28/02/2015

Glossybox February 2015 - the Love edition

This month’s Glossybox* focuses around all things love, celebrates not only Valentine’s Day but also the release of the 50 Shades of Grey film (although the less said about that, the better). Inside the specially themed box are five products, covering all those things you might need for a hot date.

Glossybox February 2015 Love edition

I was weirdly excited about the fact they’d included a razor in this month’s box. Let’s face it, hair removal isn’t exactly the sexiest of topics, but we all tend to do it, and a shiny Wilkinson Sword razor is always going to come in useful.

I’ve not come across Royal Apothic before, so it’s great to discover a new brand, especially one that hails from across the pond in LA. These cute lip balms are gently tinted and the quirky design of the bottle definitely makes it stand out from anything currently in my collection.

An Essie polish is always a good thing in my book, although I’m not the biggest fan of these types of magnetic design polishes as they don't often work very well. The shade in my box is called Snake, Rattle and Roll and is a really nice grey shade that I will definitely wear.

The Marsk mineral eye shadow also continues with the grey theme. It should be pretty flattering on most people and while mineral eye shadows can take a bit of getting used to application wise, this one seems very wearable. The pot might seem small but trust me, this will last you a seriously long time!

The most disappointing thing for me in the box was a So Susan lip palette. This brand pops up in almost every Glossybox and I wish they would find some new brands to take its place. The palette itself looks very cute and features four tiny squares of lipsticks and a mini brush; it just doesn’t feel very good quality and isn’t something I will end up using.

All in all it’s a mixed bag for me this month. I’m looking forward to seeing what the March one has in store and really keeping my fingers crossed that Jelly Pong Pong/So Susan is nowhere in sight!

Glossybox costs £10 per month plus postage and you can subscribe over on the Glossybox website.

Did you enjoy your Glossybox this month? What do you think of this month’s contents?

*PR sample

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27/02/2015

Beauty basics: what's my skin type?

When shopping for products, knowing what your skin type is can make a massive difference. Skincare and makeup is often developed with certain types (e.g. dry, oily etc) in mind, so getting it wrong can prove a costly mistake. I’m going back to beauty basics today and discussing a few top tips to help you work out your skin type. It’s also worth remembering that your skin concerns can change over time – hormones, the weather, certain medications and many more things can have an impact on your skin, so it’s worth re-evaluating regularly.


Dry skin: has a lack of natural oils, can feel tight or look a bit flaky if not properly hydrated and won’t get shiny throughout the day. Needs extra hydration to stop the dryness getting worse.

Normal skin: doesn’t have any dry patches or oily spots (lucky devils!)

Combination skin: has a mix of dry and oily areas. Oily areas tend to be in the ‘t-zone’ (forehead, nose and chin) and can get shiny throughout the day. Drier areas (usually the cheeks) need extra moisture. Can be hard to get the right products to balance out both areas.

Oily skin: is generally oily all over (but not necessarily blemished), looks shiny quite quickly after cleansing; blotting papers are your best friend.

What about dehydrated skin?
There’s a lot of talk about dehydrated skin at the moment, but dehydration isn’t a skin type, it’s a condition that can affect all of the skin types, even oily ones. Dehydrated skin is lacking in moisture and can look a bit tired, as well as making fine lines more visible. Drinking extra water will help to hydrate you from within, but products that contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid will also help dehydration as they encourage the skin to hold onto more moisture. Hydrated skin looks plumper and fresher, so try a weekly hydrating mask like Aromatherapy Associates Hydrating Rose Mask.

Don’t fear face oils
Whatever skin type you have, a face oil is the one thing you should add to your routine. Now, if you’ve got combination/oily skin the idea of adding more oil will probably freak you out, but the right one will actually help balance out the production of oil in your skin and reduce how oily you get. Use a few drops in the evening, either alone or with your regular moisturiser.

Steer clear of harsh cleansers
The right cleanser can be a lifesaver and have a positive impact on the overall health of your skin. Avoid strong foaming cleansers that use SLS (this is the same ingredient used in cheap hand wash and you wouldn’t put that on your face) as it will strip the skin, making dry skin even drier and potentially encouraging oily skin to make even more oil. Bad times. If you have oily skin, try a gentle gel cleanser (I like Dermalogica’s Ultra Calming cleanser), or for drier skin types, a cleansing balm and a hot flannel will be your best friend.

What’s your skin type? Do you have any top tips or favourite products?
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25/02/2015

4 simple nail art looks that even wobbly hands can do

Nail art is one of those things I spend a LOT of time looking at over on Pinterest, but when it comes to real life, wobbly doesn’t even begin to describe my skills. Like a lot of people, I’m pretty proficient at painting one hand’s set of nails but the other one always comes off *slightly* worse for wear. So I’ve been trying to find a few fool proof ways to get some quality looking nail art which doesn’t rely on skill (or false nails) to get it right.

simple nail art looks that even wobbly hands can do

Transfers – for detailed designs, stick on transfers can be a life saver! These are usually small little stickers that only cover part of your nail and feature everything from ice creams to cats. I’ve got quite a few different styles at home that I like to use on an accent nail every now and then – paint your nails as normal and once dry apply the transfer to your nail, sealing with a decent amount of clear top coat. They’ll usually last as long (if not longer!) than your nail polish.

The ‘drag’ method – this is my favourite ‘easy’ nail art look as it looks quite complicated but is actually super simple to achieve. You’ll need 4 colours of polish that all work well together (I like to use a white base and pastel shades on top). Paint a couple of coats of your chosen base colour and leave to dry thoroughly before moving on. Next, grab your first colour and try to wipe as much nail polish as you can off the brush – you want it to be virtually dry if you can. Take the dry brush and then drag it slowly across your nail, which should leave behind a jagged kind of brush stroke in patches across your base colour. Let it dry and repeat with the other two shades. Seal it in with a top coat and you’re good to go. If you find yours looks more splodgy than patchy, you’ve probably still got too much nail polish on your brush. It should look a little like this (excuse the wobbly Instagram photo).

Stripes – if you fancy a simple striped design, then grab some nail art tape and get creative. Simply paint your nails in your chosen base colour and wait until it’s completely dry, then apply the tape across your nails in the shape of your design. Paint the non-taped areas with a contrasting colour or two, wait until it’s dry and the carefully remove the tape. Voila! You’ve got an easy stripey look with minimal effort.

Nail stamps – there are lots of nail stamping kits that have popped up on the market, each offering a multitude of different designs. These use metal plates with the design etched it, which when painted over with nail polish, can be transferred onto your nails using a rubber stamp. I love the range of designs that are available with these, however the rolling method you need to use in order to get a clear stamp on your nail can take a lot of patience and practice. If you’ve got time to have a few practice runs, you’ll be able to get some really intricate designs with minimal effort.

Have you tried any of these nail art methods before? What are your favourite simple solutions?
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24/02/2015

GOSH Forever Lip Shine review

GOSH’s latest lip launch comes in the shape of their Forever Lip Shines*. Falling somewhere between a gloss and a lipstick, these pigmented crayons are the perfect solution if you like a non-matte texture. 

GOSH Forever Lip Shines
GOSH Forever Lip Shines swatches

These come in a clever twist up design to make application easy, and the thickness of the product is just right for getting a precise application, even if you’ve got thinner lips. Yay! There are ten shades to choose from in the range and they’ve really done a great job at creating everything from a soft natural pink, right through to a deep berry shade. 

As the name suggests, these are designed to be long-wearing and despite having a sheen to them, they last well throughout the day, only needing topping up after a meal. The texture is definitely more sheen rather than full on gloss, which I quite like. I usually avoid glosses as they tend to be sticky and I end up with hair stuck in it no matter what, so for someone who is usually a matte lip lover, I’ve been quite surprised at how much I like them. They also don’t dry out your lips, even with a full day’s wear, so double thumbs up on that front! 

That said, they do have a bit of a synthetic smell to them which turns me off slightly, but I’ve never been one for scented lip products. It’s not so strong to stop me wanting to use them on a regular basis, just something to bear in mind when purchasing. 

My favourite shade is 001 Baby Baby, which is a really nice nude pink shade and one I’ll be wearing a lot over the coming months. 

Forever Lip Shines are £6.99 each and can be found in store and online from Superdrug and GOSH.

Do you like the look of these new lip crayons? 

*PR samples



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23/02/2015

US makeup haul - the Lorac edition

Ok, it's time to hold my hands up and admit to another spending ban fail. Clearly this ban is going about as well as some of my previous ones. Ahem. But when your friend decides she's coming to visit for a couple of weeks from the US and asks if there's any makeup you'd like brought over, it would be rude to say no, right?!

So...after about five seconds of deliberation, I went straight to the Ulta website and got a bit Lorac happy. I've been perving over the Pro palettes for quite some time now, so both of those went on the list. As did the Pocket Pro which I ordered for you lovely people as a giveaway prize, so keep you eyes peeled for that coming soon.

US makeup haul
US makeup haul Lorac Pro palettes and Physician's Formula Argan Wear blusher
Because I bought so much Lorac, the kind people at Ulta threw in a trial size Cobra mascara which I'm looking forward to trying. In all the excitement of the Pro palettes, I forgot that they actually sell other kinds of makeup (which is probably a good thing for my bank balance). 

A quick look at the Physician's Formula section also saw me adding an Argan Wear Blusher to my order - I love the look of this; the embossed design really speaks to my inner magpie! 

As I had to think about my friend's luggage allowance, I thought I'd better stop there - it turns out the Ulta website is amazing and I could quite happily have ordered about half of it, which I don't think she'd have been impressed by! 

Sadly Ulta won't ship to the UK, but I'm hoping that at some point they'l change their minds and adopt a Sephora style ordering system. Until they do, I shall be relying on my friend to keep me well-stocked! 

I'll be popping up some reviews on the Lorac palettes soon - have you tried these before? What do you think? Which one would you like to see reviewed first? 

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22/02/2015

Blogging tips: working with PRs - the PRs share their tips

One of the most discussed topics of #bbloggers chats has to be around working with PRs and brands and how as bloggers we can best do that. Rather than give you my own take on things, I've asked some PRs to share their own thoughts on the subject, covering everything from how to approach them and what to avoid.

I hope you find the post useful - for me, it's great to hear things directly from a PR perspective and really understand their thoughts on blogger relations and how these can be improved. A massive thank you to all of the PRs who kindly took part, it's much appreciated!

Blogging tips - working with PRS

As a PR, what are your favourite parts about working with bloggers?

"Meeting different people who have a new perspective and a genuine enthusiasm for products."

"One of my favourite aspects of working with bloggers is observing the limitless creativity that is put into so many of my favourite blogs. Also just conversing with women who have such a profound knowledge and genuine appreciate for the art of beauty."

"I love working with bloggers as they are honest, hard-working and review from a consumer’s point of view. A lot of them have become friends as we share the same interest in beauty!"

"Bloggers have a refreshingly different approach to talking about products and the beauty industry as a whole – they have a genuine passion for it that extends beyond traditional shopping pages. As a PR, working with bloggers opens up a whole new world of opportunities for the brands you represent, not least because they are not restricted to column inches! The last few years has been a lovely time of getting to know a completely new area of the media, and growing up and shaking down together :)"

"Creativity and freedom  - I love the fact that bloggers have the freedom to create their own editorial agenda and can be very honest in their reviews. I have some great relationships with bloggers and would consider many as friends. It’s great that we get to spend time with some really great people, probably one of the best parts of my job!  I understand how much work goes in to creating a blog. Some bloggers are extremely passionate and I love this. It’s great when you talk about a launch and they are genuinely as excited as you are."

"Seeing blogs grow - It’s great to see blogs grow and growing with them. So many blogs have started small and are now hugely successful. It’s great to see the success stories along the way."

"After a long time in PR I still get excited when a great piece of coverage lands on my desk. I love the speed that bloggers can turn things around so you get to see the coverage quickly. It’s also great to see the very tangible effects that blogs can have e.g increased web traffic/sales."

"Seeing the wealth of creativity and passion that people put into their blogs on a day to day basis."

And the worst bits? 

"The lack of knowledge can sometimes be frustrating especially if you are working with a brand which is quite technical. There is a lot of discussion on how a product smells or the packaging, rather than how effective the product is. Also, the influence that certain bloggers have can be frustrating. If, for reasons known only to themselves they take a dislike to a PR/brand, that’s it. They just will not cover the products and other bloggers will follow, for no reason."

"I feel there is a sense of entitlement with some bloggers who don’t understand that a PRs role is to service their client and a brand’s best interests and not their wish lists. If you have a blog whose core readership is the average  15-18 year old student and you’ve requested a £60 moisturiser from my client how am I professionally justified in sampling to you? Unfortunately brands/agencies have set a precedent that has become hard to navigate by accommodating such requests – perhaps for fear of negative reprisals on social media. That’s just not something I stand for."

"Whilst this is not the case with all I feel many blogs have become too monetised. Whereas with the establishment of the UK beauty blogging scene this was not the case and there was far more variation in brands being given exposure."

"It’s often hard to manage bloggers' expectations, especially new starters. It is easy to forget that  PRs have to work to a (paying) client brief and we have to respect their wishes, we don’t have access to endless samples or budgets."

"There are a lot of exceptional bloggers out there who really ‘get’ PR, but on the flip side there are a lot who don’t appreciate the fact that we are ultimately doing a job, and that job is to get the best possible coverage for our clients, manage their expectations, and also manage their budgets! Having to gently let down bloggers when we can’t provide samples or an invite to an event is always sad, and similarly the shopping list emails are incredibly frustrating…"

"Lack of rules/ Changing rules  - There are no rules as such and everything changes so quickly. I try to get it right but it is so easy to get it wrong and upset people and something relatively small can get very big very quickly. As a PR it is really hard to keep everybody happy all of the time. The rise of social media means things are very transparent ( which is a good thing) but it is obvious when somebody hasn’t been invited to an event and sometimes people get upset. 99% of the time, this is not personal. We have limited budgets to work with and have to make decisions based on what we need to achieve for the brands that are paying us to do a job. I love reading blogs and part of the charm is their honesty but sometimes reviews can be scathing and not very fair. I haven’t actually experienced this myself but have seen other brands experience this and the reviews aren’t always written in the most professional manner." 

"Money, money, money  - Not all brands have lots of money. I think people might be surprised to hear about the kind of budgets some brands actually have.   For some, even samples are a huge investment and every sample has to count. Sometimes bloggers don’t understand or respect this which can be frustrating." 

"It’s oh so quiet – sometimes samples are precious and limited. If we have provided a sample at a meeting or event it would be great to get some feedback. It can be quote frustrating having to chase and be that annoying PR who has to follow up. We appreciate that some bloggers get sent a lot and can’t possibly review everything. Sending product and getting no review or feedback can be really frustrating. Even if you aren’t planning a glowing review just keep us posted how you’re getting on so that we can update our clients.  Again, I appreciate that some bloggers receive a lot of product that they are not expecting to receive. If you’d prefer to not receive lots of parcels and would rather select what you would like to be sent then just let us know and we can keep a record."

"Some clients still don’t consider bloggers to be as important as traditional press ( I know, I know) so we have to try and convince them otherwise. We are definitely getting there but it doesn’t help the cause when bloggers write posts that are littered with grammatical, factual and spelling errors." 

"The battles – there are definitely circles of friends amongst the blogging community. Where you have friends, you also have enemies (or bloggers who don’t see eye to eye) . It can be quite tricky when arranging events. We don’t want to offend but it can make our job much more difficult. Our priority should be doing a good job for our paying clients but we often spend our time navigating the blogosphere to avoid awkward situations."

"New bloggers that start blogs purely for samples. Thankfully, I can spot it a mile off, but we have countless emails along the lines of 'I've just started a blog, can you send me some samples?' I find it contributes to bloggers being given a bad name when there are some amazing bloggers who pour their heart and soul into their blog and who work so hard on their space of the internet."


Lots of bloggers are keen to work with brands and PRs - any tips on how you prefer to work with bloggers? And what sort of things do you look for when you're looking for new ones to work with?

"Personally, I like to work with bloggers as if they are journalists and send them products for specific features as well as launches  and not just ad hoc. Some bloggers have started sending through forward features lists which are quite useful, however, we do have concerns sometimes when it comes to product testings as not all (skincare) products are appropriate for every skin condition."

"I personally seek out a lot of the blogs I work with as I still enjoy the process of discovering new voices. The content of your blog and social media is far more appealing than stats for me – something I know a few PR professionals will disagree with. I’m a huge believer in quality over quantity as I feel it resonates better and fosters more dialogue and brand appreciation."

"A point of difference for me; I find haul videos to be truly rubbish as products and brands get lost in them and have no lasting impact with a viewer/reader. I’m also unlikely to sample to a blog that does not update regularly as it’s unlikely that there is a dedicated following attached to it."

"When I receive emails with a shopping list of products they go straight into my junk box. If you’re reaching out to a PR it’s about an ongoing relationship. Suggest a product you’re interested in trying and build it from there."

"As a PR we need to justify every sample we send to bloggers, having access to blog statistics, e.g followers, unique users/views enables us to do this – also making your twitter and Instagram handles easy to find so we can support you back and tweet or regram your posts – sometimes I spend ages hunting for these."

"We look for quality over quantity, great pictures, links to stockist websites (to convert traffic into sales) and promotion across all social channels."

"I actually don’t receive samples to send to bloggers (or, often, press), so bloggers that are open to working with images where possible is always helpful at the moment. Whilst it’s always lovely to catch up face-to-face, the majority of PRs are under constant time pressure (particularly agency-side), so email efficiency is often best!"

"I always try to treat people the way I would like to be treated and most enjoy working with bloggers who are polite, professional and friendly. I appreciate that it works both ways and that PRs are not always friendly back."

"I personally look for personality, a fun writing style and engagement in the comments section."

How do you feel about being emailed directly from new bloggers? What should they exclude/include in their email? 

"I have no problem with being contacted by new bloggers. It is difficult for us to keep up with the number of blogs out there so it is appreciated. However, there is nothing worse than being sent an email from a new blog which basically says, I have a blog, send me loads of products or I have a blog and I can make people aware of your products. Don’t do a round robin and show an interest/knowledge of the brands the PR represents. Start by asking to be added to a mailing list."

"Receiving emails from new bloggers is great. There are so many blogs out there that it’s hard to keep track of all of them. Shopping lists get no love from me – it’s actually quite insulting and suggest you’re out for whatever you can get. Information on you and your particular interests in beauty are great. That way going forward I can ensure that I always update you on specifics things I reckon you’d like."

"We love new bloggers reaching out to us but they have to be realistic in what they can expect from PR’s – don’t be disappointed if you only get images and information, if you are that interested in the product you will go out and buy it!"

"Include a link to your blog – if a blogger doesn’t do this I immediately delete their email without reading."

"Please don’t include a shopping list…it’s a massive turn off."

"I love having emails directly from bloggers – I think it’s a great chance to forge genuine relationships, both professional and personal. It’s always helpful when you hear from a new blogger for the first time, to know their stats / page views, and whether they are keen to hear about affiliate schemes – that sort of thing."

"The worst type of email to receive is the dreaded ‘shopping list’! Brand samples are so limited, and we really do have to prove the return on sending them out. Bloggers that come to you saying that they deserve to receive a product (or sometimes an entire line) purely because they’ve seen that another blogger has received are particularly hard to deal with – it’s so important to remember that a PR’s decision to send a product out isn’t a spur of the moment thing, often the recipients need to be signed off by the brand!"

"We get lots of emails from new bloggers and there are new blogs being created daily. It is really hard to keep on top of all of them so emails can be useful. However, I would advise bloggers to think about what they include in their introductory email. A really long email which features a shopping list, lots of spelling errors and doesn’t include a link to the blog, or any keys stats/info about the blog is a sure fire way of resulting in a PR ignoring you. This doesn’t help anybody. In the same way that PRs should be targeting bloggers in a considered way, bloggers should be doing the same with brands and PRs."

"Try and put yourself in the shoes of the PR. Send a clear, concise email telling us why we should be reading your blog, who else reads your blog and why our brands will want to be featured on your blog and include recent stats.  Sometimes we won’t reply straight away but we do save the details and may get in touch when we are working with a brand/on a  project that is relevant to your blog and readers."

"Blog stats and whether their blog has a niche or not. It's always nice to see passion too!"

Any blogger relation horror stories you'd care to share? 

"The first blogger event we ever did turned into a nightmare, all because of one blogger who didn’t even stay for most of the event. She then proceeded to write a scathing piece, saying that there should have been a chance to experience the products (there was, she didn’t stay for it); being rude about the owner of the company and commenting about pregnant. It turns out her main gripe was about the food and drink."

"I remember a few years back there was the blog post circulating that a blogger had written criticising PR practice and rather patronisingly explaining “How best to work with bloggers”, like we’re dealing with mythical unicorns. Needless to say said blogger did not have to deal with the issue of incompetent PRs as often as they were  rightly dumped from a good few media lists. I found the gall of the post simultaneously hilarious and enraging. Imagine if the tables were turned…"

"Bloggers telling me how to do my job! One continuously argued with me, suggesting I target a wider pool of bloggers to spread the sample allocation – they couldn’t understand that I hadn’t been briefed to do that and that the ‘bedroom bloggers’ as opposed to the higher calibre of beauty bloggers that we were targeting weren’t going to make a difference to sales/traffic which was the clients brief."

"I've had a few. Other than the one mentioned above where we get emails from new bloggers wanting samples, the other story that comes to mind is when a blogger thinks they're entitled to samples. I once had an email along the lines of "I saw you gave so and so samples and I have bigger stats so how come I wasn't involved in your blogger outreach?" Stats do help, but they aren't the be all and end all."

As a blogger it can sometimes be easy to forget that you're under pressure from clients as PRs - what can we do to make things easier for you? 

"I think the biggest help is sending though coverage links. It is impossible to remember/keep up sometimes and we always tweet coverage too so there is a benefit too."

"I feel some people are so unaware of the pressures PRs are under; from clients, journalists, bloggers, other brands etc. It used to make my blood boil whenever I saw #PRFail on Twitter. We’re all here to work together and enjoy our roles and it’s important to understand people are human they make mistakes."

"I never expect anything from a blogger in return for a sample (unless they are being paid) As a PR I am amazed so many bloggers have full-time jobs and then find the time to write amazing posts. Sending coverage links is always a godsend, but as it’s my job I believe PR’s should be taking an active interest into the blogosphere; subscribe and read posts -  discovering coverage for yourself…don’t just rely on it."

"I don’t believe at all in chasing bloggers, as a PR I send samples in the hope of getting coverage but I don’t believe you can chase or demand coverage on a ‘goodwill’ relationship….you don’t owe us anything!"

"Simple things like active links to stockists, I LOVE it when bloggers include their latest stats / links to coverage / links to social media in their email signature – it makes things instantly simpler! Particularly as clients or brands can request this kind of information on the spur of the moment, and it’s so helpful to have it to hand. And any time they can provide details of click-throughs to the product featured, that gives us PRs a measurable result of working with a blogger, which is absolutely invaluable if the relationship is to continue!"

"Thank you for noticing. I love my job but it can be really stressful as we often have pressure from every angle. Most bloggers are really great and it is so helpful when they send links. I would love to be able to read blogs all day every day but I just don’t get the time and it is very easy to miss things so links are super helpful, ideally before they are promoted via social media so that we can give our clients the heads up before they actually see it. We love to share coverage with them and it can be really disappointing if they’ve already seen it."

"I never want to be the chasey PR that hounds you to find out if you’re planning to cover something but it’s great when I get feedback and updates along the way so that I have an idea if you are going to feature something or even if you really don’t like something. At least I can be prepared. As I have mentioned above, we really appreciate if you can try and put yourselves in our shoes sometimes. Even if you are super busy a very quick reply, even to say that you haven’t had a chance to try it yet, is way more helpful than a wall of silence."

"Bloggers who are polite professional and friendly will always be appreciated. I completely understand that some PRs do make this quite tricky at times." 

"Sending over links is always helpful!"

How do you feel about bloggers charging for reviews/tweets/coverage?  Do you feel that this is the future or something you'd prefer to avoid? 

"Definitely prefer to avoid this. The very foundation of PR is that it is free and although we are generous with products, we don’t have budget (or history) of paying."

"I get it, everyone’s out to cash in on this great opportunity whilst they can but if these sort of things become common place it kills an industry that was embraced for its integrity, and non-bias. And then who wins? Not all brands have bottomless pockets to throw money around left, right and centre. I personally don’t want to see an industry where independent brands have no cheerleaders because the  big conglomerates have bought the stadium, the players and the spectators. How dull."

"I have really mixed feelings on this subject, I do believe charges should be monitored and why shouldn’t people make a career out of blogging. However we are sent extreme costs and I wonder how bloggers can justify the amounts they are charging for a tweet or a blogpost (especially when they differ so widely from person to person but their statistics are so similar)."

"I think a great way for both brand and blogger to benefit is an affiliate programme, the blogger receives payment for traffic pushed to a retail site and commission on purchases, the brand wins as hopefully they’re getting more traffic and sales – mutually beneficial."

"I do think it is the future and unavoidable, I would like to see guidelines put in place for charges, at the moment people are abusing the system and will give it a bad reputation for everybody – I also encourage the use of #AD and highlighting when a post has been sponsored."

"Hmm. I feel conflicted about this. I think the visibility that some blogs give is worth paying for, as the ROI can be directly equated in advertising terms. However I do think readers of blogs still appreciate product placement that is completely unbiased (and un-sponsored), so I don’t think that is going away any time soon. I think brands are seeing the value of this more and more, so I am still keen to work with blogs that offer this type of coverage."

"I appreciate that the landscape is changing. For some clients paying for content is a realistic direction, but to be honest for others it is not, in the same way that some clients simply do not have the budget to pay for other forms of advertising.  I believe there should be a balance of paid for activity and genuine posts on a blog as the honest posts are what are at the heart of blogging. It goes without saying that anything that has been paid for should be clear for the reader to see. To uphold the integrity of the blog,  it makes sense to me that bloggers only agree to paid relationships if it’s the kind of brand/product they would have been interested in featuring any way and the majority of the time this is what I see."

"Going forward it is really important that bloggers who are charging for sponsored posts etc. behave in a professional manner, especially if you are working independently rather than being with an agent. You need to be very clear up front about what the post will and will not include so all parties know what to expect."

I'd love to know your thoughts on this post - have you picked up any new tips?

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Accessories - the new shoes

Having wide feet is the bane of my existence – I see so many pretty shoes that I just know I’ll never manage to squish them in to. That said, I make it my mission to find nice looking shoes as often as possible, so after a seriously long gap, I’ve rediscovered my love of Clarks.

New Clarks Dulcie Meg shoes
New Clarks Dulcie Meg shoes
New Clarks Dulcie Meg shoes on feet
Clarks used to conjure up horrible memories for me – there were many trips there to get my school shoes, which because of the width of my feet inevitably ended up looking more like the ones in the boy section, rather than the nice ballet flats my friends were wearing. Moving on 20 years (yes, I am that old), Clarks has had a bit of a renaissance. My favourite hot pink heels come from there and I wander around smugly with an inbuilt cushioned insole, feeling ridiculously comfy and stylish at the same time.

The lovely people at Clarks recently sent me some vouchers to treat myself to a new pair of shoes (which let’s face it, you can never have enough of), so I trotted off to one of their Oxford Street stores for a serious trying on session.

This season they’ve got some absolutely crackers on the shoe front, but it still felt a little early to me to break into the sandal section, so I went for these little beauties (called Dulcie Meg) with a decent heel and a cheeky peep toe at the front. It was quite hard to choose as they had lots of lovely shoes on offer, and I’ll be heading back post pay day to grab myself another pair that caught my eye.

At £50 these aren't cheap shoes, but the leather will wear well for a seriously long time and I think it’s worth spending a little extra on shoes – we spend so much time in them that comfort is definitely worth the extra few £££. As well as wide fitting options on some styles, they also offer half sizes which is an absolute lifesaver and something I wished more brands did.

If you’ve not been to Clarks in a while, I’d highly recommend popping down for a look. Yes, they still have their more traditional shoe section, although this seems to be relegated towards the backs of the stores now to make way for the more fashion forward stuff.

Are you a fan of Clarks shoes?

*PR sample

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19/02/2015

Slendertone Face review

I’ve long been attracted to the lure of Slendertone. The possibility of zapping away the fat on my backside while sitting on the sofa seems like an impossible dream, but over the years I’ve heard seriously good feedback about the brand.

I was recently asked to give the Slendertone Face* a whirl and boy was I excited. Probably more excited than I should’ve been considering I would be voluntarily zapping myself with electrical currents, but who doesn’t want more youthful looking skin with minimal effort?!

Slendertone Face review

Slendertone Face review

Slendertone Face uses similar technology to their other products. It features electrical pads that produce a small current, which when applied to the skin stimulates the muscles beneath. As our facial muscles start to sag as we get older, the signs of ageing become more pronounced. Slendertone Face helps to tone and build the facial muscles, increasing the muscle volume and giving you a more youthful appearance.

The device itself looks a little like a pair of sports headphones. There are two pads, one for each side of your face, with a firm plastic headband to hold them in place. Positioning it is a little tricky – I had to slip it around the back of my neck and then move it up towards my cheekbones, following the instructions given on exactly where it should rest for maximum effect.

Once in place, the device is ready to turn on with the small control panel that’s attached by a long cord. The panel allows you to set the length of your session, plus edit the intensity of the electrical pulses, allowing you to find a comfortable level. As a beginner, I went for the short session initially and started around level 20 (there are 99 to work your way through), which lasted for about 10 minutes. As my sessions progressed and I became more comfortable with the sensation, I increased the level (I never made it past 50!) and the length of time I was using the device for.

I have to admit, the whole thing felt quite odd. I was worried initially that it would be like some sort of painful electrical shock, but it was really more like a tingle. It definitely felt like the muscles in my face were getting a bit of a workout, even on the lower levels and I really like the fact you can amend the intensity at any point throughout your session.

Slendertone recommend that you use the device five times per week for 12 weeks in order to see real results. This is really the only thing I found a little arduous as you have to do it once you’ve cleansed, but before you’ve moisturised and I often went on to auto pilot through my evening regime and forgot to stop post-cleansing which meant I had to miss a night. Apparently the device won’t work very well after you’ve applied lotions so it might be worthwhile having it in front of you when you’re cleansing to act as a reminder to use the Slendertone before moving on with your routine.

The gel pads need to be replaced after every 2-3 weeks, and while the box comes with two sets, if you plan to use the device long term, you'll need to invest in some extra sets which is a little annoying. These cost around £12 for six pairs, so not a huge sum, but something to bear in mind when making the initial purchase.

Over the past 10 weeks I’ve definitely seen an improvement from using this device – my eye area looks a lot more youthful and my skin just seems to look that little bit fresher. I will definitely continue to use my Slendertone Face in the future and if you’re looking for something to tackle fine lines and early ageing then I think this would be a great option.

Slendertone Face costs £149.99 and can be bought from Slendertone online.

Have you tried anything from Slendertone before? Would you want to give this a try?

*PR sample

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18/02/2015

Bourjois ColourBand Eye Shadow Sticks Review

As much as I love my eye shadow palettes, when it comes to convenience, nothing really beats an eye shadow stick. They’re portable, don’t need a brush and can be applied straight from the stick onto your lid. 

Bourjois’ new ColourBand shadow sticks have just hit the shelves and offer a purse-friendly product with high-quality performance. These crayon-style eye shadow pencils come in six different colours, focusing on wearable shades of gold, bronze and mauve with a few deeper colours thrown in for good measure. 

Bourjois colourband eyeshadow crayons
Bourjois colourband eyeshadow crayons swatches
L-R Beige Minimal, Brun Dadaiste, Mauve, Noir Abstrait
I’ve been really impressed with them in terms of pigmentation – a single swipe will leave you with an easy day time look which can be built up with extra layers for night time. They don’t drag on the lids when you apply them and blend easily with a finger or a brush if you prefer. They can also double up as liners, although the nib might be a little chunky to get a really slim line against your lashes. 

My current favourite combination is Beige Minimal all over my lid with Brun Dadaiste blended into the crease and closer to the lash line for a take on a bronze smokey eye. 

Bourjois say that these are waterproof and while I’ve not tested them out in the shower (maybe I should?!) they are seriously long wearing. I’ve had mine on for a 14 hour day with no fading, which is pretty impressive given the fact they’re a cream product. The only downside for me is that they crease. Quite a bit. This is a definite down point on what would be a five star product otherwise, but a decent eye primer underneath them helps keep this to a minimum. 

ColourBand eye shadows can be found on Bourjois stands and online from Boots and Superdrug and cost £5.99 each. 

What do you think of these new shadows from Bourjois?

*PR samples 



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17/02/2015

Clinique Sculpting Highlight and Contour Chubby Sticks review

Contouring has to be one of the most popular things on the beauty front at the moment. Every brand seems to be developing their own specific contouring products, so whether you like creams or powders, there's something out there for every budget. 

Clinique's latest launch sees them expanding their Chubby Stick line to include Sculpting Highlight and Contour sticks. These look a lot like a fatter version of their regular lip and eye chubby sticks, but have been developed to make the contouring process seriously quick and simple. 

Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour and Highlight sticks
Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour and Highlight sticks swatches
Clinique Chubby Stick Sculpting Contour and Highlight sticks swatches on pale skin
Contour and Highlight sticks blended out
The stick design and cream formula makes these a great bet for people in a hurry or for those who aren't quite sure where to start with contouring. The Sculpting Contour is the perfect size for the under cheekbone area - suck those cheeks in and run the Chubby Stick down from the middle of your ear to about halfway down your cheek and blend upwards using your fingers. 

Pigmentation-wise, the Sculpting Contour Stick looks pretty scary in the tube and if you're lighter skinned like me, take a gentle hand when applying as the colour is quite deep. That said, it blends really well, so don't be scared if you're slightly too heavy handed to start with! I'd always advise that you start gently and then add more colour if needed as it's easier to build up than it is to take it away. 

The Sculpting Highlight is a dream for light to medium skin tones. On me it gives a really radiant finish to skin without actually looking like you're wearing makeup, which I think is a massive thumbs up. Again, you can just draw on you face straight from the stick, blending gently after application. 

Both of these are cream textured products so benefit from a little primer underneath them, but used on top of foundation they'll last a good 8-10 hours before needing a little top up. They're also handbag friendly as you don't need a brush to use them, so are good for using on the run. 

The Sculpting Contour and Highlight sticks cost £19 each and can be found on Clinique counters and online from Boots, House of Fraser and other stockists now. 

Do you like the look of these new contour products from Clinique? 

*PR samples

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16/02/2015

5 things to buy: February

With so many new launches hitting the shelves every week it can be hard to know which ones to spend your hard earned money on. February has seen a bumper crop of exciting products so far, but I've trimmed it down to five things I think you REALLY need to add to your collection this month.

five things to buy this month

GOSH Extreme Liquid Gel Liners* - these new liners come in a range of 9 different colours and once applied literally don't budge. The nib takes a little bit of practice as it's quite short and stiff, but after a few uses you'll be liner perfect! I've been wearing the black one all week and can confirm it easily lasts a 14 hour day with no smudging, flaking or fading and unless you've got an oil-based remover, it won't be coming off in a hurry! £5.99 each

Perricone MD Blue Plasma Cleansing Treatment* - Perricone is one of those brands that really does deliver on the results front, so although it's pricey, it's always worth the investment. This new cleanser works to cleanse and smooth skin targeting only the skin impurities without removing essential oils, leaving you with brighter looking skin in days. It also gently exfoliates  and has anti-ageing properties, so packs a lot in to that small bottle! It's gentle enough to use every day, even if you've got sensitive skin and doesn't need to be washed off after use. Simply swipe over skin using a cotton pad and carry on with your normal routine. Be prepared to be amazed at how much filth it removes from your skin, even after a pre-cleanse before use. My cotton pad turned grey and that was after using a balm cleanser first! £35 

Barry M Speedy Quick Dry Nail Polishes* - nine shades of pastel loveliness in a brand new quick-dry formula. I've done a full review of these over here, but rest assured the wide brush and new formula will mean you won't just want to stop at one! £3.99

Kiko Generation Next Highlighter* - there's not many places you can get a decent Guerlain dupe for under £15, but Kiko have definitely done it with their new highlighter! Swirled together this pressed powder compact gives skin a beautiful luminous glow and definitely rivals the high end brands. It's limited edition so grab one quick!

The Body Shop Smokey Poppy Blusher Brush and Lip Crayons* - I've completely fallen for the brush from this new Body Shop collection - it's super soft, great for using with all kinds of powders and looks just like a poppy (extra cute points added for that!). The lip and cheek crayons are also a must-have in my book. These add a nice amount of colour to the lips in a semi-matte finish and last for hours. Don't be fooled by the grey shade - it actually adapts on your lips to a very pretty pink shade!

Will you be adding any of these products to your wish list this month?

*PR samples


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15/02/2015

Confessions of a beauty blogger - part two

Last year I shared a few of my secret beauty confessions with you in this post and I thought it might be time to own up to a few more. I’d love to hear your secret beauty confessions – feel free to leave them anonymously if you don’t want to admit that it’s you!

confessions of a beauty blogger

- I buy limited edition makeup that I can never bring myself to use. YSL’s spring highlighter and a MAC Archie’s Girls powder are just two that spring to mind…

- Sometimes when it’s late and I’m being lazy I don’t cleanse properly and just use a swipe of micellar water to take off my makeup. *checks Caroline Hirons isn’t reading*

- I very rarely finish skincare products. Product testing for the blog means it’s hard to get through an entire pot of anything, so if I do finish it and then repurchase, you know it’s one to invest in.

- Washing my makeup brushes takes a worryingly low priority – I’m lucky if I remember to do it every couple of weeks (ok, closer to a month!) unless I’ve been using a liquid foundation.

- I have over 300 nail polishes. Most of which have only ever been used one. *insert shame face*

- I'm useless at styling my hair. I finally learnt how to French braid it about 3 months ago at the ripe old age of 30. Other than that, if you see me with something other than a bun or a ponytail, someone else did it!

- Despite having a full fringe, I'm pretty rubbish at getting regular trims at the hairdresser. So I now get my boyfriend to trim my fringe every couple of weeks to keep it the perfect length.

- I really hate chipped nail polish but don't always have time to take it all off and repaint it, so have been known to just paint an extra coat over the top and hope for the best!

What are your secret beauty confessions?
·        
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13/02/2015

RMK Vintage Sweets Collection review

For me, RMK is one of those brands that don’t get enough attention. It might be down to the fact that they aren’t too easily sourced in the UK (you’ll find them in Selfridges), but the Japanese brand has some seriously good products that need a spotlight shone on! 

The Vintage Sweets collection* is their latest launch, creating a beautiful range of pastel-coloured, candy-inspired makeup for spring. Vintage Sweets is inspired by a little bit of yesteryear, with dreams of afternoon teas and sweet fragrances.  

RMK Vintage Sweets collection
RMK Vintage Sweets collection
The full collection
It has to be said that I’m a sucker for pretty products, so the design of these really appeals to me. In fact, they look so nice it almost makes you want to not use them so you don’t disturb the patterns. But that would just be silly *has stern words with self*. 

The standout pieces from this collection for me are the face powders and blushers. While I initially thought that the multi-colour Vintage Sweets Face Color Powder I had was a highlighter, it turns out it’s actually a pressed powder that’s designed to help even out the skin tone and tone down any redness in the skin. It’s best used all swirled together with a large brush and applied across the skin, however if you suffer from a lot of redness, you can target the green areas more which will help to combat the red effect. There’s also another blue/lilac colourway in this powder which works better at adding luminosity and I’m quite tempted to add this to my collection too. 

As blushers go, these ones are pretty small in size, but definitely not in terms of pigment. Each Vintage Candy Cheeks blusher in the range is two-tone, with a lighter shade and a darker one, making it possible to customise the finish to your chosen colour. These are all powder blushers that feel incredibly soft on the skin, and while the size might look a little small, just the lightest touch will give you the perfect flush of colour on the cheeks. 

The design of the Sugar Sweet eye shadows reminds me a lot of different coloured humbugs – and although blue isn’t the first colour I would usually reach for, the product itself has a lovely finish to it. The striped design makes it easy to target one shade or the other – you can use them alone or blended together, giving you three shades for the price of one. Some of the colour options are a little out there for nude shadow lovers like me, but if you like a bolder look than me, then there are some great shades to choose from. 

As far as lip glosses go, these are pretty nice. I’m not a fan of glosses and the child in me is longing to whizz the applicator wand around inside the tube and ruin the lovely swirled design, but we all know that will end in tears! These aren’t sticky, and last well even with a bit of eating and drinking. Be warned, these are scented which may not be everyone’s cup of tea, so try to have a sniff in store first if that sort of thing bothers you. 

RMK has added five pastel nail polishes to the collection – the nude shade I have is lovely, although it takes a little while to dry. I think the candy coloured lilac has to be my favourite – come spring I love that sort of shade! 

Finally, there are some dual coloured W Color Mascaras that form part of the collection which I love the idea of, I’m just not sure I’m brave enough to pull them off! The one I have is pink and black, which would great on the right skin tone, but on me is just bad – pink around the eyes makes me look like I’ve been crying. I think these would look lovely applied to the tips of lashes for a pop of colour, so I might give the blue one a try and see how I fare. 

Vintage Sweets can be found online and in store from Selfridges, with prices starting at £14 for the nail polishes up to £33 for the powders. 

What do you think of this collection? 

*PR samples 


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12/02/2015

Kiko Generation Next makeup collection review

I'm coming to the conclusion that Kiko have taken over my makeup bag. Almost every product I try from them ends up becoming a permanent fixture as it's just so good! Their latest collection, Generation Next* is perfect for spring, with lots of wearable shades for eyes, lips and cheeks.

Kiko Generation Next makeup collection

Over the past few weeks I've become a bit obsessed with the Mosaic Highlighter from the range, who's pastel pattern makes for a beautiful finish and something to rival a lot of high end brands. It reminds me a lot of the Guerlain pressed meteorites that have just launched, only at less than half the price (Kiko's version is £14.90). It's so pretty that it took me several days to work up the nerve to swatch it properly as I didn't want to disturb the finish (tragic, I know)! There are also four shades of blusher with similar mosaic designs that I've got on my wishlist - I had a quick swatch in store and they blend into love soft pink shades.

The Frosted Look Lipsticks are a lot more pigmented than I initially thought they would be - 06 Stylish Peony is a bright pinky coral and is a lovely shade for spring. They last well on the lips and have a slightly sheeny finish, so won't leave you with dry lips after a day's wear. There are six shades to choose from in this formula, ranging from nude to magenta. £7.50

Another product win for me has to be the Cool Touch Eye Shadows. These are an unusual texture that sits somewhere between cream and powder and applies best with a smallish brush. Once on the lids these provide a good pop of colour and don't budge for hours. The turquoise shade here is a bit out of my comfort zone, but I'm quite tempted to stock up on a couple of others in the more neutral shades, as let's face it, you can never have enough brown shadows. Ahem. Eight shades, £8.90 each.

I adore the bronze shade of the Crystal Eye Liner I've been testing out, although for me, the lasting power isn't amazing. I've found this to work best on top of a nude eye shadow shade as my lids are a little oily and tend to transfer the product otherwise. £6.90 each.

I've left the Glassy Lipgloss for last, purely as I'm really not a fan of lip gloss in general - give me a matte lip any day. This one isn't too sticky, which makes a nice change and the soft pink colour is great for a 'my lips but better' slick of gloss. If you're a gloss fan then these would be a nice addition to your collection, with six shades to choose from. £7.90

The Generation Next collection has just popped up in Kiko stores and their website - if you're tempted by just one or two pieces, make it the mosaic highlighter and blushers; they're the must-haves in my book!

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

*PR samples 
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11/02/2015

Feeling rose-y

With Valentine's day almost upon us, sales of roses are no doubt set to rocket. If you're a lover of rose scents but fancy something that will last you a bit longer than flowers, I've put together a selection of my favourite rose-scented products that would make a lovely treat for yourself (or a good place to point your other half if he's starting to get that pre-valentine's panicky look).

rose scented bath, body and makeup products

rose scented bath, body, candles and makeup products

Roger + Gallet Rose collection* - for a rosey scent from top to toe, grab yourself some of Roger + Gallet's iconic rose range. Their hand creams are lovely and rich and keep hands soft for hours and the body spritz is a lovely way to end up smelling of roses without an overpowering scent. They also offer body lotions and bath/shower products, so if you're a rose fan you can stock up on a bit of everything! Prices from £13.50.

By Terry Baume de Rose lip balms - these rose scented lip balms will leave your lips feeling soft and smooth for hours. I bought a set in the Space NK sale that features five different shades and each one leaves a tiny hint of colour on the lips while adding serious amounts of hydration. Pricey, but oh so worth the investment. £35.50

Arran Aromatics Valentine's Day candle* - burn this beauty from Arran Aromatics on the day itself and you'll be left with a room that smells divine. It's a mix of jasmine, orange flower and tuberose that only needs a couple of hours of burning to fragrance the entire room (or downstairs of your house if it's small like mine). The silver lid and heavy glass makes it feel really high end, despite its £20 price tag and as we're spending Valentine's at home with some steak and cake, this will be helping to set the scene for a romantic meal for two.

Aromatherapy Associates Rose Body Velvet* - a seriously rich, velvety body cream, this product from Aromatherapy Associates is a must-have if you suffer from dry skin or just love a subtle rose smell to your products. Despite being rich in texture, it's easily absorbed and won't leave you hanging around for ages waiting to get dressed. It's a limited edition product created to celebrate Aromatherapy Associates 30th birthday and can be found in Space NK or online from Aromatherapy Associates. £50

Flamingo Candles valentine candle* - I think Flamingo Candles are amazing - they're great value for money and give much more expensive brands a run for their money! The Love Bug candle has a special Flamingo design on the front with a cute little heart and releases a lovely mix of mandarin and petitgrain scents over a few hours. The rose pink wax is mixed with lilac glitter as a special combination for Valentine's day, making it a cute addition for a night in. £12

Are you a fan of rose-scented products? What will your plans be for Valentine's day?

*PR samples
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10/02/2015

Disappointing products - February 2015

One of the great things about blogging is trying out lots of different products. As a beauty junkie there's nothing I like better than getting my hands on a new launch, or something I haven't tried before and giving it a thorough testing. I tend to focus mostly on products that have impressed me on this blog, but I've been asked by several readers for products I'm not keen on, so I'll be aiming for a monthly post on some of the ones that just haven't worked for me.

disappointing products February 2015

Weleda Pomegranate hand cream* - I normally love me some Weleda but there's something about the Pomegranate hand cream that just isn't doing it for me. Aside from the smell (which I really don't like), it doesn't seem to moisturise my hands. Which is a bit of a fail for a hand cream. Now, my hands are like lizard skin at the moment and do need a lot of extra hydration, so if you have nice soft hands but want a little bit of moisture then you might find you love this. It's just not strong enough for me.

Benefit They're Real eye liner (not pictured) - one of the most hyped products last year turned out to be a total no-no for me. Despite being a liner addict, I was left really disappointed by Benefit's new release. I could never get the right amount out of the tube - it was always too much or too little - and the shape of the nib seemed to make it impossible to get a neat cat's eye look. It also seemed to flake off towards the end of the day so I ended up giving up and throwing it away. 

Show Beauty Dry Shampoo* - I had seriously high expectations for a dry shampoo that costs £30 but sadly I've been left feeling a bit dejected by this one. It almost does too good a job at removing oil from my hair, leaving it looking dry and dull and feeling knotty to the touch. I'll be sticking to my £3.50 CoLab dry shampoo from now on! Thankfully this one was a sample from Glossybox's special edition Harvey Nichols box - I would've cried had I paid full price for it.

Nails Inc nail polishes* - I have an ongoing love/hate relationship with Nails Inc polishes. I adore the finishes and the array of shades but for some reason they last no more than 24 hours on me without chipping. I've tried different base/top coats and the result is always the same. And yet, I'm still drawn to them, especially with the sleek new packaging!

Have you tried any products this month that have let you down?
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09/02/2015

YSL Spring 2015 Lumiere de Jour palette review

Ok, so I was meant to be on a spending ban. But during a shopping trip with the lovely Alice I spotted the limited edition YSL Lumiere de Jour palette from their Spring collection and bought it before I knew what was happening. I'd like to say I'm annoyed with myself for breaking my ban, but I'm not. And I think you'll appreciate why when you see this little beauty.

YSL lumiere de jour highlighter spring 2015

YSL lumiere de jour highlighter spring 2015

YSL's Spring makeup collection is full of pretty pink shades, with the limited edition palettes being given the special treatment packaging wise. 

Lumiere de Jour is a soft pink highlighting powder that comes in a beautiful white sequinned case that I know I won't be able to resist keeping out on show on my dressing table. 

The powder itself is seriously soft with just the right amount of pigmentation and on pale skin tones this works beautifully well as a highlighter. It is a *touch* glittery, so might be best suited for evening use, depending on how shimmery you like your face in the day time. They've included a mini brush inside the case which is good for touch ups on the go, but for at home use I'll be sticking to something larger like my Real Techniques Bold Metals Arched Powder Brush.

The only downside for me is the fact it's so pretty I almost don't want to use it. I'm trying really hard NOT to be the person who buys makeup and then doesn't use it, although this is making that really quite hard right now. At £42.50 this is a definite investment buy, but come on, look at how pretty it is! 

Like all YSL limited collections, this one is seeling fast, so if you like what you see, get yourself down to your nearest counter pronto. Oh, and if you can find it in Boots like I did, then even better - the Advantage Points you get make it almost cancel out the splurge. Ahem. 

What do you think of this limited edition highlighter from YSL? 

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08/02/2015

3000 Bloglovin' follower giveaway

This weekend I hit a bit of a milestone on Bloglovin', so to say thank you to every one who follows me, I'm running a giveaway. I'm so flattered that over 3,000 of you have signed up to keep up to date with my blog posts; thank you so, so much!

3000 bloglovin follower giveaway

One reader will be able to win a surprise bundle of beauty products worth over £100, featuring brands like Benefit, GOSH and lots more. The giveaway is open internationally, and will run until 23:59 on Sunday 1st March.

To enter, simply fill in your chosen entries via the Rafflecopter widget below. One winner will be picked at random after the giveaway closes.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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06/02/2015

Skincare: top products for dry and dehydrated skin

Dry or dehydrated skin is probably best described as a bit of a ‘challenge’, especially when it comes to winter and the cold weather and central heating seems to strip away what little moisture you’ve got left in your skin. My skin tends to be a little oily in summer, but come the colder months it dries out like a raisin, and so I’ve been putting together an arsenal of products to help keep it soft, supple and most importantly, hydrated. 

top products for dry and dehydrated skin

Liz Earle Superskin Moisturiser with Neroli* – I first tried this moisturiser back in the summer and it didn’t work for me at all, but as a winter moisturiser, it’s perfect. This is a rich cream that can be used morning or night and is perfect for anyone with very dry skin. I like to use it as a night cream and mix in a few drops of my favourite face oil for an added hydration boost. It might seems a little pricey at £39, but the baby-soft skin you’ll be left with is well worth the investment! 

GlamGlow Thirsty Mud* – a hydrating mask is a must-have for dry or dehydrated skin and GlamGlow’s Thirsty Mud provides a much needed boost once or twice a week. It’s unusual to have a mud style mask that also hydrates, but this really does the trick! You only need a small amount per use, and skin will be left feeling plump and smooth. £50 for 50ml

Clinique Moisture Surge Thirsty Skin Relief* – this gel-style moisturiser from Clinique is great for anyone who suffers from dehydrated skin that can’t handle rich creams. It’s lightweight in texture and absorbs very quickly, but keeps skin feeling hydrated all day. The lightweight texture means you can also apply it throughout the day if you need an extra moisture boost – I sometimes mix a little in with my foundation to create a tinted moisturiser which also works well. £34 

Botanics Organic Facial Oil* – I think every skin type should use a face oil, even if you’re oily (trust me, the right one will be amazing!) and this Botanics version is fantastic for drier skins and a good budget option. A few drops of this on its own, or layered with your choice of moisturiser will plump up skin with a mix of hydrating essential oils. At £9.99 (currently on offer for £6.66!) this is a great high street buy and also a good dupe for Clarins Lotus Face Oil! 

Eve Lom Moisture Mask* – I couldn’t resist including another face mask as I really think this one is fantastic! Yes it’s expensive, but a little bit goes a long way and you will thank me for how soft your skin feels after just one use. It’s up to you if you leave it on for about 15 minutes and then wipe the excess off with a tissue or leave it on overnight for a more intense boost; both work equally well. The pot is massive (100ml) so this will keep you in business for a good six months with a twice weekly treatment. £65. 

What are your favourite products for dry or dehydrated skin? 

*PR samples

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05/02/2015

The best brow products for all budgets

2015 for me has been the year I got my brow on. I’m just going to come out and admit it – for the past ten years I’ve had a fringe and fringe + blonde invisibrows = lazy when it comes to brow maintenance. That was the case until a few weeks before Christmas when I had my first taste of the good brow life with a bit of a brow-over from HD Brows. And that for me, was the game changer. 

Since then, I’ve made it my mission to discover the best brow products for all budgets. From powders to gels and from £5 to £25 I’ve got you covered. And without further ado, I present the brow heroes! 

the best brow products for all budgets


Budget brows
Collection's Eyebrow Kit* (not pictured) – at £3.99 this brow palette is fantastic value. It features several shades of powders and a clear gel, so it can be used by pretty much everyone and while I’d recommend buying a decent brush to use with this, the powders themselves have good staying power and decent pigmentation. 
GOSH Defining Brow Gel* – a seriously simple brow solution, I love this mascara style gel from GOSH. A quick swipe through your brows will add colour, plus help to shape them at the same time, making it a great option if you’re in a hurry first thing in the morning. If like me your brows are blonde, I’d recommend going for the 002 shade which is more grey in tone and a better fit for blondes. £4.99

For fair brows
Finding a natural looking option for lighter brows can be a bit of a b*tch. Everything often seems too dark or too warm-toned to make a good match. Well, not anymore! Both Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz* and Elizabeth Arden have great quality brow crayons in the perfect shades for lighter brows. The design of them also means it’s really easy to get a natural looking brow, as the crayon shape means you can fill them in using small, soft strokes that mimic brow hairs. HD Brows also do a fantastic range of products in lighter shades – my favourite is the Colourfix in Foxy* which is another mascara style product that can be swept through your brows in a flash for natural definition and colour. 

Brow tamers
RMK brow gel* – this clear gel is perfect if you’re blessed with good brows that just need a little tidy, as it helps to hold them in place all day with no crispy feeling. You could also use it to help set a powder product in place – a quick sweep across the brows and you’re ready to go. £18
Tweezerman tweezers – Tweezerman really do make the best tweezers I’ve ever tried. There are several different shapes to target different types of hairs and the massive range of colours and patterns makes it easy to match your pair to your makeup bag. These might seem a little pricey (almost £23), but they really are a good investment as a pair should last you for years. Unless your other half happens to steal them to remove splinters from his mountain bike wheel. *grumpy face* 

Brow powders
Not to be overlooked, brow powders are great if you’re more confident at filling in your natural brows or fancy something a little more bold. Illamasqua’s Brow Cakes are fantastic for this – they can be applied with a flat brow brush to create pretty much any shape you like and they won’t budge all day. Urban Decay’s Brow Box* Is also a great little kit to pop in your handbag – it has a mix of powders and creams (it also comes in light and dark shades to help tailor it further) plus some mini tweezers, so there’s everything you could need all packed into one tiny box. 

For brows that need a growth spurt
Over done it on the threading? Had a teenage incident that means you’re a bit lacking in the brow department? You need to get some RapidBrow* in your life. This stuff is seriously amazing. A quick whizz through your brows with this will leave you with thicker, fuller-looking brows in about 8 weeks. You’ll need to use it twice a day to get the best results, but once applied it’s pretty invisible and you can apply your usual brow products over the top. I have some skinny areas of my brows due to teenage over-plucking and this has really helped thicken them up. Worth every penny of the £37 price tag in my book. 

What are your favourite brow products? 

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