Fragrance: Liz Earle Botanical Essence No.9

Liz Earle Botanical No.9 fragrance review
I'm on a bit of a fragrance 'thing' at the moment. I don't know if it's the change in seasons, or just a general whim, but I literally can't get enough perfume right now!

Although Liz Earle are traditionally known for their skincare range, one of my favourites from the brand has always been their fragrances. It's a reasonably small collection, but every single one smells unique and there are some absolutely cracking botanical-based scents to choose from.

Botanical Essence No.9 is the latest addition, and has been described by them as 'a traditional chypre fragrance with dark forest fruits'. Now, to my less trained nose, this roughly translates to a scent that's fresh, with fruity overtones and just a hint of floral to it.

The fragrance initially starts with top notes of blackcurrant bud, bergamot and red ginger, before revealing heart notes of osmanthus, Damask Rose and Patchouli and base notes of Haitian vetiver and vanilla.

It's a lovely warm scent that I can see working really well for this time of year. The berry notes help to keep it quite light and yet there's a woody, autumnal dry down at the end that feels quite sensual. It's an EDP, so lasts for a good few hours on the skin and at £49 for a 50ml bottle, it's reasonably priced in-line with their skincare products.

My normal go-to scent from Liz Earle has always been the Botanical Essence No.100, but I've been swapping out for this one over the past few weeks and I think I might have found a new favourite! The heavy glass bottle and ombre design also really appeal to me - it's good to see something a little different from Liz Earle while still sticking to their own very simple design.

You can find Botanical Essence No.9 at all Liz Earle stockists and online via their website.

Are you a fan of Liz Earle fragrances? Which one's your favourite?

*contains PR samples


Getting Wild About Fall With Dolce & Gabbana

Dolce & Gabbana Wild about fall makeup collection review and swatches
Dolce & Gabbana Wild about fall makeup collection review and swatches
Dolce & Gabbana Wild about fall makeup collection review and swatches - eye shadow quad
Dolce & Gabbana Wild about fall makeup collection review and swatches
Dolce & Gabbana Wild about fall makeup collection review and swatches - lipsticks
Confession time: I am a *teeny* bit obsessed with Dolce & Gabbana’s autumn makeup collection. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the summer collection and its bright pops of colour, but the fall lineup is just so wearable.

This season they’ve gone for a collection that’s all about the autumn colours of a Sicilian landscape. Everything feels very earthy, warm and cosy, offset by some luxe gold packaging that really gives it a high end feel.

I know I’m not alone when it comes to an out of hand addiction with nude eye shadow palettes, so the Enchanting Fall quad from D&G is a nice twist on the traditional, blending some soft green shades with a few of my favourite taupes and bronzes. It’s a palette that can be used to create lots of different looks but still falls well within my comfort zone, so it’s worked its way into my daily makeup bag with no trouble at all. There is some slight glitter fallout from the lightest shade, which is the only small negative point, but other than that, they are soft, buttery and a joy to blend.
Dolce & Gabbana Wild about fall makeup collection review and swatches
Dolce & Gabbana Wild about fall makeup collection review and swatches
Dolce & Gabbana Wild about fall makeup collection review and swatches on pale skin
The Orange blusher from the summer collection terrified me with its pigmentation, so it’s good to see a more wearable shade this season. Strawberry is a candy coloured pink which is a much more universal shade than Orange and one I know I will get a lot of use out of. Like last season’s shade, it’s packed with pigment, so start with a light hand and then work your way up if you need more intensity.

As hard as I try, I can’t pull off brown lipstick without looking like some sort of dreadful 90s corpse bride, so the Chocolate Shine Lipstick is a miss for me. If you have a warmer skin tone, it will look beautiful – it’s pigment rich with just a hint of a sheen to it and a decent hydrating base. I’ll definitely be looking for other shades in this formula to add to my lipstick collection that work a bit better for very fair skins.

Dolce & Gabbana beauty is largely stocked in Harrods in the UK, so a bit of a pain to track down, but I think it’s well worth a look. High end fashion houses seem to be making a ‘thing’ of launching their own makeup lines to go along with all the fragrances and for me, D&G and Burberry are two of the newer ones that do it incredibly well.

Prices start £21 for an eye liner and go up to around £44 for the eye shadow quads.

Have you tried any Dolce & Gabbana makeup before? What do you think of their Fall collection?

*contains PR samples


L'Oreal Steampod Review

L'Oreal Steampod review with before and after photos
L'Oreal Steampod review with before and after photos
L'Oreal Steampod review with before and after photos L'Oreal Steampod review with before and after photos
L'Oreal Steampod review with before and after photos
Roughly dried hair on the left, Steampod finished hair on the right
I’m feeling slightly guilty at the moment as I’ve been cheating on my GHDs for a good few weeks now and I think I might have fallen in love elsewhere. I’ve been lured away by L’Oreal’s Steampod system which has not only left my hair looking ridiculously sleek and smooth, but also feeling like it’s in MUCH better condition. *wonders if I’ve just made the rest of this review totally pointless by adding a spoiler at the top*

The Steampod system was initially launched a couple of years ago, and wasn’t something that I paid a huge amount of attention to if I’m honest. I didn’t really get the concept behind it, but when I was offered the chance to test one out, I thought it’d be a great opportunity to discover why everyone seemed to be raving about it so much.

Like a traditional straightener, it uses hot plates to smooth out your hair, however it also uses jets of steam that not only make the process less damaging to your hair, but also give a longer-lasting result that a traditional straightener.

There are two parts to the Steampod – the device itself, which looks like a bulkier version of a pair of straighteners and also a separate pod which holds the water that is then sucked into the device and applied to your hair through small vents in the Steampod.

You use the Steampod in the same way you would any other straightener – you just need to ensure you follow the guide arrows on the device to make sure you run it down your hair in the correct direction. This ensures that the steam is applied prior to the plate, and the small comb at the bottom of the plate can run smoothly through your hair. Make sure your hair is totally dry before you start - I tend to blast mine roughly with a hairdryer first and then use the Steampod to smooth it all out.

I’d recommend spending a few minutes getting acquainted with the Steampod before your first use as it does take a bit of getting used to. The temperature controls and on/off button are a bit hidden (they’re inside the handle rather than on top of it) but I do like the fact you can adjust the temperature depending on your hair type. The top temperature is 210 degrees, which is designed for really thick/coarse hair – I normally go for around 180 to 200 degrees as I have quite a lot of hair and I find that gives the best results, but you can play around with the settings a bit until you find your perfect temperature.

The results themselves are pretty amazing. I popped up to visit my Mum after my first ‘test run’ and she asked me if I’d been for a blow dry! The finish is incredibly smooth and sleek and that was without using any products at all on my hair.

I also find it a lot quicker to use than my GHDs as I don’t need to divide my hair into so many sections – it seems to be able to cope with more hair in one go, while still giving a very smooth effect. And I only need to do one or two passes over each section in order to get it looking straight and smooth, cutting down on time and damage to my hair.

One thing I would say is that the Steampod is quite heavy. If you struggle with heavy hair stylers, then this might not be a great option long term. It’s also quite expensive at £185 but having tried it, I would honestly buy another one myself if this one ever needed replacing.

My version is a special, limited edition that was created for the Olympics and I love the design it comes with. The regular Steampods are plan white, but I think the print just adds something a little different to my dressing table.

You can find Steampod through most larger online retailers. Look Fantastic also have it on special offer at the moment for £139, making it that bit more affordable.

Have you ever tried a Steampod?
L'Oreal Steampod review with before and after photos



Fragrance: Viktor & Rolf Bonbon Couture

Viktor and Rolf Bonbon Couture fragrance review
Viktor and Rolf Bonbon Couture fragrance review
I was quite late to the Flowerbomb party – I only discovered it late last year but I’ve already finished my first bottle of it and I’m planning to add another to this year’s Christmas list! Viktor & Rolf really do know how to make a winning scent, so when the new Bonbon couture arrived in the post, I was very excited to give it a try.

Bonbon was originally launched in 2014 and featured an iconic bow designed bottle with a luxurious, sweet smelling scent inside. Bonbon Couture is an update on the original scent – stronger, more intense and a little more luxurious than the original.

It features top notes of peach, neroli oil and mandarin; mid notes of orange blossom, caramel and Sambac Jasmine; and base notes of sandalwood, patchouli and vanilla.

If you like your scents sweet, then you will absolutely LOVE this one. I normally tend to associate sweet scents with celebrity fragrances, but Bonbon Couture feels a lot more grown up than many of these. The fruity top notes don’t seem to come out heavily on me, leaning more towards the caramel and orange blossom instead. I prefer the scent after an hour or so, once it’s had chance to wear down a little and the sandalwood and vanilla notes become more prevalent – I tend to go for either spicy or citrus based scents as a rule, so I suspect that might be the reason why.

The bottle is another one that deserves to be placed on your dressing table – it’s very cute, with ombre effect pink glass and the classic Viktor & Rolf black badge. It hasn’t quite beat Marc Jacobs Divine Decadence for me in terms of design, but it’s a very close second!

30ml starts at £57, with a 90ml bottle retailing at £109. Definitely not the most affordable of fragrances, but one that feels like a real treat and a great gifting option.

You can find Viktor & Rolf fragrances at Selfridges, John Lewis and House of Fraser.

Are you a fan of Viktor & Rolf scents? Which one is your favourite?

*contains PR samples


Blogging Tips - 7 Things To Consider When Pitching For Sponsored Content

How to decide what to charge for sponsored blog posts
I recently wrote a post on sponsored content and what to charge, which had some amazing feedback from you all (thank you!). I thought I would do a quick follow up with some key things to consider when pitching for work or putting together a quote for a potential brand collaboration.

Around 40% of the paid for content I do comes to me with a fixed budget from the brand, however the other 60% generally involves a brief outline of what they are looking for and a request for my fees. There are a few things I always consider when putting together a quote for a job, so I thought I would share them with you today.

1. Find out EXACTLY what is required from you – initially you might only get a short brief come over, so ask plenty of questions to make sure you know how much time and effort the job will take before replying with a cost. Are they looking for a blog post/video/competition? Will you need to share content across all of your social media channels? Is there a specific deadline you need to work to? All of these will play a part in your quote. It’s way better to ask up front so you can make an informed decision, rather than finding out halfway through that you need to do additional things that weren’t budgeted for.

2. Is it right for my audience? – people are coming to your blog because they love the content you produce, so while it can be a short term win to write about off topic subjects for payment, you might risk losing readers in the long run. Always consider how you can make the topic/product interesting to your audience – there might be creative ways to do this with stuff you wouldn’t normally cover, but give it a good think before signing up.

3. Look at your reach – staying up to date with your stats is a key part of knowing your value as a blogger. Check Google Analytics regularly and be prepared to send screenshots if needed. Your total reach should give you an indication of what to charge – unique user count, social followers, comments per post and engagement levels. It’s not always the number that’s important, sometimes smaller audiences with hugely engaged audiences are much more beneficial to a brand. If you have 2,000 followers and receive dozens of comments per post, then shout about it! Send over a copy of your media kit with the quote to showcase top level stats and numbers and let brands know they can ask for more detail if they need it.

4. How long will the job take me? – time has to play a key part when it comes to cost. Most freelancers tend to charge a day rate, so it’s another good indication of how to price up a job. Rates tend to vary depending on where you are in the country, but in London, £250-£350 is a standard ish full day rate for a copywriter.

5. Are they looking for ‘Follow’ or ‘No Follow’ links? – Follow links indicate to Google that you’re sending someone to a trusted site and that you are happy to pass your Domain Authority on to them. They really hate it when these are used for paid links as they want the search results to be as natural as possible, and paid Follow links can skew these results by bumping people up inorganically. You CAN be penalised by Google for making paid for links ‘Follow’, so the safest bet is to always stick to ‘NoFollow’.

Most SEO agencies will only pay you for ‘Follow’ links despite knowing it goes against Google guidelines. It’s unlikely you will get penalised, but it DOES happen from time to time and can see you delisted from Google for a while. It's up to you to decide if  that risk is worth the cost of a paid for Follow link.

6. What will the payment schedule be? - for a one-off piece of work, you’ll normally get paid 30 days after submitting an invoice. However, if you’re taking part in a longer campaign, it’s worth finding out if you can invoice at stages throughout the project or if you will have to wait right until the end before requesting payment.

7. Can I commit to this in the time given? – sometimes brands need it all very last minute and it’s just not possible within the time frame, given the fact I work full time too. I’m always very up front about this; sometimes the deadline has been possible to extend and other times not. You win some, you lose some I guess!

I hope this has been useful! It'd be great to hear any of your tips/things you think about in the comments below.


Color Wow Cocktails And The Best Ever Blow Dry At John Freida

Color Wow cocktails review
If I told you I was a big fan of cocktails it probably wouldn’t come as much of a surprise. But this time around I’m not talking gin - instead the new must-have cocktails in my life are for my hair!

Color Wow’s Cocktail range is one of the best set of treatment products I’ve come across recently. They’ve been so popular that they sold out after their initial launch, so I’ve waited until they’re back in stock to tell you about them.

The Cocktails are targeted at coloured hair and it’s specific needs, however they will also work really well on any hair type that needs a bit of TLC or repair. Colouring your hair can damage even the healthiest of hair, corrupting the internal and external bonds that keep it looking soft, supple and strong. The Cocktail range contains a host of different ingredients that help give hair a boost and depending on which one you choose, will strengthen, thicken and add elasticity and suppleness back into the hair.

There are three Cocktails in the range to choose from:

Coconut – contains coconut oil and lots of essential fatty acids to rehydrate hair all the way to its inner cortex, adding back suppleness and shine. It mimics the natural lubrication that often gets stripped away when you colour your hair. Smells A-mazing.

Kale – full of amino acids (for protein building) and B vitamins, this is the one to choose if your hair is feeling weak and is in desperate need of added strength. Clinically shown to reduce breakage by over 50% in just one use.

Carb – thickens hair strands using a precision mix of corn starch, cellulose and oat bran, while conditioning with quinoa and keratin proteins. If your hair lacks volume or density, this is the one to pick. It also doesn’t feel sticky or stiff, despite what the name might suggest.

All three Cocktails work best when applied to damp hair before you do any styling. Depending on hair length, you’ll need around a 1-2p coin sized amount. Massage it all the way through the mid-lengths to ends and then carry on styling/blow drying in your normal routine. They need a bit of heat to get working properly, so although you can use on dry hair for a finishing treatment, you’ll get the best results when used during styling.

My favourite of the three is the Coconut Cocktail, and this is the one that I think will really suit any hair type, coloured or not. It makes my hair feel unbelievable soft and silky, but without any kind of product residue. I often skip leave in products as I find they normally give me flat or sticky feeling hair, but once I’d blow dried this in, you’d never have known it was there (aside from better looking hair that is!).

Color Wow recommend using the Cocktails after every shampoo and conditioner session, but I think it will depend on how much you feel your hair needs and what other products you’re using at the time. I tend to go with every other shampoo as that seems about right for me, but if you have very damaged hair, you might want to step it up a bit.

One thing I should point out is that these are quite runny in texture, so do be careful when pouring out! The first time I used mine I ended up with loads, so I spent a few minutes decanting it back into the bottle! They’d benefit from some sort of nozzle or pump to help prevent this, but other than that, I have literally no negatives on these at all.

The Cocktails cost £22 each (so not much more than an actual cocktail in Central London, ha ha) and can be found at John Frieda salons, Space NK and Look Fantastic. If you’re placing an order, I’d also highly recommend their shampoos and conditioners which are a regular part of my regime and soooo good for colour treated hair, or for anyone who likes a gentle, but effective sulphate-free shampoo.

Blow dry with Kevin Moss at John Frieda Mayfair
Aaaand the blow dry…

I initially tried the Cocktails at a launch event at John Frieda in Mayfair, where creative director Kevin Moss gave me the mother of all blow dries using the new Coconut Cocktail. That man has seriously magic hands as I felt like I should be going to a red carpet event somewhere, so if you’re ever in need of a blow dry (or cut for that matter), you need to go see him. It’s pricey given that it’s Mayfair and John Frieda but oh my days is it worth it! Kevin – you have ruined me for all other blow dries.

*contains PR samples


Getting creative - a jewellery design challenge

Smart Energy GB jewellery design with electrical meter parts
Smart Energy GB jewellery design with electrical meter parts
Smart Energy GB jewellery design with electrical meter parts
Smart Energy GB jewellery design with electrical meter parts
 I’ve always admired people who are good at making things. Whether it’s a carpenter carving out a beautiful table, or someone who can turn a pritt stick and a glitter into a work of art, the creativity behind it always amazes me.

My own brief foray into jewellery design came at around age 7, when a friend and I decided to make friendship bracelets to sell around our local village. Hours of work went into them and a few weeks later, we set up shop in the park (with our mums, obvs) and sold them for a very respectable £1 each, mostly to our mums’ group of friends. Talk about living the dream. I think we made enough money for several weeks’ worth of wine gums from the local post office, which seemed like a pretty good deal at the time!

Anyhow, you’re probably wondering why all of this is vaguely relevant to today’s post. The team over at Smart Energy GB (more about them below) have set me an interesting challenge and I need your help!

They’ve set me the task of designing a piece of jewellery from the inside parts of an old school analogue electricity meter. My design will end up being turned into something beautiful by a professional jeweller and you’ll be able to enter a competition in a few weeks’ time to win one of this (very) limited run of jewellery.

You can see all of the pieces I’ve got to work with in the photos above – things like clasps, chains or fixings can be added to help link it all together. At the moment I’m thinking a statement necklace might be the way to go, as I think some of the cogs and longer metal parts would make a really interesting design. But an industrial take on a charm bracelet might also work really well…

I’d love to hear your thoughts on which parts you’d use to create a piece of jewellery out of what I’ve been given. Leave me a comment or drop by on social (@talesofpaleface) to let me know what you think!

A bit of background around Smart Energy GB and Smart Meters

Behind this project is a serious message about the rollout of smart meters. Smart meters are new digital meters, replacing the old analogue meters most of us have in our homes. Every household in Great Britain will be offered a smart meter by their energy supplier by 2020, at no extra cost.

Smart meters are available to all homes. If you are a renter you can still get a smart meter. If your name is on the bill you can just contact your energy supplier. If your landlord pays the bill they will need to speak to the energy supplier.

What’s so good about smart meters? 

• Having smart meters installed means an end to estimated bills and no more phoning in manual meter readings
• They show you in near real time, on a handy in-home display screen, how much energy you are using, in pounds and pence
• If you are a prepayment customer you will be able to top up your credit online, over the phone or as you do now by visiting your local shop

So while I have been given the chance to create some stunning pieces of jewellery from the inner workings of an old analogue meter, by 2020 we all be part of the smart meter revolution sweeping the country.

To upgrade to smart meters you should contact your energy supplier to find out when they will be able to fit them in your home.

So what do you think guys? What would you choose to make if you were set this challenge?

*collaboration post with Smart Energy GB


Fragrance: Marc Jacobs Divine Decadence

Marc Jacobs Divine Decadence fragrance review
Marc Jacobs Divine Decadence fragrance review
Marc Jacobs Divine Decadence fragrance review
If there was an award for best perfume bottle EVER, it would probably go to Marc Jacobs Divine Decadence. The handbag design is so quirky and yet manages to look grown up and luxurious at the same time. Ever since my bottle arrived, I’ve been half tempted to wander around with it, swinging it as I go, ha ha.

My Marc Jacobs fragrance obsession is a long one. Ever since he released Lola many moons ago, it’s one of the brands I always look to when trying to find a new signature scent. Aside from the Daisy range, which I never really got on with, I think I’ve had virtually every fragrance he’s made – Fan Girl over here!

Divine Decadence is the follow up to last year’s ‘Decadence’ launch, which saw a more grown up feel coming through to his fragrance collection. It’s a sparkling floral, with top notes of champagne, orange blossom and bergamot; heart notes of gardenia, honeysuckle and iris; and a base of saffron, vanilla and liquid amber.

It’s slightly fresher than the original Decadence fragrance, but I still think it leans more towards being an evening scent. It’s quite heady and you only need a couple of spritzes for a really long-lasting effect. Although the top notes are quite light and floral, the dry down is warm and sexy and definitely something to wear on a night out. The bottle is also a dressing table must-have – definitely not one to be kept in a drawer!

It’s a little more pricey than some of the other Marc Jacobs scents, however Fragrance Direct have a small discount on it at the moment, bringing a 30ml EDP down to £42.99 instead of the usual £49. I’m hoping there will also be a gift set of this at Christmas time as they are always such good value for money.

Are you a fan of Marc Jacobs fragrances? Which one is your favourite?

*contains PR samples


Too Faced Totally Cute Palette Review And Swatches

Too Faced Totally Cute eye shadow palette review and swatches
Too Faced Totally Cute eye shadow palette review and swatches
Too Faced Totally Cute eye shadow palette review and swatches
Too Faced Totally Cute eye shadow palette review and swatches
Too Faced Totally Cute eye shadow palette review and swatches
Too Faced's new Totally Cute palette is just that - unbelievably cute. It's the most fun thing I've seen from Too Faced in a while and I love, love, love the concept behind it.

The palette initially looks quite plain until you find the two sheets of stickers inside the box and realise YOU GET TO DECORATE IT YOURSELF.  Yup, it's definitely one for the big kids out there, but I challenge you not to have some serious fun deciding what to use to style yours up.

Inside the pink metal tin, you'll find 9 eye shadow shades, three are more nude and come in larger pan sizes, along with 6 smaller, slightly bolder shades. Most of the shadows have a shimmery finish to it, with two that are matte, but I think it's a really versatile selection of colors that can work for day to night.

Storm Cloud is the most beautiful teal shimmer - not something I usually wear, but I have some serious plans for this for an upcoming night out. Shooting Star and Unicorn are great base colours and the larger pan sizes mean you won't run out of your favourites while you still have tons of the contrast colours left.

I've previously been a bit disappointed with the pigmentation of some Too Faced eye shadows, but I'm pleased to say that each and every one of these is a winner. The swatches are all taken with a single swipe; even the pink shade, which is a notoriously hard one to get right, has impressive amounts of pigment.

To minimise any fallout, I'd stick to a dense, flat headed brush to apply to colour initially and then blend out with something fluffier. The bolder shades work best when patted on rather than swiped around a lot, but it all depends on the depth of colour you're after.

All in all, I think this is my favourite Too Faced palette for ages and one I'd highly recommend buying, even if you're normally a neutrals girl like me.

It's priced at £32/$36 and can be found at Debenhams and Sephora.

What do you think of this new palette from Too Faced?

*contains PR samples


Night-time skin treats

night time skincare treats
night time skincare treats - Elizabeth Arden skin illuminating brightening capsules review
night time skincare treats - Malin + Goetz Recovery Oil
night time skincare treats - Pestle & Mortar Superstar retinol oil review
If there’s one thing I am boringly anal about, it’s taking my makeup off before bed. I can probably count on one hand the amount of times I haven’t done it in the past few years, and yes, it’s usually down to one too many G&Ts!

I always find that a regular skincare routine helps me get relax at night and signals to my body that it’s time to start chilling out for bed (well, until I start Insta-scrolling when I lay down, #fail). Bed-time usually means I can take a bit longer with my regime than in the mornings as I’m not in such a rush and it also gives me chance to layer up those products for extra skin treats while I sleep.

I’ve pulled out a few of my current favourite launches to share with you that are all designed to be added in to your night-time routine. I’d love to hear what your favourites are in the comments below.

Elizabeth Arden Skin Illuminating Brightening Night Capsules - First things first, these are SO satisfying to open. The little capsules hold the perfect dose of illuminating serum, but need to be twisted and squeezed in order to get it out. I don’t know if it’s just me that loved to do this with those horrible bath beads from the 90s that had odd latexy shells that dissolved in the bath to reveal some sort of oil (sorry if you had them in your bathroom and I visited – I almost definitely popped a few while you weren’t looking) .

Anyhow, Elizabeth Arden’s version contains a mix of Vitamin C and niacinamide, which work to brighten the skin while you sleep. Each capsule holds one dose – apply to the skin after you cleanse and let it get to work while you sleep. I find I don’t need any additional moisturiser when I use these as there’s quite a lot of product inside the capsule and it moisturises my skin beautifully, but if you have very dry skin, a few drops of an oil over the top will work a treat.

As well as an instant illuminating effect, I wake up with much brighter looking skin – no sign of any sneaky late nights here! They are a touch on the pricey side at £60 for 50 capsules, but I think you could easily split the dose in two if you wanted to extend the amount of uses you get.

Malin + Goetz Recovery Treatment Oil – there are nine different oils inside this little blue bottle, ranging from grapeseed and rosehip, through to argan and borage. It pretty much does everything you’d ever want an oil to do – hydrate (obvs), reduce inflammation in the skin, soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also helps to balance the oil production in your skin, which is great for anyone who has ever worried an oil might be too ‘oily’.

I normally apply about 6 drops of this to my palms, then press gently into my skin post-cleansing. By pressing, rather than rubbing, you’ll normally find you can get away with slighlty less product as your hands tend to absorb less of it. I’m also normally a bit too enthusiastic with my running so leave my skin looking redder than it was before I started!

A 30ml bottle will set up back £62, which initially seems a bit pricey, but the ingredients are excellent quality and even with daily use, should last between 4-6 months.

Pestle & Mortar Superstar Retinol Night Oil – this was pitched to me as a more affordable version of Sunday Riley’s Luna oil and I have to say, I agree! There’s no blue colour a la SR, however the 2 types of retinol, combined with the mix of natural oils (including grape seed, jojoba and avocado) will leave you with amazing looking skin in the morning.

I’ve often avoided retinols as I found them quite harsh on my slightly sensitive skin, but I’ve found this one to be really gentle and suitable to use most nights. As with all retinols, it can make you more sensitive to the sun, so do layer up the SPF to ensure you don’t burn and undo all the good the retinols are doing to your skin by adding more sun damage!

The effects are honestly quite amazing and somewhat addictive (my skin looks so much brighter, smoother and more even in just two weeks) but try not to overdo it on application. Half a pump is recommended (I do use closer to a whole one, oops) and you can always layer another oil over the top if you feel you need extra moisture.

It’s £63, so not cheap by any means, but more affordable than the Sunday Riley version and just as good (if not slightly better!).

What are your favourite night-time skin treats?

*contains PR samples


Phee's Makeup Shop Glow Highlighters

Phee's Makeup shop Glow highlighter review
Phee's Makeup shop Rose Quartz Glow highlighter review
Phee's Makeup shop Glow highlighter review
Phee's Makeup shop Glow highlighter review and swatches
Phee's Makeup shop Glow highlighter review
Whoever said that there's such a thing as too much highlighter was wrong. Massively wrong. Until a few years ago, I was a bit slack on the highlighter front, always sticking to a healthy amount of blusher instead. Fast forward a few years and it's a whole new story - my cheekbones just don't cut it without a healthy dose of highlight on top.

My current favourites both come from Phee's Makeup Shop; a small indie brand that's cruelty-free, handmade in Sheffield and created by one very lovely blogger (hi Phee!).

As well as a range of loose pigments and pressed eye shadows, Phee creates some of the most beautiful highlighters I've ever seen. The amount of sheen you get from just a tiny bit of product in unbelievable - the swatches above were taken from a single swipe with my fingers. I'd suggest a very light touch with a medium-sized brush for the best effect - you can layer it up for a heavier highlight if you prefer.

The majority of her products come as single pans, which will fit easily into any Z palette or magnetic case that you have. Phee has also started to expand her range of compact products, which come in sturdy black cases and make things a lot more travel friendly.

I've tried both the Rose Quartz Compact (the two-tone one) and the Pressed Glow and have been so impressed with them both. Rose Quartz has a more lilac/pink tinge to it that really works with cooler skin tones, whereas Pressed Glow has a mix of gold tones that I think would look great on anyone with a warmer skin tone.

Prices are really reasonable - pans start from £6.50 for smaller sizes, with the compacts coming in at around £16.50. I currently have my eye on her Rainbow Glow, which features a mix of five shades and looks absolutely stunning.

Behind the brand: a Q&A with founder Phee

What inspired you to start creating your own makeup?
I got fed up of not being able to find the products I wanted in the UK. The US has it is so much better for indie brands! And because I was bored of my job, so I thought it would be fun to see if I could make this a full time thing.

Can you tell me a little about the creation process?
Usually when I'm creating a new shade I'll order some samples that I like the look of. Then I'll mix them up, maybe add more reflect or more matte pigment where I think they need it. When I've got the shade I want as a loose pigment, I'll post photos of it on Instagram and Twitter to see how popular it is. If it gets a good reaction then I'll press it and use it myself for a few weeks, and if I still like it then I'll go ahead and put it on sale.

With the highlighters I keep a note of what shades customers have asked for and see if it's something I can do. I want to be able to offer a wide range of highlight shades for different skin tones and different tastes so that's my main focus for expanding my range of products at the moment.

What are the biggest challenges as an independent brand?
Finding the time to develop new products. At the moment it's just me running everything so as much as I love coming up with new products and playing with samples, I don't always have the time.

One thing I didn't expect is when larger brands pick up on the same trends that you have. It's very difficult to compete with the amount of marketing and outreach that they can afford to get something trending on social media as a must have product.

If you had to pick 3 items from your range that everyone should try, what would they be?
The three I recommend all the time are:

- Sunset Highlighter. This compact has two highlight shades (The Original and Bellini) and Sphinx Mineral Eyeshadow so it's a good way to test out both products. You can also create a whole look with this compact which is handy for travel.
- Peppered Mineral Eyeshadow. It's the perfect every day eyeshadow that you can quickly blend all over the lid, add some liner and you're good to go.
- Luna Glow Highlighter. This is a new shade, but so far it's been really popular as it's less yellow toned than The Original, it suits more skin tones.

What are your plans for the future? 
Keep growing the range. I would like to move away from the pan products and put all the highlighters and eyeshadows into compacts. I'm also testing pressed glitter formulas too right now which will hopefully be around in time for Christmas!

You can buy Phee's products directly through her website.

*contains PR samples


3 Purse-Friendly Makeup Palettes You Need In Your Life

Must-have high street palettes from GOSH, The Body Shop and MUA
Must-have high street palettes from GOSH, The Body Shop and MUA - MUA LUXE close up
Must-have high street palettes from GOSH, The Body Shop and MUA - GOSH Contour and Strobe close up
Must-have high street palettes from GOSH, The Body Shop and MUA
Finding a decent palette on the high street used to be pretty tricky. Not anymore! All the brands seem to be at it, with varying levels of success. I thought I’d pull out a few of my favourites that are well worth a purchase, including a couple of amazing high end dupes.

The Body Shop Down To Earth – Oh hello Bobbi Brown dupe! The Body Shop are really upping their makeup game here, with sleek black packaging,  generously sized pans and an extensive shade selection. There are five quads and one larger palette available, all featuring complementary colours. The pigmentation is good, blendability is excellent and the price is really, really reasonable. The best bit is that all of the shadows pop out, so you can mix and match shades to create your own custom selection. At the moment the palettes are only available as a whole, but I’m hoping they will release more singles next year to allow for a greater amount of flexibility. My favourite is the Smoky Gold as I’m a total sucker for those bronze shades, but Smoky Grey is also really lovely for a more traditional evening eye look. Prices range from £15 for the quads, through to £22 for the larger, 8 shadow palette.

MUA LUXE Palette – If you’ve spent ages perving over the Hourglass Modernist eyeshadow palettes but simply can’t justify the £50+ price tag (which is most of us quite frankly!), then get yourself down to your nearest MUA counter and grab one/all of these. Packaging aside, they are incredibly similar in terms of both shades and pigmentation and also feature a soft rippled design very reminiscent of their higher end counterpart. There are two different versions to choose from – I have Enchanted here. At just £6 each they are a total bargain, even more so if you can catch them on one of Superdrug's 3 for 2 offers.

GOSH Contour and Strobe - I do love a GOSH product; they seem so much more expensive than they really are. The new Contour and Strobe palettes come in two different shades and feature a mix of two bronzers, a semi-matte blusher and a highlighter. 001 is a really good match for anyone with lighter skins and the darker one (002) will go well if you're more medium in tone. Pigmentation is good, giving a buildable colour that you can customise and the pans are all a really decent size. You get a lot of product for your money here - each one is just £12.99.

What are your favourite high street palettes? Have you tried any of these?

*contains PR samples



Food: Mac and Wild London

Mac and Wild restaurant review - venison scotch egg
Mac and Wild restaurant review - food
Mac and Wild restaurant review - cocktails
Mac and Wild restaurant review - haggis mac and cheese
Ending a Monday with a whole load of delicious food, cocktails and a catch up with a friend who was visiting from the States was never going to be a bad thing, especially when it involves stuffing your face at Mac and Wild.

Mac and Wild originally began life on Charlotte Street in Central London as The Wild Game Company, but moved about a year ago to a more spacious location over on Great Titchfield Street. They specialise in really great Scottish produce – think venison, salmon and whisky rather than your stereotypical deep-fried Mars bars.

Kelsey and I started the night off with a couple of whisky cocktails; she had the delicately herbed Forager, while I went for the slightly spicier Ginger Laddie. Both were delicious, although I have to say I think mine won on presentation alone as it came in its own woollen covered hip flask ready to be poured over ice. Yum.

Because we’re both horribly indecisive, and the menu all sounded so good, it took us about 20 minutes to decide what to order. The menu itself is nice and compact, but everything looks so delicious that it’s hard to narrow it down to just one choice. In the end, we settled on sharing a couple of starters – an intriguingly named ‘Beer Stick’ and a venison scotch egg.
Mac and Wild restaurant review - cocktails
Mac and Wild restaurant review - venimoo burger
Mac and Wild restaurant review - interior
Mac and Wild restaurant review - skinny veni burger
Mac and Wild restaurant review - venimoo burger
Mac and Wild restaurant review - chocolate dessert
The Beer Stick turned out to be a long twist of venison jerky – apparently it’s a good snack to have alongside your favourite tipple. It had a really lovely meaty flavour and wasn’t too chewy; I’d definitely have another one!

Our venison scotch egg can only be described as food porn at its best. I still have no idea how they manage to get a perfectly cooked poached egg inside all the hot, delicious meaty goodness, but OMFG did they do it. The leaner venison meat meant it didn’t feel at all greasy and I’m honesty quite sad I had to share it (although not too sad as it meant I could eat more later).

For our mains, we both chose a burger. Kelsey went for their iconic Veni-moo, which has won multiple awards. It’s a mix of a venison patty, a beef patty, cheese, caramelised onions and bearnaise sauce. She also added in bacon for good measure. Because bacon makes EVERYTHING even better.

I was trying to be *vaguely* low carb, so choose the Skinny Veni – two patties of venison (much lower in fat than beef), cheese, caramelised onions and a little side salad. It was really rich and meaty and I honestly didn’t miss the bun at all. The lady on the table next to me was also tucking into to a steak salad which looked really summery and fresh – perfect if you’re after something a little lighter.

The lack of bun was possibly helped along by the side of hand cut chips and haggis mac n cheese that we shared on the side. I’ve never really eaten haggis before as my brain rebels against the thought of offal, but it was one of the best mac n cheeses I’ve had. Ever. Not too oozy, but rich, cheesy and something they need to start offering as a main course.

We were will into our second round of cocktails at this point (Auld Pal and Bonnie Brae) so despite feeling like we were growing food babies, decided to take one for the team and test out dessert. I was suckered in by the description of the ‘I shouldn’t but I will’ – a thick chocolate mousse with cornflake crunch, nuts and a scoop of salted caramel ice cream. It’s very rich, so might be one best to share if you’ve already gone in hard on the meat; I was disappointed in myself for not being able to finish it. Kelsey chose a simple scoop of salted caramel ice cream with honeycomb on top and a pot of chocolate sauce on the side.

It was such a delicious meal and although they were lacking on the venison steak front (everything is hunted up in Scotland so availability does vary week to week) I wouldn’t hesitate to go back. You’ll need to book as the place was packed, even on a Monday night and I’ve heard that their weekend brunch is also meant to be epic.

Prices start at around £10 for mains, £4-7 for desserts and around £9 for cocktails.

*I was invited to review Mac and Wild, but all opinions and venison-related food babies my own
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