A Superdrug haul

I’d been attempting to be good and to stay away from beauty related shops as much as possible this month, but it turns out resistance was futile. After running out of mouthwash, I decided to pay a visit to Superdrug to stock up and as you can see below, I left with a lot of lovely goodies* but no mouthwash. Yes, I’m THAT person. 

Superdrug Haul and health and beauty loyalty card
I couldn’t resist a peek at the Makeup Revolution stand as my local shop has only just had one added and ended up choosing the Iconic Pro 1 palette. I recently got the Lorac Pro palettes in a US haul (post here) so it’ll be interesting to see how this compares against Makeup Revolution’s rather lovely looking dupe. 

Because you can never have enough eye shadow palettes and because I was feeling rather bold in my colour choice, I thought I’d give Sleek’s new Del Mar Volume 2 palette a try. This has one or two neutral shades (yay!) but a lot more summery brights and I thought it’d be a good way to dip my toe in the water of eye shadows that weren’t brown or gold. Scary times. 

CoLab dry shampoo is a repurchase every time I enter Superdrug, so I picked up a new bottle of that and also refilled my micellar water stash with this fantastic one from B. which at less than £3 (it’s currently half price) is an amazing bargain beauty buy. 

Last up was another Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet to add to my collection in the shade Pink Pong. I’ve been looking for the perfect long lasting bright pink lipstick and I have a feeling this will be the one! 

What was especially great about this haul was that I managed to pay for almost all of it with the points on my Superdrug Health and Beauty Card. They’ve recently given this a bit of a new look, so if you don’t have one yet, I highly recommend nabbing yourself one next time you’re in a Superdrug store. You’ll earn 1 point per £1 spent and every 100 points = £1 credit to spend in store; there are also lots of extra points offers to help you build up points more quickly. 

I love the fact that you can also part pay for your purchases with your points – unlike Boots, where you have to buy the whole thing with your points, Superdrug lets you pay partly with points and partly with cash, so you don’t have to spend forever saving up enough for one item. Yay! That’s exactly what I did with this haul and it was nice to feel almost guilt free about a few ‘accidental’ purchases, he he…

Have you spotted anything in Superdrug that’s caught your eye lately? Do you have one of their Health & Beauty points cards? 

*Partially paid for with points provided by Superdrug 



Real women: a rant

After seeing yet another use of the term ‘real women’ today, I sort of lost it a little. Ok, a lot. Over the past few years this seems to be the buzzword bandied around for advertisers who want to feel clever and attempt to promote their products by telling us that ‘real women’ will use them.

For some reason, they’ve decided that ‘real women’ usually look a little larger than your average model, smile a lot and are quite happy to parade around in their undies selling everything from deodorants to sweets.

Well, I’ve had enough. I’m fed up of brands telling me what a ‘real woman’ is supposed to look like. Because, ya’ know, we’re actually all ‘real’ women. It doesn’t matter how you look – real women can be a size 6 or a size 26; they might have ginger hair, dark hair, light skin, dark skin, big boobs, a tiny bum, the list could go on forever.

I wish we would stop being bashed over the head with some sort of ideal that a ‘real woman’ has to have curves. Non-curvy women are ‘real’ too. Having one thing doesn’t make us more of a woman than someone without it and trying to use some sort of rubbish ideal of ‘real’ just makes you look out of touch from reality.

If you identify as a woman, as far as I’m concerned, you’re a ‘real woman’, so can we  please, please, please just stop using this term? Today I saw it being used to advertised an online sweet shop. With a graphic of a ‘real woman’ in her underwear who was around a size 16, in her 40s and white, it was a very bad parody of the controversial Protein World adverts that are in the process of being taken down. The fact that it said ‘real women think sweets are better than eating protein’ actually made my head want to implode. So I’m not meant to enjoy a cheeky KFC more than a packet of Haribo? Oh how wrong you are…

If you’re a PR/Advertiser/Brand reading this and thinking of using the term ‘real women’, I beg you to stop. No-one needs that sort of bulls**t shoved in their faces. Let’s just get over it, accept that women of all shapes, sizes, colours, whatever are REAL and move on. And never, ever, ever mention the term again.

Rant over.

OCC Lip Tars Pros Picks Portables review

OCC’s Lip Tars are one of those cult products that really do live up to their hyped reputation. I had my first proper experience with them at last year’s IMATS show in London and since then, they’ve become a bit of an addiction for me.

Lip Tars are essentially a liquid lipstick, but these really aren’t like all the others – they’re super pigmented, stay on for hours at a time and are completely vegan and cruelty free. What I really love about them is the fact that you can blend multiple shades together to create your own custom one – perfect if you’ve never been able to find quite the right shade that you’re after.

The Pros Picks Portables Test Tubes set* is an amazing set of 12 mini Lip Tars in an array of shades from nudes to seriously hot pinks. These have all been hand selected by the top OCC makeup artists and together form a kit that should work to create almost every shade you could ever need.

Interlace, Zhora, Annika, Cha Cha, Grandma, Vintage
Harlot, Nylon, Hoochie, Digitalis, Sebastian, Lovecraft
Included in the set are:
Interlace (Palest créme peach)
Zhora (Peach with pink shimmer)
Annika (Pale peach neutral)
Cha Cha (Pale tangerine)
Grandma (Clean classic coral)
Vintage (Deep burgundy)
Harlot (Neon popsicle red)
Nylon (Neon bubblegum pink)
Hoochie (Vibrant magenta)
Digitalis (Pink-tinged lavender)
Sebastian (Plum-toned taupe)
Lovecraft (Pink with lilac shimmer)

Each tube contains 2.5ml of product, which might not seem a lot when you compare it to the usual 12ml of the full sized ones, but trust me when I say that you really only need a tiny drop per application, so these will last you really well. It’s also a great way to try out the brand and the formula if you’ve not had much experience with them before or want to try a few shades before investing in the larger sizes.

My favourites from this pack are Nylon, Digitalis and Lovecraft – I do love a vibrant pink and Nylon is so flattering on the skin. I love the fact they’ve included a mix of finishes – some are matte, others have more of a sheen to them, but they all do not budge once applied. You’re easily looking at 5-6 hours of wear time minimum, with a little more for some of the bolder, matte finish shades.

I’d recommend applying these with a fine lip brush (a decent one is included in the set) to get the most precise finish (and to avoid staining your fingers!) and use a matching lip liner underneath to help them stay in place even longer and stop any potential feathering around the edges.

At £43 for the set I think this is fantastic value. As much as I love my full-sized ones, I’m unlikely to ever finish them before they expire (around 1 year-18 months for creams/lipsticks) so the smaller size is perfect and I love the variety of shades.

You can find the OCC Pros Picks Portables online from lovemakeup.com.

What do you think of this Lip Tar set? Have you tried OCC before?

*PR sample



Must-have beauty: Urban Decay Naked palette review

Urban Decay's Naked palette range is probably one of the most talked about in the beauty world. They’ve long held a cult status among beauty addicts and with good reason – their range of palettes are versatile, great quality and one of those items that your makeup bag feels lost without. 

The Naked 2 palette has been one of the few things I’ve hit pan on in the past couple of years, so as part of House of Fraser’s recent Beauty Confidential offer (where there was £10 off certain products), I decided it was time to add the original Naked palette to my collection. After all, there’s no such thing as too many nude eye shadows in my book! 

Urban Decay Naked Palette
Urban Decay Naked Palette
Urban Decay Naked Palette close up
Urban Decay Naked Palette close up swatches
Virgin, Sin, Naked, Sidecar, Buck, Half-Baked
Urban Decay Naked Palette close up
Urban Decay Naked Palette swatches
Smog, Darkhorse, Toasted, Hustle, Creep, Gunmetal

Naked was Urban Decay’s first complete eye shadow palette that focused on wearable everyday shades in nude, gold and brown tones and was so successful that they’ve launched two more 12 shadow Naked palettes and two smaller ‘Basics’ palettes to keep up with demand.

So what’s all the fuss about, you might ask? Well, Naked has probably the best collection of shadows I’ve seen in a long time. It’s easy to get multiple different looks for day and night, the shadows last for absolutely hours on your lids even without a primer and the pigmentation of the product is amazing! The swatches I’ve taken are just a single swipe – aside from Creep which is a tiny bit chalky, the pigmentation is just fantastic. 

My favourite way to wear these shadows at the moment is Virgin all over the lid and up to the brow bone, Half-Baked across the lower lid and then Sidecar blended into the crease. Smog is also a beautiful shade for a more intense look – when I swatched it I actually let out a squeal of excitement. And let me tell you, that really doesn’t happen often.

The outside of the Naked palette is a somewhat irritating velvet finish - I much prefer the tin styles of Naked 2 and 3 as they don't tend to get as dirty looking, but for me that's really the only downside to this palette.

Yes, this might be more shimmer shades than mattes (go for one of the Naked Basics if you want an almost all matte palette), and yes you might have multiple nude palettes already, but there really is something about the Naked palettes that I don’t think can be beaten. If you prefer slightly cooler toned shadows, then I’d recommend giving the Naked 2 a try and for more olive/dark skins, the rose gold tones of Naked 3 should look amazing (they do not work on me unfortunately – pale with pink undertones + rose gold = bad times). 

The Naked palette costs £36 and I truly believe it’s worth every penny. If you’ve not tried it before and can get to an Urban Decay counter, I urge you to go and indulge in a swatchathon – there might be plenty of great dupes out there but I have to find one that *truly* matches up. 

Are you a fan of Urban Decay? What’s your favourite Naked palette? 

*PR sample

LIfestyle: 50 things that make me happy

While having a catch up on the lovely Vicki’s blog the other day (www.letstalkbeauty.co.uk) I came across her answers to a ‘50 things that make me happy’ tag. I like to think of a reasonably positive person, and I thought this would be a great way to remind myself of all the little (and big) things that make me happy in life. It’s easy to take them for granted, so I’d love to challenge you all to do the same, especially if you’re having a bit of a crappy day. It’s a great reminder for all those things we have to be positive for, even if some days it feels like nothing is going quite right.
50 things that make me happy
In no particular order…

1. Freshly washed bed sheets
2. Laughing with my friends
3. Spending time with my family
4. Spending time with my boyfriend
5. Really good, dark chocolate
6. A few hours alone with a decent book
7. Gin
8. Baking (I am hopeless at cooking savoury food but adore baking)
9. Newly painted nails – there’s something so satisfying about them
10. Singing – by myself/with a band/in my car where I forget everyone can hear me
11. Dancing, all kinds and not just after a few drinks
12. The beach at Olu Deniz
13. Italian food
14. Days out at the seaside
15. Ice cream (combine with no.14 and you’ve got yourself a winner of a day)
16. Cold sunny days
17. Spring
18. My blogging buddies
19. Picnics in the park
20. A decent Panang curry
21. Antique jewellery – I love finding something no-one else will have
22. Fleetwood Mac. On repeat.
23. 80s rock music – the more lycra and big hair the better
24. Tortoises – the highlight of a holiday a few years ago was seeing wild ones chilling around our swimming pool
25. Lola’s cupcakes. Yum.
26. Celebrating all the babies my friends are currently having – and shopping for cute outfits for them
27. Having a good eye liner day
28. Back massages
29. Hugs from my boyfriend
30. Making lists
31. Long weekends – they always have so much potential
32. Bacon
33. Binge watching a new series on Netflix
34. Homemade popcorn
35. Puppies – because, y’know, they’re SO FRIGGIN’ CUTE
36. Getting my fringe to the exact perfect length. Even if it only lasts for about 36 hours
37. Being able to run a mile without stopping. Small achievements lead up to big ones.
38. Knowing my friends will come to me if they want a truly honest opinion
39. Mini Eggs
40. New York – I need another trip there soon
41. New issues of my favourite magazines
42. Learning how to use more functions on my DSLR
43. Catching up on my favourite blogs
44. Hugging my little brother, even if it does embarrass him a bit/a lot
45. Getting to know my parents as an adult. And realising they are so much more than just ‘mum’ or ‘dad’.
46. BBQs – I’ll be the meat eater hogging the halloumi
47. Playing arcade games on Brighton Pier
48. Those dirty hot donuts you get from fairgrounds and seasides. OMG.
49. New jeans that fit like a glove
50. Brunch. Any excuse for American style pancakes with bacon and maple syrup.

What things make you happy?



Dior Nude Tan Tie Dye blusher Pink Sunrise review

I don’t often buy makeup from Dior, but as soon as I saw the limited edition Nude Tan Tie Dye blushers from their new spring/summer collection I knew I had to have one.

The limited edition Tie Dye blushers come in two colour options, with each one made up of four complementary powder shades. I went for the lighter, pinker option of the two (001 Pink Sunrise) and also picked up the darker, coral version (002 Coral Sunset) for blusher obsessed Grace from All That Slap.

Dior Nude Tan Tie die blusher 001 pink sunrise
Dior Nude Tan Tie die blusher 001 pink sunrise
I know this is probably tragic to admit, but I’m still not sure I can bring myself to fully use this product – the design of it is so beautiful that I kind of want to keep it as a collector’s item but I know I should give myself a stern talking too and sort myself out.

I gave the display one a decent swatching (after all, that one doesn’t matter if the pattern gets disturbed *ahem*) and can confirm that pigmentation is very light for 001 Pink Sunrise; this will give you the barest hint of colour across your cheeks – more of a natural looking glow rather than a blusher flush.

At £40 each, these aren’t exactly cheap, but they do come with a cute little brush which actually seems reasonable quality, plus they’re Dior, so they were never going to be a bargain buy. The outside of the compact is almost as pretty as the inside and it’s surprisingly heavy, which adds to the luxury feel.

I have a feeling these are going to be a very quick sell out, so nab one quick if you like what you see. They’re currently a Harrods exclusive, but will be hitting Dior counters across stores in the next week or so. Let me know if you decide to get one (and if you decide to actually use it!). I’ll be staring at mine lovingly while working up the nerve to actually swatch it...


La Montana Alfredo's Cafe scented candle review

I think scented candles are one of those things that appeal to pretty much everyone - we all have our favourite scents but no doubt all of us probably have at least one in our homes at the moment.
I was recently introduced to La Montana who make a range of beautifully fragranced candles that have all been inspired by the scents of Spain. After the founders Cass and Jonathan Hall decided to leave London life behind in 2011 and head to sunnier Spain, they were inspired to create their own home fragrance range that captured the beautiful surroundings and the new smells of the area.

La Montana Alfredo's Cafe scented candle
Alfredo's Café* is the latest scent to join the line up and evokes the sort of smell you'd imagine when sat outside a Spanish café in the summer - coffee, brandy and black tobacco with hints of leather and incense in the background. I've never described a home scent as unisex before but that's how this one feels to me - it would appeal to both men and women, a little bit like Diptique's iconic Feu De Bois. It's a little bit warm, a little bit spicy and I think it's absolutely divine.
Just a few hours burn time gives off an incredible fragrance that will scent most of your home and burnt correctly, you should get approximately 40+ hours out of this candle. 
I really love their packaging - the candles all have a vintage 1930s travel poster design printed on both the labels and the packaging. It really makes them stand out from the usual clear glass and white labels of many luxury candle brands. You can also buy the illustrations as a poster which I think is a lovely touch.
La Montana candles retail at £35 each so do fall at the pricier end of the spectrum but I think they're something away from the norm and it's great to support a smaller brand. If Alfredo's Café doesn't sound like your sort of scent, then why not check out their First Light, Winter Oranges or Galan De Noche candles instead?
You can find the full La Montana range via their website or online from My Showcase.
 *PR sample


Too Faced Melted Metals Liquid Lipsticks review

Too Faced's Melted Liquid Lipsticks have been a staple in my makeup bag since they launched last year. The liquid format and semi matte finish makes them easy to wear and long lasting while giving a bold pop of colour.

For 2015 Too Faced have brought out Melted Metals - new shades that feature a high shine metallic sheen to them.
Too Faced Melted Metal LIquid Lipstick
Peony, Debutante, Tu-Tu and Macaron
Too Faced Melted Metal Liquid Lipstick swatches
Too Faced Melted Metal Liquid Lipstick swatches
The Melted Metals* have the same long wearing formula as the originals but the metallic finish to them gives them a gentle sheen which is really flattering on the lips.  The metallic element is definitely subtle - you won't end up looking like you've used a chrome finish product but I really quite like it. 

There are eight shades in the range, with quite a few centering around a pink colour palette but there's also a nude, a violet and a plum thrown in for good measure.

I find the best way to apply these is straight from the tube and onto the lips.  Each tube has it's own little applicator sponge which helps to distribute the right amount of product as you go. A little goes a long way with these so start light and build up more colour if you need to. 

Average wear time is about 4 hours without needing a top up but they will need a replication after eating to help keep them looking fresh. I tend to pop a tiny bit of lip balm on before I apply these as they can be a tiny bit drying, but nothing major to worry about.

All in all I think these are a great launch and I can't wait to see them launch into Debenhams at the end of April (they'll be £19 each).

Do you like the look of these new lipsticks from Too Faced?

*PR samples


High street heroes - the hairbrushes

Our hair is one of those things that is pretty much always out on show, so having a good hair day can be a real mood booster. I’ve been hunting out the best brushes on the high street which will make a good hair day much easier and also be kind on your wallet. 

high street hair brush heroes
The Wet Brush* – since discovering the Wet Brush, I’ve given up my Tangle Teezer and haven’t looked back. Wet Brushes are designed to be gentle to wet hair, but also work just as nicely when it’s dry and ease through tangles and knots without pulling or snagging. There’s also none of that tell-tale ‘tangle teezer noise’ (you’ll know what I mean if you used one!) and the whole process feels incredibly smooth. They also make a mini version which is the perfect size for your handbag and at £11.99 for the larger one, I think these are great value for money.  

Trevor Sorbie Detangle and Style Comb* – a decent comb is an absolute must when it comes to your hair and this one from Trevor Sorbie needs to be top of your list. It has three different widths of comb – thin, medium and wide, making it a total multi-tasker. Use it to gently remove knots from wet or dry hair, section your hair for drying or styling and even to help give it a bit of lift at the roots. £3.99

Mark Hill Blow Out! Moroccan Argan Oil Medium Radial Brush* – this vented rounded brush has been cleverly infused with argan oil to help give you shinier looking hair while you blow dry. Don’t panic if you have fine hair – it won’t leave it looking flat and greasy, it just adds a subtle shine to the hair without the need for extra product. My blow dry skills leave a lot to be desired, but even I can get to grips with this one without too many hair dramas. I also asked a friend to give it a try for me (as she has some good blow dry skills) and she commented that her hair looked a lot smoother and felt lovely and soft, all without changing anything else in her hair routine. £9.99 

Do you have a favourite high street hair brush? Have you tried any of these before?

*PR samples


Kiko Cream Crush Lasting Colour Eye Shadow review

I’ve got a couple of posts coming up on Kiko’s latest releases – they’ve really gone to town over the past few weeks! First up is the Cream Crush Lasting Colour Eye Shadows* (bit of a mouthful) which have already hit the shelves and are proving to be a big hit.

While they might be listed as a cream shadow, these feel incredible light to the touch, almost more like a mousse type texture and remind me a lot of those that Chanel and Dior brought out last summer.

Kiko Cream crush lasting colour eye shadows
Kiko Cream crush lasting colour eye shadow swatches
There are 16 shades in the range, ranging from nudes right through to brights, so whatever your choice of colour palette, you’ll be able to find something that appeals. Being a bit of a nude shadow obsessive, I’ve been giving four of the softer shades a whirl and have to say, I’ve been really impressed.

Each shadow is quite lightly pigmented, so you can build up the desired depth of colour you want really easily. They also blend well together – just make sure you blend before they dry as once they’re set it becomes much harder to do. I found that these work best over some sort of base – I’ve been using an eye lid coloured powder shadow underneath to give them something to grip on to. Without this, they don’t last very well, but with a primer, or other shadow as a base, you get a full day’s wear out of them with no need for touch ups.

The shades I’ve seen are all pretty shimmery, but I believe there are a few mattes in the range (must go and hunt these down!). I think these would also work well used as eye liners if applied with a thin brush – maybe give one of the brighter shades a try for something a little different this summer?

Cream Crush shadows are available in store and online from Kiko now and cost £6.90 each.

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

*PR samples


Ten problems all beauty addicts will understand

1. Having to justify to yourself/boyfriend/friend why you need yet another nude eye shadow palette. And NO, they don't all look the same (ok, maybe they do).

2. Boots 3 for 2 offers. It's basically free makeup right, so it's the perfect time to add to your collection. Even if you already have 25 blushers, 60 nail polishes, 13 mascaras...

3. Getting your nails to the perfect length and then one snaps. It's like the nail gods are laughing at you.

4. Limited edition makeup. It might just be a regular ol' shade in some fancy ass packaging (I'm looking at you MAC) but somehow it makes us want it even more.

5. Products that have pretty designs on them that you can't quite bring yourself to use. So you just sit and stare at them while the guilt sets in.

6. Having a spare of all your favourite products. Because running out really isn't an option.

7. Giving all your makeup brushes a wash, feeling smug and then realising you have nothing to apply your foundation with.

8. Having a really good hair day when there's no-one there to see it. So you take a selfie and Instagram the schizz out of it. Thank you God for the internet.

9. When your favourite product runs out and you realise it's been discontinued. ALL the tears.

10.  Painting your nails and then immediately needing to pee. Even if you went just before you did them.

What are some of your top beauty problems?


Hair: Original & Mineral Project Sukuroi Gold Smoothing Balm review

I don’t think I’ve met many people that would turn down softer, shinier hair with minimal effort. Let’s face it, it’s pretty much the holy grail of hair. So prepare yourself to get excited about Original & Mineral’s Project Sukuroi Gold Smoothing Balm, as that’s exactly what it delivers.

Original & Mineral are an Australian brand that pride themselves on making quality hair products, all with a natural edge. They don’t use sulphates, triclosan or other nasties in their range and after trying their volumizing shampoo last year, I became a bit of a brand convert.

Original & Mineral Project Sukuroi

Project Sukuroi is the newest product to be added to their range and it’s something that crosses the lines between a styling product and a hair treatment. It’s a gold toned, slightly runny crème textured balm that’s designed to be used on wet hair before you blow dry and style hair. Simply apply a small amount to damp hair and then blow dry as normal. You’ll be left with super soft, shiny looking hair that feels like you haven’t got any product on it. #winning

It not only smoothes, but helps to repair hair at the same time, giving long term benefits as well an immediate ‘look at my shiny hair’ buzz. It combines Gold of Pleasure Oil to smooth, repair and add shine; Macadamia Oil (more shine) and keratin to help strengthen.

I had my first taste of Project Sukuroi at a launch event a little while back and combined with a professional blow dry, I felt like I’d stepped out of a hair commercial. But the cynic in me thought it might be too good to be true, so after trying it out with my less than average blow dry skills (aka blast hair with hair dryer while vaguely waving a brush at it) I still ended up with a nice shiny finish and the softest hair EVER. Which I was pretty impressed with. Ok, really impressed.

You do need to use it with some sort of heat – it won’t work very well if used on damp hair which is left to dry naturally, so that’s really the only caveat for use. I tend to use about a 20p sized amount for my medium length fine hair, but if you have more/thicker hair you can tailor accordingly – just start sparingly and use more the next time if it wasn’t quite enough.

While Original & Mineral products do fall into the higher end price bracket, I think that at £26 for a 100g tub, this is a good value product. Even if you use it for every blow dry, you’ll still get a good 4-6 months out of your pot and the silky soft hair you’ll get is well worth the investment!

You can find Original & Mineral products online from Net-a-Porter, Josh Wood salons, and in store and online at Selfridges.

Do you like the sound of Project Sukuroi?

*PR sample


5 beauty bad habits you need to break

No matter what your beauty routine, I think we all have at least one sneaky bad habit we’d rather not admit to! Whether it’s not moisturising your legs in winter or taking serious pleasure in peeling off your nail polish, these are my top five beauty bad habits you should think about breaking.

beauty bad habits you need to break
‘Cleansing’ using micellar water – micellar water is a great invention as it literally lifts away makeup from your skin, making it an ideal first cleanse or makeup remover. What it doesn’t do is give the skin underneath a decent clean, so if you’ve been using micellar water as your only cleanser and wondering why your skin’s not looking as great as it could, then now’s the time to change things. Add in a gentle second cleanse after using your micellar water – a balm or cream cleanser used with a warm flannel works well and will leave you with super clean skin without any squeaky feeling.

Skipping/overdoing exfoliation – exfoliating is one of those things we all know we SHOULD be doing, but sometimes it’s easy to forget to add it into your weekly schedule. Not exfoliating properly can lead to a build up of dead skin cells on your face and body, giving skin a dull, sometimes dry look that won’t go away no matter how much moisturiser you use. Aim for a gentle exfoliations once or twice a week and you’ll soon see results. And if you’re sitting there thinking ‘but I exfoliate all of the time, #winning’ then be careful not to over-exfoliate – too much exfoliation can lead to you irritating the skin, leaving you feeling a bit sore and tender. Think Goldilocks – not too much and not too little.

Going in hard on your skincare regime – as much as I love to preach about the latest must-have skincare product, when it comes to a skincare regime, sometimes simple really is the best. Don’t feel like you have to add absolutely everything to your regime at once – build it up slowly and see how your skin responds. Do you really need three different serums, a double cleanse, brightening treatments and many, many more? Probably not. If you’re lucky enough to still be in your teens/twenties, also take care not to start slapping loads of stuff on that you probably don’t need yet – save those anti-wrinkle creams for when you get a bit older and enjoy that lovely bouncy skin you’ve got.

Using Vaseline as lip balm – Vaseline is 100% petrolatum jelly (aka mineral oil) which acts as a barrier to help keep moisture in. Unfortunately it doesn’t actually add any moisture itself, so if you’re suffering from dry lips, a petroleum based lip balm is going to do nothing for you. Instead, try something infused with natural oils/cocoa butter/shea butter for long-lasting hydration and super soft lips.

Picking off your nail polish – yes it might be incredibly satisfying, but picking off your polish can also lead to brittle, thin nails and even long term damage if you’re not careful. Your nail is made up of several layers, a bit like our skin, and improper nail polish removal can lead to these layers becoming thin, weak and exposed over time. This is especially true for gel polish or acrylic nail users, so please, please, please stick to a decent remover!

Are you guilty of any of these? What are your beauty bad habits?


Arran Aromatics Just Grapefruit scented candle and reed diffuser

The sun has been out for almost a week now and in my mind that means we are officially on our way to summer. Cue open windows, bare legs and an emergency pedicure (as let’s face it, no one has nice feet after 5 months in boots). For me it also means finding some fresh, more uplifting scents to fragrance my home with.

Arran Aromatics Just Grapefruit range* is the perfect answer for me – I love a good citrus smell and this one really delivers. As the name suggests, this range is ALL about the grapefruit, so if you don’t like that smell, you’ll need to move on from this blog post quite quickly!
 Arran Aromatics Just Grapefruit scented candle and reed diffuser

Just Grapefruit forms part of the ‘Perfumer range’ which has been inspired by Scottish contemporary deisgn. There are two sizes of scented candles available – a travel size (£5) and a full-size (£20) both of which have been infused with Pink Grapefruit oil for a zesty, refreshing scent. Like other Arran Aromatics candles I’ve tried, they really do scent the room after just a short while, but make sure you allow the wax to melt all the way across the top of the candle to get the maximum number of hours burn time you can.

The reed diffuser is also a great way of getting an ongoing scent throughout the house, as the scented oil is pulled up via the wooden reeds and diffused into the air. I’ve been using mine in the bathroom, which is at the top of my stairs and my candle in the living room, and combined together they make the whole house smell amazing! To get the most out of your reed diffuser, make sure you give the wooden reeds a turn every day or two and you’ll get a continual burst of fragrance all day long.

At £20 for the large candle and £22.50 for the reed diffuser, I think that Arran Aromatics’ products are really well priced – they feel luxurious but still at a price that’s affordable to most. They aren’t the easiest of brands to track down, however you can find the full range on their website, including some other lovely rooms scents like Fig, Bergamot and Geranium andAmber Wood. TK Maxx also sometimes have bits and pieces from them which I always snap up if I spot!

Do you like the sound of this grapefruit range from Arran Aromatics?

*PR samples



Illamasqua Gel Colour and Gel Sculpt sticks review

Just when you thought you could take no more of the current contouring craze, Illamasqua have come along with an exciting new product that really stands out from the swathe of contouring palettes currently available on the makeup scene.

The new Gel Colour and Gel Sculpt sticks* are gel formula products in a fat stick format that when applied to skin, give the perfect amount of colour to create a fresh looking complexion with some seriously chiseled cheekbones.

Illamasqua Gel Colour and Gel Sculpt sticks in Fluster and Silhouette
Illamasqua Gel Colour and Gel Sculpt sticks in Fluster and Silhouette swatches
Fluster and Silhouette swatches 
In the tube, Silhouette (the sculpting stick) looks a terrifying black colour but this actually translates to a soft grey/brown when on the skin. Alex Box, creative director for Illamasqua demonstrated the best way to use these little beauties - apply a small amount to the fleshy pads of skin just under your thumbs and then press gently under your cheekbone area. I tried this at home and it was amazing! The perfect sculpted effect with no need for brushes or complicated application methods.

It is a one shade only product but I've seen it being used on all sorts of skin tones and somehow it just seems to work on everyone. I have no idea what magic powers they've put inside Silhouette but I'm loving whatever it is!

The colour sticks are very similar - they look seriously bright in the tube but when dabbed on with a finger you get a nice natural flush of colour. Just start gently and build up the depth of colour you'd like. They can also be used as a lip colour (or eye colour if you're braver than me!), so it's a good multi-use product. There are two shades to choose from - Fluster (pink toned) and Charm (more orange toned).

Because of the gel formula, these seem to sink into the skin making them look really natural, like you're not wearing any makeup at all. They're also great if you have dry skin as they don't leave a powdery residue, but also last well on oilier skins due to the water resistant formula.

The Gel Sculpt and Gel Colour sticks are available now from all Illamasqua counters and via their website, priced at £22 each.

Do you like the look of these new products from Illamasqua?

*PR samples



Bicester Village Designer Outlet - my top tips for a successful shop

Bicester Village is one of my favourite places to go shopping. It's a large designer outlet centre just outside Oxford that plays host to the likes of Prada, Mulberry, Burberry, Reiss, Karen Millen and everything in between.

It's not exactly a cheap day out but if you're on the hunt for some designers bargains (or have a bit of a luxury handbag addiction like me) it's a great place to visit. This weekend I paid a visit to Bicester Village with a friend and thought I'd share some of my top tips to help you make the most out of a day there.

Bicester Village shopping tips

1. Avoid the weekends - if at all possible, go on a week day. Weekends are horrendously busy, parking is a nightmare and you'll have to fight the crowds just to browse. I normally try to take a day off work and go on a Monday, when it's much quieter. If you do need to visit at the weekend, try to go as early as possible so you don't spend half the day trying to find a parking space. 

2. Try not to go there with too fixed an idea in mind - as a lot of the stock is from previous seasons and changes all the time you can never be quite sure what you'll find. So if you arrive looking for a black Mulberry Alexa for example, you're unlikely to find it (although you never know!). Instead, I aim to go with a more general list of things - this time it was a black leather jacket and a black or brown bag that was big enough to use daily for work - and then saw what options I had available to me.

3. Some stock is outlet only - some of the shops sell items which are 'outlet only', which may have been made specially for the outlet stores and aren't available in their normal shops. Staff should be able to help advise which items these are if you're concerned about it and point you in the direction of the items which are original items from older seasons instead. 

4. Returns can be a pain - many of the stores do offer refunds/exchanges (some only offer store credit) but these can usually only be done at one of their outlet stores, not their regular ones, so do think carefully when making a purchase. If you don't live nearby, getting a refund on something can be a bit of a pain, especially if you live several hours drive away. 

5. Check your items well for faults - a small number of the items at Bicester may be seconds (and should be marked as such) so it's worth spending a little time checking over your item just to make sure everything looks perfect. Returns can be a pain (see above) so make sure you're happy with it before handing over your credit card. 

6. Discounts galore - many of the shops offer discounts ranging between 30% and 50% as standard although this does vary between stores and even the items within them. Sometimes you'll also find specific shops have extra discount days - this time around, Kate Spade had an extra 20% off the marked price of all their handbags, giving an even bigger discount on top of the usual one. 

I hope you find this helpful - let me know if you get any good bargains if you decide to visit! 


Dermalogica Redness Relief Primer review

While we might all aim to achieve a healthy glow to our skin with the added help of a bit of blusher, if you suffer from redness in your skin it can be tricky to calm it and reduce its appearance.
I'm naturally prone to rosy cheeks so often leave blusher out of my daily routine and use lots of skincare products designed to help soothe irritated skin and reduce redness over time. 

I've been a fan of Dermalogica's Skin Perfect Primer for a few years now so I was excited to see that they have recently added a new primer to their line up, especially when I found out that it was targeted at anti redness.

Dermalogica redness relief primer
Dermalogica redness relief primer close up

The Redness Relief Primer* contains naturally green botanical extracts which help to even out your skin tone and counteract redness in the skin. Like a lot of anti redness products this one is green in colour but once applied to the skin it magically disappears, leaving behind a more even complexion. With a bit of foundation over the top, my usual redness in my cheeks is much less visible.

It feels quite silky against the skin and while it does contain a decent amount of silicone, it hasn't broken my skin out, something which it can be prone to do when using products with high levels of silicone. There's also an SPF20 included within the formula which is a good base to start from, however if you're out and about, I'd always recommend a separate SPF underneath your primer and makeup.

I haven't found the Redness Relief Primer to be *quite* as good as their Skin Perfect Primer in keeping my makeup in place all day which is slightly disappointing - I needed to re-powder oilier zones mid afternoon but in my drier areas the finish stayed perfect pretty much all day.

I'd definitely recommend this product for anyone who is looking for a helping hand with covering their redness without using heavy duty products. I've tried other green toned primers and correctors before and they've always left a tell tale green tinge to my skin but there's no sign of that with this primer. 

The Redness Relief Primer is available now from all Dermalogica stockists and costs £38.40.

Do you like the sound of this new primer from Dermalogica?

*PR sample


Giveaway: win a £25 beauty gift card of your choice

To celebrate the arrival of spring, I'm giving one reader the chance to win a £25 beauty gift card for a shop of your choice. Whether you fancy a bit of a haul on the high street from Boots, or maybe a luxury treat from Space NK or Selfridges, the choice will be yours.
win a £25 beauty gift card of your choice
The giveaway is open internationally, however the winner will need to ensure that they pick a store that ships to their address from the UK if they're based overseas. It also needs to be a gift card for somewhere that sells them in the UK (so that I can purchase it), so no Sephora I'm afraid *sad face*.

Entries will close on Sunday 3rd May and the winner will be notified shortly afterwards.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disappointing products - April 2015

Over the past few weeks I've been trying out lots of products and while many have been big hits, there are a few that just haven't made the cut. I've been surprised by some of the ones that haven't worked for me as they're from brands I know and love, but I suppose not everything will always be a keeper. 

Sai-Sei Body Wash - I bought this in the Space NK sale and got quite excited as Sai-Sei is usually a pricey brand but with 70% off, it seemed like a great time to try a few things. Sadly this one is destined for the bin as it saps all sense of moisture out of my skin to ridiculous levels. My legs actually looked like they had some sort of horrible flaky skin issue after a couple of days use. Not good. On the plus side, it smells lovely, but for me this is a definite *never using it again* product.

REN Keep Young and Beautiful Instant Firming Beauty Shot* - I normally don't have a bad word to say about REN products and they've been a staple in my beauty regime for years but unfortunately the new 'Instant Firming Beauty Shot' just really isn't working for me. It's an anti-ageing product that's designed to give your skin an instant boost, leaving it looking firmer, plumper and brighter in just a few seconds. While it definitely makes my skin feel firmer and look well hydrated, it doesn't seem to agree with my skin - I tried to apply my foundation over this and ended up with weird peeling bits (not skin, but product pilling). If you're looking for something to give skin an instant boost and don't wear foundation then this might be the perfect solution but for me it's just not working. *sad face* £36

CoLab Extreme Volume Dry Shampoo* - I am a MASSIVE fan of the original CoLab formula, so was really excited to see the new Extreme Volume cans pop onto shelves a little while ago. While it definitely delivers on the volume front, it also made my hair feel incredibly knotty and tangled (like it has been backcombed to the nines) and so I will be sticking to my regular CoLab formula from now on. £3.99

Have you tried any of these products? Have there been any products that have disappointed you this month?

*PR sample


Antonia Burrell Creme Supreme moisturiser review

Finding the perfect moisturiser for combination skin can be a bit of a nightmare. You need something that won't overload the oilier areas but that will also pack enough moisture in the hydrate the drier bits. If this sounds familiar, then Antonia Burrell's Creme Supreme* moisturiser is for you!

Creme Supreme is a lightweight moisturiser that's been designed to work with oily and combination skins to reduce acne bacteria activity and redness in the skin. It balances out oil production while also adding hydration and also works to increase radiance in the skin.

Antonia Burrell Creme Supreme moisturiser review

My skin tends to be quite dry but it definitely has oily areas and I've found this to be a great moisturiser to use in the mornings as it doesn't overload my skin before I apply my makeup. It also hydrates my drier patches well throughout the day. If you have oilier skin, then I think this would be a great product to use both day and night, but due to my dehydration I tend to use something a little richer overnight.

Like all of Antonia's skincare range, Creme Supreme is made up of 100% natural ingredients and features larch extract (a plant alternative to collagen), olive leaf extract (which reduces inflammation and redness in the skin) and mango seed (with high levels of Vitamin A, C and E).

At £68 for a 50ml pot, this is definitely a premium skincare item, but one I think is definitely worth the investment. My pot has lasted me almost 4 months with daily use - you really do only need a small amount per use.

You can find Creme Supreme and all of Antonia's skincare range online from her website and also from Look Fantastic and Naturismo.

If you're ever in London, then I'd also recommend booking in a facial with the lady herself. I had one last year and my skin was glowing for days afterwards!

Do you like the sound of this moisturiser from Antonia Burrell?

*PR sample


NARS Craving Dual Intensity Blush Palette Review

A new NARS product is always guaranteed to be a source of excitement in the beauty world and ever since I heard about the upcoming launch of the Dual Intensity Blushers I've been eagerly awaiting their appearance on counter.

The Dual Intensity Blushers are the follow up product from last's year's seriously successful Dual Intensity Eye Shadows, which came in beautiful metallic finishes and could be used wet or dry for different levels of pigmentation. The blushers work along the same line - they can be used dry for a lighter finish or wet for a serious punch of pigment.

NARS Dual Intensity Blusher duo Craving
NARS Dual Intensity Blusher duo Craving
NARS Dual Intensity Blusher duo Craving dry swatches
Dry swatches
There are six shade combinations to choose from, with each coming in a duo palette with a lighter shade (mostly highlighters) and a deeper shade (blushers or bronzers).

After a serious swatchathon on launch day, I decided to buy the Craving palette which is the highlighter and contour/bronzer duo, although I'm tempted to go back for several others!

The highlighter in this combination is absolutely stunning. It's a light cream shade in the pan that translates to a soft pearlescent highlighter which I think would look amazing on pretty much all skin tones. The bronzer looks a little muddy in the compact but when used on the skin it turns into a really lovely bronzing shade for light - medium skins. It does have a touch of shimmer to it so isn't great for contouring but works well to add colour to the skin in a natural way.

I was impressed at the levels of pigmentation from most of the shades in the range when used dry - when I tried the eye shadows some were a little wishy washy dry but there are no such problems with the blushers. To be honest, I think some might be a little OTT if used wet but it will all come down to personal preference.

My only negative with the Dual Intensity Blushers is that they're not available as singles. There are a few shades I'd love to own on their own but as each comes in a duo it's not cost effective to buy them if I would only use one shade out of the two. Although it is quite tempting...

The Dual Intensity Blushers cost £30 each and can currently be found exclusively at Liberty London but will be launching across NARS stockists in the next week or two.

Do you like the look of these new blushers from NARS?

Beauty offers - House of Fraser beauty confidential April 2015

If you're looking for a way to save money on some cult high end products, then get yourself over to House of Fraser pronto! They're running their fantastic Beauty Confidential offer at the moment, so when you buy one of a selection of 30 top selling products from brands like Urban Decay, Estee Lauder and Lancôme, plus any other beauty product from the beauty halls, you'll be given £10 off.

Included within the offer are:

Bobbi Brown Brow Kit
bareMinerals Get Started® Complexion Kit
Clarins Double Serum 50ml
Urban Decay Naked Palettes 1,2&3
Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask 60ml
Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick
Guerlain Météorites Baby Glow 30ml
Lancôme Miracle Cushion Fluid spf 23+ Foundation
Elizabeth Arden PREVAGE ® Anti-Ageing Treatment Boosting Cleanser 125ml
Lancôme Génifique Yeux Light-Pearl Concentrate 20ml
Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation 30ml
Clarins Tonic Body Treatment Oil 100ml
Lancôme Galateis Douceu 400ml
Clarins Super Restorative Total Eye Concentrate 15ml
Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion 125ml
Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate 30ml
Crème de la Mer Moisturising Cream 30ml
Origins Plantscription Anti-Aging Power Serum 30ml
Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Makeup SPF10 30ml
Guerlain Météorites Base perfecting Pearls 30ml
Yves Saint Laurent Touché Éclat Blur Primer 30ml
Decléor Aromessence Solaire Tan Serum for body 100ml
Clinique Smart Custom Serum 50ml
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Recovery Complex II 50ml
Guerlain Terracotta Bronzing Powder
Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream SPF30 40ml
Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation SPF15 30ml
Estée Lauder Perfectionist [CP+R] serum 50ml
Yves Saint Laurent Fusion Ink Foundation 25ml

It's not often you get such a great discount on so many products, so if you've been thinking of investing in Urban Decay's must-have Naked palettes, or trying the new Touche Éclat Blur Primer from YSL, now's the time to do it.

Beauty Confidential runs until 19th April and is valid both in store and online from the House of Fraser website.

Will you be making the most of the new Beauty Confidential offers?


The one week spending ban

Spending bans aren't exactly my strongest point - after trying many and usually failing after about a month, I've been trying to find new ways of saving money that don't require a complete cut down on purchases.
So when the lovely people at TSB asked if I fancied a a mini spending ban challenge to give up one type of purchases for a week to see how much I could save, I thought it'd be a good way to get back into the habit of saving.
one week spending ban
Despite being a makeup magpie, I decided to give up buying lunches at work and bring my own instead. Working in central London means that there are lots of yummy food options about but these aren't exactly cheap and it's easy to spend £6 or £7 a day on lunch without even realising. So instead I set up a meal plan for the week and after a quick trip to the supermarket I was ready to go.
Over the course of the week I managed to take in my own lunch four days out of five - one day we had a team lunch at a local restaurant so I had planned around that but other than that I think I did pretty well. It did mean I had to be a lot more organised and spend 10 minutes the night before getting my lunch ready, but after a few days I'd really gotten into the habit and I could easily carry on for the coming weeks.
What shocked me the most was how much money I'd saved by doing it - almost £30 in just one week, which works out to over £100 a month! I'm going to continue on with my homemade lunches and put all the money I've saved into an TSB ISA - if I keep it up over a year then that will be around £1000 which is incredible when you think about it.
I have to give TSB credit - changing those small habits can really add up to substantial sums of cash. If you're trying to save more, why not give up your daily coffee or something similar and see how much you could save?
Would you take the one week spending ban challenge? What would you choose to give up?
*collaboration post


Eyeko freebies with InStyle April 2015

Magazine freebie alert! The new issue of InStyle UK (dated May 2015 on the cover) have a choice of four great Eyeko freebies up for grabs this month.

I love a good magazine freebie and when it's a high end brand like Eyeko, it's the perfect time to try products you might not have done before.

This month, you can choose from a choice of four products - all of which seem to be decent travel sizes and worth over £40 in total. Choose from:
  • eye lash curlers
  • liquid liner
  • makeup wipes
  • FAT eye stick (chubby eye shadow crayon in a steel grey colour)
I've already picked up the FAT eye stick but I'm thinking about going back for another issue and the eye lash curlers as I've heard they are meant to be great! As the magazine only costs £3.99 it's a really good deal - the only product I probably wouldn't bother with is the eye makeup remover wipes as the packet is pretty small but other than that they all look like great freebies!

Will you be grabbing one of these Eyeko freebies?


3 new fragrances for spring

Spring has finally arrived, so as well as swapping over my nail polish for lots of pastel shades, I’m also making the move to lighter fragrances that smell that little bit fresher. These three are all quite new to the fragrance scene but make the perfect partners for lighter evenings and *slightly* warmer weather.

spring fragrance picks from Thomas Sabo, Liz Earle and Juicy Couture

Juicy Couture Hollywood Royal* – I don’t often go in for celebrity/brand fragrances but I was pleasantly surprised by the new release from Juicy Couture. Hollywood Royal is a mix of fruity pear and candied apple top notes, with a more floral base. It’s sweet, without being sickly and is incredibly easy to wear. The bottle is also a little more high end than some of Juicy’s more ‘in your face’ fragrances and it’s definitely one I’ll be keeping in my perfume corner for the foreseeable future. £35 40ml.

Thomas Sabo Charm Rose Beach* – Until two weeks ago I had no idea Thomas Sabo even made fragrances but I’m so glad I know about them now! Charm Rose Beach is a slightly odd name as this limited edition summer scent is all about the citrus notes. It’s fresh, light and zesty and perfect if you love hints of mandarin, lemon, orange and a few florals. Apparently they also do several other variants of Charm Rose in their permanent line, so I will have to check those out! £45 launches in May

Liz Earle Botanical Essence No.100* – Liz Earle is known most for their incredible skincare, but I really urge you to take a look at the fragrance selection, which is small but perfectly formed. Botanical Essence No.100 is all about florals and was originally created as a limited edition scent to partner the 100th edition of the Chelsea Flower Show. It’s now been added as a permanent fixture and features notes of damask rose, orange flower and Indian Jasmine, mingled in with bergamot, mandarin, sandalwood and vanilla. £49 50ml

Have you found any new favourite fragrances this spring?

*PR samples


DIY beauty: 3 foods that make great beauty treatments

Having a good skincare regime can make such a difference to the overall health of your skin, but it doesn't always have to be about using expensive lotions and potions. There are lots of things in your kitchen you can use to make at home beauty treatments - here are three of my favourites.
Avocado - avocado is yummy when it's smushed on toast but it's just as good used as a quick home face mask. There are lots of essential fats in avocados, so for fresher looking skin in minutes, mush one up and apply liberally to your face. Give it a rinse after about 20 minutes and you should see nice soft skin.

Coconut oil - this oil isn't just great for cooking with, it can be used as a body moisturiser or as a balm for dry cuticles, elbows and knees. Use a small amount of the solid oil and warm within your hands and then apply to the bits that need it. It's quite rich, so start small and add more if you need it. It also works really well as an intensive hair treatment - apply a small amount to dry hair and leave on for a few hours, then shampoo well to remove any excess oil. 

Sea salt - exfoliating regularly is a good way to get rid of dead skin cells and allow the fresh skin underneath to show through.  A weekly session with a salt scrub is the perfect thing for a body exfoliation and it takes minutes to make your own. Grab a handful or two of sea salt and mix in a small amount of olive oil until you get a consistency that's easy to spread. Massage into the skin gently and then rinse off well. You could also add some essential oils if you'd prefer a scented scrub -  a few drops of lavender would make for a really lovely evening treatment. 

Have you tried any home made treatments before? What are your favourites?


Easter inspired nail polish ideas

Easter is one of my favourite times of the year – spring is in the air, there’s a four day weekend and plenty of chocolate floating around. I think we can agree, that’s a pretty good combo.

To get the Easter vibe on your nails, as well as in your tummies, I’ve picked out a few favourite polishes that I think would make the perfect partners this weekend. And if you’re thinking more about the chocolate side of things, this giant Lindt Fashion Bunny* is the solution (it's also half price at the moment - double win). It’s made from 500g of creamy Lindt chocolate and despite being absolutely massive, I have no intention of sharing mine. Ahem.

On to the nails…

Mini eggs are a highlight for me in the run up to Easter (can you tell I like chocolate?) and these speckled effect polishes from Illamasqua and Models Own make it simple to get a mini egg effect on your nails in a choice of different pastel shades. I like to use a couple of shades and alternate fingers for a full on mini egg look.

For perfect pastels, try one of Barry M's new Speedy shades* (there are 9 to choose from) which dry incredibly quickly to a high shine finish. Topshop's nail polishes are also great for pastel shades - I'm currently obsessed with the sherbet orange shade pictured.

Nail effects are a really simple way to get a nail art finish but with minimal effort and my current top pick has to be the new L'Oreal floral polishes which contain a mix of confetti effect pieces and mini flowers. This orange shade looks great worn over the top of a pastel orange polish, just make sure to have a cocktail stick handy for placing the flowers as they can be a bit tricky to do with the brush.

What are your favourite shades for spring?

*PR sample

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