Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Instagram: December 2013

Dog walks in wellies • Red sky at night, shepherd's delight • Decorating the Christmas tree • The result of Lush Golden Wonder bath ballistic • I had a little feature in issue 2 of Blogosphere magazine this month • Getting all dressed up for the staff Christmas party • The Nag's Hotel • Managed to get my mitts on the Naked 3 palette • Herbie the Westie in all his festive glory • My favourite hazelnut hot chocolate in Starbucks • Baking festive gingerbread cookies • The cutest little decorated house • Lunch at my favourite place • My lovely presents from my bestie, still all wrapped up • The most delicious meal of the year • Pretty scenery during our walk yesterday

And, with reflection, this brings the year 2013 to a close. So that just leaves me to say that I hope you all have a wonderful New Year, and I look forward to blogging much more in 2014! See you there!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The Night Before Christmas

What's this? Christmas Eve already? I have to admit, it's taken me a while to get into the Christmas spirit. I think that working in retail has sucked some of the fun out of this time of year. Needless to say I am absolutely dreading having to work all day Boxing Day! Please do think of me while you're spending time with your families, chowing down on your leftovers, and watching festive films...

So this evening I'm going to be making the most of Christmas Eve. I've spent the day cleaning the house and helping out with the food preparation, all ready for our family tomorrow so I'm definitely going to be having a nice relaxing bubble bath later. I've already decided on my Lush Magic Wand - my favourite majestic bubble bar at this time of year! Then I'll be cosying up by the fire with a lovely hot chocolate in my Scrabble Mug, watching some TV and putting the finishing touches to presents. And when it's time to wander off to the land of nod - fresh festive bedding included - I'll be burning the gorgeous-smelling Silent Night Tin Candle and finishing I Heart Christmas by Lindsey Kelk.

That's basically my Christmas Eve routine every year - a bubble bath, a festive candle, and a good book.

All that leaves me to say is I hope you all have a safe and prosperous Christmas, and thank you so much for sticking with me and supporting this blog throughout its debut year! Here's to 2014!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Perfect Winter Lip

Hello all! I figured that today I would steer away from the Christmas pandemonium and focus on the first days of Winter. I'll be back with another little festive treat on Christmas Eve, hopefully! So, rather than the usual darker lipsticks, I love the idea of a bit of vibrance to brighten up the colder months. This is my rundown for my perfect Winter lip...

It's important any time of year to care for your lips, but especially so when it's freezing outside and the harsh winds pick up. I always carry Vaseline and a stick of Baby Lips with me in my handbag or coat at all times, just in case they get dry - which is often. That's why it's pivotal that you prep your lips before you apply any colour. If you don't do this, then your lipstick won't last as long and will pick up every little crusty detail. Not nice! I like to start with a good lip scrub. Lush's Mint Julips is my absolute favourite! It's really easy to apply and tastes like After Eight mints, pretty apt for the festive season actually! And did I mention that it's completely affordable for everyone? £5.50 for 25g means you get a lip buffer that's going to do its job and last forever. I'm still on my first pot and I use it most days!

Next is a step you don't have to undertake if you don't want to. I saw Millie Mackintosh raving about the Manuka Doctor ApiRefine Lip Enhancer on Instagram, and so was curious to try it out. It was on special offer at the time (£6.99, I think) so I figured I would pop it in my basket and give it a go. I have to say, I love it. It has made a difference to the plumpness of my lips all thanks to the help of the purified bee venom. As soon as you apply the product your lips start tingling, but you get used to it after five or so minutes. It's also super moisturising and smooths out fine lines.

Now onto the colour! To line and fill the lips I picked up MAC Lip Pencil in Beet, a deep fuchsia shade which works with many pink and red toned lip colours. The vitamin E enriched formula is lovely - very creamy and easy to apply. It looks great by itself or with lipstick and/or lipgloss applied over the top. For me, I prefer to use lipstick. My go-to lipstick of the moment is MAC Plumful. I absolutely love this colour and the lustre finish is my favourite. I just find it a welcome change from the nudes and your-lips-but-better shades that I usually wear on a daily basis. It's a gorgeous medium pink-toned plum, which works really well with paler skin tones. I've had a lot of compliments on this look recently so I definitely like to wear it to uni and about town!

What's your favourite Winter lip colour?

Friday, 20 December 2013

Festive Gingerbread Cookies

Hello my little cherubs! I can't believe Christmas is only five days away; I'm getting so excited for it now! 

Now I don't know about you, but the days leading up to Christmas centre primarily around food. This means trips to "Big Tesco", and lots and lots of baking! My mum is the best home cook in the world - I can't wait for Christmas dinner, I just know it's going to be the best meal of the year! Our family has quite a sweet tooth as well, so we like to have lots of boxes of chocolates, shortbread biscuits, and spiced cookies to hand. The 25th is also the only time it's acceptable to eat chocolate and biscuits for breakfast!

Today, my mum and I decided to whip up a bunch of delicious morsels for a Christmas party my nana is having for all her afternoon oldie clubs. These gingerbread cookies will - for sure - be the star of the show, and this is how we made them...

To make approximately 40 cookies, you will need:

350g (12 oz) plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger (add more if you love the spice!)
100g (3.5 oz) unsalted butter, chilled and diced
140g (5 oz) soft brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
115g (4 oz) golden syrup

Preheat the oven to 190ºC (375ºF/Gas Mark 5) and lightly grease two baking trays. We used grease-proof paper because it's less messy.

Sift the flour, baking powder, ground ginger and a pinch of salt into a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, then stir in the sugar. Make a well in the centre, add the egg and golden syrup and, using a wooden spoon, stir until a soft dough forms. Knead on a clean surface until smooth.

Divide the dough in half and roll out on a lightly floured work surface until 5mm thick. Using various-shaped cookie cutters (we used gingerbread men, stars, and baubles), cut the dough and then transfer to the prepared trays. Bake in batches for 8-10 minutes, or until the gingerbread is light brown. Allow to cool on wire racks.

Then it's the fun part - decorating! We just piped plain royal icing on for the gingerbread men, and used watered-down icing to drizzle over the stars and baubles. Then we had a handy selection of simple decorations to sprinkle over the top! You can use anything you like to decorate, and if the cookies are for hanging decorations then you can pop a skewer through the top while they're still hot. I think these cookies would also make lovely little gifts for anyone that likes gingerbread!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Gift Ideas: The Yule Monty™

If you're anything like me, then you appreciate a good beauty bargain when you see one. This exclusive, limited edition gift set by Soap & Glory is more than half price right now in Boots! For £27, you get all you could ever want for some much-needed Christmas pampering - and more. This gorgeous set is worth over a whopping £60!

The gift set includes:
  • Hand Food™ Hand Cream (RRP £5) - This is one of my favourite hand creams ever. I love the sweet marshmallow scent, which lingers for a while after application! It softens, soothes and smooths dry chapped skin on your hands. The consistency is lovely and rich, and sinks into the skin quickly which is nice when you're on the go constantly.
  • Thick & Fast™ Mascara (RRP £10) - Another mascara to add to my collection! When I'm not using my faithful YSL Babydoll, I now turn to this baby. The super volume formula creates longer, fuller lashes. The wand is a good size and the formula doesn't clump my lashes together. It just proves that high street brands can make quality products which actually work!
  • Butter Yourself™ Moisture Lotion (RRP £10) - A fruity blend of shea butter, orange waterjuice, fig pulp extract, and almond, mango and moringa oils. Specifically formulated to soothe and soften even the driest skin; it works wonders on rough elbows, bumpy upper arms and flaky lower legs. I alternate between this and The Righteous Butter™ after showering, and it leaves my skin feeling extremely soft and smelling great.
  • The Righteous Butter™ Body Butter (RRP £10.50) - I'm not really one for body butters, just because I find them too heavy - and I'm too lazy to wait for it to sink in - however I really enjoy using this one! With its infamous pink scent, this creamy body butter is a lovely addition to any beauty lover's bathroom cabinet. The nourishing formula helps so much with dry skin, especially after a hot shower. Another plus is that the tub lasts forever; I now have two of these bad boys to get through!
  • The Scrub of Your Life™ Body Scrub (RRP £7) - I don't use body scrubs too often, which I know is bad, but I find exfoliating quite unpleasant usually. Thick, foamy and fantastically fresh, this body scrub is packed with just the right amount of scrubbing beads for a pleasant pampering session. And, of course, it smells lovely!
  • Peaches and Clean™ Facial Cleanser (RRP £8) - A 3-in-1 wash-off, deep-purifying, milky-creamy, face cleanser with super T-zone decloggers, antioxidant-rich peach extract and detoxifying oxyginzeng technology. I like to use this cleanser in the evening to get my makeup off. I've only had a few goes of it (thanks to having so many different cleansers to get through) but so far so good. I always worry about breaking out with new skincare products so I'm glad this one seems fine with my skin *touch wood*
  • Heel Genius™ Foot Cream (RRP £5.50) - I suffer from cracked heels as a result of being on my feet all day at work, and I have to say that Heel Genius is a staple in my routine. Nice feet are essential, and I know some people who completely neglect them. I wonder how I can slip this into their baskets without facing awkward conversations! The best way to use this product is to slather it on your feet, pop on some old socks and let it do its magic overnight. I wake up with fabulously soft feet, ready for the next day's graft.
  • Sexy Mother Pucker™ XL Lip Plumping Gloss (RRP £10) - I'm so glad that this product was included in the gift set. I've gone a bit lip-plumping product crazy recently so I was excited to try it out! The colour included is Pink Out Loud, a girly pink lipgloss that tastes like strawberry ice-cream! Because it's lip-plumping, it feels super tingly on your lips once applied so it's not for the meek of the mouth. I really like the results overall.
  • Sugar Crush™ Body Wash (RRP £6.50) - As you know, I absolutely love Clean on Me™ which is my ultimate favourite Soap & Glory body wash. I'm glad they included another body wash in the gift set because I think Sugar Crush is so different to what I'm used to. Primarily citrus-scented, this energy-boosting body wash is unique yet pleasant. The scent was a little strong for me at first, but I actually prefer to pop some of this into a running bath and revel in sweet-smelling bubbles instead of using it as a straight-up shower gel. It lathers really well too!
Not only is this gift set amazing value but you get this fabulous huge toiletry bag designed by Jonathan Saunders to store all your essentials in. I love the size and patterning. It'll come in useful for all sorts of trips in the future, I'm sure! If you're debating whether or not to go for it, then I say what are you waiting for? You can buy one as a gift and one for your hardworking self and it still wouldn't make up the value of all the products inside. I think it's an amazing offer that needs to be brought to people's attention!

Soap & Glory The Yule Monty™ retails at £60, and is available on special offer at Boots for £27. Grab yours before it sells out!

Monday, 16 December 2013

Gift Ideas: The Bestie Box

Ahhh, the sheer cruelty of living the other side of the country to your best friend can soon catch up on you around the festive season. This year, I wanted to put together something which I think she'll really appreciate when she unwraps it on Christmas morning, and hopefully it'll give some of you guys a few ideas too!

So first of all, I purchased this really cute festive box from a local independent craft shop, along with the gold tissue paper and "Do Not Open Till Xmas" thick ribbon. I had to find something big enough to fit an A4 sized photo frame but I didn't want everything else in the box to be thrown about on its way up north. 

The art print is from Not on the High Street, which is one of my absolute favourite websites for creative and personalised gifts. It has saved my skin on so many occasions, honestly! Going along the chocolate theme, I picked up these Snowman and the Snowdog milk chocolate characters for £1 at my work. They are originally a taster from Thornton's, who have some gorgeous festive gift sets in store and online. If you're looking for something a little bit different there are the Charbonnel et Walker Pink Champagne Truffles, which are milk chocolate with hints of champagne and strawberry, because you have to have a bit of champagne at Christmas - even if it is in chocolate form! I just think they look really pretty, they taste delicious, and there are tons of varieties to choose from.

Moving onto the beauty goodies, I know for a fact that my bestie loves Liz Earle products so I popped in a travel sized Hot Cloth Cleanser and muslin cloth - essentials for every woman. I also bought Devonshire Row by Nails Inc. which is a gorgeous bright purple shade that I'm sure she'll appreciate. Nails Inc. are fast becoming my favourite nail polish brand. The colours are striking, the application is great, and they last for ages! And finally, I couldn't make my own gift box without adding in a little treat from Lush! Candy Mountain is a glittery bubble bar inspired by the colours of Snow Fairy but with the scent of fresh vanilla and bubblegum. It creates a haze of pink mist in amongst sweet smelling bubbles!

And those are my picks for this year's Bestie Box. I could have spent so much money putting this together and I had a lot of fun making it - I was so tempted to put a tin candle in there too, but I thought maybe more scents would be too much? I just wish I could see her face when she opens it up on Christmas morning!

What do you think of my Bestie Box?

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Deck The Hauls: Topshop Festive Socks

I went a bit mad with the sock spending last week, I think. Sometimes I just can't resist a good old offer and, let's face it, everybody needs socks - especially festive ones!

So, as the blog title suggests, all of the socks you see are from trusty Topshop. All in all I bought six pairs - some of which were on the 3 pairs for £8 offer; all but the blue and white Fairisle reindeer socks, and the burgundy and white Fairisle reindeer ones too, but I found out that they are much warmer and chunkier than the other styles featured in this post. They're all perfect for popping on and cosying up to a roaring fire, Christmas tree lights twinkling, a nice mug of hot chocolate in your hand... Talk about picturing a perfect scene, huh? Unfortunately I've had a little peek online since and most of these styles are now sold out, but there are still tons of other cute designs to choose from!


Thursday, 12 December 2013

MAC Pro Palette Project - Month Six

Hello all! I hope you're well. The holidays are edging ever closer; I can't quite believe that Christmas is less than two weeks away! Be sure to stick around because I have tons planned for the blog throughout the next few weeks, and I'm sure we can all use a bit of light reading to ebb away the stress of Christmas shopping! I have to say that I've waited so long to add these particular two eyeshadows to my palette and just figured this festive month was a pretty apt time to purchase them. So without any more chit-chat, here is your December instalment of my MAC Pro Palette Project!

Goldmine is described by MAC as "intense gold with shimmer" and is a frost finish. It has to be one of the most pigmented shades in my 15 palette, and is a real joy to apply to the eyes. I absolutely love it, even just looking at it in the pan makes me feel festive! I'm planning on pairing it with Woodwinked in the crease and Naked Lunch in the inner corners to create a smokey eye with amped up glitz for my work's Christmas party on Sunday night - I can't wait to see the results of that one! It also looks great with Amber Lights. Not just one for this time of year however, I'm looking forward to using Goldmine on its own with winged eyeliner when I've got a bit of a tan in the Summer.

Plum Dressing is described by MAC as "pinky-plum with metal" and is a veluxe pearl finish. Carrying on with my obsession with plum colours for Winter, this shade is a lovely addition to my MAC family. In comparison to Goldmine it is definitely not as pigmented when applied to the eyes (the swatch above took me a good few goes to get that heavy colour). It's more of a wash of colour on the lids, but I quite like that as it definitely zests up my usual neutrals routine for work. I really like to pair this shade with Sketch and/or Cranberry. They both work great!

As an experiment I tried using these two new additions together, basically expecting nothing. But I found that using Goldmine as a base with Plum Dressing in the crease creates a subtle pink sunset effect, which was a pleasant surprise! It's taught me that experimentation is a good thing, for sure.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo

I know, I've broken a rule here. It's like wearing those socks with the days of the week on them on the wrong day, but this doesn't feel as criminal! Upon doing some Christmas shopping a few weeks ago  I was thrilled to see a Bumble and Bumble counter in my local Boots, and couldn't resist picking up this baby along with the much-talked-about Thickening Hairspray.

Never a stickler for rules I've been using the Bb Sunday Shampoo, a once-a-week clarifying shampoo, on days when my hair needs a bit of a detox. It claims to rid the hair of product residue, hard water minerals, and pollutants. Ingredients include: panax ginseng root extract, an astringent for the hair and scalp; rosemary leaf extract, a scalp stimulant which is anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory; sage leaf extract, a cleanser and scalp stimulant; and tetrasodium EDTA, a detoxifying agent. 

Reading up on the product it says not to use this on colour-treated hair, so I would advise not using it in this case because it will strip the colour out. That being said, I was kind of cautious as to what might happen on my blonde hair but it seems to have worked absolutely fine, and actually seems to have done it a lot of good! It gets rid of all the product grime which has built up over the past few days prior to washing. My hair looks shiny and feels so much more manageable, especially when I'm blow-drying it. Yes, it can be a little drying but I would expect that from a clarifying shampoo as it's stripping away all the bad stuff. I also have to note that I'm indifferent about the scent; it is the same as the Thickening Hairspray (I really don't like the strong smell of this one) except way more subtle.

Overall, I'm really impressed with this clarifying shampoo. The price tag is definitely one to save for, but I don't mind parting with my pennies for a product which does exactly what it says on the bottle. The ease of use is great, and I know this 250ml bottle is going to last me forever!

Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo retails at £17, and is available from the Bumble and Bumble website and Boots.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Gift Ideas: Roger & Gallet Hand Cream Coffret

Hello all, hope you're all well and getting on with your Christmas shopping! I was so glad to get paid today so I could finally start mine - I must've spent half my wages in the space of 20 minutes, having planned what I was already going to buy! It's going to be a super busy month, but I vowed to myself that I would blog so much more in December. Even though I'm not organised enough to take part in Blogmas, I'm still trying my hardest to fit in some festive posts before the big day!

Today I have for you a luxurious gift set from Roger & Gallet, which is sure to put a smile on your loved one's face come Christmas morning.

For those of you in the dark, perhaps a little education is in order. Founded in 1862, Armand Roger and Charles Gallet sought to create perfumes from natural sources. The Parisian perfume house was inspired by Jean-Marie Farina, Eau de Cologne creator and official supplier to Napoleon I. The insistence on natural ingredients meant that they could extract their essences and create subtly perfumed scents. Roger & Gallet have been exporting their products since 1880 (in the years before, they had only sold to French department stores), and are now known worldwide in perfumery circles.

For the coming festive season, Roger & Gallet have a whole range of beautiful gift sets to ensure an enchanted Christmas. The theme this year is represented by products which depict a luscious and magical garden of fantasy. Hence, all the gift sets feature gorgeous floral scents. Housed in a beautiful arabesque patterned gift boxes, each gift set reflects the ornate gates of the newest boutique in Paris. The intricate gold pattern is punctuated with colourful floral designs and represents all the discoveries in the most beautiful gardens in the world, from which the ingredients are sourced.

The Hand Cream Coffret* is a lovely gift for the woman who has everything. I know my mum would love this because she suffers from really dry hands - especially in these harsh winter months! This handy (see what I did there?) trio will ensure smooth and delicately scented hands. Enriched using argan oil and evening primrose oil, the non-greasy creams nourish hands leaving them protected with a hint of floral flutter. The Coffret includes Rose (enriched with shea butter and rose extract), Créme Sublime (a subtle citrus with SPF 15 protection) and Fleur d'Osmanthus (enriched with apricot oil). My favourite of the three is definitely Fleur d'Osmanthus, simply for its delicious apricot scent - I love it!

The Roger & Gallet Hand Cream Coffret retails at £17.50, and is available from Feel Unique.

*PR Sample

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Deck The Hauls: Lush

Hello all! Can I just say that I'm strangely proud of my awfully punned blog title! I'm thinking that any hauls this month should begin with that title, but anyway... 

Recently I had a really lovely shopping experience in my local Lush outlet. The girls in there are always so chatty, welcoming, and willing to help you out at any opportunity (and two thirds of them are American so I just love them for that alone) - just overall super lovely. I know it's their job and everything but, being in retail myself, I really appreciate friendly customer service.

So, as you can see from the bag shot, I bought A LOT of goodies this time. I just couldn't stop buying! I must've been in the little shop for a good 45 minutes, just chatting and relaying information about products that I loved. I think the girls were quite impressed, actually! After much trialling and sniffing (because you have to have a good old sniff!) I cut my wish list down by about half and walked out the shop a very happy customer.

Here's a run-down of what I purchased:

If you know me, you know I absolutely love the limited edition Snow Fairy shower gel. Well this sparkle bar gives you a subtle hint of the infamous fragrance, while leaving skin with a glittery shine. Enriched with organic shea, murumuru, and cupuacu butters, the massage bar is really soft and just melts in warm hands. Smooth over arms and shoulders for enough of a sparkle to catch the light and to leave feeling extra moisturised.

This is one of my absolute favourite Lush products! A lovely star wand with a cute little bell will have you feeling like a festive fairy godmother. Again, it smells of Snow Fairy but the genius of this thing is that it's reusable. Swish the wand in your hot bath to create sweet-smelling bubbles, and bask in the glory of candy floss and pear drops. It lasted me about five goes in the bath, which I don't think is bad-going at all for £4.95.

I was recommended this by one of the sales assistants after she talked about how much she uses it to get more volume in her hair. It's the ultimate sea salt shampoo. It's quite coarse in texture, but you really don't need much to make a load of lather. At first I was apprehensive about putting so much salt in my hair, thinking it would be so difficult to comb through afterwards, but I worry no more! The shampoo itself is quite rich, jam-packed with healthy hair ingredients. These include sea salt for volume; seaweed and coconut for softness; fresh lemons and limes to give shine; as well as neroli, mandarin, orange flower, and vanilla for an uplifting fragrance.

After popping a pot of Big Shampoo into my wicker basket, the girl also recommended this Jasmine and Henna Fluff Ease and gave me a small sample to take away. This is a really good pre-wash treatment for someone like me who using a lot of heat products on hair. Basically it's for when you don't want to look like a poodle! The product contains more oils than you can shake a stick at, which all improve the strength of your hair and help it survive combing. Jojoba oil conditions the scalp, and red henna infusion give hair a healthy shine. I really liked using this, but for my long hair I think I'd need much more than a sample pot. I would definitely consider buying the proper version for £12.25.

This was the other sample I was given in the shop. The girls knew how much I loved the infamous fragrance so they suggested trying out The Godmother because it's available all year round, unlike Snow Fairy shower gel. It's much kinder on the skin than liquid soap, so I've switched and popped this on my bathroom sink to use every day instead. 

This stuff smells exactly like blackcurrant jelly babies and I'm in love with it! It's kind of an amalgamation of shower gel and soap, and is described as a party in a pot. Containing cherries, coconut, and carrageen seaweed; simply glide the wobbly bit over your wobbly bits. It smells exactly like The Comforter bubble bar, so if you love that then you'll love Sweetie Pie too. My skin always feels so soft and supple after using under a hot shower, and I always place it back in the pot to store it for the next time.

Charity Pot
This 10g pot contains hand and body lotion rich in almond, ylang ylang, geranium, tagetes oils and the ever-soothing organic cocoa butter. 100% of proceeds (minus VAT) go to good causes, and they're £1 each. I had such a great experience that day that I figured another quid wouldn't hurt!

And finally, I couldn't come away from Lush without a festive bath bomb! On this occasion I chose Golden Wonder, which is a huge golden present with a colourful treat inside. I was so surprised when I dropped this in my bath and it got going. Golden lustre, bright blue centre, and soluble gold stars - just brilliant! It's like a fizzing champagne cocktail and smells so good. Lush is certainly making bath time fun again!

All of these products are available from Lush stores and online.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Tackling Rosacea with La Roche-Posay and Liz Earle

Happy December, everyone! Can you believe we're already in the festive season? For my first December post I thought I would revisit my very first post on the blog, and talk about a skin problem that I've had for a number of years - acne rosacea. For those of you who don't know, acne rosacea is a skin condition which occurs on the face. Symptoms can include facial flushing, redness, spots, thickening of the skin, dry eyes, and sore eyelids. 

Rosacea affects around 10% of people in the UK, and is usually found in the middle-aged. Women are more commonly affected than men - though often the symptoms are less severe - and it's also more common in fair-skinned people. I guess I'm one of the unlucky young'uns that suffers from it but, on the other hand, my symptoms are very minor compared to some. Symptoms appear mostly on my cheeks, nose and sometimes my chin area - and although it's not at all painful or itchy, I get noticeable redness/flushing (not unlike blushing or sunburn) and clusters of small pimples on my chin. It tends to flare up if I have a shower or bath that is too hot (more likely this time of year when it's freezing outside!) or if I'm a bit stressed out. From what we know, there is currently no cure. However, there are some really fabulous skincare products which can really help.

La Roche-Posay have a brilliant Rosaliac range, and they kindly sent me some products to trial last month. Aside from micellar solutions and oil-based removers, I've now started using Rosaliac Micellar Make-Up Removal Gel* (RRP £12.50) which is a unique micellar structure which easily dissolves make-up in a single swipe of a cotton pad. Even though it starts off as a gel, once it comes into contact with skin it releases its moisture into the skin and turns to a more water-like texture. It's really refreshing to use and leaves my skin feeling clean and comfortable. If I find I'm having a particularly bad day, I'll soothe my skin further with some Thermal Spring Water (RRP £7 for 150ml). I've mentioned this product before but it's really useful for softening and refreshing the skin. It was a saviour during the hot summer!

After prepping my skin, I like to use Rosaliac AR Intense* (RRP £16), which is an intensive concentrate designed to resorb localised redness at its source and prevent its reappearance. It's another gel-like texture and is quite rich so a little definitely goes a long way. It took a good few weeks for this to begin working on me, but I have to say it has served me well. My skin is overall much calmer when I've been using this product, and it feels a lot smoother too. My cheek redness has reduced, and I feel like I can actually wear BB cream or tinted moisturiser without being self-conscious of those pesky red flare-ups. I would absolutely recommend it!

For moisturiser, there is always one which I come back to when I find my rosacea is flaring up. Liz Earle's Skin Repair Moisturiser for Dry/Sensitive Skin (RRP £19.25) is packed full of natural botanicals rather than man-made chemicals, and is more suited to rosacea-prone skin. This 50ml jar contains antioxidant natural source vitamin E and GLA from borage oil to help skin replace lost moisture. Avocado oils also soothe the skin. It feels lightweight and non-greasy on the skin, and lasts forever too! Similarly, if you wanted to keep with the La Roche-Posay vibe, you can complete the routine with their Rosaliac UV SPF 15 (RRP £16.50). This moisturiser is available in rich or light, and provides triple-protection to hydrate and limit the appearance of daily redness and hot flushes.

To find out more about acne rosacea Liz Earle has a really handy fact sheet available on their website.

*PR Sample

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Instagram: November 2013

Huge Lush Haul (post to follow!) | Stormy dog walk at the beach | Size 8, baby! | My Korilakkuma onesie came from Japan - amazing | Very convincing Chanel dupe | My most used Essie polish - Ballet Slippers | The perfect A/W lipstick in MAC Plumful | Rose-coloured bubble bath | Noms after work

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Vichy Idéalia Life Serum

Hi lovelies! I wonder, have you ever tried any beauty product - be it skincare, haircare or makeup - and instantly thought "why have I not given this a go sooner?" Well, I know I certainly have! This little gem shoots to the top of my skincare list, and I'm here to tell you exactly why.

After being a huge fan of the Vichy Idéalia collection for a while (you only have to take a peek at my BB cream review to know how I feel about the brand!), I was delighted to be contacted on the off chance that I fancied trying out the Idéalia Life Serum* to which, of course, I said yes!

As a pioneer in the science of anti-ageing, Vichy unveils a new approach in the treatment of skin ageing. I was pretty shocked to find out that 7/10 women recognise that they carry out at least one action that affects their skin quality in a negative way. These factors can be lack of sleep, pollution, stress, an unbalanced diet, lack of sport, hormonal imbalances, UV rays, or Winter's cruel dry weather. Vichy Idéalia Life Serum was created with all of these factors in mind. They accept that a woman's behaviour can affect the quality of the skin, and prematurely age us both physically and hormonally. Scary stuff, huh? Well, fight the signs of ageing with this prestigious glass bottle of pearlescent power!

"Instantly, complexion looks radiant and fresh, with a more even tone. Pores appear tightened and skin texture feels refined. Facial features look rested and skin looks younger and healthier." 

For me, I have to say that stress and lack of sleep are my biggest struggles in life and it definitely shows on my face. Since using the Idéalia Life Serum, I can honestly say that my skin feels so much smoother and brighter. I've also noticed that my cheek redness has reduced, and my drier patches have begun to behave better. I use it morning and evening, after cleansing - and sometimes I pop some moisturiser on afterwards if I'm having a bad skin day - and gone above and beyond the 8 days usage when you start to see results. Its milky-pearl texture makes it seem more like a moisturiser than a serum so it really feels like you're getting your money's worth. The texture is really lightweight, absorbs quickly, and doesn't leave your skin feeling greasy or sticky afterwards. It's also suitable for all skin types, including sensitive, so it really is for the everyday woman. And did I mention that is smells divine? A fresh, slightly floral scent which is a pleasure to apply.

So now I defer to you guys. Do you like using serums? Is this something you would like to try?

Vichy Idéalia Life Serum retails at £29.50 for 30ml, and is available from Boots nationwide.

*PR Sample

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

MAC Pro Palette Project - Month Five

Afternoon all, hope your week is going well! Today is the fifth instalment of my MAC Pro Palette Project and I'm beginning to really love how my 15 palette is looking - just five more refill pans to go before it's full! In fact, I have so many eyeshadows that I would love to own that I may have to buy another palette to fill over 2014. I've popped it on my Christmas list so hopefully I'll get a nice little treat under my tree on Christmas morning! But as it stands, I introduce to you two welcome additions to the palette: Sketch and Naked Lunch.

Sketch is described by MAC as "burgundy with red shimmer" and has a veluxe finish. I would say it's a lovely Wintery plum shade, perfect for blending through the crease to create a more defined and dramatic smoky eye. I've been really big into the dark plum smoky eye this season, as opposed to the usual black or brown most of us are used to. I think it's a welcome change! I've also been known to use this in substitute to black liner. The colour pay-off is brilliant as you would expect from a MAC eyeshadow and it also blends wonderfully with a 217 brush.

Naked Lunch is described by MAC as "minimal pink with shimmer" and has a frost finish. Similar to Nylon but pinker, I like to use this as an alternative to highlight the brow bone and inner corners of the eye, especially if I'm using a plum eyeshadow like Sketch or Cranberry. It also works lovely as a base, because it's such a subtle neutral colour with just a hint of shimmer. That being said, I think the shade is fabulous on its own for a very "barely-there", natural look. All in all another versatile eyeshadow to add to my collection!

What do you think of my recent additions?

Friday, 22 November 2013

Clarins Mineral Loose Powder

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this time of year. On the one hand there's nothing I enjoy better than a hot gingerbread latte on a crisp Autumnal day. On the other hand, from a blogger's point of view, the shorter days can cause a bit of havoc. I've been really busy over the past few months, what with university deadlines and work, so I find it so difficult to take decent photographs in the diminishing natural light. So first of all, I can only apologise for the quality of my photographs in this post! I tried my best to enhance them with the use of my ever-so-pretty star fairy lights, but as you can probably gather, the natural light was disappearing fast.

Nevertheless, I have for you today a product which has really impressed over the past few months. I know I had a lot to rave about when I blogged the Rimmel Stay Matte Loose Powder, which I've come to find as a cheaper, high street version. However, since using this product I have had no need to go elsewhere for my loose powder needs. Without further ado, I introduce to you Clarins Mineral Loose Powder...

When it comes to translucent powders I really don't ask for much. All I want is a product that can reduce shine and set the makeup underneath. Clarins Mineral Loose Powder is an ultra-fine, lightweight mineral powder which promises a translucent radiant finish. The powder smells lovely and fresh, and is a pleasure to work with on the skin. It's very much a "barely-there" powder, which is comfortable to wear all day - definitely a big tick in my books! It comes in three shades: Transparent Light (01) - my choice of shade; Transparent Medium (02); and Transparent Warm (03). The product is "light-optimising" so it instantly captures, diffuses and amplifies the light.

A powder puff is included, but I much prefer to use my Real Techniques Setting Brush as it's a lot smaller and I only tend to set the makeup under my eyes and around my nose. It doesn't make the skin look cakey at all! The powder instead creates a natural, velvety complexion, and benefits the skin by mattifying facial oils and protecting against dehydration all day. 

Now to the price, for a reasonable £30 you get a whole lot of product (30g of lightweight powder) so I cannot complain in the slightest. Besides, it really works for me and I only need the smallest amount for it to do its job. I think it's safe to say that it's here to stay!

Clarins Mineral Loose Powder retails at £30, and is available from the Clarins website and Debenhams. Psst, it's also on offer for the special price of £24 over at Escentual!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Great Expectations: Naked 3 Palette

Hello lovelies! I hope all is well. Today I have for you an exciting snippet which I can't wait to grab with both hands! I'm sure you all know by now that Urban Decay are releasing their long-awaited, greatly-anticipated Naked 3 palette. And I, for one, am so excited about getting my little mitts on it! Everyone loves a good neutral palette and I'm no different. Urban Decay are known for their fabulously pigmented eyeshadows all wrapped up nicely in a stylish case for ease of reference and travel. I love the brand, and own the Naked, Naked 2 and Naked Basics palettes respectively. They've all become a part of my everyday look so I'm confident that the newest addition to the Naked family will impress me and get a lot of wear too.

So what's in store for us UD lovers?

Well, the Naked 3 palette presents us with 12 brand new rosy-hued eyeshadows. The shades look very different to previous Naked palettes - dare I say classier - and are a mixture of mattes, shimmers and glitters. There's something for everyone! The palette itself comes with a decent-sized mirror, double-ended eyeshadow brush and a mini Primer Potion, which is a lovely incentive. I'm predicting that this will be in the similar price range of the other bigger Naked palettes (around £36) but I'm more than willing to shed out that amount for a top quality product. The palette is said to go on sale from mid December in the UK (despite being released early by mistake at Sephora) so that's plenty of time to get it down on your lists for Santa!

Having taken all this into consideration, will you be popping the Naked 3 Palette on your Christmas lists? 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Current Makeup Removers

I used to be awful at taking my makeup off before I went to bed. Waking up with panda eyes and foundation all over my pillow was just not a good look at all. I've wised up since then - become less of a lazy bones. Even if I don't feel like I can be bothered to go through my evening skin routine - which, let's face it, we all feel like sometimes - I never go without a good makeup removal nowadays and my skin is much better for it. Today I have for you my current makeup removal products that feature in my bathroom cabinet or on my bedside table for easy reach (that lazy trait still is imbedded in me) I'd also like to point out that it was completely unintentional that 3/4 of these products are made by French companies, just a happy coincidence!

So first up is every beauty blogger's favourite: Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micelle Solution (500ml). Worthy winner at the Cosmopolitan Beauty Awards 2013, this product is fabulous at getting off any kind of stubborn makeup you may have on your tired face. It gently cleanses sensitive, normal or dry skin with a couple of wipes with a cotton wool pad. The alcohol-free solution is designed with redness-sufferers in mind. Cool and soothe your skin as you wipe away the day's makeup, and gain the power benefits of a cleanser to boot. Overall I really love this product. It not only has several benefits but it removes dreaded stubborn mascara, and dries quickly on the skin to leave it feeling refreshed and clean.

I'm not going to go into too much detail because I actually did a post about this product ages ago - you can read in full here. Personally, I think that La Roche-Posay's Physiological Micellar Solution (200ml) edges ahead of Bioderma - just ever so slightly! With this product I can actually feel the benefits if that makes any sense at all. I also think it is the most effective at removing mascara and gel eyeliner, practically ridding my face of it in one fell swoop of a cotton pad. You may have noticed that the photograph of this is an empty bottle - that's how much I love it. I already have another in back up, just in case of some kind of emergency, and I will definitely be repurchasing again and again. It's the start of a beautiful skin relationship!

Next up is the newbie to the pack, Clarins Instant Eye Makeup Remover (125ml). This is a bi-phase lotion, which means that it's part liquid, part oil and needs shaking up before use. I think it's pretty unique in that respect. It claims to melt away even waterproof eye makeup with its translucent oils. It's not the cheapest option, I'll grant you that, but you only need a small amount on a cotton wool pad for each eye. I tend to leave the pad on my eye for 10-20 seconds and then give it a good wipe to get everything off - and it does a great job of melting away every last bit! One gripe I have however, is that because it's oil-based my skin does feel quite oily after use. This one is quite a luxury for me, and I use it sparingly.

Yes, yes I know. Perhaps I'm committing the ultimate beauty sin by including makeup wipes in this post. Sometimes if you can't be bothered with the namby-pamby beauty routines and just want to go to bed, then I don't think there's anything wrong with using a pack of makeup wipes. For me, Simple is the only brand I'll use for this purpose. I've tried a lot of others in my time, and these Kind to Skin Facial Cleansing Wipes are the only ones that seem to do the job without making me break out. The quick and easy option, yes, but by no means is it something I would make a habit of using all the time.

What is your go-to makeup remover?

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

An Introduction to Real Techniques

Hello lovelies! I hope you're having a good week and coping with the drop in temperature. Seriously, how cold has it been recently?! Anyway, this post has been a long time coming - a LOOONG time coming. As you already know, the whole beauty blogging world adore the Real Techniques makeup brush range - myself included. Over the past year or so, I've accumulated quite a collection. I love the variety, the application, and obviously the more affordable price tag! While I do own a couple of higher end brushes (MAC, Louise Young, and Bobbi Brown mostly) I've found that Real Techniques has taken over my cute IKEA brush pot - not even kidding.

I feel it's my duty to give you all a little background, even if you're not a newbie to these brushes. The line was created by fabulous makeup artist Samantha Chapman - one half of the amazing Pixiwoo duo on YouTube. I honestly owe most of my makeup looks to these two, and have cut down my morning prep by simply following their techniques. They make everything look so easy and break steps down in their tutorials so even the novices can have a good go! Now, the brushes themselves have been created to make that airbrushed look seem effortless. As you can see from the photograph above, the brushes have a colour-coded system to correspond to the key stages of application: gold for your base, purple for your eyes, and pink for your finish. The white brushes you see are the newer duo-fibre collection, which are equally soft and flawless! All the brushes have synthetic bristles and they feel so silky on your skin - they really are such a treat to use. I also find it super handy to have the names of the brushes printed on the handles which makes for easy reference when you're in a hurry to get your makeup done before shooting out to where ever you need to be. 

To learn more about the Real Techniques range, you can visit their website by clicking here.

With such amazing success with their original brushes, Real Techniques have since released a duo-fibre collection (as mentioned before) and now their wonderful Miracle Complexion Sponge. I have never really been a huge fan of sponge applicators; I always associated sponges with clown makeup or face painting to be honest! But the Miracle Complexion Sponge definitely lives up to its name, in that it made my skin look so much better. For £5.99, you get a 3-in-1 multi-functional sponge that will seriously improve your foundation application. The shape of the sponge optimises the process, with rounded sides to blend large areas of the face by way of stippling; a precision tip to cover blemishes; and a flat edge for the contours around the eyes and nose. I also find it's great for correcting imperfections and buffing in bronzer if I think I've accidentally popped too much on.

I have yet to discover a Real Techniques brush/sponge that I don't get on with. I'm delighted to announce that these beauties are here to stay!

The Real Techniques range is available to purchase from the Real Techniques website and Boots.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Instagram: October 2013

Getting extra cream and marshmallows at Costa | My bi-weekly ritual | Michael Kors watch | A bit of inspiration on the working weekend | My city's cathedral spire | Honey the bunny rabbit | A great Pottery Barn experience - fluffy winter throw for the chilly nights | Halloween at work | Gorgeous new makeup bag from Not on the High Street
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