A day at Weleda

Weleda have long been a firm favourite in my bathroom for years, so when I was offered the chance to spend a day at their UK headquarters to see their amazing plant gardens and learn more about the brand, I jumped at the chance.

If you’ve not come across the brand before, they have a staggering amount of products, which are all created using completely natural ingredients. Whether it’s hair care, skincare, baby products and even medicines, you’ll find them all from Weleda. They were founded back in 1921 and have been creating organically grown products ever since.

At their UK site just outside Derby, they have over 13 acres of gardens where they grow the hundreds of types of plants they need to create their range of medicines (the botanicals for the bath/body/skin ranges are mostly grown in Germany due to the quantities they need). Weleda grow all of their plants through biodynamic methods – this means that they’re fully organic, and plant/harvest their crops at the optimum time in accordance with the planets and the seasons. Weleda have received Demeter certification for their growing methods, which is the highest level of award you can receive (nice work Weleda!).

Our little group of bloggers (Jen, Zoe and Bettina) were given a tour of the gardens by retired head gardener Michael, who worked at Weleda for over 30 years and has a crazy amount of knowledge about all of their individual properties and uses!

A day at the Weleda gardens in England
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - Weleda awards
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - bee flying near to flower
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - flowers in bloom
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - gardener Michael
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - chamomile plant
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - chamomile plant tincture
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - chamomile plant tincture
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - garden beds
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - garden beds
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - plants and flowers
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - plants and flowers
A day at the Weleda gardens in England - plants and flowers
A day at the Weleda gardens in England -making soap
A day at the Weleda gardens in England -making soap
Making our own little soaps! 
Many of the gardens are laid out in traditional rectangular beds, but we were also taken to their beautiful wild flower meadows, shown where the Weleda bees live and taken into a more shady, wooded area where they grow varieties of poisonous plants that are used in extremely small quantities in certain medicines. It was amazing to see so many different varieties of plants all in one place!

After the garden tour, we were given a demonstration by Claire (Weleda’s current head Gardener) on how they make their tinctures, this time using a chamomile plant. There was a lot of strenuous chamomile chopping involved (at this point, I slightly regretted being the chopping volunteer!) before it was mixed with a plant-based alcohol to steep. The full tincture process takes a few weeks, but even after just a few minutes you could already see how the two ingredients had started to fuse together.

When buying Weleda products before, I’d never really thought much about the actual plants that go into making them, but after spending a day with the team, it’s amazing to think about all the care, love and attention they put into growing them. I’ll be putting together another blog post with a few of my favourites from Weleda, but I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour around the gardens.

Are you a fan of Weleda products?


ColourPop makeup haul

ColourPop makeup has been all over my internet feeds for some time now and after a serious perving session over the swatches on Stacey’s blog, I knew I had to have some. Thankfully, my very lovely friend in the US offered to act as my enabler (you can’t get them in the UK yet *cries*), so armed with a long list and some PayPal transfers, she put in an order for me.

The brand have a reputation for creating amazing value makeup that performs incredibly, so I thought I’d order a bit of everything initially to see what products I thought were best. The price point is so cheap – just $5 for an eye shadow, so I was intrigued to see if they lived up to my somewhat high expectations.

ColourPop makeup haul - Kathleen LIghts shadows
ColourPop makeup haulColourPop makeup haul - Kathleen LIghts shadows swatches
When the delivery arrived the other day, there was an audible squeal from me (sorry co-workers) and I’m not going to lie, I started swatching before I took photos. Apologies for the massive blogger crime.

The shadows so far seem to be performing amazingly. They have a slightly odd texture – somewhere in between a cream and a powder – and you only need a small amount to get fantastic pigmentation. They blend really well together, last all day and have pretty much stolen the top spot in my makeup bag at the moment. There does seems to be a bigger focus on non-matte shades in their line up, but don’t let that put you off – they do a pearlized formula which has a bit of a sheen to it, but is far removed from the glittery shimmers you might expect. There are also a few matte shades to choose from - Cop A Feel and Bill are good bets to start with.

A small let down for me was that one of my shadows got a bit smashed in transit, and they do seem to have a reputation for being slightly fragile. The product is quite thin, so I have a feeling I'll easily hit pan on my favourite shadows from this selection, but at $5 each, I'm not complaining. And it’s definitely not enough to put me off buying them again, in fact, I already want more shades!

Another amazing item from my haul was the Stole The Show highlighter. This uses a similar creamy/powder formula to the eye shadows and gives skin an amazing luminescence that I’ve been looking for in a highlighter for a very long time. *orders 6 backups*. They have quite a few shades to choose from in the highlighter formula, but I think Stole The Show is be a really good match for pale skin tones.

I also snuck in a couple of Lippie Stix to my order and a bronzer which I haven’t fully tested yet, but on initial swatching they seem very promising. Watch out for full reviews on these in a few week’s time.

All in all, I’m really impressed with my first ColourPop order. I really hope they launch a UK website or start shipping here soon – I have a feeling they will be very popular!

Have you tried anything from ColourPop before?


Beauty freebies: Estee Lauder Harrods gift with purchase

If you're thinking of stocking up on any Estee Lauder products, make sure you head over to the Harrods website asap as they've got an amazing gift with purchase*on at the moment!
I always think the Harrods gift with purchases are something extra special and this one from Estee Lauder definitely lives up to expectations.

Estee Lauder Harrods gift with purchase June 2015
The gift itself is worth over £170 based on cost per ml basis and features seven products plus two gold bags (one large tote and a cosmetics pouch) that are perfect for summer.
Inside the gift, you'll find:
- Re-Nutriv Hydrating Cream Cleanser 30ml
- Gold Deluxe Palette, with three lipstick shades and eight eye shadows
- Double Wear Stay In Place Lip Liner in clear
- Re-Nutriv Ultimate Lift Eye Cream 5ml
- Re-Nutriv Ultimate Cream 15ml
- Sumptuous Extreme Lash Mascara, black
- Pure Color Lipstick (full-size)
My favourite item has to be the gold palette - it's the perfect travel companion  and the eye and lip shades within it are so wearable.  I'm also loving the look of the Double Wear Stay In Place Clear Lip Pencil as I've not tried something like this before so I'm interested to see how it performs. 
There's a great mix of skincare and makeup included in the gift so if you were thinking of making an Estee Lauder purchase, now's definitely the time to do it!
The gift is available both online and in store - each of which has slightly different spend criteria in order to qualify. Spend £75 or more on Estee Lauder products via the Harrods website or if you're able to visit the store you'll need to buy two products, one of which needs to be a moisturiser, eye cream or repair serum. The gift runs until 18th July, while stocks last.
Do you like the look of this gift with purchase? Will you be treating yourself to one?
*PR sample


Essie Summer 15 collection

Essie’s summer collection* has really impressed me this year. I love to see what new shades they’ll be bringing out each season – sometimes they seem a *tiny* bit random, but they’ve hit the nail on the head with this summer selection. 

Essie summer 2015 nail polish collection
Essie summer 2015 nail polish collection
Essie summer 2015 nail polish collection swatches
There are six new shades to choose from, all of which features Essie’s standard wide brush and classic bottle. You can choose from: 

Peach Side Babe – a sun-ripe peach shade
Private Weekend – a sparkling crisp white with a subtle shimmer
Chillato – frozen cream pistachio
Sunset Sneaks – bright, cushy crimson
Saltwater Happy – sugar-sweet Atlantic blue
Pret-a-surfer – immersive marine blue

The stand out shade for me has to be Peach Side Babe. It’s a gorgeous bright peachy shade that seems to work one everyone that wears it, no matter what their skin tone. These kinds of peachy corals just scream ‘summer’ to me, and my bottle will be getting a LOT of use this summer. 

White polishes can sometimes be a bit of a washout, but Private Weekend definitely doesn’t fall into that category. You only need 2 coats for complete opacity and it looks great with a glossy top coat layered over the top. The shimmer aspect doesn’t really shine though on the nails – it’s incredibly subtle – so don’t let that bit put you off if yor’re hunting for a more traditional white. 

I remember when no-one wore blue nails and now they seem to be a massive thing! Saltwater Happy is probably my favourite of the two as I find the more pastel shades a bit easier to wear with my pale skin, but both the blues in this collection are definite keepers. You could probably get away with one coat of Pret-a-surfer, but I’d go for two just to make sure the finish is completely even. 

Chillato basically makes me think of pistachio ice cream, which is no bad thing (well, except for my diet) and while I don’t think this will be the easiest of shades to wear from some people, if you can make it work, the finish is absolutely lovely. And Sunset Sneaks manages to be bright, bold and yet easy to wear, with a slightly orangey take on a classic crimson red. 

I’d love to see them bring out a minis set of this range – I have a feeling it’d be very popular! Although I’m not sure what shades I’d want them to leave out as they’re all pretty fab. 

The Essie summer collection costs £7.99 per polish and can be found on Essie counters in Boots and Superdug now. You can also find them at the new pop-up nail bar in Debenhams’ Oxford Street store where they’re offering a free manicure if you spend £10 or over during the next week or so. 

Do you like the look of the new collection from Essie? 

*PR samples 


Beauty tips: decluttering your makeup bag

How many times have you gone rotting around in your makeup bag hunting for a specific product, when you’ve unearthed a lip balm/liner/blotting paper/whatever that looks like it’s been there since time began? I’m pretty sure it’s something we’re all guilty of (even if you won’t admit it in public!) so I’ve put together a few tips on how to streamline your makeup bag and get rid of the clutter for good. And for all you makeup addicts out there that have a makeup ‘drawer(s)’ on top of a bag, get to work on those too!

Get rid of anything past it’s use by date – all beauty products have limited shelf lives (I’ve written more about these in this post) so won’t last indefinitely. If you spot anything that smells a bit funny, the consistency has changed/split or you can’t even remember buying it because it was so long ago, bin it.

Choose a smallish bag – most women tend to use a lot of the same products day in day out, but somehow still end up with overstuffed makeup bags packed full of stuff that never gets used. Grab yourself a bag large enough to fit your daily essentials and then store any overflow in a drawer (or use it as a good excuse to finally get some Muji storage, ahem). Rotate products in and out of the bag as you need them, rather than trying to stuff in as many as you can ‘just in case’.

When was the last time you used it? – this is something I try to put into practice with all of my stuff, not just makeup. If I can’t remember the last time I used a product, or it’s been over a year since it last saw the light of day, it’s probably time to get rid. Don’t listen to that little voice in your head that says ‘Oooh Kat, you must’ve really loved this. Ooh how pretty, totally keep it’. This is how people end up on Hoarders. It might feel a bit painful for the first five minutes but once it’s all gone, you’ll probably forget you had it anyway. Promise.

Rotate, rotate, rotate – I like to think of my makeup bag as the place I put all of my daily essentials. Every week, I check through it and swap out some products for alternatives to ensure I mix things up a little. This helps to avoid me overstuffing it and also ensures I get to use lots of items from my stash.

What are your top tips for decluttering your makeup bag?


Little Ondine peel-off nail polish

I love glitter nail polish but I think we can all agree that they are normally a complete b*tch to remove. Or at least they were until I discovered Little Ondine peel off nail polish!

I'm probably showing my age here but when I was young I had a pink bottle of Tinkerbell peel off polish that I absolutely loved and used to paint my nails with it constantly just so I could peel it off.  Times have moved on a bit since then but the premise behind Little Ondine is the same - dozens of shades to choose from, all with a non-toxic formula that peels off when you're ready to remove it.

Little Ondine Peel-off nail polish reviewLittle Ondine Peel-off nail polish review - bottle close up
Little Ondine Peel-off nail polish review and swatches
I had a chat with one of the team behind the brand who explained it's not actually a nail polish in the traditional sense, it's more of a naturally based paint that's made up of resin, water and pigment. This means it also has no real smell, so if you like to paint your nails at work on public transport there won't be any death glares coming your way as no one can smell you're applying it!

The peel off part really appealed to me, especially with the glittery shades and it definitely delivers on ease of removal. You apply it similar to any normal polish (just don't use a normal top/base coat or it won't peel off!) and when you're finished with it, you can gently peel it away from the edge of your nail and remove it in one go. They dry reasonably quickly - about 5 minutes per coat - and I found it best to let the first coat dry almost completely before adding a second to ensure they look streak free and completely opaque.

They tend to last around two days on me before they started to lift slightly at the edges, which I thought wasn't too bad. The brand say they can last up to 7 days with careful application (apply to clean nails, don't allow any polish to go onto the skin) but I think that would be a push for someone who sits typing all day or uses their hands a lot for work.

I'll definitely be adding a few more Little Ondine polishes to my collection over the next few months, I've got my eye on another multi toned glitter that's calling my name!

You can find Little Ondine via their website, with prices starting at £9.20 for standard polishes and up to £11 for the more luxury glitter shades.

What do you think of these peel off polishes? Is it something you'd use?

*PR samples


Blogging: where's the community spirit?

There seems to be a general discomfort in parts of the beauty blogging world at the moment. With so many blogs around, things have got a lot more competitive and as a blogger you feel you have to offer more and more in order to retain readers, grow your network and still be in with a chance of working with brands of some great collaborations.

I’m by no means a veteran blogger – I’ve been doing this for about three years now, but since I started I can definitely feel the change in the air. In the past, it felt like I belonged to a community of sorts. There were tons of people, both online and in real-life that I could ask for advice, or generally just discuss ideas with. There was a lot less cynicism around and people seemed to genuinely support each other.

Fast forward to 2015 and I feel that because the blogging market has become so competitive, that sense of community has now been lost. People get incredibly cagey about things – from what kinds of blog posts they might be working on, to how much to charge for certain types of work, or even just a good ol’ chin-wag on blogging. And god forbid you ask someone what their stats are. It’s as though people feel like they have to keep this all to themselves in order to protect it. When really, I think that we would all benefit from being just that bit more open.

If we felt more happy to discuss these kinds of things, surely it would mean that we all win in the end? It might mean that we feel more confident in how much we’re charging for sponsored posts, and feel more confident in responding to brands when they say they can usually get that kind of feature for a fifth of that cost (please make this stop). It would be great to be able to ask a blogger who’s photography you think is amazing a question, or maybe some writing tips from another. You might want to be the best blogger you can, but surely that doesn’t mean you can’t help others along the way?

I’d love to see a more community feel to blogging in the future. I don’t know if this is just a pipedream, but for me it’s a goal to work to. Blogging in 2015 might be competitive, but it doesn’t mean we have to trample on others to achieve our goals. If anything, I think it will be a more positive experience for everyone if we all bond together a bit more and create that community spirit.


Kiko Miami Beach Babe Click Slick Eyeliners

Colourful eye makeup is one of those things that is waaaaaay out of my normal comfort zone, but after making a pact to my blog wife All That Slap to be a bit more adventurous this year, I thought it was high time I gave it a try. I’ve been the ‘black eye liner is my life’ person for about 15 years now, so it was definitely time for a change!

Enter Kiko’s new Miami Beach Babe summer collection and I think I might’ve been converted! Miami Beach Babe has a fab line up of bronzers, blushers and all kinds of summery goodies, but what really drew my eye were the Click Slick liquid liners*. There are six shades in the range to choose from, in shades of turquoise, green and brown, right through to my trusty black.

The applicator for these is quite unusual for a liquid liner. They feature a very fine brush that looks like it belongs on an under-eye concealer, so I was slightly apprehensive about how fine a line you’d be able to get with them. You click the product through to the bristles and then apply directly to the lid using the brush.

Despite looking tricky, it was surprisingly easy to get the hang of – I’ve been able to get both a really fine line at the lash line and something thicker and bolder for a more intense look. Don’t be tempted to click too many times, the key here is to get just enough product to create your line, without having lots left over, as this is when it might smudge over the lid.

Once these are dry (which only takes about 30 seconds) , they literally do not budge. I’ve worn mine for a 12 hour day at work and it’s still looked amazingly fresh at the end of the day. And I didn’t miss my black liner once.

If you don’t fancy using these as liners, then they’d definitely work well used all over the lid as an eye shadow. I’m not sure they’d be that great at blending into another shade, but for a pop of colour on the lids, then these are definitely a must-have.

At just £6.90 each, I think these are a fantastic way to try out a more colourful look and a complete bargain quality wise. I’ll be heading off to Kiko to stock up on my favourite 04 turquoise shade so I have a couple of backups. You can find the entire Miami Beach Babe collection on the Kiko website and in their stores across the country.

Are you a fan of a more colourful makeup look? Will you be trying these new liners from Kiko?

*PR samples


The Selfridges summer beauty edit

If I could only pick one place to shop for beauty products for the rest of my life, it would have to be Selfridges. While my bank balance would no doubt suffer, I’d be one happy lady as their range of brands is just amazing and don’t even get me started on the product exclusives.

Summer is a great excuse for a few beauty related treats and I’ve got five of Selfridges’ top summer beauty picks* to share with you today. Apologies to your bank balances in advance…

Selfridges summer beauty picks close up - Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess, Bobbi Brown Illuminating Bronzer, CHarlotte Tilbury Eye shadow, Aerin self tanner, NARS lip crayon set
Selfridges summer beauty picks close up - Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess, Bobbi Brown Illuminating Bronzer, CHarlotte Tilbury Eye shadow, Aerin self tanner, NARS lip crayon set
Bobbi Brown Illuminating Bronzer and Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerise swatches
Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess Eau Fraiche Skinscent – this classic Estee Lauder fragrance gets released for a limited period each year and I know people who buy several bottles at a time to keep them going throughout the winter to ensure they’re never without it! Up until recently, I’d never actually had a sniff (And I call myself a beauty blogger…) but now I’m totally hooked. It’s quite a hard fragrance to describe – it honestly smells like summer! It’s a 'warm' fragrance, a little like Caudalie’s cult Divine Oil – fresh, warm and not overpowering at all. The bottle changes every year and I’m loving the ombre style glass that they’ve chosen this year. Snap this one up quickly – it won’t be around for too long! £47

Bobbi Brown Illuminating Bronzer – is it a blusher? Is it a bronzer? Is it a highlighter? Well, I suppose you could call say this Illuminating Bronzer does all three. Antigua is a warm, peachy toned shade that will work well as an all over bronzer on light to medium skin tones and also as a bronzey-toned highlighter for those with a darker complexion. It’s incredibly flattering on the skin and you only need a small amount to get that ‘hell yes I’ve been at the beach’ smug-faced glow. Use it with a big fluffy brush and apply to the areas you’d normally catch the sun (or in my case, the areas I’d like to catch the sun if I actually tanned). £28

Aerin Gradual Tan – I often steer away from fake tans as my skin is ridiculously pale and done badly, I look (and smell like) a stripy digestive biscuit for weeks. Aerin’s gradual tan is definitely a luxury purchase, but it can be built up over several days to create your custom level of tan. If you’re porcelain like me, apply it every other day for a very believable ‘touch of tan’ look – every day will be too much.

Charlotte Tilbury Eyes To Mesmerise – these new cream shadows from Charlotte Tilbury are absolutely stunning. I think this brand has done so well since it launched – Charlotte creates such wearable shades and formulas that you just want to buy it all! Cleopatra is a beautiful teal metallic shade that I probably would’ve been too scared to try myself, but I’m so glad the Selfridges team gave me the push to be a bit braver. You only need a tiny amount to get a good wash of colour over your lids, or alternatively you could use it slightly thicker as a liner. These types of cream shadows do have a tendency to dry out, so make sure you keep the lid firmly closed and keep the pot upside down when you’re not using it to help it stay fresh for ages. £22

NARS True Lip Crayon set – everyone loves some NARS newness and this exclusive set will be launching into Selfridges on 1st July. The packaging is completely to die for – talk about a collector’s item! I’ve done a full review of this set with swatches over here, but in a nutshell, you need it. There’s also a blusher palette (with no Orgasm or Laguna, woohoo!) and a nude toned lip crayon trio launching at the same time. Get your credit cards ready. £29

Have you tried any of these summer beauty essentials from Selfridges? What’s your favourite beauty product for summer?

*PR samples


Beauty tips: 5 tips for great looking lashes

Since discovering mascara at the tender age of 12, it’s become the one item of makeup I will never be without. I think eye lashes are one of those incredibly personal things – they help to frame your eyes and we all have those tried and tested products to help us make the most out of them. These are five of my top tips to get great looking lashes, both with mascara and without.

Beauty tips - top tips for great looking lashes
Give them a curl – lash curlers really are your best friend if used well. Start at the base of your lashes, press gently and hold for 5-10 seconds. Move them slowly up the lashes in stages, holding the curlers shut for a few seconds each time to get a natural looking curl that will hold all day. Shu Uemura's are the best I've tried; they're a bit pricey at £20 but they really work wonders!

Wiggle that wand – no-one wants clumpy looking lashes, so when applying mascara start right at the base of your lashes and gently wiggle the wand from side to side as you apply it. This should stop ‘3 eye lash’ syndrome from occurring. Make sure you leave a little while in between coats of mascara to give it chance to dry slightly – if it’s too wet, it’s much easier for clumps to form.

Tight-line at the base of your lashes – for a really full lash look without lots of makeup, tight-lining is a great solution. Tight-lining involves lining your upper lid from underneath the lashes so is a bit tricky to get the hang of initially, but it will ensure your lashes look incredibly full, without any tell-tale gaps between them at the base. Use a specific product designed for tight lining if you can (Laura Mercier’s cake liners are good) and have a few practice goes at home to get it looking good without poking yourself in the eye (been there, it hurts).

Remove your eye makeup properly and with a gentle remover – mascara can sometimes be an absolute b*tch to get off, so using a specific eye makeup remover is a must in my book. A lot of these are also infused with lash conditioners to help keep them feeling nice and soft after all the makeup has gone. Don’t rub your eyes as you remove makeup – not only can this help give you wrinkles around the eye area, it tugs at your lashes and can encourage breakage. Instead, soak a cotton pad with remover, hold it over the lid/lashes for around 30 seconds to start dissolving the makeup and then gently sweep away.

Help them to grow - to help lengthen lashes long term, enhancing treatment like RapidLash* is a great option. I’ve used both RapidLash and RapidBrow in the past and been really impressed with the effects. You’ll need to apply the serum once a day for a couple of months before you see any results, but it’s definitely worth the effort! My lashes seemed to shed less and also grew noticeably longer, to the point where I could make them touch my brows when I gave them a flutter.

What are your top tips for lovely looking lashes?

*PR sample


Free makeup Friday: Essence Duck hunts

Calling all Essence makeup lovers! From this weekend onwards, the Essence team are giving away lots of goodies across the country through a set of 'Duck Hunts'.

Essence pink duck hunt - free makeup
There'll be a number of strategically placed pink Essence branded rubber ducks with an 'I'm lost' sign around their necks dotted around certain Wilko stores - all you've got to do is find one, hand it to a member of the Essence team (who'll be nearby) and claim a goody bag with lots of lovely Essence products!

They'll be in London, St Helens, Hanwell and Willenhall this Saturday, 20th June from 11am-5pm (exact locations TBC). You can also find them in various locations over the next couple of weeks:

Saturday 27th June: Hove, Keighly, Sheffield

Saturday 4th July: Southhampton, Peterlee, Nottingham

Saturday 11th July: Warrington

If you're in the area, keep your eyes peeled for a pink duck - there are lots of goodies up for grabs if you track one down!

5 things to buy: the World Duty Free edit

It's finally summer which can mean only one thing - summer holidays! If you're jetting off somewhere sunny over the next few months, make sure you leave enough time for a cheeky World Duty Free trip - it's every beauty lovers paradise and boy have they got some good bargains! I've picked out 5 of my top ‘must-buy’ items - some are travel exclusives and others are high end favourites that are well worth grabbing especially with the duty free discount.

World Duty Free summer top beauty picks
Givenchy Lipstick trio* – Givenchy’s new Le Rouge a Porter lipstick formula is the perfect mix between punchy pops of colour and a lovely hydrating formula and they have got some seriously good shades to choose from. This World Duty Free exclusive travel set features three full-sized lipsticks in different shades of pink and nude, including shades 103, 203 and 204. The slim design makes them really easy to apply without a brush and the packaging itself feels so high end!

Jo Malone colognes – Jo Malone at Duty Free prices, it’d almost be criminal not to! On a serious note, I’m a big fan of buying some of my favourite products when at World Duty Free – the savings really help make higher-end purchases feel that bit more affordable. If you’ve been waiting to give Jo Malone a try, then I’d definitely recommend checking it out at the airport. My current favourite is the Wood Sage and Sea Salt (review here), but the classic Lime, Basil and Mandarin is also to die for if you like fresh, citrusy scents.

Bobbi Brown Instant Pretty palette* – this pocket-sized palette is ridiculously cute. Be warned – it really is teeny, but they’ve managed to pack in 4 super wearable nude shadow shades and a ‘suits all skin tones’ peachy pink blusher plus a travel-sized eye shadow brush. Bobbi Brown is always one of those brands that I think do fantastic makeup that you want to wear every day, so if you’re hunting for a palette you know you can get lots of use out of, but that won’t take up much space, buy this one. Now. £33.45

OPI Hawaii minis set* – who doesn’t love a summer nail polish collection?! OPIs mini sets are always a must-have in my book as I will literally never finish one of the larger ones. You get six shades of polish in this kit, all from their recent Hawaii collection. I love the Suzi Shops & Island Hops shade – it’s perfect for the toes! £16.45

YSL Travel Exclusive palettes – these tend to change slightly every year, but oh my god are they good. I have one that launched last year (although I think you might still be able to get it) that features a mix of shadows and lipsticks and is great for packing in your holiday bag as you get loads of YSL loveliness without taking up lots of space. They’re also a fab way to try out multiple products/shades from a high end brand without needing to buy them individually. Take a look at the Extremely YSL for Lips which features 8 different lipstick shades in a hot pink clutch style packaging or the Very YSL palette which has a mix of 4 day-to-evening shadows, two lip colours and a light pink blusher.

Are you going on holiday this year? What are you planning to pick up in World Duty Free?

*PR samples



Starter skincare kit under £50

A decent skincare regime can be an absolute saviour for our skin. We put it through a lot every day – whether it’s wearing makeup, living in cities or generally just feeling a bit stressed. But good skincare doesn’t have to break the bank. Although I might be a fan of some high-end favourites, there are some amazing products on the high street and so I’ve put together my recommendations for a complete skincare starter kit which will cost you just under £50 to buy the lot.

starter skincare set under £50
Makeup remover – before you get started on the ‘proper’ cleansing, it’s best to take off any makeup from the day. For light makeup users, try B.’s Miceller Water* (£4.99 although often half price) swept all over the skin on a cotton pad. For heavy duty mascara/liner wearers, you’ll need something extra to remove it fully, so give Sainsbury’s Skin Therapy Gentle Eye Makeup Remover (£2.50) a try.

Cleanser – once you’re removed your makeup, give your skin a full cleanse to remove any remaining dirt. La Roche Posay’s Toleriane Cleanser* (£11.50) is suited to virtually all skin types, even really sensitive ones and works well massaged into to dry skin and removed with a warm, damp flannel (try Primark’s luxury ones which are £2.50 for three).

Moisturiser – moisturisers can be tricky things to get right as they’re so often dependent on individual skin types, so I’ve tried to pick out a few budget friendly options which can be used lightly for more oily skins or layered up if you need more moisture. Steamcream (£13.95) is a great lightweight moisturiser made up with lots of lovely skin-friendly ingredients. It has a gentle lavender scent to it and can be used both morning and night. Trilogy’s Rosehip Oil (£16.50) is one of the best face oils I’ve found, as it’s really hydrating without being overpowering and because it only has one ingredient, it tends to work on all skin types. If you have very dry skin, add a couple of drops of the Trilogy oil to your Steamcream for an extra hydration boost.

Exfoliator – regular exfoliation makes a big difference to the overall health of your skin, and a gentle scrub once a week will help to remove dead skin cells and show off the brighter-looking new ones underneath. Amie’s New Leaf (£4.99) is gentle but effective and has the bonus of smelling absolutely amazing!

What would you feature in your budget skincare starter kit? 

*PR samples


Disappointing products - the nail edition

Over the past couple of months I've come across a few nail products that haven't quite lived up to expectations so I thought I'd do a little round up here and explain why these three just aren't working for me.

disappointing products - the nail edition
Ciate Monochrome Manicure set* - I'm a huge lover of Ciate and buy pretty much all of their nail art kits, so I'd expected to absolutely love this one. The premise is quite simple - there's a black and a white paint pot included, plus a set of nail art stickers in different geometric styles that can be used to create interesting patterns on the nails. As well as using the black and white polishes, they also suggest creating a 'negative space' manicure, where you only use one colour of polish and leave the rest of the space as your natural nail colour. Now, the kit itself works really well and you can great a great finish with a steady hand and a bit of patience. What was disappointing was the black nail polish. It's absolutely rubbish. Normally blacks are very opaque, but after four coats of this (yes, I went as far as four) it was still a slightly washed out shade. Given the fact the kit costs £25, I don't think it's worth the money when only one of the polishes can actually be used effectively. I love the idea, they just need a better formula black polish included.

Barry M Sunset Nails* - these looked like a really interesting summer launch from Barry M and I was really excited to give them a try. There are some lovely shades in the initial collection - the hot pink shade had my name all over it. These were promoted as 'daylight curing' - when combined with the special Sunset top coat, they would cure using natural daylight and give a gel like finish without the need for lamps or special removal methods. I gave these a try a few times and didn't really feel like the special top coat made much of a difference. They dried pretty much the same with or without it and lasted about the same amount of time as any other polish. I really love the shade selection so will quite happily use them throughout the summer, but I think the 'daylight curing' part might be a little bit of a gimmick.

CND Vinylux* - given the fact I can somehow chip my nail polish in my sleep, the lure of a week long manicure that doesn't need curing was incredibly appealing. CND are pretty famous for their Vinylux weekly polish so I gave a few shades a try and to be honest, I was rather disappointed. While the finish might be lovely and glossy, and the colour range fantastic, I got noticeable chips within 48 hours. I wouldn't normally moan as this is about average for me, but for a polish that promises a long-wear and requires you to buy their special top coat in order to use it properly, it just hasn't quite delivered.

Have you tried any of these polishes? What are your thoughts?

*PR samples


Dior Diorskin Nude Air Powder review

Face powders seems to be a tricky thing to get right. I’ve tried many over the years that just seem to sit on top of the skin a look a bit chalky, but the recently launched DiorSkin Nude Air Powder* is a definite game changer.

The Nude Air Powder is a super lightweight powder that comes in three different shades, in both compact and loose formulas. As you’d expect from Dior, the packaging is seriously luxe – I have the compact version and it’s holed up in a heavy silver compact that just screams ‘get me out on the tube and show me off’!

Dior Diorskin Nude Air Powder 010 Ivory
As someone with combination skin, I often end up with very dry cheeks but a shiny nose, chin and forehead so rely a lot on blotting papers to keep my skin looking balanced throughout the day. I’ve used a lot of powders before and found they can sit quite heavily on the skin, however this one is almost invisible when applied, but works fantastically well at keeping my makeup in place without being overly matte. It also doesn’t seem to settle in my drier areas, which is really impressive.

Over the summer months I tend to make the switch to lighter liquid bases, such as GOSH’s CC cream, and will be using a touch of this over the top to set it in place and help it wear well throughout the day. Even if you prefer a heavier foundation, you can definitely use this over the top without ending up looking as though you’re completely caked in makeup.

They’ve included a cute little kabuki brush along with the powder compact, which is the perfect size for an on the go touch up, but if you’re using it at home, I’d suggest using a large, fluffy brush for the best finish. Buff it gently into the skin using large circular motions for the best finish, taking care not to brush away your base product underneath.

I’ve been using 010 Ivory, which is the lightest shade, but there are also 020 Light Beige and 030 Medium Beige which will work well for light to medium toned skins. If you’re very dark, then I think you’ll struggle with these powders, but it might be worth giving the darkest shade a try in store if you can, as it does seem to disappear nicely once applied.

The Nude Air Powder costs £31.50 and can be found online from Escentual and across Dior counters.

Do you like the look of this new powder from Dior?

*PR sample


Summer ready feet

Ok, there’s no getting around it, sandal season is upon us and that means it’s time to get those toes out. For me, feet are one of those incredibly necessary but really ugly things, and after spending about 9 months tucked away in boots, they need a little TLC before I inflict them on the wider world. Ok, a lot of TLC. Cue an emergency at-home pedicure.

summer ready feet - at home pedicure
I like to start by giving them a good soak in warm water to help soften up any dry bits, before going to work with a foot file to get rid of any dead skin. I sometimes add a few spoons of ClearZal’s Silk Tea Tree Foot Soak* to the water help with the softening process and the tea tree oil within it works to prevent any bacteria that might build up. I’d recommend doing the filing on a towel to catch all the dead skin that comes off (grim, but necessary) and don’t be afraid to put a bit of elbow grease into it (especially if you haven’t had a pedicure in 6 months like me. Sorry feet.).

Next up, dry off your feet and give the nails a trim while they’re still soft from the water. Toe nails are usually much harder than the ones on your fingers, so doing it when they’re a bit softer helps stop potential splitting. Aim for a nice straight line across, and use special nail clippers (like these ones) rather than nail scissors to avoid uneven edges.

By now, your feet should be ready for the ‘nice’ bit of the treatment – a foot massage! Now, if you can find a willing volunteer to do this, then great, but I tend to do it myself as my feet are incredibly ticklish and I’ve accidentally kicked someone in the face before partway through a foot massage. Not good. You’ll want to add a nice bit of moisturiser as part of the massage – this will help keep the new skin you’ve just revealed nice and supple. There are plenty of lovely foot-specific lotions you can buy, or alternatively a really rich body butter would work just as well. Just make sure you leave about 10-15 minutes for it to sink in properly so you don’t slip over on greasy feet when you stand up.

I like to finish off my at-home pedicure with a nice bright polish on my toes (Morgan Taylor Pink Flame-Ingo is my current favourite) – two coats and a top coat and you’re ready to go! Sandal-worthy feet in about 30 minutes.

For more summer-ready feet products, check out the ClearZal website.

Are you a fan of the at-home pedicure? What’s your routine for lovely summer feet?

*collaboration post


Flamingo Candles Melt Crowd subscription box - June review

Like scented candles? Enjoy a monthly surprise through the door every month? Then Flamingo Candles new Melt Crowd is for you! 

I’ve been a fan of Flamingo Candles for a while now – their scented candles are amazing value for money, last for ages and have some fantastic scents available (chocolate orange anyone?!). The Melt Crowd is their latest innovation, which sees them creating a box of goodies which can be delivered to your door every month. 

Flamingo Candles Melt Crowd June Subscription box
Instead of their regular candles, which let’s face it aren’t going to fit through the letterbox, they’ve put together some beautiful scent melts, which are smaller, circular, scented wax disks that can be melted using a scent burner to fragrance your room. 

Inside each month’s box will be 8 scent melts, plus with your first month’s subscription you’ll also be sent the scent burner so you’ve got everything you need (except for a few tea lights!) to get going. 

The June box is the first one that they’ve created and I was so excited when this popped through my letterbox. For a start, the box smells AMAZING when you open it, and once I got through the packaging I could see why. 

This month’s combination of scents includes: Pina Colda, Mango & Dragonfruit, Tropical Coconut Milk & Honey, Freshly Mown Grass, Daisy, Sweet Lime & Cedar, Juicy Clementine and Thai Lime & Mango. There seems to be a good mix of scents, so if you’re a fan of more sweet smells or a fruity fan like me, you should hopefully find you like the majority of the box. 

Being a bit of a fruity scent lover, I went straight for the Mango and Dragonfruit one and popped the whole thing in my scent burner. In hindsight this was a bit of a rookie error as they are huge, so could easily be split into two or three pieces to allow you to switch flavours more easily. Anyhow, after about 20 minutes, my living room smelt absolutely divine – like a really ripe, yummy mango. 

Each scent melt will last for up to 30 hours, which I think is really good value, especially as you get 8 included each month for just £10. Flamingo Candles promise that you’ll receive different scent melts for the first three months, after which there might be one or two repeats, but I think this is ok given the fact you might find a few favourites as the months go by. 

If you’re not really a fan of the traditional beauty boxes but are on the hunt for something different, I’d definitely recommend the Melt Crowd. I’m already looking forward to seeing what flavours there will be in next month’s box! 

You can sign up for the Melt Crowd directly from the Flamingo Candles website, priced £10 per month. 

Do you like the sound of this new subscription box?

*PR sample



Sunday Riley Luna review

Sunday Riley is one of those brands that I’d heard an awful lot about through the blogging community but had yet to try myself. So when I was given the opportunity to try out the brand’s latest innovation – the Luna Sleeping Oil* – I leapt at the chance.

Luna is an interesting mix between a night oil and a retinol treatment product. It combines all the lovely hydrating benefits of avocado, chia, and blackberry seed oils with the very technical sounding advanced trans-retinoic acid esther.

Retinols are one of those ingredients that people often find makes a big difference to their skin as they get to work on the appearance of wrinkles and even out your skin tone. However some retinol based products can also be quite harsh, making it a careful balancing act for your skin. Luna uses a next-generation type of retinol that is much more stable and is a lot gentler to the skin, meaning it's suitable for almost everyone. I’ve previously steered clear from a lot of retinol based products before as my skin can be quite sensitive, but since using Luna, I’ve had no problems at all, and in fact, my skin is looking better than it ever has before!

Luna is a pretty unusual blue colour, which comes from the blue pansy extract included in the formula. This completely disappears once it’s applied to your skin, so don’t panic – you won’t be left looking like the latest addition to the Smurf family.

I’ve been using around 3-4 drops every other night for the past two weeks and have been seriously impressed. The first night I used it, I woke up the next day and could actually see the difference in my skin, which is something I’ve never come across in a skincare product before (face masks aside!). Over the past few weeks, my skin looks brighter, more even and generally just more radiant. Despite having reasonably good skin to start with, I’ve still noticed a difference and that for me is a massive selling point. Even my boyfriend noticed the difference, which really says a lot.

If you have oily skin, then this will probably be enough for you as a night treatment, however if you’ve got drier or dehydrated skin I’d add an extra moisturiser over the top. I tend to add a bit of Caudalie’s Polyphenol C15 moituriser to my cheeks after Luna has sunk in, as I find I get quite dry in those areas.

Like all retinol containing products you do need to take extra precautions with SPF as it can make you more sensitive to the sun, so slap on that SPF every day – don’t just rely on the stuff in your makeup or moisturiser. It’s pointless using a powerful product like this and then ruining it all with sun related ageing, so this is a definite must!

Initially I was a little scared by the £85 price tag, but having used it I can confirm I would repurchase this in a heartbeat. And will be doing so once my bottle starts to run low. A little goes a long way, so it should last you a good few months and I really think the final results are worth the investment.

You can find Luna exclusively at Space NK, both in store and online, along with lots of other Sunday Riley products (my wish list is currently a mile long).

Have you tried Luna before? Is it something you'd be interested in trying?

*PR sample


8 irritating emails all bloggers can identify with

I think this week has been a high point for my inbox. In amongst all the lovely emails (of which I am very grateful for!) have been some absolute crackers – whether it’s SEO campaigns disguised as competitions or being asked to review a product that I was then told I had to pay for. I know a lot of bloggers get the same thing day in day out, so thought I’d put together some of our frustrations in gif format.

1. The ‘we’d love you to write a blog post to enter our competition to win *insert random prize here*’ – aka free SEO for us

2. The ‘please review our product, here are some images, no we don’t have samples for you to actually try’ – um, no

3. The ‘just wanted to see how you’re getting on with xyz’ – better known as ‘this is me chasing you without trying to seem like I’m chasing you

4. The ‘we don’t have any budget to work with bloggers’ email – are you SURE about that, given the fact you’re a multi-billion dollar company?

5. The ‘we’re sorry, we can’t work with you if you use no-follow links’ –  but you know that Google really hates that schizz, right?

6. The ‘we’d love to you review our product, we can send it to you at a special blogger price’ – so your PR plan is to get me to buy your product that I have never heard of, and then write a feature on it recommending it to others?!

7. The ‘I’m sorry, we don’t work with bloggers who disclose sponsored posts’ - *refers them to ASA*

8. The ‘here are some images of our latest fashion collection, please feel free to style them in your upcoming outfit posts however you like’ – hmmmmmmmm...

Can you identify with any of these?
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