choose from Almond, Cherry Blossom, Shea Butter, Lavender, Rose, Verbena and their new fragrance Arlesienne. There's even one for the boys, as let's face it, who wants to share this little beauty with the boyfriend!

L'Occitane's Christmas gift sets are available both online and in stores. I'll also be picking up a few of their hand cream trios for friends and family - at £22 these make lovely gifts at a slightly lower budget and are some of the best hand creams around!

Are you a fan of L'Occitane? What do you think of this gift set?

*PR sample


Christmas gift ideas: stocking fillers part 1

Christmas is sneaking up on us seriously fast - with only five weeks to go before the big day, it's time to get down to the serious business of gift planning. I've put together a selection of my top stocking fillers for beauty addicts at £10 or under. There are dozens of great ones to choose from, so look out for part two coming soon!

Christmas beauty stocking fillers under £10

Scratch and sniff nail art stickers* - cheap, cheerful and the perfect gift for any nail art lovers, these pina colada scented stickers will keep you thinking of summer cocktails and sunshine no matter how cold it is outside! £2.50

The Body Shop penguin sponge* - super cute and the perfect bath companion, this little penguin is a must-have for all ages. There's also a polar bear version which is just as cute - I plan to buy several of these as little stocking fillers for friends and family. £5

Bomb Cosmetics Snow Globe soap* - this little soap wedge smells amazing, and is something you'll wish you stocked up on to have throughout the year. If you're a fan of Lush, you'll love Bomb Cosmetics - they have a fab range of bath bombs, soap and other treats and are great value for money. Find them online. £2.49

Kitsch Christmas hair ties* - who doesn't like a bit of glitter for the festive season! These limited edition hair ties from Kistch are a less 'in your face' way to get festive than the traditional Christmas Jumper and are something you'll be able to wear all year. They're non-kink, so won't leave you with big dents in your hair even after a full day's wear and make the perfect stocking filler. £7.50 from Boots.

Soapsmith Pudding Lane soap* - it wouldn't be Christmas without Christmas pudding, and this non-edible version smells just like the real thing (minus the brandy butter)! Find it Fenwicks, Whole Foods and online from Victoria Health for £8.

Minnie Mouse Lip Smackers* - if you've got any Disney fans to buy for, these Minne Mouse printed Lip Smacker lip balms are the perfect low-cost solution. They cost £3.50 each and come in a variety of different prints and berry flavours. Find them in Claire's Accessories.

Snow White hand-held mirror* - if you're looking for a slightly more grown up version on what has become a Disney classic, this Snow White illustrated hand mirror is definitely a good choice. It features Snow White and her seven dwarves and I think is a gift that would appeal to a large age group. It's also a bit of a bargain at £8.13 from Flamingo Gifts.

There'll be more stocking filler ideas coming up very soon - do any of these take your fancy?

*PR samples



The ultimate guide to foundation

Foundation is a key part of many of our makeup regimes, but finding the perfect one can be a minefield. Whether it’s trying to find your colour match, or decide on the right type of finish for your skin, I’ve put together some of my key tips in this guide to foundation.

foundation, powders and makeup brushes

When it comes to picking the right shade, you want to look for something that once applied, is virtually invisible on your face. You’re looking for a ‘your skin, but better’ look – you don’t want to get compliments on your foundation after all, just the fact you have radiant looking skin. 

Apply a small amount to your jaw line (not your neck or hand) and blend in with a brush/finger. If you can see where you applied the foundation, it’s the wrong shade – it should look totally natural and blend with your skin. 

If you’re being colour-matched in a store, always go outside and see how it looks in natural light. The bright lights of department stores tend to distort colours slightly and you don’t want to purchase a new bottle of foundation and find out it’s not quite right. 

If possible, ask for a sample of foundation to try out at home. After all, you’ll be the one applying it and you want to ensure you can get a good finish with the tools you have at home, see how it wears on your skin and give it a thorough testing. Most large beauty counters will happily oblige, especially if they have a new foundation range out. 

Foundation types
- Mineral Powder – loose powder foundation made up of mineral pigments that needs to be applied with a buffing brush. Versatile in terms of coverage, they can be layered up depending on how heavy it needs to be. Use a primer underneath these to extend the wear time; some brands can be a little drying so not the best solution for very dry skin. 

- Liquid – the most popular formula, you’ll find thousands of different liquid foundations that promise light, medium or full coverage, in both matte or ‘glowy’ finishes. Can be applied using fingers, sponge or a brush. 

- Cream – generally these come in a compact and tend to be medium/heavy coverage foundations. Can look a bit 'cakey' if applied too heavily.

- Powder – less popular than in previous years, pressed powder foundations tend to come in compacts and offer a buildable coverage. They can be applied with either a brush or a powder puff and leave skin with a very matte finish. 

- BB/CC cream – Blemish Balms (BB) and Colour Correct (CC) creams were originally created in Asia and have a light coverage, but also offer some skincare benefits. CC creams are also designed to offer colour correcting properties, so may be targeted at reducing the appearance of redness in the skin, or covering dark circles/patches. 

- Tinted Moisturiser – very light coverage, usually offers moisturising benefits with a hint of colour. Tends to have a short wear time.

What sort of coverage do I need? 
When it comes to foundation, ‘coverage’ really just means how fully you want your natural skin to be covered by the product. 

Light coverage – These tend to be things such as tinted moisturisers and BB/CC creams which add a hint of colour to the skin, evening out your natural skin tone while still allowing things like freckles to show through. These are great if you just want a little help to balance out your skin, and are often perfect for summer when we tend to wear less makeup. 

Medium coverage – medium coverage products do exactly that – they give a decent amount of coverage but don’t totally cover over all of your skin underneath. Medium coverage products tend to be my go tos – they even out my complexion without making it look like I'm wearing a mask and tend to last well throughout the day. 

Full/heavy coverage – these offer the heaviest coverage of the lot. You won’t see much of your natural skin tone underneath this and they can be good for anyone trying to cover up skin pigment issues, redness etc. They can be a little heavy on the skin, so will need some seriously good cleansing at night to remove them, but do generally tend to wear well throughout the day and into the night. They can look a little mask-like if applied too enthusiastically, so start light and only apply more if you really need to. 

Application tools:
Brushes – for powder products, try a buffing brush, which tend to be circular, slightly dome-shaped. These are best used in small circular motions and will work powder products into skin for an invisible finish. For liquid foundations, a more typical foundation brush works well – these are usually flatter in shape and will allow you to get into smaller areas of the face more easily. Brushes need to be washed regularly (ideally weekly) to stop them from becoming clogged up with product, giving you a poor finish and possibly the chance of spots from bacteria held in the brush. Wash with a specialist brush cleaner, or a gentle soap like Dr. Bronner’s. 

Sponges – for liquid and cream foundations, sponges can work really well at getting a flawless finish. Try something like a Beauty Blender or the Real Techniques Miracle Sponge and apply in dabbing (not rubbing) motions until you’re happy with the coverage. Make sure to dampen the sponge prior to use, as this will help stop the sponge soaking up all of the product. You will end up losing some product to the sponge, so do take into account the fact you’ll probably need to repurchase a little quicker. 

Fingers – our fingers are great tools for blending foundation. Obviously if you use a powder product they won’t work, but for creams and liquids they’re an excellent (and free!) choice. Try not to rub the skin, gently press and pat the foundation into place. 

Application tips and tricks 
- When applying foundation, start at the centre of your face and work out. We tend to need most coverage down the centre panel of our face (forehead, nose, chin etc.) so start there and then work your way out. You’ll need a lot less product at the side of your face (maybe even none!), so blend away until you’re happy with the natural result.

- If you use a sponge to apply your foundation, make sure you use it slightly damp – this will help less product to soak into the sponge when you’re applying your makeup.

- For longer-lasting foundation, use a good primer underneath it. Primers prep the skin’s surface and also extend the wear time of your makeup. My favourite is Dermalogica’s Skin Perfecting Primer as it gives a great finish and helps my makeup stay in place all day. 

- If you tan, you’ll probably need several different shades of foundation for different times of the year in order to get a good match. Get colour-matched as the seasons change (or pre/post holiday) to make sure you’ve always got the perfect shade. 

- For pale skin tones, it can be hard to find a shade light enough. Brands like Illamasqua sell pure white foundations which you can mix up with any liquid foundation to create a perfect custom colour. It can make such a big difference, especially when you’re buying foundation from the high street which often has less shade options than higher end brands. 

What are your top foundation tips/tricks? Are there any questions you’d love to know the answer to? 


Beauty Christmas crackers for all budgets

For many years, my memories of Christmas crackers used to involve a paper hat, crappy joke and some sort of plastic toy. They were an essential part of Christmas lunch, despite large protests on my part about the whole family having to sit there in our paper hats until the meal was finished.

Over the past few years there's been a massive increase in beauty filled Christmas crackers, with the likes of Lancome, Clarins and Space NK all producing luxury versions jam packed with products. The high street has also caught on and there are some great options for under £10 a set.

beauty christmas crackers from space nk and studio

beauty christmas crackers from space nk and studio

My favourite budget beauty crackers come from Studio*, which a Superdrug own brand. These each come with a Studio nail polish inside and six crackers are currently on offer for just £8. There are a mix of wintery shades inside and are a great option for any beauty addicts.

M&S and Primark also have good budget options for under a fiver, although both of these only contain 3 crackers each, so you'll need to stock up if there are lots of ladies in your house this Christmas.

On the luxury side of things, Space NK's The Best of Space NK* are probably my favourite, purely down to the range of brands they've managed to squeeze inside the crackers! There's a full-sized Rococco nail polish, Oribe Supershine Moisturising Cream 50ml, Life NK 100ml body wash, Laura Mercier Foundation Primer 30ml, Caudalie Beauty Elixir 30ml and a Lipstick Queen Big Bang Illusion Gloss. The contents together are worth £82, so while the crackers are definitely on the pricey side at £48 a set you get a lot more product for your money.

Harvey Nichols, Lancome and Clarins have also launched their own Christmas crackers all around the £50 price tag. Lancome and Clarins are own brand only, whereas Harvey Nichols have included a selection of key products from their beauty halls from Bare Minerals, Deborah Lippmann, ESPA and more.

If you're not willing to share, then I think these cracker sets would also make fantastic gift ideas for Christmas. My family is quite small (and mostly male!) so I think my mum and I will be splitting the Space NK ones between us!

What do you think of beauty filled Christmas crackers?

*PR samples


November collective beauty haul

Over the past few weeks I've done quite a lot of beauty shopping, despite having the best of intentions not to. Somehow I've found myself in Boots, Superdrug, Space NK and Harvey Nichols and the lure of makeup has proved too strong to resist!

November beauty haul - MAC, Benefit, NARS

November beauty haul - Makeup revolution, Barry M, I heart makeup

In the Marble Arch Superdrug shop I finally tracked down Makeup Revolution and I Heart Makeup stands. It was great to see the products displayed on the shelves and have a bit of a swatching session - buying from the website just isn't the same for me! As makeup was on 3 for 2 in Superdrug, I decided to pick up one of the new Makeup Revolution Blusher Palettes in Hot Spice, plus I Heart Makeup's Explicit Content eye shadow palette and their new Go! palette. All in all these little beauties set me back £12.50 which I didn't think was too bad for such a massive choice of shades.

I also had a bit of a magpie moment at the Barry M counter, where their new glittery polishes twinkled at me. Cue me grabbing three and stuffing them into my shopping basket. I went for Catwalk Queen, Rockstar and Jingle Bells, all of which are new shades. Catwalk Queen and Rockstar are solid glitters that can be worn alone without a base colour underneath, whereas Jingle Bells is a gorgeous top coat that just screams 'Christmas' to me.

Earlier in the month, I discovered Benefit's amazing Christmas sets on a trip to Boots for deodorant (is it just me that this happens to?!). Clearly I'm not good at just buying what I went into the shop for, as I came out minus deodorant but with a Cheeky Sweet Spot palette that's full of Benefit's favourite blusher shades and a decent-sized Hoola bronzer. At £29.50 I think this was a great bargain - I don't actually own any Benefit blushers any more so this was a great way to add some to my collection without the expense of purchasing them individually.

On a random afternoon off, I ended up in Space NK with Grace from All That Slap and was immediately drawn to the Nars Digital World Lip Coffret. I'm a big fan of Nars' lip crayons and this set of five was too good to resist. It features a mix of soft neutrals and bold shades and while the lip crayons aren't full-size, at £32 I think it's a good buy as I never end up finishing a full-size one!

Last, but definitely not least is a Harvey Nichols purchase. I initially went in for the NARS Virtual Domination blusher palette, but decided against it after swatching some of the shades and realising they were too shimmery for me. On my way out of the shop I passed the MAC counter and as fate would have it, it was the day they had launched their new Christmas collections. I decided to get one of the Neutral Face Cases, which has a mix of face, lip and eye products in, all in complementary shades.

I think I now have enough makeup to last me until 2020, but there are some beauties from the Christmas collections out at the moment calling my name, so I can't promise this will be my last haul for a while! New Year spending ban it is...

Does anything from my haul catch your eye?

Have you entered my 2 year blogiversary giveaway? There's over £200 of beauty products up for grabs...


Introducing: Masque Bar face masks

A little while ago I was introduced to an exciting new face mask brand from Korea that have literally just hit the shelves in Boots.

Korea has been big on face masks for a long time and the sheet masks that are all the rage over there are slowly catching on here in  the UK.

Masque Bar have created a capsule collection of face masks*, each of which is designed to target a different skin concern. In the range there are two sheet masks - for anti-wrinkle and brightening, as well as two more traditional mud and cream masks which are great for pore-refining and anti-blemish.

Masque Bar face masks

Masque Bar face masks

The sheet masks in the range work in a similar way to traditional cream or mud masks, but instead of being applied direct to the skin, the product comes pre-applied on a paper mask which you then lay across your face and leave on for about half an hour. They look pretty odd while you're wearing them (think horror film character) and you'll need to keep moving around to a minimum to stop them slipping, but the effect is definitely worth it!

My favourite from the range us the Brightening mask - every time I've used it I've been left with brighter looking skin with a lot more radiance. 

The Pore Refining mud mask is also great for oilier skin types or those with oily t-zones; it's very effective at balancing the skin out without stripping away much needed moisture. I like to use this around my t-zone, which has a tendency to be more oily and needs a bit of help to remain balanced. 

All of the Masque Bar masks come in a packet of 3 and retail at £9.99 per pack. While the sheet masks are definitely one use wonders, I think the amount of product in the mud masks is a little on the generous side for a single application. I could easily get two uses out of each one, however they don't last well once opened and because I'm a once a week mask girl, I had to throw out my half-used sachet which was a bit of a shame.

You can find Masque Bar exclusively in Boots at the moment - look for them online or in the 'latest finds' stands in Boots stores.

Have you tried sheet masks before? Do you like the look of these ones from Masque Bar?

*PR samples


NYK1 Secrets at-home gel nail kit review

With a super glossy finish and a 2 week wear time, it's easy to see why so many people love gel nails. However it can be pretty expensive to keep going to the salon to have them done, with a single application usually costing around £20-£25. 

I was recently given the chance to test out an at home gel nail kit from NYK1 Secrets - a gel nail company that specialises in at home, professional quality products. 

NYK1 Secrets gel nail starter kit contents

NYK1 Secrets gel nail starter kit finished results

Inside my kit was everything I needed for multiple applications - base and top coats, two colours of polish, cuticle sticks, a UV lamp, prepping lotion, acetone for removal, lint free cotton pads, cuticle oil and much more. Also in the box were step-by-step instructions on how to create the perfect gel manicure at home. As a gel novice, these instructions were invaluable - they were super clear and easy to follow, making the whole process really easy to do.

I started off by filing and shaping my nails, before wiping them over several times with the prep and shine lotion. This helps to prepare the nails for gel application, removing excess oil and giving a good base for the gel to adhere to.

The next step was a base coat - I did one hand first, followed by the other. You have to cure each hand after every coat, and the two minute timer on the lamp meant there was no risk of under or over curing as you just push the button and then wait for the lamp to automatically switch off after two minutes.

After the base coat, I applied two coats of coloured polish, curing each coat for two minutes and then applied a final top coat and a last 2 minute cure session under the lamp. The instructions mention that even after the top coat, you'll be left with a slightly sticky finish to your nails, which is totally normal. Once the top coat has been applied and cured, then you need to wipe the finished nails over with a cotton pad soaked in the prep and shine lotion, which removes any sticky residue. After that, you're good to go! 

I found the process pretty easy, if a bit time consuming. You have to be careful to leave a small gap in between the polish and the outer nail bed - if you paint over your cuticle or around the edges of your nails, you'll need to remove this prior to curing (with a cotton bud soaked in acetone) as any overspill can lead to the gel lifting and peeling from your nails. 

It took me about an hour to do both hands, however I think this would be a lot quicker the second time around as I'm now used to the process.

My polish lasted an impressive 16 days before I got my first chip (easily 4 times the length of regular polish). I have to admit I was a bit bored of the colour by then, but I was determined to see how long it would last for! Removal was a slightly painful process of soaking off in acetone, but after about half an hour I had all of the gel off. 

I think this kit is a great option if you're a gel nail lover - you get everything you need in one kit and can top it up with extra polishes from their website. There are dozens of different shades to choose from, and although the initial outlay might seem a little pricey, it's really only about the cost of 4 salon gel manicures. 

I would definitely use this kit again, especially before holidays or weeks when I know I won't have chance to renew my nail polish regularly. 

The kits cost £97.95 for a full kit with your choice of 4 polish shades (plus a base and top coat) and extra individual polishes cost £8.95. You can buy the kits direct from the NYK1 Secrets website

Have you tried gel nails before? What do you think of this at home kit? 

*PR sample



Real Techniques Nic's Picks Brush Set

Real Techniques have been one of my favourite makeup brands for several years now – they’re affordable, great quality and perform better than some of the high end brands I’ve tried! The brand was originally started up by Samantha Chapman, one half of the Pixiwoo sisters, but sister Nic has now come on board, making it a family effort. 

Their latest brush set is ‘Nic’s Picks’ – featuring five of Nic’s favourite Real Techniques brushes, including three that are exclusive to this collection. It’s great to see some new brushes being added to the range. I’m a bit of a Real Techniques addict and own pretty much every brush they’ve made (ahem) so three new ones definitely appealed to me. 

Real Techniques Nic's picks brush collection

Real Techniques Nic's picks brush collection close up

Real Techniques Nic's picks brush collection close up

Inside the kit, you’ll find: Duo-Fiber Powder Brush, Cheek Brush (exclusive), Base Shadow Brush, Angled Shadow Brush (exclusive) and an Eyeliner Brush (exclusive). As you’d expect from the brand, all five are made out of cruelty-free synthetic fibres which are super-soft against the skin. 

The Duo-Fiber Powder Brush is the largest of them all and is great for powder blushers, bronzers and face powders and gives an effortlessy even application. This has been in previous collections, but has been given a bit of a handle upgrade and the snazzy black and chrome is a bit different to their previous launches. 
The new Angled Shadow Brush is probably my favourite of the five – it’s amazing for applying shadow to the crease area of the eye and blending in. It makes applying a smokey eye really easy – the tapered shape fits in well to the eye socket and the soft bristles mean you can blend, blend, blend to your heart’s content. 

The Cheek Brush is also a new addition and is definitely worth investing in. It’s a great multi-use brush that I’m wishing was available separately so I could have a spare one! The slightly domed shape is great for blusher or highlighter application. Nic suggests also using it for bronzer/contouring, but I have to admit I prefer a slightly angled face brush for this as I find it easy to get a more subtle finish. 

At £29.99 for five brushes, this is slightly more expensive than Real Techniques' previous launches, but I think it’s a great value set that will last you for ages. I’ve been using some of my Real Techniques brushes for years and they wash up incredibly well, with minimal shedding of bristles. If you’re thinking of Christmas gifts (or are planning your own Christmas wishlist), this is a great introduction to the brand, or for any makeup lovers that are looking for some good value brushes. 

You can find the Nic’s Picks collection online and in store at Boots and Superdrug (where it's currently on offer for £20!) as well as online from Feel Unique. 

What do you think of the latest brush set from Real Techniques? 

*PR sample


Beauty tips - how to make your lipstick last longer

1. Prep your lips before application - buff away dead skin cells using a gentle lip scrub (try Lush's sugar scrubs) or very gently with a clean toothbrush. By exfoliating the surface it will help give lips something to cling on to and also will stop any dry patches showing through

2. Use a lip liner in a similar shade to your lippie to cover your lips entirely. Start with the outline and then fill them in all over. This will give your lipstick a good base and also add long-lasting colour underneath it if it starts to wear off.

3. Apply, blot and re-apply. A two layer process will ensure you get the best coverage and also aid lasting power. Apply a coat of lipstick, blot with a tissue and then re-apply another coat on top.

4. Try Lipcote - a seriously retro product, Lipcote helps to seal in your lipstick, making it last for hours and hours. It can be very drying, so make sure you top up with a bit of balm on top.

5. Use matte finish or satin lipsticks. These will last a lot longer than those with glossy or lighter textures.

If all else fails, make sure you've got a compact mirror and your lippie in your handbag for a top up!

Have you tried any of these tips before?


Salon review: Andrew Jose London

I always liken finding the right hairdresser to finding the right boyfriend - it can take a lot of wrong ones to find the perfect match. So I was pretty pleased to find that my perfect salon was actually hidden away at the other end of the road from my office. Bonus! 

Andrew Jose is headed up by none other than the man himself and is just a few minutes away from Oxford Street. I popped along to his salon a little while ago to have a bit of a hair makeover. I'd grown bored with my traditional ombre and longish hair and needed to change it up a little. 

Andrew Jose London hair salon

Andrew Jose London hair salon hair makeover in progress

Andrew Jose London hair salon finished cut and colour

After a consultation with Andrew to discuss what I wanted to achieve my hair, a glass of chilled white wine was delivered (well, it was a Friday evening!) and the offer of some snacks if I was feeling a bit peckish. 

I'd decided to have a bit of a chop, so before having my colour put on, Andrew did a rough dry cut to ensure that we weren't wasting time dyeing loads of hair that was about to be cut off. I'd asked to have some sort of subtle shading added in - I loved my ombre but had grown a bit bored of it, so Rebeccah (my colourist) suggested adding some blonde just through the underneath of my hair around the face - framing it and lifting it slightly, but without the all over effect of my original ombre look. 

Rough cut done and bleach applied, it was magazine time and after about 30 minutes, it was time to remove the bleach and add a cool coloured toner to the bleached part of my hair. Then it was time for Andrew to return, perfecting the rough cut he'd done earlier, finishing it off with a few long layers and a seriously good fringe shaping. 

Finally I got to see the completed look and I was so happy with how it came out. I received the perfect length cut and although Andrew had dried it into soft waves, I've also worn it straight since my appointment and love the fact I can wear it in multiple ways. 

It's not often you find a salon that really listen to what you want when you walk in and I can't recommend them highly enough. The fact that it's a five minute walk from my office is just an added bonus - even if you're further away you won't regret travelling over to see them! 

A cut and finish with Andrew costs £150 (other stylists start from £50) and my colour was £85. 

*My visit was complimentary


Christmas gift ideas: Jewel Candle

Scented candles are always feature heavily on my Christmas list and I think they make lovely gifts for all ages. If you’re looking for something a little different this year, then let me introduce you to Jewel Candle.

Jewel Candle are a scented candle company with a difference – inside each of their candles you’ll find an extra surprise: a piece of silver jewellery. You can choose between either earrings or a ring, although the exact design of what you’ll receive is kept a secret. Each piece is worth anything from £10 to £250, although I think that the majority of items will definitely fall into the lower end of that category. You can also choose what type of scent you’d like from several different varieties; I went for the fruity sounding (and smelling) passion fruit*.

Passion Fruit ring Jewel Candle

Jewel Candle contents - silver ring

The candles themselves are actually pretty big – you get around 120 hours of burn time out of each one. They also smell great – mine perfumed the entire living room with a lovely fruity scent, which wasn’t overpowering but lasted well.

The jewel itself is hidden about an inch or so down in the wax, so in order to get to it, you’ll need to burn the candle for around 6-8 hours. Typically, I wasn’t that patient and after about 4 hours decided I couldn’t wait any longer. Queue digging around in hot wax with some tweezers until finally I managed to free my heat-proof foil packet, ripping into it to see what was hidden inside.

I found a lovely silver ring with a teardrop shaped stone in the middle, which thankfully fit me perfectly. This is one of the potential downsides to Jewel Candles – although you can specify if you want earrings or a ring, there’s no way to make sure the ring you get is the right size for you. I’d love to see them add a ring size option too – it would be really disappointing to get something you’re not actually able to wear.

If you’re looking for a slightly unusual Christmas gift, then I think these would be a great option. The element of surprise makes it doubly fun, however if you have a particularly large/small ring size, you might want to choose an earring candle just in case of sizing problems.

Jewel Candles are priced at £19.95 for earring candles and £24.95 for ring candles and can be purchased directly from the Jewel Candle website.

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High end skincare worth the high price tag

I've often thought of skincare as a good investment - if my skin looks good I feel much better about myself overall. That said, choosing the right products can be a bit of a minefield especially when they've got a high price attached. If you're wondering which high end skincare to buy, these are three products that I think are really worth the price tag

High end skin care worth the price tag

Perricone MD Cold Plasma* - this is a lightweight serum designed to be used before moisturising at night. It has a weird, slightly fishy smell to it (that doesn't linger thankfully) but once you get past that your skin is going to love you for using this. Every night I use this I wake up glowing - so much so that other people have commented on it. I honestly can't recommend it enough. A little bit goes a long way so although a 30ml pot will set you back £120 it should last you 4-5 months. And trust me, you'll be glad you bought it.

Ole Henriksen Ultimate Lift Eye Gel* - this little wonder pot will have your eye area looking refreshed and revitalised in just a few applications. It's rare for me to see instant results with eye creams but this one gets to work immediately and after just a few days my eye area looked a lot less tired and fine lines were less visible. It's a lovely cooling gel which can be used morning or night and as it doesn't leave any kind of greasy residue, you can apply makeup after just a few minutes. This is one eye cream staying firmly on my repurchase list. £36 for 30ml

Antonia Burrell Pure Therapy Face Oil* - don't be deceived by the small size of this bottle; inside you'll find a super mix of oils that not only hydrate the skin but will leave you looking radiant and revitalised. I find this to be best used as a night treatment - apply one to two pumps to your hands and press gently into skin for the best effect. Despite the bottle only being 15 ml a little goes a long way and after two months I'm still going strong with mine. £58.80 for 15ml.

Which high end skincare products do you think are worth the high price tags?

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Andrea Garland Sleeping Beauty collection

Andrea Garland is a brand that's been on my radar for a little while. Created by Andrea herself, she makes a small range of products that come in beautifully quirky packaging. I've seen a lot of her products dotted around in the Liberty department store in London - she often takes vintage tins and pillboxes and fills them with her natural lip balm, creating something individual and unique.

For Christmas, Andrea has put together the Sleeping Beauty collection*. Packed with a combination of products that are all designed to help you get your beauty sleep, this is one gift you'll definitely want to see under the tree come December.

Andrea Garland Sleeping Beauty collection

Andrea Garland Sleeping Beauty collection

Andrea Garland Sleeping Beauty collection

The box itself has been created in a Sleeping Beauty book design, with some gorgeous illustrations inside and out. Once you open it up, you'll find one of Andrea's iconic lip balm pillboxes in a special Sleeping Beauty design, a Chamomile and Bergamot pillow mist, Chamomile and Oak Beauty Cream, ear plugs and a pink silky eye mask with a winking eye design on the front.

For me, this is the perfect gift if you're on the hunt for something a little more quirky and unusual, but still beauty related. I think any beauty lover would be thrilled to receive one of these - I basically let out a little squeal of joy when I opened mine up! The products themselves smell divine - my only complaint is that I have to wait until bed time to use them.

The lip balm is 100% natural and leaves lips feeling super soft and hydrated. I'm already thinking about purchasing a new lip balm tin in a different design - I can see these becoming a bit of an addiction. 

The Sleeping Beauty collection costs £39 and can be found online from ASOS and the Andrea Garland website.

What do you think of this Sleeping Beauty inspired gift?

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Kiko Luxurious Collection review

Since Kiko launched in the UK a couple of years ago, it's become a must-have brand for my makeup bag. Their limited edition collections are always exciting and the new Luxurious collection is no exception.

It's a capsule collection of just six products, focusing on beautiful skin finishes with some seriously luxe packaging. 

The highlight of the range for me has to be the Precious Illuminating Bronzer*, which features a gorgeous mix of light-medium bronzer shades and soft pastel highlights. When swirled together these create almost a luminous bronzing effect - giving skin a slightly warm, but healthy glow. 

Kiko luxurious collection

Kiko luxurious collection swatches
L-R Royal Gold and Noble Rosy Silver Highlighters and the Precious Illuminating Bronzer swatches
Now, this only comes in one shade which is best suited to light-medium skin tones and I think it would've been nice to have a darker option. If you're darker-toned, then you can definitely still use this, but it will probably be more highlighter than bronzer for you.

The packaging on this bronzer is seriously high end - with a velvet pouch and a solid feeling gold-toned exterior, it's a compact you'll be happy to take out on the train for touch ups. The embossed design on the product itself is also incredibly pretty - it took me a week or two to actually use it as I didn't want to disturb it! 

Another great product from the collection is the Magnificent Highlighter*. This is a pen style, liquid highlighter than can be brushed on to any areas of the face for added radiance and to help catch the light. These remind me a little of YSL's cult Touche Eclat pens, however Kiko's offerings are a little more pigmented and slighlty more shimmery. 

There are two shades to choose from - Royal Gold and Noble Rosy Silver. I find the silver one to be the more natural option for fair skins - it looks great brushed over cheekbones and blended out; you get a really luminous finish to skin. I would stay away from adding these to your under eye area, purely because they feel a bit too 'obvious', but are perfect for around the cheekbones, cupid's bow and under the brow arch. 

The Luxurious Collection is slightly prcier than Kiko's regular lines - the Magnificent Highlighters are £10 each and the Precious Illuminating Bronzer is £18, however I really feel that these are worth the extra few pounds. 

You can find the Luxurious Collection online from Kiko and in Kiko stores until around Christmas time. There's also a small range of eye products and a beautiful looking face brush if you fancy trying out the rest of the range. 

What do you think of these new products from Kiko? 

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Beauty counter make overs - yay or nay?

As a beauty blogger, I love nothing more than a good nose around a beauty counter. The lure of undiscovered products and a swatchathon is usually too much for me to resist. However there’s one aspect of the counters that hasn’t got me entirely sold – the makeovers.

Over the years I’ve had more than my fair share of counter makeovers – I like to think I’m quite open at trying new looks and new products, so often end up being dragged in to a chair and trying something out. But more often than not, I’m left feeling slightly disappointed, and pressurised into buying products that I’m not entirely sure about.

beauty counters

We’ve all been there – a casual browse of a counter has led to ‘ooh, would you like to see what it looks like on?’ and before you know it, you’re walking out the door with at least one new product. I usually like to take my time in making a decision about whether or not I want to buy a product – how long does it wear, what’s the finish like after a few hours, how do I actually look when I leave the god awful lighting of the shop floor and get out into daylight?

Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that from the perspective of someone working on the counters that time is money and that the makeovers are there to help improve sales. But on the flip side, I don’t feel that consumers should feel pressurised into purchasing something immediately – we need time to work out if this is actually “the one” – after all, it’s not like we can bring it back if we get home and realise we made a purchase faux pas.

Even the quality of the makeovers can vary – I know not everyone on the counters are trained makeup artists, but I’ve had some terrible experiences before and left looking like a panda (attempt at a smokey eye), the corpse effect nude lip and don’t even get me started on ‘brow-gate’. That said, I always want to give them another chance – just maybe with a different brand and different makeup artist.

Counter hygiene can also leave a lot to be desired. MAC and many other brands may have a rigorous cleaning process for testers and brushes, but I’ve been approached with unsanitzed lipsticks and a mascara wand that’s seen multiple eyes too many times to make me comfortable. In my opinion, if you’re not happy with the hygiene of the products, get your butt out of that chair immediately – even if it does mean leaving with only half a face of make up.

All this aside, I’m still happy to be a makeup guinea pig from time to time – I’m just a bit more fussy about who, when and where it happens. And after all, those awful makeovers certainly give me something to laugh about on bad days!

What are your thoughts on counter makeovers? I’d love to hear about your experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Christmas gift ideas: Fresh Sugar Legends

Fresh are one of those brands that I will travel miles to track down. I have a long running obsession with their cult Lip Sugar balms and since discovering their store in Marylebone last year, my addiction continues to grow.

For Christmas Fresh have put together a bumper gift set of Lip Sugars, featuring a different one for every day of the week. Inside the box you'll find Lip Sugars in Berry, Passion, Cherry, Honey, Rose, Tulip and Petal all in luxury travel sizes. Each Lip Sugar is slightly tinted, so these are great all in one products of you like a balm with a hint of colour.

Fresh lip sugar legends gift set

Fresh lip sugar legends gift set

The Rose flavour is probably my favourite as it adds a very subtle hint of pink to your lips, but if I'm honest, I also have Berry and Tulip in my handbag at the moment (I don't like to play favourites).

If you've not tried Fresh before this is a great introduction to the iconic Lip Sugar range, or if you're an addict like me, it's a great way to stock up on all your favourites and try out a few new shades all in one go.

The collection costs £44 - around the same cost as 2 full sized Lip Sugars so is pretty good value for money (relatively speaking - I know £44 for lip balms ain't exactly a budget buy!).

Fresh is a bit tricky to track down in the UK, however the Marylebone shop does mail order, so if you contact them directly, you should be able to get a set posted out. It's also a must-visit place if you're heading down to London before Christmas.

Have you tried Fresh before? Will this Lip Sugar set be going on your Christmas list?

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Elemis QVC TSV and giveaway

Elemis have teamed up with QVC to create yet another TSV (Today's Special Value) gift set that will be on sale this weekend. The TSVs are traditionally amazing value for money and this one is definitely no different!

There are six Elemis products included in this edition, including three brand new ones which are having their global launches exclusively on QVC. The products are collectively worth over £125, but will be on sale for under £40.

Elemis QVC TSV

Inside the blue gift bag you'll find:
- 200ml Pro Radiance Cream Cleanser in a limited edition new fragrance
- 30ml Pro-Collagen Marine Cream
- 300ml Skin Nourishing Shower Cream
- 50ml Skin Nourishing Body Cream
- 125ml Jasmine and Rose Milk Bath
- 20ml Jasmine and Rose Hand & Nail cream

I think this is a really lovely set of products and would make a great Christmas gift if you have any Elemis fans to buy for. I'm a big fan of Elemis products - the Jasmine and Rose milk bath is the perfect treat for the winter and the matching hand and nail cream smells divine!

The TSVs often sell out very quickly, so make sure you're online/watching QVC on Saturday 15th November at 8pm when it launches!

The lovely team at Elemis have given me one special TSV set to give away - simply complete your chosen Rafflecopter entries to take part. This is a UK only giveaway and closes at 23:59 UK time on Monday 17th November. One winner will be chosen at random and will be contacted directly. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

What do you think of this TSV?


Glossybox Harvey Nichols special edition

Glossybox are teaming up with luxury department store Harvey Nichols to create an amazing limited edition box later this month.

The Harvey Nichols edition is a one-off box and features products from some of the cult brands from their beauty halls, along with a few new launches (scroll down if you're looking for full spoilers on the contents!). The overall contents are worth over £150, making it a must-have box for any beauty lover.

The box is available to purchase by both subscribers and non-subscribers and if you already subscribe to Glossybox, this would be an extra box on top of your regular deliveries. It costs £30 plus postage for subscribers and is slightly more expensive for non-subscribers at £35 plus postage.

Glossybox Harvey Nichols special edition box contents

As there are only 2,000 boxes available, this is definitely one I can see selling out seriously quickly! If this box is a must-have for you, Glossybox are allowing pre-registrations on their website from today. When the box officially goes on sale on 17th November, anyone who's pre-registered will be given early access to purchase the box in the morning of the 17th before it goes on sale to the general public.

Inside the box you'll find...

- Laura Mericer Foundation Primer
- Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Cream
- Dermalogica Overnight Repair Serum
- Rodial Bee Venom Moisturiser
- Benefit They're Real Mascara
- Macadamia Healing Oil Treatment
- OPI Viking in a Vinter Vonderland (full-size) (purchasers in Ireland will receive a full-sized Avoplex hand cream instead due to postage restrictions)
- NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Rikugien
- La Coupe Coconut Macadamia Oil treatment
- Show Beauty (one of 11 full-sized styling products)
- Harvey Nichols Mini Scented Candle

Not bad for £30! There are several full sizes in the box, with everything else being very generous travel sizes. The addition of a NARS lip crayon is more than a little bit exciting - you don't often see those in beauty boxes! All in all I think it's a great box and if you like the look of it, I'd definitely recommend pre-registering for early access.

The Harvey Nichols Glossybox launches on 17th November and will only be available via their website.

What do you think of this box? Will you be ordering one?

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Mark Hill Big Bun Hair pillow review

Having fine hair is the bane of my existence. It looks (mostly) ok when I leave it down, but adding volume for an up do is pretty much a no-go area as it seems to flop back down after an hour no matter how much back-combing is involved.

Mark Hill has developed a clever solution to this issue with his new Big Buns - soft pillows of natural-looking hair that can be used to create volume where it's lacking naturally.

Mark Hill Big Buns

Mark Hill Big Buns

Mark Hill Big Buns in blonde hair

Mark Hill Big Buns in blonde hair

I was a bit sceptical at first. After all, these basically look like a giant sausage made out of hair. However, don't let appearances fool you - these beauties can be used to create volume where there is none and make even my lacklustre hair work in up dos I never would've thought possible.

Using them is quite simple. There's a light colour for any blondes/light browns and a darker option for dark brown/black hair. You simply decide where the pillow needs to sit (mine was just under the back of my crown to help create a mini beehive) and bring some excess hair forward to give you something to cover it with after you're finished. Back comb some of the hair around where you want to add the pillow to help give it more texture to grip on to and then clip into place using the in-built clips and a few extra hair grips for added security. All you then have to do is cover the pillow over with a top layer of hair and pin into place for your finished up do.

My mini beehive lasted all night, unlike the usual hour I'd have got without the use of the extra stuffing and it stayed in place securely even after a few rigorous head shakes to test it out!

These are a great idea for the party season when up dos become the 'thing' to have. I'd recommend having a few test runs at home to get the placement of the pillow perfect - then you're able to build your final up do around it.

At £9.99 each these are a bit of a bargain - you can reuse them over and over again, so one should see you through the party season.

What do you think of these new products from Mark Hill?

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Winter hand heroes

Winter. The time of beautiful cold sunny days and dried out wrinkly hands. They say you can tell a person's true age by looking at their hands (well, except for Madonna), but in winter our hands take a lot of punishment from the cold and central heating, making them look like dried out husks of their former youthful selves. 

I've put together an duo of hand care heroes that will help stop the wrinkly lizard skin look (seriously, my hands in winter look about 100 years old), so if you're on the hunt for a new hand hero, look no further.

Bodhi & Brich lime blossom hand serum and Trilogy Everything Balm

Bodhi & Birch Lime Blossom hand serum* - Inside this handbag sized bottle are an amazing blend of hydrating oils that will leave even the driest hands feeling super soft, but most importantly NOT GREASY. It's basically the Holy Grail of hand products if you want to apply something and then go about your normal working day without having to wait 10 minutes for the product to be absorbed. It also smells divine. I just wish it came in a bigger bottle so I could cover my whole body in it. £22

Trilogy Everything Balm* - don't be fooled by the small size of this Everything Balm tin from Trilogy - inside you'll find an absolute gem of a product that can be used on dry patches across your face and body. Just a small amount of this solid balm softens up cuticles, works wonders on dry knuckles and for me it's the perfect handbag companion. There's also a bigger size tin available if you're looking for something less portable - it costs £20.50 for 95ml whereas the smaller tin is £12.50 for 45ml. This is one purchase you won't regret!

What are your favourite products to help keep your hands hydrated through winter? 

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Introducing: Delilah cosmetics

When a new makeup brand launches, it's definitely cause for excitement. Especially when it's made in Britain, full of completely wearable shades and fantastic formulas you'll want to wear all day, every day.

Delilah is all of those things and as you can tell, I got a bit excited by this recent launch. The brand was created by a trio of friends who wanted to create a range that made women of all ages look and feel beautiful. Fast forward a few years and Delilah cosmetics was born.

Delilah cosmetics sunset bronzer and Stiletto lipstick

Delilah cosmetics sunset bronzer and Stiletto lipstick

Delilah cosmetics sunset bronzer and Stiletto lipstick swatches

The range is extensive, but not overwhelming and the colour choices are really great. There are a lot of nude shadows (yay!) as well as some brights; along with a blusher for every skin tone, creamy concealers and a whole load of lipsticks.

I've been testing out a few products from the range and have absolutely fallen for this hot pink lipstick called Stiletto. The formula is really creamy and easy to wear and it packs a serious punch in terms of pigmentation. The packaging also feels high-end - the brand itself falls into the premium category, so when you're paying £24 for a lipstick, you want to feel like you've gotten your money's worth. Well, I think they've definitely achieved that and this will be one lip product you won't be worried about showing off in public!

The Sunset matt bronzer comes packaged in a beautiful rose-gold toned compact, complete with it's own protective pouch to stop it being scratched up in your handbag. There are 2 shades to choose from - I have Light-Medium which is the lightest of the two. It's a matte powder bronzer, so it's a great option for contouring on light-medium skin tones and although the pigmentation is quite gentle, this makes it easy to apply without running the risk of a dreaded contour stripe. There's no brush included, but to be honest, I often throw these out! I'd recommend using Illamasqua's contour brush if you're planning to use this to sculpt the face or a larger, fluffy brush if you're going for an all over wash of colour. The bronzers are £34 each but are pretty large, so even with daily use it will probably last you close to a year.

Delilah makeup is available online from their website, as well as being stocked in selected spas and salons across the country. If you're looking for a new makeup brand and love a luxury look and feel, I'd definitely recommend giving them a try. It's a brand that's accessible to all ages and would make a lovely gift for Christmas.

Have you heard of Delilah before? What do you think of this new makeup range?

*PR samples

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