Smith and Cult Christmas nail polish gift sets

Smith & Cult Christmas nail polish trio review
Smith & Cult Christmas nail polish trio review swatches
Smith & Cult’s Christmas collection* is one of my favourites this year. The luxury nail polish brand sprang into Space NK earlier this year and their gorgeous shade range and luxe bottles definitely help them stand out from the rest.

The brand is a new venture for Dineh Mohajer, the brains behind Hard Candy, and focuses on a 5-free formula with a high-shine finish and smooth application. The core range features over 30 shades, covering everything from the sheerest nude to a bright, shocking pink.

The Christmas collection features two different polish sets, each with three best-selling shades inside. I absolutely adore the one I’ve been testing, which features two glittery shades (Vegas Post-Apocalyptic and Teen Cage Riot) and a beautiful deep grey that can be used alone or as a base for the two glitters. There’s also a second trio with a bold red, deep berry and a festive gold glitter that also looks rather fab.

I’m a total magpie when it comes to nail polish, so anything pink and glittery usually gets my vote. Vegas Post Apocalyptic is almost holographic in its shimmer, and although you’d need multiple coats to create an opaque finish, one or two layered over a darker base gives you the perfect mani for party season.

Smith & Cult’s bottles are like none other I’ve ever seen – they’re super heavy, with metallic lids that looks slightly dented. Each one is a little different from the next and it gives the brand a really premium feel to it that definitely helps to justify the price point. To make application easier, the heavy metal lid is removable, and has a much smaller, more traditional handle underneath that makes it much simpler to use when you’re actually painting your nails!

The formula of the three shades I’ve tried is very good – Bang The Dream almost glides onto the nails with the brush – and the non-glittery shades only need two coats for a fully opaque finish. Wear time is also good, lasting around four days on me before I get my first chip (my normal average is 2-3).

Now, these definitely fall into the premium polish section as a single shade will set you back £19 and the Christmas trios are £47, but if you fancy a bit of a treat or want a luxury brand that really delivers on the ‘luxe’ front, I’d highly recommend Smith & Cult.

You can find their range online and in store at Space NK.

*PR samples



Christmas gift guide: luxury beauty gifts for her

Christmas gift guide - luxury beauty gifts for her
Christmas gift guide - luxury beauty gifts for her
Christmas gift guide - luxury beauty gifts for her
Christmas gift guide - luxury beauty gifts for her
Christmas gift guide - luxury beauty gifts for her
It’s less than 5 weeks to go now until the big day and I can officially confirm I’ve started my Christmas shopping. Organisation is my middle name this year. If you’re on the hunt for some inspiration, I hope my range of gift guides will be helpful – I’ve already covered gifts for the home and today I’ve pulled together a bumper list of luxury gifts any beauty addict will adore. Keep your eyes peeled next week for budget-friendly beauty gifts and also a guide for the men.

Goldfaden MD Radiant Skin Starter Set* – skincare enthusiasts will love this start kit from Goldfaden MD. It contains three products that work together to target dull, lacklustre skin using a combination of state-of-the-art technologies and plant actives. Exfoliate first with the Doctor’s Scrub (50ml), cleanse with Pure Start (30ml) and then hydrate and brighten the skin using Vital Boost (15ml). £65

Mary Kay Skinvigorate Cleansing Brush* – beauty tech lovers will definitely be pleased to see this cleansing brush from Mary Kay under the tree. This two-speed brush deep cleans skin and helps to remove any dirt, dead skin cells and makeup residue in seconds. £35

Floris Fragrance Travel Collection for her* – this beautiful fragrance set from Floris is a great way to discover the brand and to experiment with four of their favourite scents. Inside the box you’ll find 14ml bottles of the Night Scented Jasmine, Soulle Ambar, Cefiro and White rose scents. It’s a great mix of warm, floral and fresh smells, so whoever receives it will be sure to find at least one new favourite. £65

Foreo Iris Illuminating Eye Massager* – Foreo’s new Iris eye massager would make a lovely gift for someone more mature as it gets to work on fine lines and fatigue around the eye area. It blends T-Sonic technology with clean Swedish design and takes just one minute a day to use. There are three colour choices to go for, including two shades of pink and a lovely mint green. I’ll have a full review on this coming up in a few weeks time, but for now, it’s safe to say I am very impressed! £99

The Balm NudeTude palette* – everyone needs a minimum of one nude palette in their collection and this one from quirky US brand The Balm is a must-have in my book. You’ll find 12 highly pigmented matte and shimmer shades inside, all packaged up in a sturdy cardboard case. £30

Pur Minerals Love Your Selfie palette* – this palette from Pur Minerals is the perfect travel companion for a natural makeup look in minutes. It includes 8 limited edition eye shadows, Mineral Glow Bronzer, Savvy Blusher, Afterglow Illuminator, Exposed lip gloss and a mini Big Look Mascara. All of the shades are super wearable and formulated with Pur’s trusty mineral formulas. £32

Mavala nail care sets* – nail lovers will adore Mavala’s range of nail care gifts. Their strengthening products really are second to none and the new gel effect top coat is the best one I’ve come across! Try the Nail Care Pochette, which contains a strengthener, base coat, top coat, files, cuticle sticks and remover pads. Price start at around £20.

MicroPedi Nano* – for a mini spa treatment at home, the MicroPedi Nano is the perfect solution. Buffing away dead skin might not seem like the most glamorous of gift choices, but this really is a life saver when it comes to keeping your feet looking tip top for the party season. The Nano is super easy to use and comes in a choice of bright colours (my favourite is the hot pink!). £29.99

Sunday Riley Artemis or Luna Oil – if you’ve got a skincare lover to buy for, I really don’t think you can go wrong with one of Sunday Riley’s face oils. Artemis is great for combination or oilier skins, whereas Luna is the perfect night treatment for virtually every skin type as it uses a next-generation retinol to refresh and revive the skin while you sleep. From £60

Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 fragrance – for a fragrance with a difference this Christmas, you need Molecule 01. It works with your natural pheromones to create a different scent on each person that wears it. It’s an odd one, as the wearer tends not to be able to smell it that much, but I guarantee you’ll have people walking past you wanting to know what scent it is your wearing! From £38

Benefit Real Cheeky gift set – all your Benefit cheek favourites in one huge palette. Need I say more? I love the fact they’ve also included a mini mascara and eyeliner in the set – you can pretty much just grab the case and go and you’ve got everything you need for an easy makeup look. This one has a habit of selling out quickly, so make sure you drop hints now in order not to miss out. £29.50

Tarte Deluxe Maracuja Lipgloss Collection* – I love QVC for the fact they made it possible to get Tarte in the UK and this extra special gift set is a must-have for any Tarte or lip gloss fan. It include 15 different shades, which have all been infused with maracuja oil to make them super hydrating. What’s especially great about this set is that it can either be given as one bumper gift set, or broken down into three smaller gifts as each set of five glosses comes wrapped individually. And at just £31.50 it’s a bit of a bargain!

Elemental Herbology Five Element Aromatherapy Bath & Shower Oil collection* – these luxury bath and shower oils are 100% natural and themed around five different elements (fire, wood, earth, metal and water). Simply decide what sort of remedy you need (de-stress, enhergise etc) and pour a few capfuls of the matching oil into your bath. If I could get you to smell these through the internet, I reckon you’d be buying multiples, but as I can’t, you just have to take my word for it! £35

Elizabeth Arden Untold Fragrance* – this is one of my top fragrances from Elizabeth Arden as it’s light, fresh and just a little bit floral. The bottle is also rather pretty and it’s currently 50% off at Debenhams, so fantastic value at just £18 for 30ml!

Pixi Natural Contour set* – you can’t go wrong with a palette at Christmas and Pixi’s festive contour set features everything you need for a natural looking contour, as well as 8 easy to wear eye shades that will suit everyone. The four face shades are probably best suited to light-medium skins, and the formula of the highlighters and sculpting shades is just fantastic! £22

Dermalogica Skin Smoothing set* – Dermalogica always bring out some amazing value gift sets at Christmas and this year is no different! You’ll find a full-sized Skin Smoothing Cream inside the box, along with a travel-sized Special Cleansing Gel and a handy little cleansing mitt. £48

Connock London Kukui Oil Travel Collection* – Connock London’s Kukui Oil range is a must-have in my books. Kukui Oil has been used for centuries in Hawaii to help keep skin soft and smooth. The Travel Collection is the perfect introduction to the brand and features a 30ml Eau de Parfum, 10ml (full-size) Wonder Balm, 75ml Hand & Body Lotion and a 75ml Hand & Body Wash. The whole range smells absolutely divine and the Wonder Balm is fantastic used on any dry patches of skin that need some extra TLC.

Do you like the look of any of these gifts?

*PR samples


5 tips to help you rock a bright lip

5 bold lip shades to try for all skin tones
5 bold lip shades to try for all skin tones
1. Think precision – there’s no chance of getting away with  a slapdash application technique with a bright lippie. Set yourself up with a decent mirror, your matching lip liner (see below) and a decent lip brush. Yup, it’s time for the lip brush ladies. Zoeva do a great one that’s really handbag friendly as the handle turns into a case, so you don’t run the risk of splodging lipstick all over your makeup bag in between applications. Use the brush to outline the edges of your lips and then in the rest with larger strokes.

2. Get a matching lip liner – not only will this help you get a sharp finish to the end product, but if you apply it all over your lips before you get started on the lipstick it will help it last longer and stop any patchy finishes coming through too quickly. Get one as close in shade as you can to your lipstick and make sure to give it a good sharpen before each use to keep lines neat and tidy.

3. Even out your skin tone – a bold lip works best against flawless skin, so while the majority of us aren’t blessed with that on a day to day basis, fake it a little with a decent base, some concealer and a dusting of highlighter on top. If you suffer from redness in your skin, pop a little of Dermalogica’s Redness Relief primer on before your foundation as it helps to combat any red tones in the skin.

4. Reapply, reapply, reapply – I know this is all sounding like a lot of work, but it really will be worth it, I promise! Pop your chosen shade in your bag for regular top ups throughout the day. Brighter shades are more obvious when they start to fade so you’ll need to reapply regularly to avoid looking like you’ve only filled in the outer part of your lips.

5. Be brave and go for it – it really does come down to confidence with these kinds of shades, so don’t be put off by them – find one you love and just go for it!

5 shades to try:

Burberry Lip Velvet Oxblood* – the perfect deep berry shade, I promise you that even the palest of skins can get away with this shade. It might look scary in the tube, but once it’s on the lips, you get a rich, bold shade that will suit virtually everyone. The creamy formula makes it easy to wear for hours and the pigmentation lasts incredibly well on the lips. £26

YSL Rouge Pur Couture 27 – YSL’s iconic hot pink shade ‘27’ is a blue-based pink that’s not for the faint-hearted. The ultra luxe packaging and long wearing formula make this a must-have in my books. £26

Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet Pink Pong – for a long-lasting formula with a matte finish you really can’t go wrong with Bourjois’ Rouge Edition Velvets. There are lots of shades to choose from, but if you’re feeling daring, I’d highly recommend Pink Pong, a punchy hot pink. £8.99

NARS Cruella Velvet Matte Lip Pencil – this blood-red shade from NARS is one of the best around. It’s rich, deep and a tone that seems to work on everyone that tries it. The formula of the Velvet Matte pencils is seriously long-wearing but can be a bit unforgiving on dry lips, so prep well with a scrub and some balm before you wear it. £19

The Balm Meet Matt(e) Hughes Devoted Bright Red* - once dry, these liquid lipsticks really won’t be budging from your lips! Devoted Bright Red is, as the name suggests, a bright, true red shade with pretty neutral undertones. I find these best applied in a very thin layer across the lips, using the tip of the doe foot applicator to create a good outline before filling in the rest of the lips. £13.50

What are your favourite bold lip shades to wear?

*PR samples



The cosy night in

Cosy night in must haves
Cosy Night In - bath oils
Cosy night in - White Company Pom Pom boots
Cold winter evenings are the perfect excuse to pop on your PJs, get snuggled up with a good book and indulge in a few treats. After a long soak in the bath, I pop on my new The White Company Pom Pom Boots* (which are faux fur lined and ridiculously comfortable), throw on a bit of Fleetwood Mac, and treat myself to a cheeky chocolate or two from Hotel Chocolat.

I think a chilled night at home can make such a difference, especially when you’ve been having a long, stressful week. Even if you’ve only got an hour to yourself, make it as special as you can and indulge in all those things you normally save for a special occasion. When there are so many other life pressures going on it’s easy to give away your ‘me time’ in place of everything else that needs doing, when really that’s the one thing that you need to hold on to.

Cosy night in favourites:

The bath – Aromatherapy Associates make THE best bath oils in my book. Yes they’re expensive, but they are jam packed with amazing quality essential oils and just a few drops will have you sighing with happiness or drifting off to sleep. Lush bath bombs are also another top choice – with so many different scents and shapes to choose from, it’s so much fun experimenting with a different one each time!

The snuggly bits – PJs – check. Blanket – check. World’s comfiest slippers – check. Scented candle – check (La Montana's Alfredo's Cafe* candle is my current fave). These might all sound like your typical blogger clichés, but I make no apologies. These cosy slippers have only left my feet in order to leave the house and go to work (and I’d wear them there too if I thought I could get away with it) and winter just calls for lots of new PJs to lounge around in (yay for Primark!).

The extras – decent chocolate is one of my little luxuries in life and I am a massive fan of Hotel Chocolat’s range. The mini selector packets are great for trying new flavours (although I only every get to eat half as my boyfriend steals them all) and their new Winter Desserts collection* is something I need to bulk buy as the Raspberry Hazelnut Torte truffle is literally a mouth orgasm waiting to happen. *runs off to eat them all*

What are your favourite things to treat yourself with for a cosy night at home?

*PR samples


Garnier Extra Light BB Cream review

Garnier BB Cream Extra light reviewed by pale faced beauty blogger - shown on skin
Garnier BB Cream Extra light reviewed by pale faced beauty blogger - product shot
Garnier BB Cream Extra light reviewed by pale faced beauty blogger
Just the BB cream and a bit of eye makeup. Voila! 
When it comes to foundations, I suspect we’re all a bit like Goldilocks in the fact that it has to be ‘just right’. I’ve tried hundreds, yet there’s only a handful that have ever made the cut and become a permanent fixture in my makeup bag.

I recently did a bit of an experiment to give up foundation for a week and see what impact it had on my skin. Although I didn’t notice any huge changes, what I have realised is that I’m happier using much less product than before. While I'm not going to be giving up foundation completely, I've fallen in love with tinted moisturisers and bb creams and there's one in particular that's become a firm favourite over the past few weeks.

Garnier’s BB cream has been a high street hit for several years but up until now, the shade range never worked for me. So when I saw they had launched an extra light version, I knew I had to get my hands on it immediately! There aren’t many budget-friendly BB cream options out there for us pale ladies, so you’ll be happy to know that this one is an absolute star.

Extra Light BB Cream really is extra light – no sneaky orange tint here ladies. It blends out perfectly on my skin giving a nice, light coverage with a slightly glowy finish to it. Like the original formula, this is designed to be a ‘my skin  but better’ finish, however if there are areas you feel need a little more coverage, you can layer it up without the product going cakey.

BB creams traditionally blend skincare ingredients in with pigment and the Garnier formula promises to hydrate skin for up to 24 hours with just one application. It also features vitamin c which helps to brighten your skin and add luminosity, making it a great choice for those dark winter mornings when you wish you could spend an extra hour or two in bed (basically every day right now)!

I tend to use a mixture of my fingers and a brush for a flawless finish – either works just as well, but the brush is great for getting in around the nose area and adding a bit of extra product to help cover my red bits (thanks winter!). I love the fact it makes me feel like I’ve made an effort with my makeup, but it only takes about a minute to apply.

You can find BB Cream Extra Light at Superdrug priced £9 99.

Your questions answered with Garnier

To celebrate the launch of their brand-new Extra Light BB Cream, I held a Twitter chat a few weeks ago with the team over at Garnier. We answered lots of your questions around the new Extra Light BB Cream, plus a range of questions on all things beauty. Thank you to everyone who joined us for the chat, it was great to hear from you! You can read all the questions and answers below – and if you’ve got a question you’d like answered, just drop us a tweet to @GarnierUK using the hashtag #BBxLight.

What sort of coverage does Extra Light BB Cream provide?
Extra Light BB Cream gives a light, sheer coverage for a naturally looking finish. It can also be layered up if you have areas that you’d like a little extra coverage on.

Is it suitable for all skin types, even oily skins?
Yes, definitely! It works well on all skin types from dry through to oily. If you prefer a more matte finish, pop a light dusting of powder over the top and you’re all set.

Does it contain silicones?
The formula uses small amounts of silicone to help the product apply smoothly, however it’s been fully tested to ensure it’s non-comedogenic and won’t block your pores.

Will Extra Light be available in your oil-free formula? 
At the moment Extra Light is only available in our original formula, but we will be listening to customer feedback to see if the demand is there for us to launch it in other formulas.

I wish my makeup would let my freckles shine through – any ideas?
BB cream is perfect for this! As it offers a sheer, light coverage it helps to even out your skin without masking your freckles.

I struggle with BB cream not staying in place but I still want that dewy look. Help!
Try applying a little primer first and then adding your BB cream over the top. The primer should help extend the wear time of the BB cream. You could also add a dusting of powder over the top for an even longer-lasting finish.

Do powders or creamier formulas (like blushers and highlighters) work better over BB cream?
Either will work well, it just depends on your preference. But I’d recommend using any liquid and cream textured products before you apply any powders, as this way of layering makes them last longer on the skin.

Are there any plans to launch your BB crema range in darker shades, it’s so hard to find one that’s dark enough? 
At the moment it’s not something we have in the pipeline, but it’s definitely something for us to consider investigating for the future.

*written in collaboration with Garnier


Lancome Audacity in Paris palette review

Lancome Audacity in Paris eye shadow palette review
Lancome Audacity in Paris eye shadow palette review
Lancome Audacity in Paris eye shadow palette review - palette close up
Lancome Audacity in Paris eye shadow palette review anf swatches
Lancome Audacity in Paris eye shadow palette review and swatches
When Lisa Eldridge and Lancôme announced they were making a limited edition eye shadow palette (and their first multipan palette), there was never any doubt that this was going to be one seriously good product. The AUDA[CITY] in Paris palette has now launched, so get ready for collective sighs of ‘hello you pretty thing’ and a quick rush to order one before they sell out.

Inspired by the streets of Paris, AUDA[CITY] in Paris features 16 shadows in four different finishes. The shadows have been grouped together into what almost looks like 4 mini palettes (making it easy to pull together a look quickly) but in reality there are hundreds of different combinations you could create.

There's a really good mix of matte. shimmer and metallic shades included and I'm pleased to say that every single one is seriously pigmented and super easy to blend.

The first half of the palette leans towards a more neutral colour palette, but the second half packs in some bolder, deeper shades, giving you plenty of scope to create more intense looks.

I've been really drawn into the shade 'Kitten Heel', which is the slightly pink toned copper in the bottom left. It's quite different from any other shades in my eye shadow collection and looks stunning pressed onto the lids and in the corners of the eye. The purple shades are also absolutely beautiful - they have just the right of shimmer in to give a luxe look and the pigmentation is so, so good.

There are a lot of limited edition palettes around at the moment, but this is one of the few I'd recommend that you rush to buy. It's definitely going to be a favourite in my makeup bag for months to come and I really hope that Lancome and Lisa Eldridge do another palette in the future.

AUDA[CITY] in Paris costs £42 and can be found exclusively at Debenhams.

Do you like the look of this palette from Lancome?

*PR sample


Christmas gift ideas for the home

Christmas gift ideas for the homeChristmas gift ideas for the home
Christmas gift ideas for the home - glass pineapple jar
Jo Malone Pine & Eucalyptus Candle* - if you could bottle up the scent of Christmas trees and put it into a candle, then this is what you'd get. Jo Malone's luxury Christmas candle smells like a beautiful pine forest and comes packaged in their signature cream and gold box. I suspect we'd all love a bit of Jo Malone under our trees this year and if you're not sure on what sort of cologne to go for, then why not check out their scented candle range instead? £42

Floris Luxury Miniature Candle Trio* - Floris are one of those truly classic brands that I think often get overlooked a little. They started out in 1730 and have been a family run business ever since. This beautifully packaged trio of candles features three of their most popular home fragrance scents: Sandalwood & Patchouli, Cinnamon & Tangerine and Lavender & Mint. Each candle has been hand poured and lasts for an average burn time of 15 hours. Cinnamon & Tangerine is my favourite of the three, especially at this time of year. It's such a warm, christmasy smell! £55

Handpicked Collection Pineapple Glass Jar* - I couldn't create a home related gift guide without including at least one pineapple themed item and Handpicked Collection's luxe silver glass jar definitely hits the spot. The silvery chrome finish makes it look really high end and it will make a fantastic dressing table addition for storing all sorts of trinkets. £24.95

Selfridges Christmas hamper - a luxury food hamper has to be one the THE best ways to indulge at Christmas. Selfridges' hampers start at just £45, so there's a huge mix for all budgets. If you're near a store with a food hall, you can also pop in and create your own bespoke hamper full of everything your chosen recipient loves. Yum.

Neom Luxury Perfect Peace Candle* - Neom are one of my favourite brands; they make such fantastic products with really great ingredients. The Perfect Peace candle is a limited edition for Christmas and mixes scents of pine. myrrh and lime peel with real platinum sprinkled throughout the wax. The triple wick helps the wax to burn evenly and burnt correctly, it should last for up to 80 hours. This is such an uplifting fragrance - the blend of essential oils creates a happy mood, while still giving you a sense of calm at the same time. The larger size is £49.95, however they also do a single wick candle for £34.95 in the same fragrance.

Frame your favourite photo - with the shift to digital cameras, it's not often that we ever see photos being printed any more. I think a personalised, framed photo can be such a nice gift idea - simply choose a few you'd like to print (Photobox and Boots offer good online services) and grab a frame or two (Wilko and TK Maxx do great budget options). Package it up nicely and you've got a really personal gift for just a few pounds.

Voluspa Crane Flower Candle* - these coconut wax candles are some of the prettiest I've seen - the jars are definitely a keeper once you've finished burning the candle! Crane Flower is a citrusy floral scent, with hints of paradise nectar, grapefruit and geranium. £13

Flamingo Candles Melt Crowd Subscription* - for the gift that keeps on giving throughout the year, a gift subscription to Flamingo Candles Melt Crowd would make a lovely idea for anyone who likes a variety of home scents. Each month the recipient will receive 8 surprise scent melts through their letterbox and at just £10 per month it's a great idea for all budgets.


Too Faced Le Grand Chateau

Too Faced Le Grand Chateau holiday palette review - exterior view
Too Faced Le Grand Chateau holiday palette review - interior view
Too Faced Le Grand Chateau holiday palette review
Too Faced Le Grand Chateau holiday palette review
Too Faced Le Grand Chateau holiday palette review
When Too Faced’s Le Grand Chateau arrived at my house last week, I let out a massive squeal, and literally shoved it in my boyfriend’s (bemused) face going ‘ohmygodlookatthis’. Obviously he wasn’t even vaguely interested, but for me, this has to be one of THE highlights of Christmas beauty this year. Add it to your lists people.

Le Grand Chataeu features a bumper collection of Too Faced goodies, all packaged up in a very study, pink cardboard house. I can’t lie - the packaging almost sold it to me before I even looked inside, but I am a serious sucker for some pretty packaging.

Inside the house you’ll find three palettes, each one containing a mix of face and eye products, which can be used to create a multitude of different looks. There’s also a deluxe mini of their best-selling ‘Better Than Sex’ mascara included (AKA best mascara EVER).

The palettes all have a Parisienne theme, so the palettes are aptly titled ‘Paris In Love’, ‘Paris After Dark’ and ‘Paris Au Naturale’. They’re all very different – matching up to their names nicely. Expect lots of easy to wear nudes in the Au Naturale palette and some gorgeous bold shades in Paris After Dark. Each has six shadows and either a blusher or bronzer, so work nicely as mini ‘on-the-go’ palettes if you fancy taking one out and popping it in your handbag.

Holiday gift sets can be a bit hit and miss, but I’m pleased to say that this one is really good quality – the shadows are nicely pigmented and blend like a dream and the blusher shades build up colour gently so you can customise the look you’re after. I found the bronzer a bit dark and a little shimmery for my taste, but I suspect on a medium toned skin it would look lovely.

Nude shadow lovers are well catered for here with a huge mix of taupe, bronze and gold shades but there are also some lovely purple, pink and grey shades thrown into the mix. Most of them have a reasonably shimmery finish to them, but you shouldn’t have any major fallout issues so long as you tap any excess off the brush before going near your lids. It’s a palette collection that would be a fantastic base for someone looking for a wide selection of shades and I think it will appeal to beauty newbies and beauty junkies alike.

Le Grand Chataeu is available now via Debenhams, priced £46. What do you think of this holiday set from Too Faced? Will it be on your Christmas list this year?

EDIT: this seems to be sold out at Debenhams, however the Too Faced website still has some and will ship to the UK (fees apply), so grab one while you can!

*PR sample


Win a Christmas beauty hamper

Christmas beauty hamper giveaway

Christmas is less than 6 weeks away (eek!) and after last week's tutorial on making your own beauty hampers, I thought it'd be a great opportunity to give one reader the chance to win a beauty hamper of their own. 

I've put together a bumper hamper full of beauty goodies from some of my favourite brands. Inside the hamper you'll find gifts from Yankee Candle, Molton Brown, No7, Cheeky and lots more. There's also a four piece makeup brush set from Jack Wills tucked away at the back and a few more surprises that will get added before the hamper is packed up and posted out to the winner.  

To enter, all you need to do is fill out your chosen entry options via the Rafflecopter widget below. Due to postage restrictions, this will be a UK only giveaway and will close at 11.59pm (UK time) on Sunday 6th December. One winner will be picked at random shortly after the competition closes and contacted directly to claim their prize. 

Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Hair: PhytoKeratine Extreme review

PhytoKeratine Extreme hair products review
PhytoKeratine Extreme hair products review
Glossy, healthy hair is one of those things that is always on my wish list, but years of heat styling and the odd bit of bleach have left it looking more like a ginger fluffball. I’ve been putting the PhytoKeratine Extreme* range to the text over the past few weeks to see if it would make a difference to my hair and I have to admit right now that I’m totally hooked!

PhytoKeratine Extreme has been designed to repair ultra-dry, damaged and over-processed hair and contains a botanical keratin technology that gets to work on rebuilding the original architecture of the hair. The molecules mimic natural keratin (which make up our hair and nails) and plug the gaps in the hair cortex which can develop over time and lead to weaker, more brittle hair.  They’ve also included two types of hyaluronic acid which add hydration deep down inside the hair, giving it a healthy, smooth look without weighing it down.

The Extreme Exceptional Mask in this range is absolutely amazing and if you only buy one product, make sure it’s this one! Apply a small amount to the mid lengths and ends of towel dried hair and leave it on for 3-5 minutes for fine hair and up to 10 minutes for thicker hair. Rinse well and after you’ve blow dried, you should be left with super soft, healthy feeling hair with a really good shine. Depending on the level of damage in your hair, this is best used once or twice a week.

For everyday use, I’d highly recommend the Exceptional Shampoo, which is free from silicones, sulphates and parabens and gently cleanses the hair while leaving it feeling nourished and supple at the same time. It doesn’t foam massively due to the lack of sulphates, so don’t panic if you’re net getting much soapy action (you only need about a ten pence piece’s worth per shampoo). Give it a decent massage into the roots and leave it on for a couple of minutes to allow the product to penetrate the hair and then rinse using lukewarm water for the best results.

If like me, you love a bit of heat styling, then the Extreme Exceptional Cream will be right up your street. It helps to nourish and repair the hair, while still offering protection up to 220 degrees (so turn those straighteners down if you can!). It contains a similar botanical keratin complex to the mask, which is great if you want to layer up products and go for a seriously nourishing trio. Apply two to four pumps to damp hair before styling and use in place of your regular heat protector. It also works well used on dry hair to help get a really smooth finish, just be very sparing with it to avoid overloading the hair.

Prices start at £15.50 for the shampoo and go up to £36 for a 200ml mask. The whole range can be found via Space NK, Selfridges and other Phyto stockists.

Have you tried Phyto before? What do you normally use on dry or damaged hair?

*PR samples


Elemis QVC TSV 15th November 2015

Elemis QVC TSV contents November 15th 2015
Elemis QVC TSV contents November 15th 2015
You’re going to have to be quick with this amazing Elemis deal from QVC, but trust me when I say it will be worth it! On Sunday 15th November only, you can get this extra special TSV worth over £130 for less than £45. Total bargain! It’s also going to be the last Elemis TSV of the year, so don’t hang around on this one. 

There are two six-piece sets to choose from, with a mixture of face and body products included. Both sets feature the best-selling Pro Collagen Cleansing Balm, Soothing Apricot Toner and Pro Collagen Marine Cream and then it’s a tough choice between a trio of Sweet Orchid or Frangipani Monoi body products (shower cream, body cream and hand and nail cream). Each set comes in its own colour-coordinated bag, making a great gift idea for Christmas. 

Sweet Orchid is a new launch which is currently exclusive to QVC and it smells absolutely amazing. It’s quite a heady scent with an exotic twist and one that feels seriously luxurious, especially after layering all three products up together. If you’ve not tried Frangipani Monoi before, this is also quite a heady fragrance, featuring exotic Frangipani flowers and Tahitian Monoi Oil. Yum. 

The Soothing Apricot Toner, Body Cream, Shower Cream and Hand & Nail Creams are all full-size products, with the Pro Collagen Cleansing Balm and Marine Cream being pretty hefty travel sizes making it amazing value. I think this has to be my favourite TSV collection from them this year – the hardest bit will be choosing which set to order (or just make it easy and go for both…*ahem*).  

Like all TSVs this one will no doubt be a quick seller, so get those skates on and order yours asap. It’s available on 15th only, via QVC, however the lovely team there have given me an advanced purchase link for you all, so you can order your sets now before everyone else! 

What do you think of this TSV offer? Will you be Team Sweet Orchid or Team Frangipani? 

*written in collaboration with QVC



DIY: make your own Christmas beauty hamper

How to make a diy beauty hamper with a little help from Boots
DIY beauty hamper contents
DIY beauty hamper craft materials
Wrapping the box
DIY beauty hamper
How to make a diy beauty hamper with a little help from Boots - the finished product
If you’re a bit stuck on what to get a beauty addict for Christmas, why not have a go at making your own customised beauty hamper? They’re so easy to make (steps below) and can be completely tailored to the individual. They also don’t have to be expensive – all of my beauty hamper bits came from Boots*, so why not make the most of 3 for 2 offers and gift sets to make your budget stretch that little bit further. You could also include samples or minis that you’ve got already at home, plus a few christmasy chocolates to cover all the bases (hello Lindt balls).

To make your own hamper, you’ll need:
Wrapping paper
Tissue paper
Gift tag
Ribbon (optional)
Gifts of your choice
An empty box big enough to fit your gifts in

1. Decide on a budget and choose the gifts you want to fill your box with.

2. Grab a box that will fit all of your goodies (Paperchase have some good ones, but an empty shoebox would work just as well!), your chosen colour of tissue paper, stuffing, ribbons and gift tags. Oh, and sellotape. Don’t forget the sellotape!

3. Cover the outside of the box with wrapping paper, taping the loose edges of the paper inside the box if you can so they won’t be visible once the hamper is made.

4. Grab some shredded tissue paper to build a little shelf inside your box. This will help with the layering of the products and make it easier to see everything inside when you’re finished.

5. Add all of your gift items, putting the taller ones at the back and the shorter ones at the front. You might have to play around with the layout a little to get the perfect arrangement, but it will be well worth it!

6. Once you’re happy with how it looks, grab a sheet of clear cellophane and cover the top of the box. Secure with some sellotape on the bottom of the box to keep it in place.

7. Add a gift tag, ribbon and any other decorative bits to the box/cellophane and you’re done!

I think these would make a lovely gift for any beauty lover (male or female) and it’s a simple but effective way to give that personal touch to gifting. I’m going to be creating a special beauty hamper to giveaway later this month, so make sure you come back and enter! There’ll be lots of lovely goodies inside to win.

If you fancy some more hamper inspiration, the lovely team at Boots have put together a short video on their top tips for creating one at home. And make sure you check out their 3 for 2 gift offers – it really does help to stretch your budget!

What would you like to see in a beauty hamper?

*Products kindly supplied by the Boots team



Blogging tips - getting inspired and finding new content ideas

A few weeks ago I gave a talk at the Beauty Blogger Awards at Olympia talking about how to stay inspired and keep coming up with new content ideas for your blog. There were some lovely tweets about it on the day (hugs to all of you) so I thought I’d round up my musings into a ‘tips’ post. And I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips on how you hunt out new blog post ideas, so please share in the comments section!

Blogging tips - how to stay inspired and find new content ideas
Get stationery, don’t stay stationary - Inspiration can strike at the weirdest times, make the most of it by keeping notes on your phone of potential blog post ideas, or treat yourself to a new notebook to keep your ideas in. Write down the smallest little idea, even if you don’t know where you want to take it. You can always come back to it later and flesh it out. There's nothing wrong with having lots of random half empty posts in your 'drafts' folder - it's a good place to store potential ideas for future posts.

Make a brainstorm - Grab a big bit of paper and some pens and get your thinking cap on. Write down a topic in the centre of the page (e.g. mascara) and think up all the possible ideas/topics that link with it. For example: the best/worst/budget/wands/types/application tips – there are hundreds of different things you could think of. Revisit it at a later date and choose your favourites.

Ask your friends and readers - What are they struggling with? Is there anything they'd love to see a review of? They might have a whole wealth of beauty questions you could answer. Why not ask your social media followers and see if they have anything they'd like you to cover.

Think seasonal (yes, that does mean Christmas) - Plan out your content calendar and make note of any major holidays/events. Brainstorm ideas for each one and then filter for the best 2-3 ideas for each. Plan in advance and you’ll always have content ready, even when it’s months away.

Try something new - Bored of writing about beauty? Why not include a fashion post, or your favourite things to do in your local area? Readers often love a bit of variety, so don’t feel like you always have to stick to one particular niche. One new post can lead to big inspiration…

Google Analytics is your friend - Analytics don’t just tell you how many visitors you’re getting, they’re a great way to see which of your blog posts are the most popular. Have a look through and see which have been successful and use these as inspiration for future posts. Your readers love budget makeup posts? Try a few more of those, or if they want to know which high end hair products are really worth investing in, let them know! I like to use my analytics to tell me which posts have been most popular over the past month, as well as looking further back to see which have had longer term successes. 

Take a break - Still uninspired? Take a few days off from blogging. Don’t force it if it’s not working for you, you’ll only produce content you’re not proud of. Sometimes a week off is all you need to get fired up with lots of ideas and come back with a vengeance. Don’t feel bad for it – everybody needs a break!

What are your top tips for staying inspired? 


Look Fantastic Beauty Box November 2015

Look Fantastic’s November beauty box has definitely got me in the mood for Christmas with its special edition gold box design. It’s the second of 3 special edition boxes, so make sure you don’t miss out on the December one if you’re loving the gold as much as me. 

Look Fantastic beauty box review November 2015This is the first Look Fantastic beauty box that I’ve tried and I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised. I’ve become a bit disillusioned with certain other brands lately as they keep churning out the same thing month after month, but inside this box there’s a decent range of products from some good quality brands. 

BellaPierre seems to be popping in quite a lot in beauty boxes at the moment, and this bright red lipstick is the perfect festive shade for a pop of colour. It’s the only full-size item in the box which is a bit of a shame – the rest are all luxury travel sizes. It’s a shade that can be worn by pretty much any skin tone, and the satin finish is creamy on the lips and not drying at all. 

Any beauty box with REN is will always get my vote and this 15ml sample of their V-Cense Day Cream is one of my favourites. It’s amazing for anyone with drier skins as it can be quite rich and works really well to brighten the skin and hydrate it throughout the day. 

If you’re going away any time soon, I’d recommend popping this handy sized Guava shower gel from Korres in your travel bag. It’s more than enough for a week away and the fruity scent smells good enough to eat. 

I’m a little bit disappointed with the size of the Dr PawPaw tinted balm. While it’s a lovely product, it’s not particularly pricey for a full-size tube (about £7) so it would’ve been nice to see a larger size in the box. The tint itself is quite subtle and works well used on the lips or dabbed on the cheeks for a glossier blush. 

Last up are two travel-sized samples of Ole Henricksen’s Foaming Cleansing Milk and Kebelo's Enriching Mask. I’ve not tried either of these before but do like Ole Henricksen as a brand in general so I’ll be intrigued to see how the foaming cleanser performs. 

I’m looking forward to seeing what pops up in the December box. I’d love there to be one or two more full-sized products, especially as it’s the last box of the year and they tend to be a bit special.

The Look Fantastic beauty box costs £15 per month including postage without a subscription or alternatively can be ordered with 1,3,6 or 12 month subscriptions at a discounted rate.

Have you tried the Look Fantastic beauty boxes? What do you think of the November one?

*PR sample 



Beauty news: Urban Decay Gwen Stefani palette release date

When Urban Decay announced a few weeks ago that they were collaborating with Gwen Stefani, I think a lot of us did a sneaky little celebration dance at our desks (just me?). As a long term fan of Gwen and Urban Decay, it seemed like one of those magical partnerships that was going to turn out to be pretty epic. 
Urban Decay Gwen Stefani palette UK release date and details

The limited edition, 15 pan eye shadow palette launches on 22nd November exclusively on the Urban Decay website so set your alarms early if you want one as I suspect this will sell out pretty damn quick. 

It features 12 new shades and 3 of Gwen's favourites from the Urban Decay range. It's pretty heavy on neutrals (thanks Gwen, love you even more) with a couple of jewel tones thrown in to the mix. Gwen has been heavily involved in the whole process, even naming most of the shades, many of which are inspired by her music and love of makeup (Harajuku, 1987 and Bathwater for example). 

The packaging itself looks stunning from the photos I've seen. It's totally different from the normal Urban Decay palettes with antique gold accents and a black and white design. I suspect that regardless of if you're a  Gwen Stefani fan you'll love this palette - the shades look incredibly wearable and something any nude shadow lover would adore. 

The Gwen Stefani palette will launch on 22nd November and costs £40. Set those alarm clocks now! 

What do you think of the new Gwen Stefani palette for Urban Decay? Will you be ordering one? 


Aromatherapy Associates Christmas launches

I have HUGE amounts of love for Aromatherapy Associates as a brand - it's British, uses amazing ingredients and their bath oils are one of the few things that can actually make me be bothered to run a bath (I'm a shower girl). This year's Christmas line up is amazing as always, with a variety of gifts to suit every budget.

2015 Aromatherapy Associates Christmas gifts
2015 Aromatherapy Associates Christmas gifts
2015 Aromatherapy Associates Christmas gifts
At just £10, The Star is a lovely stocking filler that gives a great way to discover the brand, complete with super cute packaging. Inside, you'll find a 9ml bottle of Revive Morning bath and shower oil, which is enough for 3-4 uses and trust me when I say that this will perk you up first thing - no caffeine needed.

The Relax & Revive duo is the perfect gift for anyone who needs a bit of a pick me up during the day and a little help relaxing at night. It includes two essential oil rollerballs, which when used on your pulse points, have a really positive effect on energy levels and general mood. I'll be keeping the Revive one in my desk drawer for those 3pm slump times in place of a typical sugary fix. £18

If you're on the hunt for a larger gift that's still affordable, the Bath Jewels trio makes a really lovely choice. Inside are 3 x 9ml bath and shower oils, in the Deep Relax, Revive Morning and De-Stress fragrances. I absolutely love the De-Stress one, it's so good for helping to calm the mind and help you focus your thoughts. £28

There's also a bigger version of the Bath Jewels (Ultimate Bath Jewels) which contains a 9ml bottle of every single one of their 10 different bath and shower oils. This really is a luxury treat - it'd be a tough choice to know where to start, although whichever one you do go with, you're guaranteed to be left smelling uh-mazing. £58

You can find the Aromatherapy Associates Christmas collection via their website, at Space NK, John Lewis and other large department stores.

Will any of these be on your Christmas list this year?

*PR samples


NARS x Steven Klein Despair palette review

NARS x Steven Klein is enough to give even the most toughened makeup addict heart palpitations. From the slightly weird, yet amazing photography on the front of the packaging, to the limited edition holiday palettes, it’s enough to make you hand over your bank card with the words ‘I’ll take it all’.

NARS Steven Klein Despair palette
NARS Steven Klein Despair palette
NARS Steven Klein Despair palette swatches
There’s a whole range of solo pieces on offer, however for me, the stars of the show are the holiday gift sets and palettes. 'An Abnormal Female' is worth a purchase for the bullet style casing alone (the Velvet Matte Lip Pencils inside are obviously a second good reason to buy, ahem) and the Despair face palette is going to be one you need. Fact. There’s also the One Shocking Moment palette which looks just as amazing, but it does contain Orgasm and Laguna, for which I’m deducting half a point. So if you already have one of those two shades (or both, as let’s face it, NARS put them in everything) get Despair instead. You really won’t regret it.

The Despair palette features four cheek shades:
Nico – light beige with satin shimmer
Savage – warm coral red, matte finish
Esoteric – medium pastel orange, matte finish
Ferocious – soft plum with a hint of sheen in the finish

As you’d expect from NARS, the pigmentation on each of these is amazing; you really do need just the lightest sweep to get a good wash of colour. Savage is a little too red for my skin tone, but Nico and Ferocious are definitely going to become staples in my daily routine. 3 of the shades included are special editions for this palette, which is such a nice change from the usual lines ups. It does mean that if you fall in love with them it’s going to be hard to find a replacement though. Maybe I should buy a backup palette just in case?

Nico falls somewhere between a highlighter and a blusher shade so is a bit of an anomaly among the other three shades, but I really love the soft sheen it gives to the skin, without being overly shimmery. On me, it works well used in place of my normal highlighter, with a light dusting across my cheekbones and brow bone. It has the lightest pigmentation of all the products in this palette, but it layers up a treat if you want to go for a bolder look.

While the other three shades might look pretty bright in the pan, they all blend out well on the skin – especially so for Ferocious. I suspect Savage would look stunning used on medium to dark skin tones, but for light/very light ones I’d advise a very light touch to avoid looking like you’ve just run a marathon.

They’ve also thrown in a travel size Ita Kabuki brush, which to be honest is fine for on the go, but if you’re planning to use the palette at home I’d recommend using a larger, fluffier brush for a better finish.

The Despair palette costs £45 and can be found on the NARS website, at Selfridges and via Look Fantastic/Feel Unique.

What do you think of the NARS x Steven Klein collection? Will you be ordering anything?

*PR sample
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