Deborah Lippmann Harrods Exclusive Collection

Deborah Lippmann is one of my favourite high-end nail polish brands. The shade selection and fantastic formula makes it easy to see why she's been in business for just over 15 years! 

Her latest collection is a Harrods exclusive and contains six new shades that are all easy to wear, but subtly scream 'chic' on your nails. 

Deborah Lippmann When Doves Cry and Stephanie Says

Deborah Lippmann When Doves Cry and Stephanie Says swatches
When Doves Cry and Stephanie Says swatches

Inside the collection are: Let's Misbehave (dark berry creme), Magic is the Moonlight (dusty pink shimmer), Love Me Tender (light pink creme), When Doves Cry (warm grey creme), Knock On Wood (warm brown creme) and Stephanie Says (dusty cornflower blue creme). 

All of the polishes have the same formula as her regular polishes, but come with special white lids to help distinguish the range from the rest of her collections.

When Doves Cry has to be my favourite shade of them all - it's the perfect griege that will work whatever the season and I can actually see it being a nail polish I might finish one day (why pretty much never happens!).

The two shades I tried only needed two coats to be completely opaque, and have a lovely high-shine finish that means you could skip a top coat if you were pushed for time. 

Wear time is pretty average at around 4 days, which is probably the only downside to this range considering the price point. To be fair, I'm a polish chipper, but I always expect a bit more for higher-end brands!

Each polish retails for £20 and can be found in store and online from Harrods

What do you think of this new range from Deborah Lippmann? 

*PR samples



The big spring blogger swap

With Christmas behind us and January almost over, I thought it would be a good time to set up another blogger swap! Getting a surprise package of goodies in the post is a lovely treat, and previous swaps have seen some really lovely parcels sent out.

Tales of a Pale Face spring blogger swap

The premise is simple - sign up for the swap, I'll match you up with another blogger in a few weeks time and after getting to know a bit about each other's likes and dislikes, you swap parcels of goodies to an agreed budget.

The swap is open to bloggers worldwide, but if you'd prefer to only swap with someone in the UK, please let me know in your comment below. Please also leave your details (name, email, blog name, Twitter handle) so that I can find you easily as it really helps when matching you up with another blogger I think you'd get on well with.

Sign up is open for two weeks (until 12th Feb) and you should get details of your swap buddy within a week or so afterwards.

To help keep things fair, please, please, please only sign up if you know you'll be able to take part in a few weeks time - I've had the odd swap fail over the past two years, but I will always do my best to find a replacement or resolve any issues.

And without further ado...Happy Swapping!!


Bargain Beauty: the Aldi swap challenge

It’s no secret that I have a lot of love for high end beauty products. Don’t get me wrong,, I love a good bargain, but over the years the lure of the luxury department store has proved too strong to resist. So when Aldi asked me if I’d being willing to swap some of my regular products for their own brand equivalents and see how they compared, I thought it would be a good challenge! 

I’ve previously used a couple of Aldi’s beauty products before (their Wrinkle Stop eye cream is amazing!), but never on this scale. I was a little bit worried about some of them initially as the brand snob in me came out – a 65p conditioner can never be very good, right?! Wrong. 

The Lacura Expert Day and Night Creams were actually pretty good. They’re designed to help reduce the signs of ageing, so for someone just over 30 with combination skin, they were a little rich for me, but the Day Cream would be great for really dry skins or for someone a little more mature. At £3.99 each, they're definitely something I'd recommend; there aren't many moisturisers that price that actually perform!

AquaV’s Kick Start shower gel wins the ‘best-smelling’ award – if you like Original Source shower gels, then this is a fantastic dupe at less than a third of the price. It’s definitely a morning shower gel as the tea tree and mint smells pretty zingy, but it’s a lovely way to wake up in the morning, and at just 69p is definitely one I’d repurchase. 

I’m kind of on the fence when it comes to the Carino Hairspray (79p, not pictured) as although I was impressed with its holding power, it was easy to overspray and end up with that ‘crispy’ feeling to my hair. I usually stick to Elnett at the moment which is over 5 times more expensive. While I’d happily use the Aldi version for a light touch to help keep a blow dry in place, for any up dos I’d want to stick with my trusty Elnett as I know this doesn’t go crunchy, but still keeps hair in place all day. 

35p cotton buds are basically a winner in anyone’s book – seriously, why bother paying more for something that does exactly the same thing?! The same also goes for Aldi’s cotton pads which I buy all of the time and are 79p for 200 I think. Double Aldi win on that front. 

The thing I was most impressed with was Aldi’s Sonic Toothbrush (not pictured). This was one of their special buys that run for a short period of time with limited stock, so I’m not sure that this is still in store, but definitely keep an eye out for something similar in the future. At less than £18, this is great value as far as electric toothbrushes go and it definitely rivals a MUCH more expensive version I’ve been testing out over the past month. Sonic technology is usually only found in the pricier models, making this seem even better value for money! 

I worked out that if I were to swap my regular items for the Aldi version, I’d save myself almost £200, which is a pretty ridiculous saving! It’s definitely made me take a look at some of the items I could switch long term, and I shall be having a serious nose through the rest of their beauty products in store at the weekend. Maybe I’ll end up with a whole basket full along with my halloumi… 

Have you tried any Aldi beauty products before? Would you be willing to trade your normal ones in for a bargain equivalent?

*PR samples 


Spending ban update - January

I'm almost a month in to my spending ban and I'm pleased to report back that it's going well so far! At this point last year, I think I had already caved in and bought some MAC products, so 2015 is definitely proving to be more successful!

For the first few weeks I was feeling pretty smug and assumed that I would be able to make the 100 days without breaking a sweat, but by about week three, the urge to shop had definitely returned, and I knew I had to stay away from my trigger points - aka Space NK and Boots (both of which are dangerously close to my office).

To help keep  my mind off of spending, I've been focusing on healthy eating and exercising instead and meal planning has not only meant I've dropped a pound or two, I've also saved myself a lt of money that would have originally gone on lunches at work. There has been the odd day where both my diet and my lunchbox has been left behind, but so far, so good.

The only purchases I've really made this month were a couple of recipe magazine style books that I've picked up for extra food ideas.

I'm hoping to stay strong for February, but I have a horrible feeling all of the spring makeup launches will make that somewhat tricky! I'm determined to power on though - my spending ban piggy bank is starting to rattle nicely and I'm trying to keep focused on a reward in April once the 100 days is up.

I'd love to know how you're getting on with your spending bans if you're doing one - what have you found the hardest/easiest this month?


The day and night eye cream duo

My name is Kat and I'm an eye cream addict. Ever since the age of 15, I've been a bit obsessed with keeping fine lines away around my eye area, which has lead to an almost unhealthy love for eye creams. 

The skin around our eyes is a lot thinner than everywhere else on our faces, which is often why those pesky wrinkles like to show up here first. It also means it's a good idea to use products specifically designed for that area, as regular moisturisers can be a bit heavy. 

My eye cream obsession has lead me to have a bit of a collection, however this trusty duo is my go to combination for morning and night. 

the day and night eye cream duo

The Body Shop Drops of Youth Eye Concentrate* is a lightweight gel that is great for anyone who suffers with puffiness in the mornings or could use a little bit of a boost. The rollerball applicator makes it easy to apply, while also giving you a mini-massage in the eye area. The product itself is pumped up by pushing the nib down slighlty - make sure you do this gently, I've had one too many accidents where I've been over-zealous and got enough product for three days come out! It sinks in really quickly and leaves the eye area looking refreshed and hydrated, and the non-greasy formula means you don't have to wait too long before you can apply your make over the top. £18 10ml

Estee Lauder's Advanced Night Repair Eye Serum* takes a lot of the benefits from their cult Advanced Night Repair and been adapted for the eye area. It manages to be both rich in moisture and yet lightweight on the skin and one pump is enough to hydrate both eyes. If you're starting to notice fine lines around your eyes, then I definitely recommend grabbing a bottle of this next time you're near a counter. I wake up looking refreshed, even after a night with minimal sleep. It's a little pricey, but a bottle should last you at least six months, so it works out to be quite reasonable on a cost per use basis. £46 15ml

Are you a fan of eye creams? Which ones are your favourites?

*PR samples


Health and fitness: Acer Liquid Leap review

Over the past month I've been on a bit of a health kick (January stereotype, anyone!), and as part of this I've been testing out a couple of fitness tracker gadgets to help monitor my progress and give me a bit of extra motivation.

I was kindly sent Acer's Liquid Leap* by the lovely people at LV= and I was intrigued to see how this would perform.

Acer liquid leap review

The Liquid Leap is a watch-style, wrist based device that tracks your step count, calories burnt, minutes of being active and amount of sleep that you're getting. It works in tandem with an app on your phone to allow you to track your progress, which is great if you're a little competitive like me as you can see which days you've done well and those that you need to make a bit more of an effort.

It was very easy to set up - the Liquid Leap is charged using a cradle system and a usb cord, and takes about 90 minutes to get a full charge. One charge lasts about a week, so you don't need to be continually plugging it in every night, which is a definite bonus.

I've tried other pedometer devices that have to be clipped on to your trousers before and while they've always been pretty accurate, they're a little bit cumbersome, so the watch style Liquid Leap really appealed to me. I was able to wear it all day, every day without realising it was there - and the fact that it has the time and date on the screen means you can do away with your normal watch if you like.

The downside for me was that it seemed to be pretty step-happy in counting how active I'd been. I do a reasonable amount of walking over the course of a normal day, but I think the tracker here is too sensitive as it clocked up almost 300 steps while I was sat down applying my makeup. Hmmm. I did one day where I wore both the Liquid Leap and my Fitbug as I knew the latter was pretty accurate and the Liquid Leap counted almost 14,000 steps on the same day the Fitbug counted 11,000. This didn't completely put me off the Liquid Leap, but I did always make sure to mentally reduce my step count by about 20% and I think the accuracy really needs to be improved here.

Sleep tracking is an added feature, but unlike other devices, it doesn't give you an idea of how good your sleep quality was, just the length of time you've been sleeping for. You also have to set it to 'sleep mode' when you go to bed and reset it in the morning when you wake up in order to get an accurate idea of how long you've been asleep.

The app itself is pretty basic - it doesn't allow you to track your food intake, only the calories you've burned through exercise. This meant I had to continue to use the My Fitness Pal app while I was using my Liquid Leap, whereas I'd have preferred to use one app to track everything.

Overall, I think it's a pretty basic device given the price (£79.99) and I'd rather have spent another £20 and got myself a Jawbone UP24 which seems to have a lot more features for only slightly more money.

Have you tried any fitness trackers? What are your thoughts on them?

*PR sample


Diva Pro Styling Genesis Straighter Review

Like a lot of women, I’m never far away from a pair of hair straighteners. Now, I don’t mean that I carry some around in my bag with me at all times (although this could be great for fringe emergencies!), but I am a *tiny* bit addicted to mine and if they broke, I would probably cry. A lot.

I recently swapped out my trusty GHDs for a pair from Diva Pro Styling, which are part of their luxury Genesis range. Diva are a brand that you might not have heard of before, but they’ve got a massive range of hair tools and are used in many professional salons.

Diva pro styling genesis straighteners

The Genesis Straighteners* are their top of the range styler – coming in at £119.99, these definitely rival GHD in price, but I was intrigued to see how they would compare in terms of performance.

What I initially liked about these straighteners was the fact that they had an adjustable heat setting. If there’s one bug bear I have with GHDs it’s that they don’t let you modify the temperature that they run at. The Genesis straighteners can be set at anything from 160 to 230 degrees, making it easy to get the right setting for your individual hair type.

They also heat up ridiculously fast, even to the hottest settings. I timed them and it took less than 30 seconds to get to 230 degrees, less time than it takes for me to section my hair off ready to straighten. The cord is also nice and long, so you don’t have to sit right next to your plug socket in order to do the back of your head!

The straightening process itself is also really quick – the macadamia and keratin infused ceramic plates are incredibly smooth and give hair a high shine finish and I usually only need one pass through each section of my hair to get it looking smooth and sleek. Diva explained that the reason these straighteners work so well is because they have a heating element all the way through the plate section, meaning the temperature stays constant throughout styling. A lot of cheaper brands use shorter heating elements so give less even results, so it’s definitely something to bear in mind when you’re investing in your next pair!

I love the fact that they’ve included a heat mat and carry bag, as it means I don’t run the risk of burning my dressing table while I’m using them and the bag makes it easy to pop them in my suitcase when I go away.

All in all I’ve been really impressed with these straighteners. So impressed in fact that I haven’t switched back to my GHDs which are currently sat unloved in the bottom of my wardrobe! Yes, they are a little pricey, but if you’re looking to invest in a good quality pair of straighteners, then I’d definitely recommend these.

You can find the Genesis Straighteners online from Diva Pro Styling, Selfridges and Sally’s beauty stores.

Do you like the sound of these straighteners? Could you be tempted away from a trust pair of GHDs?

*PR sample


Makeup Revolution The One Blush Stick review

I couldn't resist posting about another of Makeup Revolution's fab new launches this week! The One Blush Sticks* have recently arrived on their website and have quickly become one of my favourite makeup bag items this month.

These creamy textured blusher sticks can be applied over cheeks lightly for a sheer wash of colour or with a bit more intensity for a bolder blush look. 

makeup revolution the one blush sticks

makeup revolution the one blush sticks

makeup revolution the one blush stick swatches
Dream and Matte Pink swatches
If you're thinking these could be a good dupe for Nars' multiples, well you'd be right. I've seen a lot of great dupes from Makeup Revolution lately and these definitely come top of the list!

The texture of the stick itself is very creamy. I love the fact the product can easily be applied straight from the tube and then blended out with your fingers. I've found this a lot easier than trying to use a brush, but a quick swipe with a buffing brush would also do the trick nicely. 

If you're using one of the brighter shades like the pink pictured, start with a very gentle hand - the bolder shades in the collection come out pretty vivid and it can be easy to end up looking like coco the clown if you're not careful. 

The paler shade I've got falls more into highlighter territory for me and is a complete dream to use. A quick dab across the cheekbones and a finger blend and you get a luminous look to the skin with minimal shimmer. 

There are 8 shades in the range to choose from (technically there are four, but there is a matte and a shimmer version for each one) and each one costs £5. Talk about a bargain! I'll definitely be investing in a few more post-spending ban, but will probably stick to the lighter shades as I feel they're the best match for my skin tone. 

You can find The One Blush Sticks online from Makeup Revolution and on Makeup Revolution counters in larger Superdrug stores.

Do you like the look of these Nars dupes?

*PR sample



Beauty tips: why should I use a primer?

Primers are one of those things it took me a while to really ‘get’. For many years, I’d happily slap my foundation straight onto bare skin and then be annoyed when it had started to wear off by lunchtime, but I wasn’t really sure what to do about it. Other than apply more on top (double layer = bad look). That all changed after I discovered a decent primer and since then, I’ve never looked back! 

If you’re not quite sure what you can use a primer for, or how to apply it, I’ve put together some top tips on how to make them your new makeup BFF. 

beauty tips - why should I use a primer?

1. Decide what you want it to do – primers are clever little things. They can have a multitude of uses, but often tend to target a specific concern. Ideally all primers *should* make your makeup last a lot longer and help prep the skin to smooth out it’s surface ready for you to apply your makeup on top. There are dozens of different ones you can choose from – some also promise to hydrate the skin, others work on blemishes, so decide what extra benefits you want (if any) and find the right primer for you.

2. Don’t be afraid to multi-prime – if different areas of your skin have different concerns (oily t-zone, dry cheeks etc), then rather than just using one primer all over your face, why not try using two at he same time and applying each one in the areas that need it most? I have dehydrated, slightly oily skin, so use Smashbox’s Hydrating Primer* on my cheeks as they need the extra moisture, and then Dermalogica’s Skin Perfect Primer across my t-zone as it helps balance oil as well as keep my makeup in place. There’s no rule that says you have to use the same primer all over your face – why not give the multi-prime approach a try! 

3. Don’t forget your eyes – as well as primers for the face, you can also get specific ones for your eye lids, which can help keep eye shadow in place and help to stop it creasing. If you’ve got oiler eyelids, then a primer is a must! Too Faced’s Shadow Insurance* is one of the best I’ve tried – it literally stops eye makeup from budging, even if you get a bit hot and sweaty. And if you’re not a fan of putting a separate primer on your lids, then try covering them with a wash of skin-coloured eye shadows as a base before you do the rest of your makeup. This will act as a bit of a primer, helping to absorb oil and will help your shadow last a bit longer. 

4. Think small – you should only need a small amount of primer to cover your face – about a pea-sized amount for your face primer and about a rice grain sized amount if you’re using an eye primer. You can always add more if it’s not enough, but too much primer can make skin feel a bit slippy. 

5. Use your fingers – I find my fingers are the best tool to apply my primers with as I can spread it evenly across my skin and blend in gently to make sure everything is covered. 

6. Make sure you cleanse well – primers often contain a lot of silicone to help give it a smooth texture, so you need to make sure you give yourself a decent cleanse at night to remove all traces of it. I’ve occasionally found that some primers can break me out if I’m not careful, so I always make sure to double cleanse at night after using one. 

Are you a fan of primers? Which ones are your favourites? 

*PR samples



5 beauty treatments to try this month

January can be a bit of a depressing month – it’s cold, we’ve spent all of our money over Christmas and the word ‘diet’ is being thrown around a lot. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up, I’ve put together five beauty treatments to try this month – whether at home or at the salon.

five beauty treatments to try in January

1. Exfoliation – an area of my summer regime that goes down the toilet (and really shouldn’t!) in winter is body exfoliation. It’s a must to keep skin feeling soft and smooth and as our skin often dries out a lot more in winter, removing the dead skin cells is really important to avoid looking like a snake that needs to shed its skin come summertime. Grab your favourite body scrub and have a thorough session once a week in the shower, followed up by a nice rich body cream to hydrate afterwards. *makes note to self to do this over the weekend*

2. Book a neck and shoulder massage – winter often means spending a lot more time indoors as the cold weather and rain can mean going out seems a lot less appealing. Netflix marathons on the sofa can do dreadful things to your posture, so why not book a back massage as a treat to unfold those sofa-induced knots.

3. De-fuzzing - let’s face it, when it’s winter, hair removal isn’t always the first thing at the front of our minds, but when it comes to laser hair removal, you’ve got to start early if you want to be fuzz-free for summer. Laser hair removal is always something I’ve wanted to get done, but sadly my pale skin and ginger persuasion means it’s not something that will work as my hair is too light for it to work effectively. If you’ve been blessed with darker hair and want something more long-term than shaving or waxing, why not speak to a laser hair removal specialist like Sk:n Clinics who will be able to help.

4. Try an at-home mini facial – post-Christmas most of us aren’t exactly feeling flush, so while I’d normally recommend booking in for a professional facial, this month it’s time to try one at home! Double cleanse, exfoliate, relax with a mask (or two) and then give yourself a good pamper with a nice oil and your skin will be left looking revived. I’ll be popping up a separate post on some at-home facial ideas very soon, so keep an eye out for these!

5. Pamper cold-ravaged hands – in winter my hands take a turn for the worse and start to resemble lizard skin, no matter how much hand cream I use (sexy, huh?). Lots of salons offer hand pampering manicures, but for a simple at-home solution, grab some extra rich hand cream (you could also try using something like coconut oil), apply a generous amount and pop on a pair of cotton gloves over the top. I like to do this for a couple of hours while I watch a film, but you could also leave them on overnight – you’ll be left with baby soft hands with minimal effort.

What are your favourite pamper treatments to try in winter?

*collaboration post

Models Own Colour Chrome review and swatches

Say hello to Models Own’s latest collection – Colour Chrome! I’ve been waiting for something like this from Models Own for a long time – I was a bit ‘meh’ about the previous couple of collections as I felt they were a bit samey, but the second I saw these, the nail polish lover in me started drooling. 

Models Own Colour Chrome collection

Models Own Colour Chrome collection swatches
L-R Blue, Pink, Silver, Gold, Green
Made up of 10 metallic foil shades, Colour Chrome is a must if you like something a bit different on your nails. They look like liquid metal without a top coat, but cover them with a clear top coat and you’ll get an enhanced version of this that looks more like a polished chrome. The bottles give a hint to what you might find inside – I love the fact they’ve done something a bit different with these, they really stand out against the rest of my collection! 

I’ve tried a lot of these kinds of polishes before, but I’ve honestly not found any that apply as smoothly as these. Chrome finishes tend to come up streaky and need careful application, but two, reasonably careful, coats of these give an intense opaque finish without minimal streaks *high fives Models Own*. 

I’d recommend using a base coat with these as the metallic finish can often show up any little dinks you might have in your nails, but the base coat will help to fill these out and give you the perfect surface to work from. They work just as well with or without a topcoat – you’ll get a slightly different effect if you do choose to add one over the top. 

Like a lot of metallic polishes, they have a tendency to chip – two days is about the maximum wear time for me as any chips you do get look quite noticeable. However, I think it’s worth putting up with these just for the amazing finish and variety of shades there are to choose from in the range. I’ve only got swatches of half of the collection, but I’m already planning on adding the purple to my collection after my spending ban. 

The Colour Chrome range will be £4.99 each  and will hit the Models Own website on 29th January, Models Own Bottle Shops on 31st January and then into Superdrug from 11th February. The Models Own 50% off sale also starts on 29th January, so if you're quick, you should be able to grab these at a bargain £2.50 each (there are limited numbers available)!

What do you think of the new range from Models Own? Will you be adding it to your shopping list?

*PR samples


Illamasqua Skin Sculpting course review

Contouring is THE hot topic in the beauty world right now, but while a more sculpted look to the face is in high demand, it can be tricky to know where to start.

A little while back, I attended an Illamasqua short course in Skin Sculpting, which was a two hour course covering everything you'd ever want to know about contouring and highlighting. It took place at their Beak Street shop in London’s Soho, tucked away from the main shop floor in their custom built training room.

Illamasqua skin sculpting course - contouring in progress
Getting to grips with the right base
Illamasqua skin sculpting course - highlighting in progress
Highlight, highlight, highlight
Illamasqua skin sculpting course - finished look
The finished looks
Illamasqua skin sculpting course - finished look
My completed sculpted look
Contouring is something I’ve always struggled with; being so pale means that finding the right shades to do it can be a nightmare. I’ve often ended up looking less Kim K and more OTT tangoed, so was hoping that this would be the perfect solution to spruce up my makeup skills.

The courses are all run by Illamasqua professional makeup artists, and on the day there were six of us learning how to create a sculpted, but not heavy look.

The session went step by step through the process – our fab instructor showed us a step (using one of us as a model each time), and then we practised on ourselves, before moving on to the next step.

We were shown the best place to start applying a contour shade (around level with the tragus part of your ear) and also advised on where to stop (around a three finger width away from the nose). We were also shown how to blend out the contour shade for a more natural look, brushing slightly upwards with a powder brush to blend away any harsh lines.

The next step was highlighting and we talked about the best places to apply in order to catch the light (brow bones, tops of cheekbones, and just above the cupid’s bow on your top lip). I prefer to use a creamy highlighter usually, but also found that a powder can be just as good, so long as it’s not too glittery!

The two hours absolutely rushed by and by the time we were done, I was full of lots of tips and tricks to try out at home. I think these courses are a great place to start if you’re looking for tips on specific techniques or looks – it’s nice to know there are shorter options out there. We don’t all have time (or the inclination!) to do a full day/week course.

Illamasqua run a range of short 2 hour courses covering everything from Skin Sculpting to Pin Up makeup and each session costs £60. Everything you need for the course is provided (brushes, products etc.) and after the course there’s a 20% discount for any products you’d like to buy in the shop. You can see the whole range of courses here: – I’m already planning my next one!

Do you like the look of these courses from Illamasqua?

*My course was kindly provided by Illamsaqua for review 


Hourglass Dupe - Makeup Revolution Highlighter Palette Review

I’m going to cut straight to the chase here – the new 'Highlight' highlighter palette* from Makeup Revolution is just *insert tears of joy*. If you’ve been looking for a dupe for Hourglass’ infamous Ambient Lighting Powders, then look no further – you’ve come to the right place.

Makeup Revolution have been putting out some amazing new releases over the past few months and this recent release is definitely no exception. It’s not often I swatch something and go ‘ooooooh’ out loud, but this palette certainly got that reaction from me!

Makeup Revolution Highlight Highlighter palette Hourglass Dupe

Makeup Revolution Highlight Highlighter palette Hourglass Dupe swatches

Inside the highlighting palette are three soft-focus powder highlighters, in easy-to-wear shades. There’s a champagne, a peach and a very soft rose, all of which I think can be used by most skin tones. Initially I didn’t think the rose would be the most flattering of colours to use, but they apply very sheerly and light up the skin like it’s in candlelight. Which, let’s face it, is flattering to pretty much everyone.

The packaging itself is pretty basic – it’s black plastic, but I have to admit it feels a lot more sturdy than some of their other palettes that I’ve tried. When it comes to Makeup Revolution, I think you’re really paying for what’s inside, rather than a fancy compact, but this one has a full-sized mirror inside, making application easy.

I like to take a medium-sized fluffy brush and gently swirl it into my chosen shade, tap off the excess and then lightly dust over my cheekbones, cupid’s bow and around the brow arch. The finished result is shimmery, but without loads of glitter, which for me is the perfect combination.

At £8 I think this is a complete bargain and highly recommend you get yourself over to the Makeup Revolution website before they sell them all. Yes, the shades might be slightly different to the Hourglass editions, but the effect is so similar, especially for the champagne shade, and when it’s over £20 cheaper, Makeup Revolution definitely win it for me!

You can find the new 'Highlight' highlighter palette in selected Superdrug stores and online from Makeup Revolution.

Do you like the look of this new highlighter palette? What do you think of Makeup Revolution?

*PR sample


Blogging tips: how Google Analytics can help improve your blog

Analytics programmes can be great tools for bloggers as it allows them to monitor how many people are visiting their blogs, which posts are being viewed and lots more besides. If you've got one installed (I use Google Analytics, which is free, but pretty reliable), then I've come up with a few tips on how you can use these stats to help improve your blog.

Blogging tips - how you can use google analytics to improve your blog

Visit the 'content' section and see which posts received the largest number of views - are there any trends? E.g. do your tutorial posts tend to get double the number of views than other posts? Or do they tend to be looked at consistently for months on end?  Take a look at what your most popular posts have been over the past six months and which trends you can pull out. These are the kinds of posts you want to do more of (not necessarily exclusively, but you know this content is popular). Similarly, take a look at which of your recent posts were viewed the least. Maybe these aren't quite touching your audience how you'd hoped - why not try a slightly different approach and see if that bumps up the number of views? 

Referrals - this section shows which sites are sending traffic to your blog. If you're posting regularly on Facebook for example but only getting a small percentage of your referrals from them then it might be time to think of an alternative strategy or focus on other platforms that are bringing you more visitors. If you can see you get lots via a certain channel, make sure you keep up engagement levels on there and see if you can increase those numbers month by month. 

Don't just focus on visitor numbers - yes we would all love to see our visitor numbers go up consistently but measuring average pages viewed, time spent on site and bounce rate can all be great indicators of how engaged your audience is. Bounce rate literally means someone who came to your blog and only viewed a single page before leaving. If yours is quite high, then try to think of ways to keep visitors interested - signpost other relevant blog posts (there are simple widgets you can install to show these automatically) or give them an incentive to click through to your next post. 

Don't forget your old blog posts - some of my most popular posts are ones I wrote ages ago but that come close to the top of Google's search results.  If you find that this is the case (check your most viewed posts) why not consider updating it with fresher photos or giving the text a quick edit? I know a lot of my early photos left a lot to be desired, so increasing the quality of some of the popular older posts could encourage visitors to click through and read other blog posts

When to publish a blog post - if you're not sure which days are best to put up blog posts, then take a look at your traffic and see which days you tend to get the most hits. I found that on Saturdays I receive a lot less visits, even with a brand new post that day, so I've now moved to posting six times a week from Sunday to Friday without affecting my traffic levels. The locations section is also really useful in helping you to decide when to publish your content.  If you find that 50% of all your traffic comes from the US for example, you might want to schedule your posts to go live for 9am New York time instead of 9am UK time.

I hope that you've found this post useful - I'll be dropping in a few 'blogging tips' posts over the next few months so let me know if there's anything specific you'd like me to focus on! 


The best affordable makeup brushes

Decent tools can make all the difference when it come to applying makeup, but you shouldn't have to spend a small fortune on them in order to get good quality. Over the past few years, there's been a massive increase in the number of purse-friendly brands that have created makeup brushes that really perform. I've put together a list of some of my favourites, along with a few brush recommendations from each. 

the best affordable makeup brushes

Crownbrush - I know a lot of makeup artists that use Crownbrush brushes as they have a massive range to choose from, are great quality and incredibly affordable. If you're looking for a starter kit, they have pre-selected brush bags already put together, or for something specific, there are over 100 different styles to choose from. I have a lot of their eyeshadow brushes in my collection - the C325 Large Pro Angle Blender is fantastic for blending, while the BK15 Oval Fluff is a bit stiffer and good for packing on the pigment. Crownbrush offer a range of synthetic and natural brushes, with prices ranging from £1.69 to £123 (for a fifty piece brush set).

Real Techniques - created by the Sam and Nic Chapman, Real Techniques are a drugstore favourite as they can be easily found on the shelves of Boots and Superdrug. The range is all made out of synthetic taklon fibres, so a great option if you're not a fan of natural hair brushes. They offer a small range of brush sets (for face or eyes) that are around the £22 mark, plus some solo brushes which range from between £6 to £12. My absolute favourite from them has to be the Buffing Brush, which comes as part of the face collection - I've not found anything quite like it when it comes to blending out creams and powder foundations. 

The Body Shop - now, brushes probably aren't the first thing you think of when you head into a Body Shop store, but these are really great quality and pretty affordably priced. The range is a little smaller than the other brands listed here, but each brush  in the range is made out of cruelty-free synthetic fibres and they feel incredibly soft against the skin. I have about 3 of their eye shadow brushes at home as they're so good for packing on pigment with minimal effort, and the large powder brush is also great for translucent powder or a wash of bronzer across the skin. £9 to £16 (but look out for value kits in store which usually have extra brushes in for a lower price).

Zoeva - Zoeva hit the UK shores in 2014 and their infamous Rose Gold brush kit has become a bit of a blogger favourite. Zoeva focus on creating excellent quality brushes at an affordable price point and offer a massive selection of single brushes, plus a range of brush kits which have everything you need to get you started. I'm loving their Pink Elements kit (full review here) - the Face Paint brush is an odd shape, but great for contouring! Prices start from £6 for a single eye brush, up to £55 for a 12 piece brush kit.

Nanshy - Nanshy are a small, less well-known brand, but they make seriously good brushes! They've created some great value brush sets - face, eyes etc as well as making certain brushes available to buy singly. All of their brushes are made from synthetic, cruelty-free fibres and are a certified member of PETA. The brushes are incredible value - a 7 piece eye brush collection is less than £30, but the quality rivals much more expensive brands. Prices range from £5.95 to £49.95.

Ecotools - another great value brand, Ecotools have a small range of eco-friendly brushes that feature bamboo handles and cruelty-free bristles with bargain prices. I've found their eye brushes to be great for blending and eye shadow application and the Large Powder Brush is amazing for bronzer/setting powders. Prices range from £4.99 for 6 mini brushes, up to £19.99 for a five piece brush kit.

What are your favourite bargain brush brands? Have you tried any of these before? 


Beauty news in brief - January 2015

Cutting straight to the chase with today's beauty news post - it's exciting times as Make Up For Ever are launching into Debenhams this spring! The brand is a cult favourite, but has been notoriously hard to get hold of until now, but that will all change when they come into larger Debenhams stores and Debenhams online in a few months time. I'll have more information on the exact date soon, but start planning your shopping lists!

Laura Mercier launches contouring palette - I had a sneak peek of this fab new palette from Laura Mercier last week and I think it's going to be a big hit! Inside are 3 different shades of cream contour plus 2 different tone highlighters. The palette is currently exclusive to Harrods, but will be hitting all Laura Mercier counters next month, priced £35.

Melvita Argan+ - Melvita are launching a new face oil later this month that follows on from it's international best seller Argan Oil. Argan+ uses sunflower oil, argan oil and dry-touch oils to deeply hydrate but still feel light on the skin at the same time. It sounds like the perfect solution for skins who like a lot of moisture, but without the 'oily' feeling some oils can leave behind.

Do you like the sound of any of these new releases?


Giveaway: win a REN Rose Gift Set

I think we can all use a little boost during January - it's cold, wet, and generally a bit depressing! To help combat the January blues, I'm giving one reader the chance to win a gorgeous rose otto bath and body set from one of my favourite brands, REN.

REN rose otto gift set giveaway

Inside the box you'll find a 200ml Rose Otto Body Wash and a 200ml Rose Otto Body Lotion. If you've not tried this range from REN before let me tell you, it smells divine!

To enter, simple complete your chosen entries via the Rafflecopter widget below. The giveaway is open internationally and will close at 11.59pm on Sunday 1st February. One winner will be picked at random shortly after the giveaway closes.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Collection Eyes Uncovered Nude Bronze Palette Review

The realms of my eye shadow palette addiction knows no bounds. There's not much in the beauty world that gets me more excited than a brand new eye shadow palette, especially when it's packed full of beautiful nude shades. And when it costs less than £5, then you know it's a no brainer to add it to your collection. 

Collection's upcoming launch is a nude eye shadow lover's dream. Inside the Eyes Uncovered Nude Bronze palette* are six wearable shades, all in goldy-bronze tones. 

Collection Eyes Uncovered Nude Bronze eye shadow palette

Collection Eyes Uncovered Nude Bronze eye shadow palette

Collection Eyes Uncovered Nude Bronze eye shadow palette swatches

Unlike a lot of similar palettes, they've left out a super dark shade, which I'm quite glad about if I'm honest. It's not often I reach for a black eye shadow and these often sit unloved in my palettes. When it comes to Nude Bronze, I can see myself hitting pan on every single one of these shadows. 

I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of pigment you get in them too. So much so, that I initially overdid it the first time I used the palette and had to have a serious blending session! The lightest shade is the only one that's a little wishy-washy, but the other five pack a serious punch in terms of colour and wear all day without creasing or much fading. They are all pretty shimmery, so if you're hunting for a matte palette, then this one isn't for you, but I think the metallic edge works nicely with the bronzed theme. 

The cardboard packaging isn't great, but considering this palette retails for £3.99, I'm inclined to let them off. I wouldn't recommend keeping it in your handbag as I have a feeling it will get smushed, but for at home use, it's a real pleasure to use. 

The Eyes Uncovered Nude Bronze palette launches onto Collection stands on 11th February and I can see it being a big hit. It's good quality, great value for money and if you're a palette lover like me, you're going to want to add this to your collection. 

What do you think of this new palette from Collection? 

*PR sample


Fenwick of Bond Street Beauty Gift With Purchase

London's best-kept beauty secret, Fenwick of Bond Street have got a seriously good gift with purchase launching today.

Part of their 'Here I Am' campaign, which celebrate the words founder JJ Fenwick said after arriving on Bond Street in 1891 to open his ground-breaking store, the beauty gift is worth over £250 and is available when you spend £200 or more in store on beauty products.

Fenwick beauty gift with purchase January 2015

Inside the gift you'll find 24 products from right across their beauty halls, plus a specially designed makeup bag, which has been designed by artist Andrei Robu, featuring the iconic 'Here I Am' phrase.

Inside the gift, you'll find:

111 Skin mask
Cane & Austin glycolic acid pads
Caudalie Divine Oil
Chantecaille deluxe mascara
Christophe Robin shampoo and conditioner
Clarins Instant Eye Makeup remover
Darphin Hydraskin Light
DHC cleansing oil
Eve Lom cleanser
IPD Alyssa Ashley
Laura Mercier Foundation Primer
Lipstick Queen Chinatown Catalina & Chinatown Chase
Phillip Kingsley Elasticizer
Phyto citrus shampoo
Racinne Ultimate Youth Power Neck Emulsion
Radical mask
Sachajuan hair repair
Shiseido Gentle Cleanser & Perfect Rouges
Suqqu Moisture Mask Scrub
When-Mask facial mask
Xen Tan
Glam Glow and Youth H2O Youth Activating Concentrate

All in all I think this is a great gift with purchase. It's nice to see some different brands offered up and although £200 is a bit of an investment on the purchase front, it's a good time to stock up on favourites if you're running low.

The GWP launches today and will be available until stocks run out. Sadly I don't think this is available online so looks to be a London-only thing, but if you're visiting, it's well worth paying a trip to the Fenwick beauty hall.

Do you like the look of this gift with purchase?


Health and fitness: Fitbug Air review

Like a lot of people, one of my goals for 2015 is to up my fitness and adopt a more healthy diet. Too many cakes and a desk job have left me feeling a bit squishy, lethargic and generally unmotivated, so I’ve been on the hunt for solutions to help give me a kick-start.

I was recently offered the chance to try out a Fitbug Air* from the lovely people at GiffGaff, so took this as a sign from the exercise gods and excitedly awaited its arrival.

Fitbug air review

Fitbugs are a small piece of kit (about the length of a lipstick) that can track your daily step count, time spent exercising in your ‘cardio zone’ and sleep quality.  It can be synched up to an app on your phone that tracks your progress, plus an online account which allows you to input your daily food intake and overall goals.

I’m naturally quite competitive (don’t ever play me at Monopoly. Seriously.) so I loved the idea of being able to compete with myself, trying to beat my step count each day. The Fitbug Air comes with a handy little clip, so you can secure it to your waistband discretely and the slim size means that it’s not very obvious that you’re wearing it, unless you’ve got something really fitted on.

Setting it up was pretty simple, although I was a little annoyed I had to go online for instructions on how to do this – I’d much prefer a guide in the box. I also downloaded the Fitbug app to my phone at the same time and ‘paired’ it to my Fitbug device. This meant that the Fitbug would transfer data over to my app via Bluetooth at specific intervals, allowing me to track my progress with ease.

The Fitbug itself was really easy to use, and it seemed to be pretty accurate at tracking my step count. I’ve had pedometers in the past that promised to do that, but seemed to count the tiniest of movements, so made you think you’d done a lot more than you had. Not the Fitbug – somehow they’ve got it to measure accurately. Even after a 90 minute power walk, I was rather disheartened to see I’d only done 8,000 steps – 2,000 shy of the 10,000 you’re meant to achieve each day!

I had a few problems getting the Fitbug to synch up with my app, which meant that not all of my progress got recorded, but  once I finally got this sorted out, it was really good to see how I was doing each day. I found it a bit of a faff having to go onto the website to enter my food intake to log what I was eating – I’d have much preferred to do this via the app and I’m not sure why they haven’t set it up to do this.

The Fitbug Air isn’t cheap at £49.99, but I think it’s a great gadget if you’re on a bit of a health kick and are keen to track your step count, and be able to monitor your progress quickly and easily. It is battery-powered, so you’ll need to replace these after about 4-6 months, but other than that, there’s no extra costs on top of the device itself.

I’m looking forward to continuing with mine over the next few months and seeing how I get on. It’s definitely motivating me to be more active – that competitive streak is coming out!

Have you used a Fitbug or other fitness device before? Is this something you’d like to try?

*PR sample


Smashbox Double Exposure Palette Review

If like me, you have what can only be described as an unhealthy obsession with eye shadow palettes, it’s time to get excited. The Double Exposure Palette* from Smashbox has just hit the shelves and let me tell you now, you’re going to need it. 

The follow up from their Full Exposure palette, Double Exposure takes fourteen wearable shades and bundles them all into one, must-have item. 

Smashbox double exposure eye shadow palette

Smashbox double exposure eye shadow palette

Smashbox double exposure eye shadow palette swatches top row

Smashbox double exposure eye shadow palette swatches bottom row

As the name hints, this palette is a little bit special – all of the shadows transform into something different when applied with a damp brush. Now, we’re not quite talking a chameleon colour change here, but the shadows will either deepen in intensity, become more vibrant, turn metallic or create sparkle. Each one does something slightly different, so although there’s only 14 shadows in the pot, you’re effectively getting 28 to play with. 

The shadows themselves are soft, easy to blend and have a decent amount of pigmentation when used dry. My grumble with the Full Exposure palette was that a lot of the shades were a bit wishy-washy in terms of pigment, but this is something that has definitely been corrected for this palette. There’s a good mix of shimmers and mattes included, and it’s good to see a mix of shades that don’t just fall into the classic ‘nude’ territory (although to be honest, I love me a brown eye shadow, so that wouldn’t be a problem for me!). 

I’ve swatched up all of the shadows dry so you can get a good idea of their natural state, but I’ve tested a few with a wet brush and can confirm that they really do transform. I used the light pinky-beige shade when wet and instead of getting a soft wash of colour, got something much stronger that could easily have been used as a solo shade. 

A lot of wet/dry shadows can end up losing their texture and getting those horrible hard patches on the surface where the water has been, but Smashbox have created a formula that dries back to its original powder state, leaving it unaffected by the water no matter how many times you use it.

There’s a double ended brush included which is decent quality, although not my favourite shape for application; plus a mini Full Exposure mascara for a full eye look. 

At £37 it’s definitely an investment buy, but one that I’d really recommend. Don’t be put off if you weren’t a fan of the Full Exposure palette – give this one a swatch next time you're near a Smashbox counter and you’ll definitely see the difference! 

You can find the Double Exposure palette online from Smashbox and Boots and in larger Boots stores with Smashbox counters. 

Do you like the look of the new palette? 

*PR sample



Beauty tips - how to get perfect winged eye liner

Winged eye liner is one of those classic looks that I think every woman has tried out at least once in their lives. For me, it's become a bit of a signature look - over the past ten years I've rarely been without mine, and while that might be a bit dull for some, I honestly feel naked without it!

Over the years (and many wonky flicks) I've come up with a tried and tested method for getting it right (almost) every time. I've put together a quick guide below with my tips and tricks for all abilities. Don't be scared if it goes wrong the first few times - you can always remove it and start again.

1. Use a liquid or felt pen liner. For me, gels and pencils just don't cut it when it comes to creating a decent flick. Felt pen styles will give you the same look as a liquid liner (it's essentially the same thing), but with more stability during application.

2. Start in the middle of your eye lid and work your way out. Try and get as close to your lash line as you can, and using small strokes, work your way to the outer corner. Don't do the flick just yet! Fill in the inner corner of your eye, trying to make this part of the line slightly thinner than the rest.

3. For a good flick every time, you want to follow the natural angle/line of your lower eye lid. Imagine where this would continue to if it kept going upwards, and this is where you want to be drawing. To help you know where to stop for an even finish, pop a very tiny dot of liner where you want the flick to end on each eye, check that they're even, and then you're ready to draw your flick in. Try to draw the flick itself in one or two strokes to help make sure it looks smooth and even.

4. For a 'fat flick', you need to create a mini triangle in the corner of your eye. Follow point 3 to get the main shape in, and then thicken slightly from where the top lid meets the lower lid. This might take a few goes to get it perfect, but will give that classic retro look that most flicks are aiming for.

5. If you suffer from 'wobbly hand syndrome', you need to give yourself a stable surface to work from. Rest the elbow of your application hand on your knee/leg and gently lay the palm of your hand against your cheek.

6. Don't rush it! If you're not confident with eye liner flicks, then I'd recommend having a few practice sessions during a spare evening/weekend when you can take your time and you don't need to be anywhere. The more you do it, the better you'll get - practice really does make perfect in this instance!

7. A cotton bud and some makeup remover are your best friend. Everyone gets it wrong every now and then, no matter how many flicks they've drawn over the years (I had to re-start my right one this morning due to a hair in my eye, grr.). You only need to get rid of the mistake, not the whole thing, so dip a cotton bud into some makeup remover, get rid of the bad bit, and re-apply.

8. Apply your liner on top of your eye shadow. Not only does this mean you won't disturb the liner or cover it over with powder, the shadow gives the liner a dry base to adhere to, making it apply a lot smoother and last a lot longer.

I hope these tips help - let me know how you get on!

Are you a fan of the winged liner look? What are your top tips for getting it right?


Clinique Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush Review

Cleansing brushes have become one of the hottest things on the skincare market over the past couple of years, but I have to admit I’ve been a little bit like Goldilocks with them so far. Some have been too big, others too harsh and some just not quite right. Until I met the new Clinique Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush* that is.

Clinique sonic system purifying cleansing brush

Since it launched a couple of months ago, the Sonic System Cleansing Brush has proved to be seriously popular, so I was intrigued to put it to the test myself. My skin is a little sensitive, and can easily suffer from redness, so in the past I’ve had to be quite careful with cleansing brushes as they can sometimes be a little harsh for me.

Cleansing brushes are designed to be used on damp skin, with either a cream or foam-based cleanser. They typically offer a deeper cleanse than just fingertips and a flannel and are also good at gently exfoliating away dead skin cells.

The Clinique version is based on sonic technology (similar to some high end electric toothbrushes) and has a soft bristled head (which is replaceable) that's split into two different parts. The larger, slightly softer, white bristled area is designed to be used on the cheeks and forehead, whereas the smaller, firmer green part is for the t-zone which tends to get a bit oilier.

It comes with it’s own little charging station, so can be recharged to your heart’s content and is a decent size and weight – it won’t make your arm ache while you use it!

There are no fancy buttons with this brush, just an on and off switch, so it’s very simple to use. Clinique recommend using the brush for around 30 seconds – 15 on the t-zone and 15 on the cheeks and the brush is automatically set to switch off after the 30 second period. This is plenty for my sensitive skin, however if you’re a bit more resilient or like a super deep clean, then you can always use it for another 30 seconds afterwards.

My routine with the brush is: dampen face and apply a small amount of creamy cleanser (I like to use Dermalogica’s UltraCalming Cleanser), dampen brush, use on the cheeks first with the white bristles, before moving on to around my nose and chin with the green bristles for a deeper clean. Once my 30 seconds are up, I remove any excess cleanser with a damp flannel and then continue with my regular skincare routine.

Since using the brush I've definitely noticed that my skin has looked a little brighter and I've also not needed to exfoliate as often as the brush seems to be doing a pretty good job already. I tend to only use it at night and around 2-3 times a week because of my skin type, but this can definitely be increased if you're less sensitive.

At £79 for the brush and £20 for replacement brush heads (you'll need to change it around every 3-4 months depending on use), this is one of the more reasonable cleansing brushes on the market and one I'd definitely recommend trying out.

You can find the Clinique Sonic System Purifying Cleansing Brush online from Clinique and on Clinique counters across the UK.

Are you a fan of cleansing brushes? Does this one appeal to you?

*PR sample


Top products of 2014 - the rest

This is the last instalment of my 'top products of 2014' series - I've talked makeup and skincare, but there are a lot of fantastic things that don't quite fit in those categories, so I've bundled them all together for a special mention here. 

Top products of 2014 - hair, nails and the rest

Caudalie Parfum Divin* - this has to be my favourite scent of the year. It's an unusual one that reminds me of hot sunny days at the beach, with a hint of floral to it. Even in winter it keeps me smiling and thinking of the warmer weather to come. If you're a fan of Caudalie's cult Divine Oil, it smells virtually identical, so is the perfect partner for a long-lasting scent.

Invisibobble* - hair ties aren't the most glamourous of things to talk about, but I would be completely lost without these little stretchy bands! The cord style means your hair doesn't get snagged in them, you can wear them all day without a headache and you can create dozens of hairstyles with just a few Invisibobbles and no hair pins.

Barry M glitter nail polish - for long lasting polish in a massive range of glittery finishes, Barry M definitely comes top for me. I've been wearing a couple of shades from their Christmas collection non-stop over the festive season and I love the fact they're good quality and reasonably priced.

Zoeva makeup brushes* - I'm so pleased these finally launched in the UK! Ever since trying them out a few months ago, the Pink Elements collection has been my go to set of brushes for pretty much everything. If you're looking for high quality, good value brushes, get yourself over to the Zoeva website pronto. You really won't regret it!

Sew Lomax makeup bags* - this quirky brand make the most fantastic makeup bags you'll find. Embroidered with lots of different designs, each one can be personalised and the bag itself feels really well made and good quality. They make great gift ideas (or let's be honest, a gift for yourself) - I've got two of them and absolutely love them!

Aromatherapy Associates candles* - these aromatherapy candles not only give off the most amazing smells, but really do help with relaxation, mental clarity or a bit of an uplift. They're a little pricey, but just a few hours burning is enough to fragrance an entire room (or floor of the house if yours is small like mine!).

Co Lab dry shampoo - I think this is one of the only dry shampoos I've found that doesn't leave a trace of that tell-tale ashy look in your hair, no matter how much you use. I've been a Batiste lover for years, but haven't looked back since Co Lab launched in 2014. The fragrances are fresh, without being overpowering and a quick squirt will leave you with fresh looking hair in seconds.

Bodhi & Birch Lime Blossom Hand Serum* - a must-have for dry hands, this little bottle looks small, but packs a serious punch. It smells amazing and just one pump will leave hands feeling silky soft for hours.

Color Wow One Minute Transformation Styling Cream* - If I could only pick one styling product to use, this would have to be it. A small amount on dry hair keeps it looking smooth and silky, even if you've not had time to blow-dry it properly and it stands up to crappy weather keeping the frizz at bay.

What have been your top products for the past year?

*PR sample


Ten tips to help you survive a spending ban

This year I'm attempting the much dreaded 100 day spending ban. 100 days of not buying beauty products and a massive decrease in frivolous spending can be tricky for the best of us, and after a few attempts over previous years, I've come up with a few tips to help make sticking to your spending ban that little bit easier.

spending ban survival tips

1. Delete marketing emails without opening them. January is sale time and that means lots of promotional emails with special offers that can seem very tempting. Delete them without even opening them - if you don't see the offer, you'll be much less tempted to make an impulse purchase for something you didn't know you even wanted until that moment!

2. Take your own lunch to work. Buying food out and about can end up costing a fortune. I work in the centre of London so I'm faced with dozens of delicious options every day, but this has not only lead to me spending at least £5 a day on lunch, it's also helped contribute to an increase in the size of my bum! Preparing your lunches in advance will not only save lots of cash, but also makes it easier not to be tempted into buying lots of cake.

3. Try to buy essentials with your weekly food shop. A quick trip to Boots for toothpaste can easily lead to a sneaky nail polish purchase, so I try to top up on things like deodorant, toothpaste and shower gel when I do my food shopping as I'm much less likely to get distracted by makeup.

4. If you like eating out but are trying to cut back, keep your eyes peeled for special offers on website like Money Saving Expert for 2 for 1s or extra money off. I have a Tastecard, which means I can get 2 for 1 or 50% off at lots of restaurants (like Pizza Express, Strada and local companies), which means it's still possible to have a treat without breaking the bank. They usually run a 30 day free trial, so it's worth testing out!

5. Get a savings pot. For me, one of the most motivational things I can do during a spending ban is see how much money I'm actually saving. I keep a special piggy bank and for every purchase I *almost* make, but don't (e.g. that lovely lipstick I spent 10 minutes swatching in MAC), I put the money in the piggy bank and at the end of the spending ban, count it all up and use a little bit to give myself a treat.

6. Find free or cheap activities to do. Let's face it, we all love a bit of a weekend shopping session, whether it's in stores or online. But when I'm on a spending ban, this isn't really an option, so I try to make the most of free activities near me that I can do with friends and family instead. Why not take a photography walk with a blogger buddy, or check out local museums (many of which are free), parks or council run activities.

7. Do it with a friend. Reducing your spending is a lot easier when you have someone doing it with you. It might mean teaming up with your boyfriend as spending ban buddies or even an online friend, but having someone there who can motivate you when you're close to making an off-plan purchase is a real life saver.

8. Sleep on it. I'm the first one to hold my hand up and say I'm an impulse purchaser and there are a lot of things I see that I decide I have to have right there and then. If I spot something I love the look of, I now make sure I sleep on it and see how I feel in the morning. The chances are that the initial burst of excitement will have died down a bit and you can look at things more objectively.

9. Write it down. Why not make a list of all the things you've been lusting over during your spending ban and once it's over, look back over it and see which ones you're still desperate to have. If you've been trying out my 'piggy bank' way of saving, chances are you'll be able to treat yourself to at least one of them; however I bet that at least 50% have lost their appeal.

10. Use cash. It's far too easy to spend on a card without it feeling like 'real' money. Put a set amount of cash in your purse for the week and stick to it. You'll be much less inclined to spend it when you see the amount disappearing!

And if you really need something, don't beat yourself up. See if you're able to get it cheaper online, or find a discount code from somewhere - the few pounds you might save can always go into your spending ban piggy bank for a rainy day!

What are your top tips for surviving a spending ban?
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