30/12/2014

My top ten of 2014 - makeup

Over the past 12 months I've tried and tested a LOT of makeup and have found a few favourites that I can see remaining in my makeup bag for a long time to come. These are my top ten makeup picks of the year - if you've not tried them before, I promise you won't regret it!

top makeup products of 2014

DHC liquid liner - this has been my favourite liquid liner for the past couple of years and I make sure I have a constant stock of these in my makeup drawer. The colour is a rich black, the nib is nice and soft and the felt pen style means it's really easy to apply, even if you're a liner newbie. DHC is a Japanese brand, but it can be ordered directly from their website or found in BeautyMart shops. If you're a liner lover, this will be the best £16 you spend.

Dermalogica Skin Perfect Primer - this is one of the only silicone based primers I've found that doesn't break me out, even with daily use. It gives makeup a good base, and while it doesn't promise to give your foundation 24 hour wear, it works well for oily and dry skins alike and makes my mineral powder foundation last throughout a full day at work. Yes it's slightly pricey at £38.40 for a tube, but mine has lasted over 8 months with almost daily use so you won't need to repurchase that often.

Burberry 07 Earthy Glow Blusher - being pale can be a pain when you're trying to find a decent contour shade, but this Burberry blusher has become my go-to product for a gentle contoured look. It's a slightly grey/taupe colour which is unusual for a blusher, but works perfectly brushed under the cheekbones for added definition.

Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara - it doesn't *quite* live up to it's name, but this is the best mascara I've tried all year. For big, bold lashes without clumps in just two coats, if you're a fan of the false lash effect you'll love this. The only downside is that it's been so popular, it's currently sold out in the UK, which is not cool. Not cool at all. £19

Kiko Daring Game eyeshadow palette* - there was a lot of Kiko makeup that could've made this list, but as favourites go, this neutral 4 shadow palette has been in my makeup bag pretty much since the collection launched. The shadows are soft, easy to blend and the palette has the perfect mix of shades.

Urban Decay Vice Limited palette - I'm an Urban Decay palette junkie and Vice Limited has to be my pick of the year. It was a limited edition and only sold via Selfridges, but I think the shade selection is fab, and the formulas are seriously good.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz* - this is a recent addition to my makeup bag, but I absolutely love it. I can now see why all the fuss has been made over this brand! The Taupe shade is perfect for lighter brows and gives a really natural look while still giving definition. It's a bit pricey at £15.50 but I'll be repurchasing another one asap.

MAC Strobe Cream - this liquid highlighter makes skin look luminous with minimal effort and not a spot of glitter in sight. It's also great for mixing in with body lotion for a hint of shimmer on shoulders/collarbone for a night out.

Urban Decay lipsticks - a second entry for Urban Decay, if you've not tried their lipsticks, make sure you change that in 2015. The formula is creamy, semi-matte and long wearing but still hydrating at the same time. Mrs. Mia Wallace was one of my favourite shades for 2014, but there are plenty to choose from if blood red isn't your thing.

Fresh Lip Sugars* - these tinted lip balms are a handbag essential for me. They give a hint of colour with lots of hydration and smell absolutely amazing. I literally can't get enough of these!

What have been your top makeup finds of 2014?
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28/12/2014

Lifestyle: Harry Potter studio tour - the festive edition

A few weeks ago, I headed along for my second visit to the Harry Potter Studio tour near London (yes, I'm a bit of a fan!). With Leanne from Do Not Refreeze in tow, we spent hours looking at the exhibits, sipping Butterbeer and making some tricky decisions in the gift shop. 

As it was December, a lot of the sets had been given a Christmas theme which was really fun and definitely got me in the festive spirit. These are just a few photos of the day - I don't want to spoil it for you completely if you decide to go along!  

Harry Potter studio tour london great hall and costumes

Harry Potter studio tour london great hall food

Harry Potter studio tour london great hall food

Harry Potter studio tour london great hall costumes

Harry Potter studio tour london fake fire

Harry Potter studio tour london Dumbledore office

Harry Potter studio tour london clock

Harry Potter studio tour london hair and makeup

Harry Potter studio tour london potions classroom and snape

Harry Potter studio tour london potions classroom and skull

Harry Potter studio tour london skulls

Harry Potter studio tour london green screen car

Harry Potter studio tour london buckbeak

Harry Potter studio tour london butterbeer

Harry Potter studio tour london daily prophet

Harry Potter studio tour london diagon alley

Harry Potter studio tour london diagon alley

Harry Potter studio tour london special effects makeup

Harry Potter studio tour london weasley clock

Harry Potter studio tour london Hogwarts model

Have you been to the Studio Tour before? Is it something you'd like to do?
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23/12/2014

SimpleHuman Sensor Mirror review

Let's face it, most of us wouldn't get very far with our makeup without a decent mirror to look in while we apply it. For the past couple of months I've been using what can only be described as the Rolls Royce of mirrors in my daily routine, in the form of the SimpleHuman sensor mirror*.

Now, at first glance this looms like pretty much any other stand alone mirror, but don't be fooled by its simple appearance - this mirror is a little different from the rest.

Simple Human sensor mirror

As well as a 5x magnification that magically still allows you to see the whole of your face, it's also got an inbuilt daylight LED lamp around the rim which mimics natural light for the most accurate representation of how you look. The lamp itself works on a sensor - by moving in towards the mirror it switches itself on ready for use. It's pretty bright, so if your bedroom is a lacking in natural light (like mine!), then this makes applying makeup on a dull winter's morning so much easier. 

The magnification takes a bit of getting used to - seeing your skin that close up definitely gives you a good idea of where it needs improvement! But it's a great mirror for getting a really precise makeup application as you can see a great amount of detail without having to get too close to the mirror. 

I did have a few moments during the first couple of weeks where I'd get a bit too close when I was doing my cleaning and manage to turn the mirror on, but other than that it's been pretty smooth sailing.  It needs charging every few weeks, but this can be done via usb so it's a quick and easy process (I normally do it at the same time as my kindle).

The only downside to this mirror is the price - at £149.99 it's definitely an investment piece and not something that will fall into everyone's budget. If you use it daily, the cost per use definitely comes out pretty low over a few years and I have to be honest, I wouldn't like to be without mine now! I'm just not sure I would be able to justify the price all in one go.

You can find the SimpleHuman Sensor Mirror as an online exclusive from Lakeland.

What do you think of this mirror?

*pr sample
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22/12/2014

Tales From The Earth secret message bangle

If you're looking for a last minute gift idea, or maybe something to spend some hard-earned pennies on, I think you're pretty much onto a winner with jewellery brand Tales From The Earth.

They say a picture says a thousand words, but I reckon jewellery says a few more. Ahem. Well, these secret message bangles certainly do as hidden beneath their shiny exterior, you'll find a message inscribed that only a select few will ever get to see.

tales from the earth secret message bangle

tales from the earth secret message bangle

They remind me a little of those kind of positive affirmations that you see mentioned in motivational ideas posts - you can keep one of your secret desires close to you at all times with a lovely reminder every time you look at your wrist.

Tales Of The Earth kindly let me choose a bangle with a message that spoke most to me - I went for 'an abundance of happiness' as it's something I wish for not only myself, but for everyone around me (cheesy, but true!). It's nice to have a bit of positivity attached to your wrist at all times - it serves as a good reminder in those grumpy b**ch moments!

There are also options for travel enthusiasts or dreamers and I think these would make a beautiful gift for a special someone that you want to send a message to.

The bangles themselves are rhodium plated and feel like excellent quality - it's thicker than I thought it would be and I'm loving stacking mine up with a selection of silver bracelets for a chunky look.

Secret Message bangles cost £45 each and can be found on the Tales From The Earth website.

What sort of message would you like to see inside your bangle?

*PR sample
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21/12/2014

Giftmas giveaway: win Makeup Revolution and Models Own goodies

Christmas is almost here and it's time for the fourth (and last) of my giftmas giveaways that have been running throughout December. This time around you can win these two lovely gift sets from Makeup Revolution and Models Own.

The giveaway will run until 23:59 GMT on 28th December and due to the fact it contains nail polish (subject to postage restrictions) is open to UK entries only. To enter, simply complete your chosen entries on the Rafflecopter widget below. 

Good luck! 

Makeup Revolution and Models own giveaway prize

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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19/12/2014

The 100 day spending ban

After a few months (ok, most of the year) of being Mrs Spendy, I’ve decided it’s high time to crack down on purchasing and take on the 100 day spending ban challenge in the new year.

The thought of this fills me with fear if I’m honest – no beauty purchases for three and a half months seems like a really, really, really long time. But after looking through the drawers of my stash and realising I might need some sort of intervention, it’s time to get serious and curb the habit for a while.

I’ll be starting my ban on 1st January and aiming to last the full 100 days. I’m setting some ground rules for myself to help make it a bit easier, but I’m hoping that the experience will help me to use up lots of the products I already have at home, save some more money and at the end of it all, use the money I’ve saved for a bigger treat and a charity donation.

My rules are:

- I can only buy beauty products if I have completely run out of that type of product (including those in my stash). I’m weirdly fussy with mascara and foundation so if my daily supply runs out, I’ll allow myself to repurchase a replacement, but that’s it.

- Magazine freebies are ok, but magazine purchases need to be limited to two per month (I have a terrible habit of buying them and only ever reading half before recycling them)

- Bring breakfast/lunch to work with me – since moving to an office in central London I’ve gotten lazy with food prep and tend to buy my lunch out every day. This adds up to a scary amount of money, so as part of the ban I’ll be aiming to bring my own lunch in at least 3-4 times per week, with a day off as a treat.

I’ll still be posting lots of product reviews over the ban, along with more tutorials, how to guides and beauty tips, which you’ve said in the comments of previous posts you’d love to see more of.

I’m hoping these changes will get me more into the mind of saving money and not just making random purchases for the sake of it, but I have a feeling I’ll need some encouragement to keep with it! I’d love to know if you’re planning a spending ban for the new year – it’d be great to have a motivational group around to keep us all on track!

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18/12/2014

The UK beauty subscription box guide

Beauty subscription boxes have become seriously popular over the past few years. For a small fee, you’ll be sent a surprise box of beauty goodies each month, which can make for a very nice surprise in the post. I’ve put together a quick guide of boxes currently available in the UK. If you’re thinking of signing up to receive one, but aren’t sure of your options, I hope this guide will help.

A guide to uk beauty subscription boxes

Birchbox – for £10 per month plus £2.95 postage, Birchbox will send you out a box of 4-5 beauty treats per month. The boxes are often themed ( the Harper's Bazaar box for example) and you’ll usually receive a mixture of travel-sizes, full-sized products and the odd (slightly annoying) sachet. Previous brands in the boxes have included Benefit, HD Brows, Models Own and Laura Mercier. Review of May's box here.

Glossybox UK – inside your monthly Glossybox, you’ll receive 4-5 products that are usually a mixture of full-sizes, travel sizes and the odd sachet or perfume sample. Glossybox try to send our brands you might not have heard of before, so it’s a good way of discovering new brands, however there can sometimes be a bit of repetition if you’ve subscribed for a long time. It costs £10 per month plus £2.95 postage and has previously included brands such as So Susan, Ciate, Max Factor and Philip Kingsley. Review of December's box here.

MeMe box – hailing from Korea, MeMe box are slightly different from other boxes as they work on a pay as you go basis. Rather than having a monthly subscription, you simply order the boxes you like the look of and wait for them to arrive. The boxes are usually themed, and are a fantastic way to discover Korean and other Asian beauty brands. There tends to be a long lead time with these boxes (one might go on sale that won’t be shipping for another 6-8 weeks) and you’ll need to allow a couple of weeks for shipping time once it’s been dispatched. I’ve bought several of these boxes and have been really impressed with each one so far – they’re completely different to many of the UK boxes and I’ve loved discovering new Korean brands. They range in price from around $23 - $36 excluding shipping, but usually have a contents value of at least twice that.

My Little Box – the newest monthly box on the scene, My Little Box recently launched in the UK after being a big hit in France. It’s a mixture of beauty and lifestyle products with a Parisienne edge. Expect to find one product from their own beauty line inside (which are usually very good quality), along with brands such as OPI, L’Occitane and Kerastase. You’ll also find one or two lifestyle products (think scarfs, sunglasses cases, cute jewellery) which all fit into the monthly box theme. You’ll also receive a great quality mini magazine in each box and at £14.95 per month (including postage) I think it’s pretty good value.

You Beauty Discovery – at £6.95 per month, this is the cheapest of the beauty boxes but is also great value. Each month, you sign in to your account and select two samples (out of a selection of 8-10) that you’d like to receive. You’ll also receive a couple of extra samples (usually smaller, sachet type samples) as extras, that are chosen by You Beauty Discovery. Previous brands have included Co Lab, Essie, BECCA, MOA, Lanolips and The Organic Pharmacy.

Latest in Beauty – rather than a monthly subscription, Latest in Beauty put together seasonal boxes that you can purchase as and when you choose. These are usually around the £15-£20 mark but always have contents that are worth around 3-5 times that value. They are themed boxes, e.g. The Glamour Magazine Edit, and are a great choice if you like to know exactly what you’ll be getting inside your box as there are no surprises. Previous brands have included Philip Kingley, Lola, Inika, Elemis, Crabtree & Evelyn and Burt’s Bees. Review of the Beauty Bible Loves box here.

Look Fantastic – this box has recently launched and is proving to be seriously popular! There are a limited number of these which launch monthly and you’ll need to sign  up each month in order to receive one. They sell out very quickly and the contents are kept a secret, but they’ll contain at least six products in a mix of hair, body, skincare and makeup. At £15 per month this is good value – the box contents are usually worth at least three times this and previous boxes have included Elemis, Ole Henriksen, Bourjois, Eve Lom and Glamglow.

Love Lula – if you’re a fan of natural and organic beauty, then Love Lula is a great option. For £12.50 per month, you’ll receive a selection of organic and natural makeup, skincare and body care. Previous boxes have included brands such as John Masters Organics, Inika, Bodhi & Birch, Pai, Suki and Ecotools.

Do you subscribe to any beauty boxes? Which ones are your favourites?
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17/12/2014

Clinique Nutcracker Suite makeup review and swatches

Clinique’s Christmas makeup collection is seriously pretty. Like, pretty enough to stop me wearing neutral eye shadows all of the time (which my friends will tell you is a LOT).

Inspired by the iconic Nutcracker ballet, The Nutcracker Suite* is a limited edition collection full of pinks, whites and purples that form an integral role of the ballet’s costumes, sets and scenery.

Clinique the nutcracker suite makeup collection

Clinique the nutcracker suite makeup collection swatches
Act 1 palette swatches
Clinique the nutcracker suite makeup collection swatches
Act II palette swatches
The collection has been split into two parts – each of which has been inspired by a different part of the performance. There are two palettes to choose from (Act I and Act II), a Blended Face Powder in Snowflake Dreams, plus two complementary shades of Chubby Stick Baby Tints in Budding Blossom and Flowering Freesia.

It’s been a while since I tried makeup from Clinique that wasn’t a chubby stick, and I’ve been really impressed with the new collection. It takes a lot to get me out of my nude shadow comfort zone, but these have really done the trick!

While the Blended Face Powder might look like an unwearable pink shade for a face powder, it actually blends out to a very sheer, shimmery finish. You can easily wear this all over without looking like you’ve had a fight with your blusher (phew!). It comes with its own little brush which is very cute, but for practicalities sake, I’d recommend using it with a larger brush and applying to the tops of cheeks, shoulders and collarbone for a bit of shimmer for a festive night out.

The palettes offer up a mixture of pink, purple and silver toned eye shadows and a blusher inside each one. The Act I palette is definitely more of a day time palette – the shades are lighter, fresher and inspired by ‘The Waltz of the Snowflakes’. Act II is great for more evening looks as it features slightly deeper shades, with a powder blusher in the shade Tutu Pink (loving all of the shade names!).  Act II is a Clinique.co.uk exclusive, so you won’t find it on counters, but it’s definitely worth making an online order for.

While the shades of Chubby Stick Baby Tints aren’t new, they really do work perfectly with the rest of the collection. I’ve not tried the Baby Tint versions before so freaked out slightly when I saw Flowering Freesia, but these are actually very sheer, lightly tinted lip balms. They add just a hint of colour to the lips, so if you’re not a fan of a bold lip look, then these will be perfect for you.

The Nutcracker Suite is available on counters now and is limited edition, so if you like what you see, make sure you pick it up before Christmas! The palettes retail for £35 each, Blended Face Powder £23 and the Chubby Stick Baby Tints are £17.

Do you like the look of the Christmas collection from Clinique?

*PR sample
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16/12/2014

Glossybox December 2014 edition

Glossybox's December box arrived a few days ago and as per usual, I ripped into it straight away. They've given the outer box a very festive theme this month which I think is really cute, but what about the contents?

Inside the box there are five samples, four of which were full-sized. Disappointingly, there wasn't really much of a festive theme going on which I think was a shame, but none the less, the box contents are pretty good value for the price.

Glossybox December 2014 box contents

The item I'm most pleased about is the BellaPierre lip and cheek stain, which is a handbag-friendly creamy product that I'm sure I will get a lot of use out of. The colour is nice - maybe not quite the one I'd have chosen for myself, but definitely still useable. Full-size £12.95

There's also another lip product in my box in the form of Lip Glam. This seems to be a very similar product to my trusty Lanolips ointment (they are both 100% lanolin), so I know it's something I'll use. It's also full-sized and normally retails at £9.99. I've not heard of the brand before, so it's nice to discover an alternative.

The TRESemme hair mask shots look interesting - they aren't something I'd have necessarily bought myself, but I will definitely give them a try. After all, a good hair mask is invaluable, especially when you only have to leave it on for 60 seconds! Full-sized - £5.50 for a pack of 4.

I also received an Anatomicals Spot stick and a trial sized version of Skin Prep Wrinkle Clear Peptide Serum. While these two products aren't really things I would use (I don't often get spots and the serum sounds like it will be better for more mature skin), they are definitely something I can pass on to a friend who I know will really enjoy them.

I can't quite put my finger on why, but despite having mostly full-sized products and at least 3 products I will use, I still feel a bit underwhelmed by this box. I'd have liked to have seen a bit more of a festive theme - maybe some glitter nail polish or a cheeky chocolate added in for good measure.

Glossybox costs £10 per month plus £2.95 postage.

Have you received your Glossybox? What do you think of this month's contents?

*PR sample
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15/12/2014

Christmas gift guide: beauty gifts £50 and under

Over the past few weeks I've put together a series of gift ideas for Christmas - today sees the final installment with lots of gifts that all come in at £50 or less. If you're on the hunt for the perect gift for a close friend or relative (or something for your own wishlist!) I hope you'll find something from this selection. 

Christmas beauty gifts for £50 or less

Avon Master Collection Makeup Palette* - a must-have for makeup addicts, this palette has dozens of eye shadows, blushers and even lip colours inside. £28

Inika All About Eyes collection* - Inika are the perfect choice for organic or natural beauty lovers. This mineral makeup set contains five products all for the eyes and is a great introduction to the brand. £49.95 (worth almost £80)

L'Occitane Arlesienne EDT 75ml* - this is the newest fragrance from cult French brand L'Occitane. It's a light, easy to wear floral fragrance and would make a lovely gift for all ages. They've launched a whole selection of products in this scent, as well as a gift set, so there are plenty of options if you fall in love with it. £39

Dermalogica Our Favourites gift set* - five of Dermalogica's top products in handy travel sizes. This would be a great gift for both Dermalogica addicts and newbies alike. It's a great way to try the brand without having to invest in the full-sizes and I'm pleased to see my favourite primer included! £30.15

Caudalie Parfum Divin gift set* - Divine Oil is what Caudalie is probably most well know for and this gift set contains a full-sized 50ml bottle, as well as their amazing Divine Fragrance which launched earlier this year. The perfume smells just like the oil, so the two worn together will leave you smelling good all day long. £39

Dermalogica Skin Smoothing Cream gift set* - inside this kit you'll find a full-sized tube of Skin Smoothing Cream, plus travel sizes of Intensive Eye Repair and Soothing Eye Makeup Remover. The gift costs the same as the Skin Smoothing Cream alone, so it's great value as you get to try two other products for free. £37.50

Aromatherapy Associates 'The Weekender'* - this handy travel kit is a great way to try out luxury brand Aromatherapy Associates without a high price tag. There are four travel-sized products inside plus a good sized toiletry bag, so this is a great option for travellers, or just those who are keen to try more from the brand. £24

Cargo 'Let's meet in Paris' eyeshadow palette* - Cargo are a lesser known brand than some of the usual big hitters, but their eye shadow palettes definitely rival the likes of Urban Decay. 'Let's meet in Paris' features a plethora of gold, copper and jewel-toned shadows and is guaranteed to put a smile on the face of any makeup lover. You'll find Cargo in larger Debenhams stores in the UK, or via the Debenhams website. £35

Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Favourites* - this is a duty free special, so if you're heading through an airport soon, you'll want to add this to your shopping list! It features 3 of the cult 8 Hour Cream products from Elizabeth Arden and at the cost of £29.60.

Christmas beauty gifts for £50 or less

S5 The Calm Collection* - S5 skincare is something I definitely recommend trying out - it's a little pricey, but seriously effective. The Calm Collection features three key products for sensitive skin or those suffering from redness. They also have kits for skin in need of vitality or rescuing. £30

Micro Nail* - for all you manicure fans out there, the Micro Nail is a great solution. It's great for buffing nails and giving them a serious shine, so if you work somewhere that doesn't allow you to wear nail polish, or you're giving your nails a break, you can still get a glossy finish in minutes. £29.99

Real Techniques Nic's Picks brush collection* - the latest brush kit from Real Techniques, these are affordable, great quality and a makeup bag must have. £29.99 from Boots or Superdrug. 

Aromatherapy Associates Inner Strength Candle* - a highly scented aromatherapy candle, this is designed to focus the mind when you need a little bit of inner strength. Just a few hours burning time will give off the most amazing scent, so if you know someone in need of a little relaxation, this would be a great gift to put under the tree this year. £35

Ghost Deep Night perfume* - Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a new perfume and this seductive scent from Ghost is a great pick. It's more of an 'evening' perfume and one that feels quite grown up, so would be a good option for mums, aunts or older sisters. From £24.50

Too Faced Chocolate Bar palette - let's face it, I can't imagine anyone would be disappointed to receive an eye shadow palette that smells like chocolate! Just make sure you give them a real bit of chocolate too so they aren't tempted to give the palette a nibble... ;) £39

Christmas beauty gifts for £50 or less

Elemis Top to Toe Treats* - at £29, I think this gift from Elemis is great value. It features 5 products for face and body from the luxury spa brand, all in really generous travel sizes. The Jasime Rose Milk Bath smells amazing, so you might want to ask for one of these sets yourself! 

Malin + Goetz Votive Candle set* - I've previously reviewed Malin + Goetz's Dark Rum candle, which I have big love for. This votive trio contains 3 70g candles in Vetiver, Dark Rum and Tobacco scents and will smell amazing dotted around the house (if you can bring yourself to burn them, that is). £34

Wahanda Gift Card* - spa website Wahanda now offer gift cards, so if you're unsure what to buy then these will make a great gift idea. The recipient will be able to choose from thousands of spa treatments up and down the country, at hundreds of different locations. Gift cards start at £25 and go all the way up to £250. 

OFAT Nail Polish trio* - Only Fingers & Toes are a new nail polish brand that launched in the UK earlier this year. They definitely hit the luxury end of the market at £16 each, but are seriously glossy and apply like a dream. Find them in Harvey Nichols. £42 for the trio set.

Naked On The Run - I couldn't not include my favourite new Urban Decay palette in this gift guide! Naked On The Run is Urban Decay's version of a Naked travel palette - there's a lip gloss, mascara, eye liner, blusher, bronzer and six new eye shadow shades all in this handy case. It's limited edition, so don't leave it too long before getting yours - you won't regret it! £37

Cheryl 'Stormflower' perfume gift set* - Christmas is a great time for stocking up on perfume - I love the fact you can get so many great gift sets that are usually the same cost of buying the perfume alone. This is Cheryl's first scent and is a mix of sweet and floral and I think would be a great option for younger girls. £23.95

Mark Hill Wild Waver Hot Wand* - this limited edition styler from Mark Hill is perfect for creating those tousled, loose wave styles without a tight curl in sight. It's super easy to use and the hot pink colour definitely appeals to the girly girl in me! It's also half price in Boots at the moment so is on sale for the bargain price of £29.99. 

Will you be putting any of these on your Christmas list? 

*PR samples

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13/12/2014

Giftmas giveaway - win a £25 Space NK gift card

In this week's giftmas giveaway, I'm giving one of you the chance to win a £25 Space NK gift card. Space NK is one of my favourite beauty shops and I can spend hours browsing away in there, so I'm hoping you'll enjoy getting yourself a little treat.
The giveaway is open internationally (anywhere that Space NK UK will ship to), and will close on Sunday 21st December at 11.59pm GMT. As it's very close to Christmas, you might not receive your prize until after the big day, but hopefully it will make a nice surprise for January!

To enter, simply complete your chosen Rafflecopter entries in the widget below. One winner will be chosen at random shortly after the competition closes.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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12/12/2014

Soothing skincare for winter

Let's face it, winters not exactly a friend to skin. A combination of central heating, cold British winters and the added Christmas stress can leave skin feeling a bit delicate, red and in need of some tlc. To help combat all of this, I've picked out a few super soothing skincare products that will help your skin survive the winter.


Jurlique Nurturing Mask* - this is a clay based mask infused with calendula and a mix of oils to help soothe red or irritated skin. I was initially a bit surprised to see it was clay based - I usually associate clay masks with deep cleansers - but this left my skin feeling lovely and soft and not stripped at all. I like to use this once a week and then follow up with my favourite Aromatherapy Associates Rose Hydrating Mask for a mini facial at home. £43 for 100ml

Trilogy Very Gentle Calming Serum* - this super gentle serum is perfect for sensitive skin or anyone suffering from redness. A few drops patted into skin twice a day will really make a difference - I've been using this since the weather changed and it's really helped to keep my skin soft and supple and minimise redness. The formula is quite rich so if you're very oily the you might not need a moisturiser on top however I like to add a day cream over it for an extra hydration boost. At £28.50 for 30ml I think this is an amazing product and one that I'll also be buying for my dad who suffers with redness. 

Skyn Iceland Antidote Soothing Lotion* - if you're suffering from stressed-out skin, redness or even just having a spotty moment, this soothing lotion from Skyn Iceland is the perfect answer. It's very lightweight and is almost serum-like in texture, but is great at hydrating the skin without overloading it. It contains a mix of white willow bark, yeast extract and mint to help soothe redness and cool the skin, as well as a mix of fatty acids to aid hydration. It has a slightly menthol smell to it, and once applied, you really get an instant burst of coolness to the skin. If you're oilier skinned, then you could use this alone in the day time, however if like me you're a bit dehydrated, I'd recommend adding a bit of extra moisturiser over the top. £32.50 52ml

What are your favourite products for soothing winter skin? Have you tried any of these before?

*PR sample


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11/12/2014

CellCosmet Swiss BodyContour Firming Treatment Review

We're well into the festive season now, with parties popping up all over the place. If like me you've indulged a little too much and the thought of bodycon terrifies you, I think I have the perfect solution.
A few weeks ago, I went along to the The Day Spa in Courtenays in St. John's Wood, London, to try out a firming body treatment from luxury Swiss brand CellCosmet. 

CellCosmet firming body treatment photo

CellCosmet are quite new to the UK but are well known worldwide, and at the moment offer a range of spa treatments in select locations. They'll be launching an exciting range of products to use at home in the new year, but for now it's a spa only brand.

The Swiss BodyContour Firming Treatment* is designed to target problem areas in the lower half of the body, giving everything from the waist down a serious firming boost. While this isn't like your traditional inch loss wrap treatments, it will firm and contour the body and also get to work on any cellulite (which, let's face it, we all have a bit of!).

The treatment itself takes around 90 minutes and combines a body exfoliation,  massage and a slightly odd, but very effective latex style mask.

The mask for me was the most intriguing part of the treatment. What starts off as as a gel texture mask is applied to everywhere from your waist to your knees and left to dry. When dry, it turns into a latex style texture and can just be peeled off.

As you can imagine, application of this is a little messy, so for the most part I had to lie on a plastic sheet on top of the massage bed. Glam it may not have been, but after my treatment was finished, I noticed a visible difference in the cellulite around my bum and thighs and the entire area that had been treated felt much firmer and toned.

The effects lasted around a week, so I think this treatment would be the perfect boost before a big event - especially if you want a little extra help before putting on your fancy frock.

The treatment costs £130 for 90 minutes and is available at a small range of spas in London.  CellCosmet also offer a massive range of facials as well as other body treatments and I'm really excited about the launch of the at home ranges for the new year.

Have you heard of CellCosmet before? Is this treatment something you'd use in the run up to Christmas? 

*Treatment provided for review
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Beauty offers: Soap & Glory the next big thing bundle

It's that time of year again folks. You guessed it - the Soap & Glory mega bundle is back as Boots' offer of the week and it's launching tomorrow (12th December) both in store and online.

This year sees a collaboration with fashion doodler Hattie Stewart, who has created two designs for the massive hat box gift set that comes packed full of goodies. There'll be one design in store and another online (both with identical contents), so you'll need to decide which one you like best and order accordingly. 

There are ten full-sized products inside with a total value of over £76, so considering the gift set is just £29, it's a pretty special deal! 
Soap and Glory the next big thing gift set 2014
The in-store version

Soap and Glory the next big thing gift set 2014
The online version

Inside the box, you'll find:

BUTTER YOURSELF moisture lotion
HAND DREAM super cream
ORANGEASM body wash
HEEL GENIUS foot cream
SUGAR CRUSH body scrub
SEXY MOTHER PUCKER lip shine lacquer in charm offensive
WHIPPED CLEAN shower butter
THE RIGHTEOUS BUTTER body butter
OFF YOUR FACE 3 in 1 daily purifying cloths 
THICK & FAST super volume mascara

These gift sets tend to sell out very quickly, so if you've been waiting to get your hands on one, make sure you head down to Boots (or visit boots.com) pretty sharpish. I'm loving both designs, but I'm most drawn to the online version, so I might have to make a cheeky boots.com order Friday morning! 

Will you be grabbing one of these bargain gift sets from Soap & Glory? 


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10/12/2014

Jurlique 12 Days of Glow: rose from top to toe

I've been a big fan of Jurlique products for the past few years - I've even managed to get my skincare-phobic Dad using them too! For the festive season, Jurlique have come up with lots of lovely gift sets to help us get glowing - after all, we all feel much better about ourselves when our skin is in great condition.

I've been putting a selection of Jurlique products to the test which can be used from top to toe - this really is the full-body treatment. No part will be left behind with these lovely products!

Jurlique 12 days of glow campaign rose skincare and body care products

The winter months can be really harsh on our skin, so I've been slapping on Jurlique's Rose Body Oil* like it's going out of fashion. This is no 'old lady' rose smell - it's a divine mix of roses in a super blend of avocado, macadamia, safflower and jojoba oils. The combination works really well for the entire body - it's hydrating but non-greasy, so you can use it in the mornings before work without needing to stand there freezing for ten minutes to allow it to sink in. Bonus. £38

My skin tends to get really dehydrated during winter, so the Rose Moisture Mask* is a must-have. I like to use this around twice a week as part of a pamper session. It's a creamy textured mask that contains rosehip, safflower and avocado oils and can either be left on for around 10 minutes and washed off, or for a more intense boost, left to soak in overnight (my favourite!). The tube is pretty generously sized at 100ml, so I don't feel guilty for using this multiple times a week! £32.50

If like me, you suffer from dehydrated but slightly oily skin, keeping it balanced in winter is a nightmare, Too much moisture can lead to shiny foreheads and t-zones, whereas not enough means chapped skin and red bits - neither of which is a good look. To help keep my moisture levels up, but not overloaded, I've been using the Skin Balancing Face Oil* in the evenings - a few drops of this little beauty pressed gently into your face and neck will help reverse the winter dehydration and leave skin feeling soft and supple. £38

For any extra dry bits in need of a little more help, the Love Balm* is the perfect partner. I like to use this on my knuckles, cuticles and elbows, which all tend to resemble elephant skin (nice!) in the winter if I'm not careful. I love the fact that the tin is small enough to keep in your handbag - it's a must-have item for me and I might have to buy another to keep at home so it's nearby at all times! £10

If you suffer from redness in the winter, I'd also recommend taking a look at the Calendula range, as this is really soothing and can be used on most skin types. I've got my Dad hooked on the Soothing Moisturising Cream which has worked wonders on calming down his skin over the past few months.

You can order all of these lovely Jurlique products (and the rest of their ranges) via the Jurlique website, or find them in store and online from Marks and Spencer.

Have you tried anything from Jurlique before?

*PR samples





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09/12/2014

Christmas: non-beauty gift ideas

There's still a few more shopping weeks until Christmas (is it me, or is December disappearing scarily fast?!) so if you're still hunting for great gifts, I've got just the thing. These are some of my favourite non-beauty gift ideas this year for all ages and budgets. In fact, it's also a bit of a wishlist for me if you happen to be reading Mum... 

non beauty christmas gifts


From top:

Fashionary Sketch book £20 | Bunny Slippers £18 | Monochrome scarf £15  | Flamingo Candles (Chocolate Orange is a must!) £12 | Rococo Sea Salt Wafers (nom) £14.50 | Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 camera £69.99 | Mug cakes recipe book £2.99 | Hello Kitty hot water bottle £8.99 | My Little Pony dress-up mug £7.99 | I Am So Freaking Organised post-it notes* £3.99 | Aspinal of London leather card holder £45 | WTF Knits book (worth it just for the cat photo on the front) £3.45 | Great Ideas notepad £9

Will you be putting any of these on your Christmas list? 



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08/12/2014

Christmas tree beauty gifts

If you're looking for a something a little different to hang on your Christmas tree this year, there are a whole plethora of beauty related tree decorations to choose from. I've picked out a few favourites to show you - why not add them to your tree or use them as cute stocking filler ideas? 


Ciate Tree Trinket* - inside this bauble you'll find a mini Ciate nail polish in a variety of different glittery colours. I love this blue shade (Yule Rule) - it will look fab next to some twinkling lights on the tree (and on my nails!). The clear bauble is also reusable, so why not keep it for another year and fill it with your own choice of decoration? £8 each.

Nivea mini treats bauble* - the largest of them all, this generously sized metal bauble opens up to reveal three mini Nivea products inside, so will make a lovely gift idea. At £4.50 it's also very reasonably priced and I plan to re-use the casing for future years and stuff it full of sweets!

This Works Sleep Balm* - Christmas can be stressful for all of us, so a little bit of Sleep Balm will work wonders if you find your mind is racing at night. The lavender and rose oils will keep you relaxed and help you drift off to sleep more easily. £10

Rodial Glam Balm* - this features a full-sized Rodial Glam Balm lip balm, perfect for keeping away chapped lips over winter, £12.19

Molton Brown Bath and Shower Gel bauble* - I've always loved Molton Brown's bath and shower gels as their fragrances seem to scent the entire house with just a small amount. These cute baubles come in a range of different scents for men and women, making it a great unisex option. £10 each.

Mavala Christmas Bauble* - you'll find a full-sized Mavala nail polish inside these baubles and at £4.75 are one of the most affordable options out there. This jewel-toned red glitter reminds me of Dorothy's shoes from the Wizard of Oz and is a really festive nail shade.

Topshop Lipstick Pyramid* - lipstick lover? You'll love these mini tree decorations from Topshop! There are two shades to choose from (I have Beguiled, a deep red) and the formula of these are just fantastic. £8

Aromatherapy Associates The Star* - if you've not tried Aromatherapy Associates before, I urge you to get the The Star and give them a try, you really won't regret it! Inside the beautiful star shaped decoration is a 7.5ml bottle of their iconic Inner Strength bath and shower oil, which is enough for around three uses. It might seem a little pricey, but it contains a high quality mix of essential oils and is an indulgent treat you'll really enjoy. £10.

Will you be hanging any beauty decorations on your Christmas tree this year?

*PR samples
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Beauty products: when do prices become ridiculous?

Today sees the launch of an exciting collaboration in the nail polish world. Victoria Beckham has teamed up with Nails Inc to create a duo of nail polishes that have been inspired by her Spring/Summer 2015 catwalk and when I heard the news, I knew this would be something the nail polish addict in me would want. Cue me logging on to the Nails Inc site this morning, credit card in hand, ready to make a purchase. Until I saw the price.

At £25 each (or £45 for the duo set), these are some seriously pricey polishes. And in my books, far too much to warrant a purchase. Don’t get me wrong, I love a high end makeup purchase, but £25 for a single polish is just a bit ridiculous. Admittedly this is a designer collaboration for an already premium nail polish brand, but I think they’ve run the risk of alienating a lot of their regular customers by charging this much.

Every year we see the prices on some of our makeup favourites continue to rise (MAC lipsticks anyone?) and at some point many brands will become completely unattainable for lots of people. With Tom Ford charging £35 for a lipstick and many high end mascaras now pushing the £25 mark, makeup has almost become a status symbol rather than a pay day treat or just a life essential.

The more the prices rise, the less likely I think we are to experiment with different brands or try out new products. £25 is a costly mistake to make if you decide you don’t like a certain mascara, or find that the nail polish you love so much chips within hours. Maybe if we had the same policy as much of the US that allows us to return beauty products then it wouldn’t be such an issue, but at the moment I know I’m quite cautious about what I spend my hard-earned cash on and tend to stick with things I know work for me. I’m tired of spending money only to find out it doesn’t perform as well as it should or isn't quite what I expected.

How do you feel about the high end price tags? How much is too much?
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07/12/2014

How to contour in less than 5 minutes

Let’s face it, first thing in the mornings, most of us don’t have time to sit down and get seriously involved with some contouring. Ever since that iconic photo of Kim Kardashian was released, contouring has become a massive trend, and learning how to sculpt our faces can create killer cheekbones where there were none before, slim down noses and add more definition to our faces.

contouring and highlighting products

I am a massive fan of sleep, but I also love a bit of an enhanced cheekbone look, so I’ve come up with a super quick way to contour in the mornings in less than 5 minutes. It might not be the full Kim K treatment, but it certainly helps to add a bit of extra definition!

You’ll need:

A contouring product (I like to use Burberry’s powder blusher in 07 Earthy as it’s perfect for pale skin)
A contouring brush (the slanted bristles make application much easier)
Your chosen highlighter – I use MAC’s Strobe Cream)
Fingers/brush for your highlighter

1. Prep your face and apply foundation/concealer/powder as usual

2. Grab your contouring product and brush and add a small amount of product on to the brush (you can always add more in a minute if you like a deeper shade)

3. Suck your cheeks in. Yes, you will look like a bit of an idiot, but it really helps find the best place to apply the product.

4. Gently brush on your contour product to just below your cheekbones. You should be looking to start level with the middle of your ear (or tragus part of the ear) and gently brush along to about 3 fingers away from your ear.

5. Using the brush, blend upwards slightly to soften out the line – you’re looking for a gentle shadow, not a hard line

6. Repeat on the other side

7. Now it’s time to move on to highlighting!

8. You need to apply a small amount of highlighter to the areas that naturally catch the light – the top parts of your cheekbones, brow bone and just above the cupid’s bow on your top lip. This will help to catch the light and give skin a glowy look. Dab on gently with a fingertip and blend.

9. Do one last check to make sure everything is well blended and the you’re good to go!

This routine usually takes me less than five minutes. If you’ve got more time, then you can obviously go for a fuller contoured look, but for some extra definition when you’re in a rush, this is my go-to method!

Do you have any tips for contouring on the run?
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05/12/2014

Free Essie nail polish set - Boots gift with purchase

Let's be honest, we all love a good freebie, especially when it comes to nail polish! This fab trio of mini Essie nail polishes is currently available free of charge when you buy any two full-sized bottles in Boots.

Essie free nail polish gift with purchase

Despite having several hundred nail polishes  (ahem, hoarder) in my collection, it seemed like an offer too good to resist. These three shades make up part of their festive collection and the traditional red, white and metallic silvery-gold will be perfect for the festive season and beyond. 

These size trios usually retail for £12.99, so it's a pretty good gift with purchase! I've had a look on the Boots website and it also seems to be available online as well as in store, so if you don't have a local shop that stocks Essie, you don't have to miss out. 

Will you be making the most of this free gift offer?
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Kevyn Aucoin Bloody Gorgeous set review

If you’ve not tried Kevyn Aucoin makeup before, I’m going to urge you to change that. ASAP. It’s a bit of a cult brand in the beauty world, and was started in 2001 by internationally renowned makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin. Sadly Kevyn passed away just a year after the brand launched, but the team behind it have stayed true to his vision and it focuses on beautiful formulas in classic, wearable shades. You won’t find dozens of trend-led colours here, but what you will get is high-end products that you’ll be able to use daily, no matter where or what you’re doing.

Kevyn Aucoin bloody gorgeous gift set

Wearing Kevyn Aucoin Bloodroses lipstick and blusher duo

The Bloody Gorgeous set* is a new collection of key products, all in the iconic shade ‘Bloodroses’. Bloodroses was developed by Kevyn, who had been looking for the ultimate red shade that could be worn by any skin tone and be universally flattering. The outcome was a deep berry red, reminiscent of the blood rose – hence the shade name.

Within the gift set, there are six products, all in the Bloodroses tone. While the thought of wearing a red eye shadow comes close to the top of my ‘scary makeup’ list, it’s surprisingly wearable when applied lightly, with just a couple of coats of mascara on the eyes to add some definition.

The Bloodroses Expert Lip Colour has won my heart and will be the shade I’ll be wearing right the way through winter. It seems to look slightly different on everyone, but even pale skin tones can get away with it without looking ghost like. The formula is rich and creamy, making it easy to wear all day, while the satin finish gives a good semi-matte effect.

There’s a matching lip gloss included within the Bloody Gorgeous set, which can be worn alone or dabbed over the top of the lipstick for a gentle sheen. It’s a little sheer if worn alone, so may be a good option if you’re looking for a less in-your-face finish for day time.

My second favourite from the collection has to be the Creamy Glow Duo, which includes a cream blusher and highlighter. Again, I had a bit of a panic when I saw the blusher shade initially, but it actually applies quite sheerly, and allows you to build up a lovely depth of colour for that ‘cold outside’ flush. The highlighter also works perfectly to contrast against all of the red – it helps to keep skin looking fresh without being overly shimmery.

I’m not a massive fan of the Volumising Mascara included within the kit, purely as I’m a fussy so-and-so when it comes to mascara and like lots of length added as well as volume. If you’re naturally blessed with long lashes, then this will be perfect for adding tons of volume, minus clumps, but for me (who has short-medium length lashes) I need a bit more oomph!

The contents of this kit are worth £140 if bought individually, however the kit itself costs £100, making it a bit of a bargain. If you’re a little scared of the shade and want to ease yourself in gently, I’d recommend buying the Bloodroses expert lip colour as a starting point and working up from there!

It’s a limited edition kit that goes on sale in early January and like all Kevyn Aucoin products, is exclusive to Space NK in the UK.

What do you think of the Bloody Gorgeous set? Is Bloodroses a shade you can see yourself wearing?

*PR sample
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04/12/2014

Giftmas giveaway - win a DHC blusher

This December I'll be running several 'Giftmas' giveaways both on the blog and Twitter. It's a chance for me to say thank you for all your support over the past year and also give you the chance to win a little treat to help offset all the Christmas shopping for other people! 

DHC blusher giveaway

Today I'm giving you the chance to win this gorgeous blusher from Japanese brand DHC (who are one of my favourites!). To enter, simply complete your chosen entries in the Rafflecopter widget below. The giveaway is open internationally and will close at 11.59pm GMT on Friday 12th December. 
Good luck! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Christmas: stocking fillers part 2

There are hundreds of good beauty stocking fillers to choose from this Christmas, so to help you whittle it down, I've pulled together a selection of some of my favourites that all cost less than £10 each. You can view part one in this post, along with over a dozen more here. 

Christmas beauty stocking filler ideas

Makeup Revolution Cover and Conceal palette £6* - every shade of concealer you could ever need from the must-have bargain makeup brand of the moment. 

Elegant Touch Christmas Jumper nails £7.95* - don't fancy the full-on Christmas jumper look? These nails are the perfect way to get a bit Christmasy without the need for fiddly nail art.

Sweet Snuggles Vanilla Bath Fizzers £3* - perfect for a relaxing winter bath and less than a fiver for nine! 

Love & Wilde Vanilla scented candle trio £4* - these bargain votive candles look a lot more expensive than their price tag! Find them in Superdrug. 

The Body Shop Lip Balm Candy Kisses £15* (but you can currently grab up to 40% off!) - five 10ml lip butters in Honeymania, Shea, Coconut, Mango and Strawberry flavours

Chapstick Stunning Lips Kit £4.25 - 3 Chapsticks in a super cute Flamingo print tin. What's not to love!

MeMeMe Cosmetics Arch Angel £8.50* - the perfect brow duo in a handy 2 in 1 tube.

MeMeMe Cosmetics Boho Balm £6.50* - a multi-purpose lip and cheek tint that's great for any makeup lover. 

Mark Hill MiracOILicious Treat Collection £10* - four travel-sized products from Mark Hill's MiracleOILicious collection - perfect for hair in need of a bit of a pamper. The mask from this range is absolutely amazing! 

Christmas beauty stocking filler ideas

Models Own Sticky Fingers Nail Polish gift set £6* - 3 mini Models Own nail polishes and two sets of nail art stickers - get creative nails without needing to be a nail artist!

House of Ho Ho Ho 'Tis The Season nails £8.99* - I love this collaboration between Henry Holland and Elegant Touch. These false nails are bold, bright and super fun.

This Works Miracle Cracker £10* - you won't find any paper hats or dodgy jokes in this cracker! Just a travel sized Deep Sleep Body Therapy spray that's great for de-stressing.

Studio Glass Nail Files £2.50* - a Superdrug exclusive,, these glass nail files would be lovely as a stocking filler on their own or together as part of a nail-related gift hamper.

Studio Vintage Minx Nail Polish Set £3* - these deep glossy shades are perfect for winter and come in at just £1 a polish!

The Body Shop Glazed Apple Bath Sprinkles £7* - Glazed Apple is the new Body Shop fragrance for Christmas and I love the fruity, sugary smell. These bath salts would be perfect for all ages - it also comes in a Vanilla Brulee scent.

Frozen Lip Smackers £2.49* - If there are any Frozen fans in your household, they'll love these fruity-flavoured lip balms! They're available individually so you can choose your favourite character, but also come in a collector's tin with all six flavours for just £9.99.

Bleach Jelly Purse £5* - this 90s style jelly glitter purse from London-based hair brand Bleach makes a good alternative gift idea for any teens. I'm going to warn you now, squeezing the glitter around in it becomes a bit addictive!

Are there any of these you hope will arrive in your stocking this year?

*PR samples
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