Kiko Best Friends Forever (BFF) collection

Kiko Best Friends Forever BFF collection review
Kiko Best Friends Forever BFF collection review
Kiko Best Friends Forever BFF collection review - lip liners
Kiko Best Friends Forever BFF collection review - love elixir face powder
Kiko's new Best Friends Forever (BFF) collection has just hit stores and is the perfect partner for Valentine's day. There's a whole lot of pink and red, plus enough hearts to keep even the most romantic person happy.

My top pick from the collection has to be the Love Elixir Powder. Kiko really do come up trumps when it comes to luxe looking powders on a budget and this heart embossed bronzer/blusher certainly lives up to expectations. The shades are large enough to use alone if you want, but swirled together give a soft flush of colour to the cheeks that I think will work really well for all skin tones. They've included a small brush with it which is pretty average, but more than fine for an on the go top up.£14.90

I've been really impressed with how good the automatic lip liners are considering the fact these are less than a fiver each. They're creamy and don't drag on the lips, yet are fine enough to allow you to get a nice sharp line. There are only a couple of shades in the BFF collection but I'm going to investigate the ones in the permanent collection as I want one in every shade!

For extra cute factor, try the 'Love Kiss' heart lip balm tins or creamy lipsticks which have a heart shaped bullet. I haven't tried these myself but from what I've seen on the website they look really sweet and would make a lovely gift for a teen or someone who likes things that little bit kawaii.

The BFF collection is limited edition and can be found in Kiko stores and via their website.

What do you think of the new collection from Kiko?

*PR samples


GOSH lip oils - Clarins dupe

review: GOSH lip oils - Clarins dupe
review: GOSH lip oils - Clarins dupe
If you buy one thing from GOSH's spring launches, make it one of the rather fab new Lip Oils. They're a definite dupe for Clarins' Instant Light Comfort oils and the only thing like it that I've seen appearing on the high street. 

I'd use these in place of your regular lip balm or for an extra hydration boost over the top of a matte finish product. Each one is infused with a mix of sea buckthorn, moringa, argan and macadamia oils and gives long lasting hydration without a greasy finish.  

There are four oils to choose from in the range, but if I'm honest I can't see much difference in any of them except the scent. There's a very slight hint of pigmentation to the deeper shades but it's not one that's really noticeable when applied to the lips.

At £7.49 each, these are a really affordable purchase and one I'd definitely recommend. If like me, your handbag tends to get overtaken by lipsticks and balms, these are a lovely way to streamline things a bit and get that mix of moisturisation with a hint of shine.

They launch into Superdrug on 10th Feb - pop the date in your diary. I reckon they'll be seriously popular!

*PR samples


CK2 perfume review - A World Duty Free exclusive

It’s been a while since a Calvin Klein fragrance took centre stage on my dressing table. The fifteen year-old me absolutely loved to smother myself in CKBe, spraying enough perfume to scent my entire village at the time (it’s a good job it came in a big bottle. Ahem.). Flash forward 15 years and I thought it was high time I caught up with what was new with the brand  - enter CK2*, their new unisex fragrance.

First up, I absolutely love the bottle design – it’s so different from anything else in my current perfume collection and although it took me a few seconds to work out how to stand it up (it was a Monday, my brain was struggling), the test-tube like design looks pretty damn cool.

Currently it’s exclusive to World Duty Free, but it will soon be hitting shelves nationwide so you won’t have to go travelling in order to test it out. They say it has an ‘urban, woody, fresh’ scent to it and although I can’t really work out what they mean by ‘urban’ when it comes to smells, it’s a slightly spicy, yet easy to wear mix.

The top notes are made up of wasabi, mandarin and violet absolute; mid-notes are wet cobblestones (!), orris concrete (um...) and rose absolute; with base notes of vetiver, incense and sandalwood. I think they’ve done a great job at blending a unisex scent here – on me it smells quite fresh with a hint of those woody undertones and on my boyfriend, it definitely comes across as slightly more ‘manly’ without being an overtly male scent.

If you’ve been looking for something new to try that’s slightly different from the usual floral scents, I’d definitely recommend giving this one a try. Just don’t blame me if your boyfriend starts to use it too!

Prices start at £31.20 for a 50ml EDT and go up to £42.20 for the larger 100ml bottle.

*PR sample


Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire lipstick collection

Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire lipsticks
Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire lipsticks
Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire lipsticks
Guerlain La Petite Robe Noire lipstick swatches
I never thought you’d hear me raving about a lipstick scented with perfume, but here you go. It’s happening. Guerlain’s new La Petite Robe Noire lipstick* range brings together a subtle scent of their iconic fruity-floral fragrance, with a buildable, ultra-shiny colour. And for extra cute points, the lipstick case is topped off with an upside-down heart, in keeping with La Petite Robe Noire’s original perfume bottle.

There are twenty shades to choose from, starting with a barely there nude pink and going right through to a deep damson shade. I’ve been testing out Red Heels (a slightly orange-toned red) and Poppy Cap (an orangey-coral) and really love the formula. Both start off with a gentle wash of colour, but can be built up in layers to get something more bold if you want it. Guerlain suggest applying up to three layers for the deepest pigmentation, and I love the idea of being able to customise your lipstick throughout the day without needing loads of brushes or serious makeup skills.

They’re not the most long-lasting of formulas thanks to all the hydrating oils Guerlain have packed in, but what they lack in longevity, they make up for in ease of use and general *need* factor. They do have a slight scent to them, but I haven’t found it overpowering – to be honest, I stop noticing it pretty soon after application.

At the moment, these are a House of Fraser exclusive and will be on sale for £21.50 each. There’s also a range of scented nail polishes to match, at £17.50 each.

Do you like the look of this new collection from Guerlain?

*PR samples



What's in my handbag - the winter edit

What's in my Handbag - the winter edit
Prepare yourselves readers. This isn't going to be one of those lovely sanitized versions of 'What's In My Handbag' - this is the real deal. I've literally taken my bag today, emptied it out and attempted to make the contents look vaguely pretty for the image above.

My handbag of choice at the moment is this very cute, Michael Kors Bedford Crossbody. I love the fact that it's small, it's black and it also seems to stretch to fit in an impressive amount of crap. It was also *reasonably* affordable thanks to an autumnal 35% off code at Harvey Nichols, so I feel minimal guilt about an off-plan bag purchase.

Inside it, I've managed to cram two purses (well, technically one's a card holder but let's not get picky). My pink Aspinal card holder for all the essentials (bank card, Tastecard, various points cards) and also a mini Boden purse for actual cash. This all lives in the same pocket as my trusty Samsung S5 and basically I am completely lost if this part of my bag ever gets emptied/stolen/left behind/whatever.

There's minimal space available to cram in a makeup bag with a bag this size, but a girl's gotta look good, so I throw in my DHC liquid liner (buy one, they're AMAZING), Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara, an under eye concealer and some blotting papers. I keep a sneaky hairbrush and foundation/brush in my drawer at work, so if I'm heading out after I finish I can always touch up my face and avoid looking like a scarecrow without having to carry extra stuff around. There's also my favourite Burberry Kisses lipstick, a Nivea lip balm and a leopard print nail file (no-one likes a snagged nail).

I'm also living the dream with a packet of tissues, because cold weather = runny nose; a cable for my Samsung so I can charge it via my laptop at work; keys and about 17 tampons for some unexplained reason.  Oh and I almost forgot my tube of Lanolips Golden Ointment which is basically the only thing stopping my hands resembling an 80 year old's right now.

So there you have it. My winter handbag. What's in yours right now?


Disappointing products - January 2016

Disappointing beauty products January 2016
It's been a while since my last roundup of disappointing products and after a pretty intense few weeks of testing out various bits and pieces, I've come across a few that, for me, just haven't delivered. Here's my thoughts on why...

Red Carpet One Step Gel Manicure* - I love an at home gel manicure, but it can take a while to apply, so I loved the concept of this quick kit from Red Carpet Manicure which only needs two coats of gel and no base/top coat. The shades are fab, the shine is amazing and it's so easy to use but unfortunately only lasted a few days before the gel colour started peeling off my nails. It's a shame as the idea of a 5 minute gel mani is amazing, but if it doesn't last a minimum of 7 days, it's not really worth the effort of removing it in my eyes. Their original Gel system is absolutely fantastic, so although it's a little more effort initially, I'd recommend buying that one and just setting aside more time to apply it.

Tony Moly Panda's Dream Cooling Eye Stick - Korean brand Tony Moly has some of the cutest packaging I've ever seen and I was totally sucked in by the Panda design on this cooling eye stick. Unfortunately it might be super cute, but it doesn't really deliver much in the way of results (I was hoping for a lot more hydration), so it's something I won't be repurchasing.

L'Oreal Infallible Fixing Mist* - I had such high hopes for this after seeing all the rave reviews on Sephora, but it seems like the formula for the UK version is totally different to that one. The mist itself is very fine, but if you're not careful you can end up with droplets all over your face that end up making your foundation run. It's also a bit sticky to the touch which I'm not a fan of. A friend has also bought this and fed back similar issues - maybe if it was an aerosol rather than a manual pump it'd be better, but this just isn't working for me. Can we please have the US formula L'Oreal?

Benefit They're Real Tinted Lash Primer* - this one's a bit of a 50/50 for me. It's the latest launch in the They're Real lineup, and is designed to be applied before mascara to help prep and condition your lashes. As it's tinted, it offers a nice way to get a very natural lash look without the need for a full on mascara, which for someone with blonde lashes like me, is actually a really nice idea. Where it falls down is when you add mascara over the top. Now, admittedly I wasn't using the matching They're Real mascara suggested by Benefit, but it made my lashes go clumpy, feel quite stiff and brittle and also flaked off a bit throughout the day. I'd quite happily carry on using it on days where I'm at home and don't want to put on 'proper' makeup but it's not something that works for me underneath my mascara. Sorry Benefit!

Have you tried any of these products? What did you think? And have you tried anything recently that disappointed you?

*PR samples


3 natural skincare brands you need to try in 2016

3 natural beauty brands to try this year
As well as making a conscious effort to be more focused on what I actually feed my body, I'm also making a few switchups in my skincare routine to include more natural and organic products. Our skin is the largest organ in our bodies, so what we put on it can have as much a difference as what we put in it. I've picked out three of my favourite natural/organic brands that I reckon are must tries this year  

Oskia – ah…the Renaissance Cleansing Gel *loving eyes*. Oskia are a brand with a bit of a difference. Founder Georgie Cleeve started the brand after witnessing the skincare benefits of MSM, a natural form of organic sulphur, which boosts collagen production, promotes circulation and helps to decrease inflammation in the skin. It’s one of the key ingredients within Oskia products, along with a whole host of other powerful natural extracts. I’ve previously raved about their Super 16 serum, which is amazing for anyone concerned with fine lines and ageing, but if you’re looking for a place to start with Oskia, definitely make it the Renaissance Cleansing Gel. This gel to oil cleanser gets rid of all the daily grime without stripping the skin. In fact, it leaves my skin feeling ridiculously soft and positively glowing, which is quite unusual for a rinse-off product! Prices start at £21 and head up to £80 for the Super 16 serum. You can find Oskia at Space NK, Cult Beauty and the Oskia website.    

Madara – I was introduced to Latvian brand Madara last year and had the privilege of meeting Lotte, one of the founders of the company. Their ECOCERT registered products all focus on the benefits of plants from across the northern Scandinavian regions, and they do a huge amount of research into the scientific effectiveness of each of the ingredients. It’s a great combination of nature meeting science with some very impressive results. I am fully obsessed with their Radiant Energy Face Oil, which is amazing for anyone with dull, dehydrated winter skin. It makes a great night treatment (you’ll wake up glowing) but can also be used in the mornings as the oil has a dryish finish to it. The Protecting Hand Cream is also well worth a purchase – the northern Plum and Linden Flower extracts get to work on dry, chapped hands and help moisturise brittle nails. Prices start from about £10 for the hand cream and go up to about £45 for the oils and treatments. Buy direct via the Madara website, Love Lula or Naturismo.

Antipodes – if you buy one thing from this cult Antipodean brand, make it the Worship Superfruit Antioxidant Serum. It’s not often you see immediate results from a skincare product, but I saw a noticeable difference in brightness and radiance from day one with this. It’s water-based, so works well for all skin types, just add some extra moisturiser on top if you’re dry or dehydrated. Antipodes products are almost all certified organic with 100% natural ingredients and use carefully selected bioactive ingredients which have been proven to help promote youthful skin. I’ve yet to try something from the brand I haven’t loved – the Delight hand and body cream is a repeat purchase for me and their Mineral Foundation is one of the most natural looking I’ve found. Prices range from about £16 to £40 and can be found at Selfridges, Feel Unique and Beauty Bay.

What are your favourite natural and organic beauty brands?



January giveaway: win a £25 beauty gift card

Beauty gift card giveaway
January can be a bit of a depressing month what with the Christmas comedown, general crappy weather and potentially failing New Year resolutions. Pay day currently seems a loooooong way off, so I figured we could all do with a treat.

I'm giving one reader the chance to win a £25 beauty gift card for the shop of their choice. It's entirely up to you if you'd prefer a little high end haul from Space NK, Selfridges or Harvey Nichols; or maybe a high street one from Boots or Superdrug. It just needs to be a shop that ships to your country and that I'm able to order via the UK.

To enter, all you need to do is complete your chosen entry methods using the Rafflecopter widget below. Entries are open internationally and will close at 11.59pm GMT on Sunday 14th February. One winner will be picked at random shortly afterwards and contacted directly to claim thier prize.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Bargain beauty: 3 of the best from Essence

Budget beauty: 3 of the best products from Essence
Budget beauty: 3 of the best products from Essence
Budget beauty: 3 of the best products from Essence
Despite having a bit of a thing for high end lipsticks, I do love a good beauty bargain. And they don’t get much more bargainous than Essence. It’s hard to find a product over a fiver in their entire range, and their stands are always a point of call for me any time I go near a Wilko. I’ve picked out three of my top product picks, so if you’ve not tried the brand before, or aren’t sure where to start, you really can’t go wrong with one of these.

The Gel Polish – with over 40 shades to choose from, you’re guaranteed to find something that floats your boat. The formula of these gel effect polishes is super glossy, reasonably quick to dry and lasts really well when used with their gel effect top coat. I rarely get more than 2 days wear out of a normal polish, but these usually last 3-4 days on me and for £1.60 each I’d recommend stocking up.

All About…Eyeshadow Palettes – budget eye shadow palettes are becoming a big thing, especially with companies like Makeup Revolution on the scene. Essence have a much smaller range, but the two I’ve tried are perfect for everyday use. Each palette features eight shades of eye shadow – I have 02, which has a more traditional nude range and the 01 with a stronger focus on bronze tones. I love the fact that these are a bit smaller than many of their competitors; you might get slightly less product but it’s actually the perfect size to keep in your on the go makeup bag. They’re lovely and soft, blend really well and not too glittery despite consisting of mainly shimmery shades. £4

Sheer and Shine Lipstick  - a decent lippie from a budget brand is a hard thing to find – I’ve tried so many with horrible waxy finishes and weird tastes to them. The Sheer and Shine range from Essence give a sheer wash of colour to the lips, with a hydrating formula you can wear all day. 06 Frosted is my favourite shade at the moment as it’s one of those ‘my lips but better’ lippies you can chuck on without a mirror and not worry about smearing colour all over your face. That said, they do have 11 other shades to choose from, so there are plenty of choices if you want something a little more colourful. £2

What are your favourite products from Essence?


Hair: strobing at Charles Worthington

Hair: colour strobing at Chalres Worthington London
Hair: colour strobing at Chalres Worthington London
Charles Worthington drinks and refreshements
Hair: colour strobing at Chalres Worthington London in progress
Strobing in progress...
Hair: colour strobing at Chalres Worthington London
Hair: colour strobing at Chalres Worthington London
And after!
Strobing has been a hot topic in makeup over the past few months. A bit of a new take on contouring, it removes any need for the darker, sculpting shades and instead focuses on heavy amounts of highlighter to help your skin glow.

The team at Charles Worthington in London have taken this one step further and have started to offer a bespoke colour service that works on the same principles as makeup strobing - a custom blend of highlights are used to frame the face and hit where the light would naturally reflect. I absolutely loved the concept when I heard about it at a recent press day, so headed down to their Percy Street salon to see how it would work in practice.

I sat down with the lovely Johanne, one of their creative colour experts, for a consultation. Each strobing session is unique to the individual - different shades are used based on your skin tone, your natural hair colour and hair style. Johanne used a colour chart to see whether I was best suited to cool or warmer tones (cool tones for me) and then gently lightened very fine sections around the front quarter of my hair. A toner was applied afterwards to soften the highlights and add a slightly minky tone to them.

The overall aim is to get a really natural finish that leaves you looking more radiant - both your hair and your skin. It doesn't look obviously highlighted, instead it's more like a sunkissed, post-holiday finish.  I left the salon with a lovely swishy blow dry, feeling rather fabulous.

If you're looking for a subtle colour change and want something that will lift your complexion, I'd highly recommend trying the strobing service. I've been really impressed with how natural it looks, yet still different enough to make me feel like I've had my hair done.

Prices start at £70 (based on your stylist) and can be booked directly with the Charles Worthington salon.

*I also want to mention their fantastic refreshment policy, where for a charge of £2, you get as many drinks and snacks as you like from their seasonal menu. Very handy for when you're in the chair for several hours! The same policy *may* have been responsible for my Dry January fail, but never mind. Ahem.*

*appointment provided free of charge, would quite happily have paid for it myself. It's awesome.


MUJI DIY sheet masks

Muji DIY sheet masks
Sheet masks have been a hot topic in skincare for a while now. Originally hailing from Korea, their unusual appearance makes them look like they're more suited to a horror film than a quiet pamper night at home!

Appearances aside, sheet masks are a great way to infuse the skin with all sorts of skin-loving ingredients. At their base, they're just a giant sheet of paper with some eye/nose/mouth holes cut out (incredibly attractive) slathered in a high quality serum or cream. 

For a single use product, they can often seem a little pricey, but Muji have made it easy to make your own at home with their fantastic Compressed Face Masks.

These clever little things are essentially empty sheet masks which can work with any runny skincare product - just add a few pumps to the rolled up mask and unravel it to reveal a full sized sheet mask. You can load it up with toner, serum or even try your favourite face oil. Then simply pop it on your face, sit back and relax for 20 minutes and enjoy a bit of me time.

I've been loving playing around with these. It's been a bit of trial and error with products as I've found the mask needs to be quite wet to unroll and apply well, so don't use anything too heavy or sticky. A hydrating serum is currently my favourite - perfect for plumping up dehydrated winter skin. You do need to be quite generous with how much product you use - you're aiming for the mask to feel quite wet rather than just damp. 

The sheet masks work out to about 30p each (slightly cheaper if you buy the pack of 20), and come in packs of 5 and larger packs of 20. You can find them in Muji stores, tucked away with all the beauty accessories.

Do you like the look of these sheet masks from Muji?


Sponsored posts and PR samples - how far do you trust bloggers?

Bloggers, pr samples and sponsored posts. Do you trust them?
Sponsored posts and PR samples have always been a bit of a contentious subject in the blogging world. For a huge number of blogs, these make up a large proportion of their content source and I’ve often considered whether that has any impact on how our readers feel about our content. Does disclosing the fact that you feature lots of PR samples make you seem less trustworthy? Is content that has been paid for always looked at with a slightly cynical view and an air of disbelief?

I ran a quick Twitter poll earlier this week to try and understand more about you feel about PR samples and sponsored posts. Reassuringly, 52% of you said that you’d trust us bloggers to be honest when we’re dealing with both sponsored posts and PR samples. On the flip side, 22% of people answered that they don’t trust either – preferring to believe in reviews on products that had been purchased directly by the blogger.

I’d like to think that people read blogs to get honest reviews/thoughts/opinions on things – whether that’s the latest lipstick launches or a rather fabulous pair of shoes. But it seems there’s definitely some wariness around how trustworthy our opinions are when we’ve been given ‘free’ product or paid to feature something specific. There’s a concern that we’re overly positive about products we haven’t bought ourselves in order to please the brands and PRs that we work with, but after speaking to several PR teams, they’ve all said that they’re happy to hear negative points or constructive feedback. Of course, no one wants to hear their product totally slated, but if the bottle design just isn’t working, or you feel it’s a better fit for a different skin type, they want to know – it helps make their products better in the long run.

Kirstie (@behindthescent) made an interesting point: ‘I trust PR sample reviews if it's a longer post and has positives and negatives. A lot of people post a single paragraph.’ Lots of you seemed to agree that balance is important: ‘I usually trust more bloggers that also talk about the negative sides of a PR sample product or the object of the sponsored’ (_sarapags) although some felt that all positive reviews are fine: (@april_todd) ‘I trust them, I know how much stuff bloggers are sent, too much to feature everything so I trust they've featured the best.’

Many of you said that you only trust a select number of bloggers and tend to read their blogs religiously, avoiding others that you feel aren’t always honest. Blogs that don’t disclose payment or PR samples were also met with scepticism – it seems that being up front is definitely preferred (and in most cases, required by the ASA).

Sadly there do seem to be certain cases where opinions can be bought – a few people who work in blogger outreach confirmed that a minority of bloggers are happy to promise a positive review in exchange for payment, with others only agreeing to feature lower value items if there’s money involved.

From my point of view, I’ve always been very up front about disclosing which products have been sent to me for review and anything I’ve been paid to talk about. Everything is treated equally, whether I bought it myself or it was sent to me to try out. I don’t have a never ending budget to stay on top of all the new releases, so PR samples are a fantastic source of content for me, but if I genuinely hate a product, it’s unlikely it’ll ever see the light of day in a blog post. If something isn’t for me, but I feel it has redeeming qualities for other people (different hair/skin types etc) I’ll include it, but it will be a balanced review with positive and negative points.

I guess we all have to make our own judgements on how to handle these kinds of things and each blog is different, but without a trusting reader base, what are you really left with? I’m all for people making money from their blogs (and would actively encourage it), but it needs to be done with integrity. There are so many great ways to collaborate with brands without being all ‘OMG THIS IS AMAZING’ all of the time – save it for the really good products you really can’t live without.

How do you feel about sponsored posts and PR samples? Do you trust bloggers to give you honest reviews and features? What makes you trust certain bloggers over others? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

*PR sample (*jokes*)



Secret Santa with Gemporia

Gemporia secret santa
Christmas might be a long forgotten dream, so please forgive the mention for the words *secret santa* in this post (illness and the Christmas break has meant I’m a tiny bit behind schedule!). The lovely people at Gemporia set me a task just before Christmas to pick out an item from their amazing array of jewellery for the lovey Samio (see what I chose for her here) and to expect a shiny little parcel for my very own secret santa gift.

Secret Santa has bad connotations for me. In our various office ones, I’ve received slightly offensive mugs, boring joke books and all kinds of useless crap that goes in the bin as soon as I take it home. However, this was a secret santa like no other – Gemporia have so many beautiful pieces to choose from, so a surprise delivery was always going to appeal to my inner magpie.

Samio did a fantastic job at picking something out for me. This gold vermeil necklace with delicate charms on the end is exactly the sort of style I’d have chosen for myself and it’s the perfect length to layer up with other necklaces or just wear alone for a more simple look. It’s also less than £50, so really affordable but good quality at the same time.

Thanks again to Gemporia and Samio for my lovely gift. It’s definitely the best secret santa present I’ve ever had!

What’s been your best/worst secret santa present over the years?



Lifestyle: more things for pineapple addicts

pineapple homewares
You'd have thought by now that my pineapple homeware addiction would be wearing off, but you'd be completely wrong (see my first post on my pineapple collection here). There's no such thing as too many pineapples. If, like me, you're a bit of a pineapple addict, I've rounded up my top picks of pineapple things you need in your life right now.

Laura Ashley's pineapple lamp (top left) is pretty much the lamp of dreams in my books. Add in the fact that it's currently on sale (about £54 for the smaller lamp) and it's a no brainer. M&S have also entered the pineapple lamp game with their rather lovely glass-based Puerto lamp. Is it wrong to buy both? Hell no.

There are a wealth of pineapple shaped pots and candle holders out there at the moment. TK Maxx is always a good place to shop for cheap pineapples, as is H&M, whose home section really is a pineapple shaped/copper things money sucker. Their glass jars (centre) come in silver or gold and would be perfect to store cotton wool, rings or other small trinkets. John Lewis has a beautiful large gold pineapple that mimics the super expensive vintage brass ones, so is a great option if you love that particular style.

Other favourites include this kitsch drinks tray from Graham & Greene, Oliver Bonas' salt and pepper shakers (so cute!) and H&M's gold pineapple print cushion cover.

To top it all off, Estella Barlett has created a dainty gold-plated pineapple necklace, so you can carry through your pineapple addiction to your outfits without looking like a bad Hawaiian shirt.

Pineapples all round!



Esthechoc - the chocolate that's good for your skin?

Esthechoc beauty supplement

January. The time of new resolutions, slightly tighter waistbands (thanks Christmas) and the regret at finishing that giant tub of Miniature Heroes to yourself on Boxing Day. Like a lot of people, I’ve been trying to make healthier choices this year, including cutting back on my much loved chocolate.

But it’s not all doom and gloom thanks to Esthechoc, who have given me the perfect excuse to eat my favourite treat on a daily basis over the next few weeks. Esthechoc is a special kind of chocolate – inside the 72% dark chocolate is a potent combination of Astaxanthin (the most powerful antioxidant known to science) and cocoa flavanols. Together these promise to increase the level of antioxidants in the skin, raising its oxygen level and microcirculation, having a positive impact on ageing.

Normally you’d have to eat 100g (over 500 calories) of good quality dark chocolate to get similar sorts of benefits, whereas with Esthechoc, you only have to eat a single 7.5g (38 calories) bar per day. I’m normally quite sceptical about edible supplements – so many get destroyed in your stomach before they can actually do any good, so I’ll be testing out Esthechoc over the next few weeks and updating the post with my final thoughts.

Initial impressions are good though. First up, the chocolate is lovely, so munching away on a piece per day isn’t going to be hard going for me. It’s quite dark (70% cocoa), so if you normally prefer milk, it’s a definite change of palette, but one that’s well worth getting on board with. The chocoholic in me could probably eat half a dozen of these in one go as the pieces are quite small, so I do have to remind myself that it’s not meant to be a regular treat, but more like part of my vitamin regime! You do need to be quite regimented and eat it daily for at least three weeks in order to start seeing results, so I’m setting a reminder on my phone to make sure I don’t miss any days.

Esthechoc is exclusive to Harrods and costs £35 for a 3 week supply. I’ll update the post with my final verdict after completing my 3 week course, but if you have any questions you’d like answered in the meantime, just let me know via the comments below.

*Written in collaboration with Esthechoc


Glossybox January 2016

Glossybox January 2016 contents and review
Glossybox January 2016 contents and review
Glossybox have kicked off the new year with a 'Year of More' themed box. It's a steer away from the usual 'new year, new me' stuff we've seen so many times before and I've been really impressed with what they've added to this month's line up.

There are 4 full-sized products included as well as one very generous travel size and it's good to see a decent mix of makeup and skincare.

Madara are fast becoming one of my favourite natural beauty brands (look out for more info on them in an upcoming blog post). The Cellular Repair Serum is part of their anti-ageing range, so might not appeal to younger subscribers, however the effects sound quite impressive, so I shall be adding this one into my daily regime. It's a trial sized tube as the full-size costs £47, but you've easily got enough for 10-14 days of use.

Unani is a brand I've never heard of before, but a quick Google tells me that they're Spanish and focus on natural and organic products. The Dermo Defense Face Mask nourishes and hydrates and is packed full of soothing aloe vera.

Naobay have been featured in previous Glossyboxes, and are another natural/organic brand (I'm sensing a theme here Glossybox!). The Orange Juice Hand Cream is lovely and hydrating, smells absolutely gorgeous and will last for ages as the tube is 100ml. Perfect for those horrible winter chapped hands.

Makeup-wise, there's a Glossybox brand eye shadow in a very wearable grey shade and a very pretty coral lipstick from teeez. Again, it's not a brand I'm familiar with, but I love the unusual packaging on the outside of the lipstick and the shade is one that I think will appeal to a wide audience.

I'm looking forward to seeing what the February Glossybox brings; I was a little disappointed with some of their boxes last year so I'm hoping that 2016 will see them really focusing on interesting products from a wide range of brands, both well known and niche.

Glossybox costs £12.95 per month and can be ordered via the Glossybox website, What do you think of this month's Glossybox?

*PR sample


Nail art made easy: OPI Color paints

OPI Colour paints review and swatchesOPI Colour paints review and swatches
You guys seemed to love my Christmas nails when I posted them on Instagram, but I can’t take credit for being some sort of secret nail art wizard. Instead, it’s all down to OPI’s Color Paints, which are ridiculously simple to use but give the most amazing effect. And you need them in your life. Promise.

The Color Paints are semi-sheer polishes that layer up over a silver chrome base to create a stained glass effect on the nails. You can buy full-size bottles if you really want to invest in them, but I’d recommend going for the much cheaper, more flexible minis kit as it gives you access to the chrome base coat and five of the Color Paint shades.

Give your nails a reasonably thick coat of the chrome – it doesn’t need to be perfect as you’ll be adding colours on top – and wait for it to dry. Then add your chosen shades in splodges or rough stripes, allowing each colour to dry before adding the next. Add a top coat for a glossy finish and you’re all set!

They work best when you remove most of the product off of the brush before applying. This helps to keep each shade sheer and stop the polish being too thick. Ideally you’ll end up with small areas that have two or three shades that meet – this gives that lovely stained glass effect and really adds to the finished look.

I like to use plenty of the yellow shade when I do mine as it helps stop the nails looking too dark, but there are hundreds of combinations you can run with. Each nail will look slightly different, so it’s not one to try if you have to have a totally uniform finish to your nails, but it’s very eye catching and looks so much harder than it is!

OPI Color Paints cost £16.95 for the minis set and can be found at Nail Polish Direct.



5 things you can do with your unwanted beauty products

5 things to do with unwanted beauty products
I love a good clear out; it's amazing how many things you discover that you'd forgotten about! Some definitely go back in the 'keep' pile, but what do you do with the ones you no longer want? I've put together my top 5 suggestions for things you can do with your unwanted beauty products.

First up, check to see if they've expired - every product has its own type of expiry date (look for the little pot symbol on the packaging and it will give you a number), so check through everything you'd like to get rid of and see if there's anything that needs to go in the bin. If it's changed texture, smells a bit funny or doesn't quite look right, throw it away regardless of the expiry date.

Contact your local women's shelter or homeless charity - if you have new or nearly new products (something you'd pass along to a friend and be happy for them to use) then chances are they can go to a new home with someone who is in need. Speak to your local homeless shelter or women’s refuge over the phone to see if they’d be happy to receive donations of products. Many people arrive at these centres with literally nothing, so it’s a great way to help if they have the capacity to receive them. Give & Makeup is a fantastic organisation to start with if you’re not sure who to contact – they help centres in different locations across the UK.

Think up a new use for them – that conditioner that turned out to be rubbish? Try using it as shaving cream. The mascara you hated? Rinse off the wand and use it as a lash separator. There are loads of different ways to use products you might not necessarily have thought of, so a non-performer doesn’t always have to go straight in the bin!

Return those empty pots! – companies like MAC and LUSH reward customers with free products every time they return a set number of empty containers, so if you’re having a clear out, make sure you check to see if there’s anything worth keeping that can be traded in.

Sell them/Pass them on to friends – for unwanted gifts and brand new products, places like eBay and Depop are a good place to start. There are also lots of groups on Facebook that deal with beauty swaps, which are well worth joining if you’d consider trading your unwanted products instead of looking for cash. Spring and summer are also a great time for local boot sales. I try to time a massive declutter of my house in time for one of these – it’s a great way to get rid of unwanted clothes, books, nail polish etc, just be prepared to sell them for quite small amounts. And don't forget friends and family - I always keep a box of goodies aside that I think they'll enjoy, ready to pass on next time I see them.

What do you normally do with your unwanted products? 


Kiko Campus Idol collection review

Kiko Campus Idol collection review and swatches
Kiko Campus Idol collection review and swatches
Kiko Campus Idol collection review and swatches
Kiko Campus Idol collection review and swatches
The spring collections are starting to hit the shops as we speak. I just wish the weather had decided to follow suit! Kiko’s new Campus Idol collection has just launched and features a huge selection of products, all with an American College feel to the packaging.

When I saw the initial press release for Campus Idol, I absolutely loved the look of the All Stars Face Palette as it seemed like a great three in one compact for bronzing, highlighting and blusher. Unfortunately, this has turned out to be the piece I actually like the least – the shades are too warm for me and they feel a little chalky to the touch. £14.90

On the other hand, I was expecting to hate the Urban Sheen lip gloss (general lip gloss hater over here), but these are totally different from what I was expecting and I absolutely love them! Rather than being your usual liquid gloss, these come in a chunky pencil format  and give the lips a lovely wash of colour with just a hint of gloss to them. They feel  like a slightly smaller version of Clinique’s Chubby Sticks and are perfect for popping in your handbag to wear throughout the day. There are six shades to choose from, including an almost not-there pink, a bolder red and some very wearable plum-pinks. You can layer them up for slightly more pigmentation if you like and at £4.90 each, I think these will be a big hit.

Kiko’s eye shadow sticks are always fantastic, so it’s good to see they’ve added some to this collection. These ones are double-ended and feature a kohl liner at one end and a shadow stick at the other. They’re great for lazy days when you just want to add a slick of colour to your lids – I’ll be hunting down one of the more nude shades (obvs) to add to my handbag. £7.90

Also in the range are some ridiculously soft and fluffy powder brushes, a 6 shade neutral shadow palette, brow kit and mascara. It’s not my favourite Kiko collection if I’m honest, but there are a few gems here that are well worth a purchase.

You can find the Campus Idol collection at Kiko stores nationwide and via their website.

What do you think of the new collection from Kiko?

*PR samples



The best products of 2015 - mid range and luxury

Top high end beauty products of 2015
It still feels like Christmas to me (I'm refusing to let go) despite the fact we're now well underway in January! Following on from yesterday's post on my top budget beauty products of 2015, I've pulled together my favourites from the higher end price bracket. Apologies to your bank balances in advance...

Aurelia Skincare Cell Revitalise Night Moisturiser* - if you suffer with dry or dehydrated skin, make this night cream from Aurelia your new BFF. It feels quite rich to the touch, but sinks in quickly and will leave you with THE softest skin. It's also free from parabens, mineral oils, silicones, sulphates and a whole host of other less desirable ingredients. £42

Dermalogica Redness Relief Primer* - I'd never finished a primer until I came across this one. I'm now on my third tube! Most green-toned primers end up leaving a slight green tinge to the skin, but this one miraculously disappears once applied to the skin but still manages to reduce the appearance of redness. £38.50

Sunday Riley Luna Oil* - there's been a lot of hype around Luna which may put some people off, but I promise you it's well deserved. The gentle retinols in this unusual blue oil work their magic overnight to leave you with fresher, brighter looking skin in just a few days. £85

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser - foaming cleansers have tended to be a no-no for me for years until I discovered this one from Fresh. It's very gentle, won't dry your skin out and is lovely to use first thing in the morning in the shower. I was originally given a bottle as a PR sample, but have bought this again and again myself, which really is a testament to how good it is! £30

DHC liquid liner - another year and another mention for this bad boy. If you like to wear eye liner and don't have this in your makeup bag, you're missing out. It's hands down the best one I've ever used down to it's deep black colour, flexible felt pen nib and that fact it never seems to dry out. £16

Urban Decay Gwen Stefani palette* - Urban Decay's most recent palette has proved to be a huge success and although it's a limited edition, I believe there are still a few in stock on various sites (buy one quick!). The selection of nude/gold shades are so easy to wear and the few pops of colour they added in makes it just that little bit different. £40

Burberry Kisses - as you may be able to tell, I have a bit of a thing for creamy formula lipsticks. My own personal obsession aside, Burberry Kisses are an absolute treat to use as they hydrate the lips while offering a decent colour pay off and are one of the few brands that actually make a decent light pink nude shade (033 Rose Pink - LOVE IT). £25

NARS Stephen Klein Despair palette* - the packaging on this collection was definitely a Marmite one (I absolutely loved it), but I don't think anyone can deny the products themselves are a complete winner. I've got so much use out of this palette over the past couple of months that I wish I'd bought a back up! *shakes fist at limited editions*

Goldfaden MD Fleuressence Face Oil* - this has a somewhat eye-twitching price tag, but oh my god is it good. There's a whole host of different oils packed in to each bottle, pumping the skin full off Omega fatty acids and vitamins A, C and E. It's also non-greasy, so you can use it any time of day. £105

Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara - you know a product is good when you refuse to buy any other. If you want big lashes with minimal effort, chuck on a couple of coats of this and you'll never want to go back to your old mascara. It can be a little wet initially, so make sure you wiggle the wand when you apply to avoid any clumps. £19

What were your favourite high end products in 2015?


The best products of 2015 - the budget edition

top budget beauty products of 2015
It's that time of year again where I pull together all of my favourite products from the past year and round them up in a couple of huge posts. This year I'm taking a slightly different approach and not splitting them out by type, but focusing on price instead. Today's post features all the budget favourites I've loved this year (each one coming in about £20 or less) and later this week I'll be focusing on the mid-range and high end ones.

CoLab Dry Shampoo - I've raved about CoLab before - it's honestly the best dry shampoo I've ever tried. The original formula will leave you with fresh feeling, non-greasy hair without any trace of that tell-tale grey tinge that many dry shampoos leave behind. £3.49

Sukin Rosehip Hydrating Day Cream* – Sukin were a new discovery for me this year and I’m absolutely loving their Rosehip Day Cream. The Australian skincare brand packs in loads skin-friendly natural ingredients at affordable prices. The Day Cream is lightweight yet hydrating and the giant 120ml tub is a total bargain at about £20.

Garnier BB Cream Extra Light* – this has been a relatively recent addition to my makeup bag, but I can already see myself repurchasing it in a few weeks’ time. It’s so hard to find a shade match in BB creams when you’re ghost white, and this one is perfect. £9.99

L'Oreal Blake's Pink (La Vie En Rose Lipstick Collection)* – Blake’s Red has been a permanent fixture in my makeup bag over the past year, so when the Pink collection launched, I suspected I might find a new favourite in Blake’s Pink. It’s the perfect balance between an every day wearable shade and a bright pop of colour and the creamy formula is easy to wear for hours on end.

OPI Colour Paints – I’ll be doing a full post on these soon after receiving lots of comments on Instagram. They’re such an easy way to get a great looking nail art look with minimal effort. The set of minis is great value as you get the silver chrome base coat and then five semi-sheer shades to layer over the top. £16.95

The Body Shop Vitamin C Glow Boosting Moisturiser* – this zingy moisturiser from The Body Shop was my saviour throughout the summer as it gave my combination skin *just* the right amount of moisture in the warmer weather. The vitamin C boost is also great for adding radiance – a bit like a Berocca for your face! £16

Lush Yuzu & Cocoa Shower Cream – shower gel that smells like a fruity chocolate orange? Yes please! If you’ve not tried this scent from Lush before, rectify it immediately. Just don’t blame me if you end up wanting to lick yourself  after you use it. From £4.95

ColourPop Eye shadows – fingers crossed that 2015 is the year that ColourPop come to the UK as their eye shadows are AMAZING. The formula is super pigmented, lasts forever on the lids and they only cost $5 each. At the moment you’ll need a friend in the US to ship them to you, but I’m hoping they’ll be shipping to the UK later this year.

La Roche Posay Toleriane Cleanser – this is always my top recommendation for anyone with sensitive skin. It removes all traces of makeup and cleanses the skin without stripping away natural oils or irritating it. £12.50

Kiko Lips & Eyes makeup remover – Kiko’s makeup is always spot on, but their skincare range definitely needs a shout out too! This bi-phase remover dissolves even the thickest mascara in just seconds without any stinging eyes or greasy residue. It’s a permanent fixture in my bathroom! £5.90

What have been your favourite budget products this year?

*PR samples


Fitness: my top tips on getting started and finding your perfect exercise match

Exercise top tips with Sweaty BettyExercise top tips with Sweaty Betty
Exercise top tips with Sweaty Betty
After being a bit of a couch potato for the past couple of years, I recently decided it was high time to get my backside in gear and get back to exercising. For me, exercise isn’t about weight loss (although I AM attempting to get slightly less wobbly in certain places) but it’s about feeling strong, fit and generally more healthy. When you sit at a desk all day long, it’s easy to go throughout the whole day without really moving, and the cold and rainy winter weather makes it all too easy to sit at home and hibernate with a massive bowl of carbs at night (#carblover).

I wanted to share a few of my tips on finding an exercise regime you can fall in love with. Or if falling in love seems a bit of a stretch at the moment, finding one that makes you feel good after you’ve done it.

Commit to 20 minutes – getting started is normally the hardest part about exercising. I have a lot of procrastination skills that somehow all pop up when it’s time to get my sports bra on! If I’m really not in the mood, I tell myself to just do 20 minutes. Whether that’s at the gym, with a quick 30 Day Shred session in the living room or even just a brisk walk out in the local park, by the time 20 minutes is up, I’m usually in the rhythm of it and happy to do a little more. And if you’re not, well then at least you’ve done 20 minutes, which is better than nothing!

Try lots of different things to find the exercise you love – I have THE world’s shortest attention span and a visit to the gym literally bores me senseless. So when I decided to start exercising again, I wanted something that gave me lots of variety, without having to pound miles on a treadmill. I’ve been using ClassPass for the past couple of months and have found it to be an amazing way to try lots of new workouts, without having to join loads of different gyms/studios. It basically allows you to access hundreds of different dance/fitness/barre/spin studios across London, all for one monthly fee. At the moment it’s a US/London only scheme, but I’m hoping they expand it to larger cities across the UK very soon. If you live outside of London, why not see what classes near to you offer trial offers or sample classes – test out a few different ones and find those that you love doing the best. If you can find a type of exercise that feels fun, then it definitely makes it more enjoyable, even if you’re looking like a sweaty tomato (I’m looking at you Barrecore).

Invest in some good workout gear – I used to do my workouts in a pair of old leggings and a baggy t-shirt that I’d decided was no longer fit for wearing day to day, but it didn’t make me feel good during my workouts. So instead, I’ve made a commitment and invested in some quality workout gear that might be more expensive, but not only do I look forward to actually wearing it, it’s also designed to work with my body while I workout. Sweaty Betty's workout leggings* are amazing for everything from running to yoga – not only do they wick away sweat, but they feel soooo comfy when they’re on and they don’t create that dreaded camel toe that can happen with some leggings. Also, the pattern makes such a nice change from traditional black workout trousers! I rotate between a heavy duty sports bra for things like running/spin/box fit and this softer pink bra top* for yoga/pilates/barre (it comes with enough padding to make you feel secure) and love a slouchier t-shirt (this one is super soft) over the top.

Get outside – yes it’s cold, yes it’s winter, but don’t let that stop you getting outside. I am a huge fan of autumn/winter and cold, crisp days are perfect for a long walk outside (pub pit stop optional) or a misty morning run in the fallen leaves. Make sure you wrap up warm, but take lightweight layers you can peel off if you start to get a bit hot.

It doesn’t have to be expensive – there are so many ways to work out without costing a fortune. Whether it’s a DVD in your lounge or a jog around the local park. People like Tone It Up and The Body Coach are great for free You Tube plans to follow – I’ve spent many a session at home doing one of Joe’s HIIT workouts and let me tell you, 20-25 minutes is plenty! If you plan to do lots of workouts at home, then it might be worth investing in a yoga/floor mat and some hand weights, but there are lots of body weight exercises (think mountain climbers, squats, planks, press ups) that need nothing at all and are just as good for fitness and toning.

I’d love to hear about your favourite fitness classes or top tips for working out at home – let me know in the comments below, or Tweet me over at @talesofpaleface.

*PR samples



Goals for 2016

My goals for 2016
New Year’s Resolutions have never sat very well with me – like a lot of people, I follow them with good intentions for half of January and then have a habit of forgetting them pretty quickly. Over the past few months, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to some personal goals I want to focus on for the next year or so and while I won’t be waking up on 1st January going ‘right, let’s get all of these bad boys checked off the list asap’ they’re longer term things for me to think about and focus on. Writing about them here also helps to make me a little more accountable – if you’d be interested in hearing updates throughout the year, let me know. And I’d love to hear about any goals or resolutions you’re setting yourself for the year ahead.

1. Happiness is the key – the older I get, the more I realise that happiness really is a state of mind. It’s possible to see positive things in virtually any situation if you set your mind to it and I want to make a conscious effort towards positivity. It also means cutting out negative things, so there are certain people I suspect I may begin to see less of and activities I no longer do. I want to focus my energies on the people and things that I love less on those that I don’t.

2. Travel to three new places – a combination of work and life things meant I didn’t manage to squeeze in a lot of trips I’d hoped to do this year, so I’m setting myself a goal of travelling more over the next 12 months. I’d love to discover more of the beautiful places within the UK as well as abroad – Amsterdam and Northern Italy are both featuring very high on my wanderlust list at the moment!

3. Photograph more things and be in more photos - since starting this blog I've taken thousands of photos and learnt an awful lot about creating my own photography style and how to shoot a semi-decent image. My main mission for 2016 is to get more confident on the manual settings of my cameras and to try to be more creative with my images. I'm also setting myself a challenge to be IN more of my photos - I'm rather camera shy so tend to avoid it normally, but I think it's great to be able to look back on various points of your life and see how things have changed, so expect to see a little more of my face on the blog this year.

4. Think health, not weight - for many years I've allowed a number on a scale to determine how I feel about myself and this year I'm looking to make some serious changes. I want to move away from all the numbers and instead focus on putting good, healthy foods into my body and exercise regularly every week. I'm trying lots of new exercise classes to find a few favourites that I know I'll enjoy. It shouldn't be a chore, after all!

5. Learn to relax! I have to hold my hands up and admit to being completely rubbish at relaxing. Those chilled Netflix Sundays you all love? They make me antsy. I always feel like there's something else I should be doing and I can't sit still long enough to enjoy it. Over Christmas you might have noticed a bit of a quiet spell from me in terms of blog posts. I've never really taken a proper break in the 3 years I've been writing this blog and the self-imposed pressure to post content daily, along with my day job, general life stuff and Christmas all got a bit much in the run up to Christmas and I had a mini melt down. So I took a week off, closed my emails, barely visited social media and felt MUCH better for it. So in 2016 I'm making sure I take a bit more time for myself - a long walk in the countryside with a cheeky pub lunch has become my new way to switch off. There'll still be lots of new content coming your way but I'll be mixing it up a little more with a few lifestyle posts and maybe even a healthy recipe or two. And if there's anything specific you'd love to see, just let me know!

What are your goals for 2016?
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