Saturday, July 30, 2016

Book Review | Modern Retro by Caroline Clifton-Mogg

Modern Retro by Caroline Clifton-Mogg* arrived perfectly in the midst of the redesign of my front room and if I needed it confirmed perfectly I was on the right track. For those that have followed me blogging for some time will know that one of the main reasons I started to blog was my desire to live in my own home and decorate it. Back then I was all about shabby chic style and loved nothing more than shopping at boot sales for vintage treasures to decorate my home in, in fact I had read other titles from Caroline Clifton-Mogg during my 'research'. 

I have loved decorating my home over the years, and despite living in rented property I'm allowed something of free reign to decorate as I see fit and friends often marvel at how often I change my home. The problem is I haven't known quite what style is mine. I like modern and sleek, I like country and cluttered, white walls appeal but then I need colour, it's a common joke I like 'themes' but what do you do when you want to mould all of those themes into one home?

As much as I'd love the Pinterest home of dreams it's important to have a home that you enjoy and the most important thing I've found, fits your lifestyle. For me that was 'Modern Retro' or Mid-Century Design. As Caroline describes in her book Modern Retro is about how to work twentieth century design with modern contemporary styles with a little vintage and antique thrown in. 

Throughout the book are inspiration images of real homes which I can only aspire to. I didn't want to immediately spend hundreds on antique furniture so instead went for cheap and cheerful Monty range at Very as something of a tester for the look I was going for. It mixes well with the side table which I took from my parents home, a tradition as it originally came from my mum's parents so it's a great piece I've finally been able to work into my home design.

What one can always take from books of this style is ideas and confidence to put your own into practice. Yes a bright yellow armchair will work with a zebra print rug and more contemporary sofa despite being apprehensive. Using a book rather than a magazine means you have to work your own vision rather than having a pre-made shopping list to head to the store with. Also I find a home interior book can often be more enjoyable than magazines, often just filled with adverts. 

I love reading interiors books at bedtime, often far easier to digest than a regular book that can leave you up all night turning the pages. Modern Retro is filled with easily digestible chapters on every topic from lighting to camper vans so you can read a little or simply pour over the images. 

Where its a particularly room in your home or just one aspect in particularly you're looking to inject some colour or modern style then this book will certainly help with inspiration.

You can take a look at some images I posted on Instagram back in October when my living room was coming together. If you'd like a more detailed home tour let me know.

Are you a fan of home interior books?

*this post contains press samples and affiliate links

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Friday, July 29, 2016

Favourite Neutral Nail Colours

Whilst I loved my bright nails on my holiday I'm enjoying the other extreme and testing out various nude or beige options which are particularly suited to wearing stiletto nails over the weekend. I've rounded up a few of my favourite shades to share with you today.

No nail polish round up would be complete without Barry M and the shades I'm enjoying are Lychee and Rose Hip from the Gelly collection and PitStop from the Speedy Quick Dry range. Clearly Rosehip is the ringer in this collection and it's more a milky pink compared to the others but I've been enjoying it in this grouping so I thought I'd share. Lychee is perhaps my preference over PitStop which leans more towards the grey tones of beige.

Lychee is in face very similar to Nails Inc Coleville* so you have a choice whatever your budget. These are what I'd call the traditional nudes, if you want that mannequin nail look then this is where to head.

For something more statement, and one to pop against bright Summer colours then Models Own Hype Gel in Grey Storm* is a great pick. This was my first time trying Models Own nail colours and I wasn't disappointed. All these shades require at least three coats, more due to the condition of my nails than a need for opacity from the products. If your nails are ridged or in bad condition then a darker shade such as this will be more forgiving.

Finally is a shade for those who perhaps can't wear colour at work or want something very neutral. EverGlaze Cash-Merely There* is a shade that will not forgive bad nails although you might feel comfortable wearing a lighter shade that's one up from a clear polish. It's also a great alternative for those who might not like the tippex white french manicure tips.

What are your favourite neutral nail colours or do you prefer a little colour?

*this post contains press samples and affiliate links

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Palmers Manuka Flower Honey Haircare Range Review

Palmer's are well known for their famous Cocoa Butter Body range but who knew they did hair too? Well you might have had an inkling as I featured the Manuka Flower Honey Leave In Conditioner in my Currently Loving post last month and today I'm diving further into the range.

The new Manuka Flower Honey hair range contains, surprise, surprise, Manuka Flower Honey, the far superior to it's 'ordinary' honey cousin. Harvested directly from New Zealand it is a superfood high in antibacterial potency, vitamins, protein and amino acids. And if you're working with dry hair and need to help return it to a softer appearance then enter additional ingredients; Cocoa and Shea Butter in addition to Amla Oil which derives from Indian Gooseberries.

I first received the basket of Manuka Flower Honey hair goodness when I was a brunette and was slightly underwhelmed. With already excessively greasy hair I found the Manuka Flower Honey ingredient and it's moisture attracting properties to heavy for me but now I've got bleached hair it's doing wonders.

Starting with Palmer’s Manuka Flower Honey Strengthening Shampoo* and Nourishing Conditioner*, the former to cleanse and purify your hair and scalp and the latter to infuse hair with moisture which will leave dry hair soft and manageable. It's not my favourite shampoo and conditioner duo but it is one I like and have returned to now my hair is coloured, having previously cast it aside. Whatever my hair type I do love the Manuka Flower Leave In Conditioner* as it worked for my natural hair as an extra hit of conditioning or now, to allow me second and even third day hair. I don't suffer with particularly knotty or tangled hair but on days when I've not taken care with the hairbrush a few sprays of these and I can get a hairbrush through without any tears.

An even heavier leave in conditioner is the Palmers Manuka Flower Honey Leave-In Conditioning Cream* which I use as something of a mask or on days when I'm not wanting to wash my hair but feel like giving it a treat when lazing on the sofa having a Netflix binge. It's a thick cream which I think even now would be too much to use as a typical conditioner, but again if you're suffering from extremely dry hair this could be a saviour as I know that it leaves my hair far more glossy and helps combat the regular use of a hairdryer.

Finally in the range is Palmers Manuka Flower Honey Finishing Hair Oil* which I've not yet used myself. Once again I've always cried away from hair oils as I've not needed them but now a small drop of oil smoothed into my ends, especially if heat styling works a treat.

If you're hair is dry and crying out for moisture and you're looking for an affordable haircare range this is definitely worth trying.

*this post contains press samples and affiliate links.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hydrating Skincare from Pixi

It was some time ago now when I was invited down to the Pixi Beauty's pop up shop in London's Covent Garden for a browse at all the latest releases and swoon at the cabinet stocked with the infamous Pixi Glow Tonic. I was lucky enough to come home with a few products from their skincare range and choose two hydrating options. One of the misconceptions about skincare is the difference between dry and dehydrated skin, and I know before I became immersed in beauty blogging I was ignorant to the difference. My skin is generally 'normal' veering towards oily in the Summer or dry in the Winter and my skincare regime keeps things in check on a day to day basis. But I am also a smoker, one of the top causes for dehydrated skin, throw in my age and a hangover or two and there are days when my skin is crying out for moisture.

To help combat my dehydrated skin I chose Pixi Hydrating Milky Serum* and Pixi Hydrating Milky Mist*. Pixi Hydrating Milky Serum is a godsend the morning after the night before when I my skin is giving away my previous nights excesses and I need to start with the basics before piling on the make up.

It's not unusual for me to fall into bed without so much as a wipe passing my face after a night out so it's action stations come the morning to repair the damage. The serum is used after cleansing and toning and will instantly make skin look plumper and fresher than I feel thanks to it's formula packed with nutrients.

A side note on the packaging, whilst it's an attractive looking bottle which comes with both a cap or a pipette, I've found the pipette doesn't work well. The liquid is a thin gel texture so I find the pipette only works to 'scoop' it and swipe on my hand, rather than piping but it's a minor gripe and it works for me. Having a cap means you can easily travel with this product but it would mean having to remember your pipette and if you're anything like me you will have lost the cap long ago.

I'd seen the Pixi Hydrating Milky Mist mentioned on one or two blogs so it was a perfect accompaniment to the serum. I'm on the fence about these mists, on one hand I enjoy using them and on the other I'm wondering is it not just a vanity product. Either way I'm nearing the end of this bottle so I'm enjoying using it on a regular basis and it does contain one of my 'favourite' products, Hyaluronic Acid so it feels like it's doing much more than other mists and sprays. Typically I'll apply this fine mist, and it really is a fine mist, as a toning step but there have been occasions, especially recent weeks when the temperatures have soared and I've wanted to cool off.

It's physical size doesn't make it ideal for travel and I'm less inclined to put in my handbag which is a shame as it's be perfect for flights (whilst under the 100ml size it'd be a battle storing in one of those plastic bags) or to refresh make up before a night out. Can we have a travel size please Pixi?

I don't find that Pixi skincare is necessarily the 'strongest' of products for my mature skin but I can't fault those I have tried for doing the job of hydrating my skin and welcome them in my skincare collection. For instant results when there is no time for a hydrating mask or pamper evening these are reliable products I can reach for.

What products do you reach for when you need some quick hydration?

*this post contains press samples and affiliate links

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Clarins Gift With Purchase at Debenhams

Whether you're a brand devotee or a beauty blogger looking for an excuse opportunity to try some new products there is nothing better than a gift with purchase offer. Right now Clarins has a rather fabulous gift with purchase online at Debenhams*. until Sunday 7th August.

As is typical with such offers you're required to make a purchase of two or more Clarin's products before you receive your bag of goodies, at least one from their range of skincare - my pick would be Clarins Beauty Flash Balm which you'll have recently seen in my monthly favourites.

Your Clarins Gift with Purchase includes, and is held within a pretty beauty bag which is the perfect size for holding all your Clarins products ready for any forthcoming holidays. Inside you'll find Clarins One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser 50ml* which is a deliciously orange scented product. This cleanser made it's way in my Empties way back in 2014. It's a gritty gel like texture which is ideal if like me you can be lax with your skincare regime, skipped a mask or two and need something to freshen up the skin. It's perfect for holidays if you are a fan of tanning and need to ensure any dead skin is sloughed away - just remember SPF. I've been enjoying this recently targeted around my nose where blackheads tend to gather, especially from wearing sunglasses since the sun has appeared in the UK.

Next you'll find a 15ml size of Clarins HydraQuench Cream* which I'm tucking away for my next long haul flight as this will be perfect to ensure my skin stays hydrated during the flight so I can arrive to my desitination looking radiant even if jetlag is starting to kick in. It's worth exploring the HydraQuench range to make up your qualifying purchases whether it's the Clarins HydraQuench Cream Mask which I enjoy using overnight, especially when I'm hungover or Clarins HydraQuench Replenishing Lip Balm which Lupita Nyong'o had to hand the night she won her Oscar.

Your final two products are for that extra bit of pampering, Clarins Moisture Rich Body Lotion* and a Mini Instant Light Lip Comfort* the latter being the product I'm keen to try once I rid myself of a pesky cold sore. The lip treatment has a non-sticky, lip plumping formula which has made itself rather popular on other blogs.

If you're keen for some more suggestions on what to buy from Clarin's then another favourite of mine is the Clarins Bronzing Duo; this is a product I actually hit pan on and repurchased which says alot! See it in action here.

If you want to pick to take advantage of this offer you can order online at Debenhams right now.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Duty Free Haul

I’m sure the reason I love airports so much is that they usually involve going on holiday and if that’s the first then the second is Duty Free. Once I’m through security I’m like a woman possessed acting like someone with a Khardashians bank balance, throwing anything and everything into my basket. Please tell me I’m not alone in thinking that Duty Free spending isn’t like ‘real life’ spending.

When I hit Duty Free last month the top item on my list was Estee Lauders Bronze Goddess. This is a very clichéd Summer fragrance but in defence of jumping on the bandwagon I did resist for a long time as this scent is wheeled out every year and bloggers rave about ‘summer in a bottle’. I must have given Bronze Goddess a sniff on many occasions over the years and decided it wasn’t for me. I tend to favour heavy scents so it’s no surprising this ‘eau fraiche’, the most diluted version of a fragrance didn’t spark any joy… until now. A few weeks ago I was strolling through House of Fraser and gave it the cursory spray and wandered off once again unimpressed. Hours later I would keep getting wafts of the scent and realised how much I loved it. Interesting Ben turned his nose up when I was making my purchase but later in the holiday he commented on how he actually now liked it so if you haven’t found love in first spritz do try it on your own skin and see how it settles later in the day.

There’s little I can tell you that every other blogger and fan has; sun, sea, sand, coconut, memories of laying on a beach, yes it is all true and all there. It’s a whooping 100ml, glass bottle which makes me wonder would they not have been more successful bringing this out in a more travel friendly option such as the Chanel Purse sprays. It was the perfect scent to wear on my Menorca trip but I’ll be slightly reluctant taking it to Italy with me next month due to my luggage allowances.

And if one bottle wasn’t enough my mum has just returned from holiday and given me another bottle, not realising I had already purchased for myself. Clearly I mentioned this a lot recently. At least I’m stocked up now for the next couple of Summers.

Elizabeth Arden Eight House Cream Lip Protectant was one of my most used and repurchased items years ago. If I was travelling through Duty Free I would pick up this and an YSL mascara but as my beauty blogging grew and I discovered other products this little ritual disappeared. Did I need another lip balm, and certainly a pricey one at that not really but sometimes you just think why not.

The Elizabeth Arden Lip Protectant is £20 on the high street (£16.65 in Duty Free) and available in clear, my preference, and sheer tinted versions which I’ve never tried but would perhaps lend themselves well to current trends. It has the same properties as the Eight Hour Classic products and if like me you don’t like to apply product with your fingers to lips then this is a better choice. Containing skin softeners, sunscreen and Vitamin E it works from Summer to Winter. Whether you need to protect lips from sun exposure or dry and chapped lips this product will see you through. I’ve really enjoyed this rediscovery and am questioning why I ever stopped using it, it really is one of the best products and is saving the day when wearing matte lip products.

No trip to Duty Free is complete without swinging past the Mac Counter, my usual purchases are make up brushes, often adding to my stash of Mac 217 and 239. This time I needed to replace my 266 Small Angled Brush which for some reason is the brush I’m forever loosing. I always have a list of lipsticks and eyeshadows that I’m keen to investigate but depending on time and how many others have the same goal plays a part in whether I explore further. Continuing with the blogger clichés my list included Velvet Teddy, the lipstick that received notoriety when it was rumoured that Kylie Jenner was a fan. I also had Whirl and Soar Lip Liners on my list. I asked the sales assistant which she thought was a better match. After confirming I preferred a pink rather than brown nude she suggested Soar.

I’m still ‘new’ to nude lip colours and I’m definitely finding that the more pinks suit me better than browns and Velvet Teddy is definitely on the browner side and it’s matte finish, whilst with a creamy edge, isn’t the most flattering I own. I also found that Soar was very similar to the shade Dervish which I already own and perhaps are brown liner would’ve been a more complementing match. I’m still experimenting with it and I’m glad it’s in my collection, just perhaps Summer isn’t the right time for it to come out to play.

Finally I returned home with a new perfume, YSL Black Opium which was available for an additional 20% discount on my Easyjet flight. I think the discount and lack of exiting Duty Free purchases on my outbound journey meant I was easy prey. Admittedly I had seen this scent doing the rounds on blogs and it was ingrained in memory after smelling in store and enjoy it’s scent. This is more of my traditional style of fragrance than Bronze Goddess with a sweeter hit for Summer. I can’t deny I love the look of the bottle too.

Rather a nice little Duty Free haul there for me, I just need to decided what I’ll be buying on my next trip now. What do you recommend and do you have any traditional duty free purchases you make?

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Monthly Favourites June 2016 | Holiday Edition

Whilst I was only on holiday for a week, and for just a week at the that my favourites for this month were all from my recent trip. June as a whole was one of those months were I wish I had a YouTube channel as there was so much I could’ve talked about. Instead additional loves such as OrlyScenic Route or mysecond day hair duo were mentioned in their own reviews.

Speaking of hair duos a new one appears in this favourites line up; Bumble& Bumble Surf Spray and AVEDASun Care Protective Hair Veil. Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray is a much talked about favourite for many and I’m surprised that I’ve not shared this in a favourites post before as I’m pretty sure it’s my second bottle as I like to pick up the Bumble & Bumble Surf SprayTravel Set during Summer months. Admittedly my hair requires less assistance from salt sprays currently due to it already being dryer from the colouring process but I still wanted to have it on hand and would spritz a little in before hitting the pool to add some texture to the unruly, post sleep bedhead. My friend who I was holidaying with was glad I had it to hand as he loves a little salt spray and forgot his – beauty blogger to the rescue.

My hair has always been something of an afterthought where sun protection is concerned but with blonder highlighters I wanted to avoid any sun damage and fears that I’d wake one morning with green hair! I had a little search around and stumbled on the AVEDA Hair Veil and thought that’s something new to try. A simple spray bottle that ‘forms an invisible screen’ which protects hair from sun exposure for up to 16 hours and will minimise colour fading, damage and dryness. I was quite surprised that my hair remained in such good condition which I put down in part to AVEDA’s hair veil, wearing a hat and rediscovering Bumbleand Bumble Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner.  

My routine of a morning was to dampen my hair a little with the AVEDA Veil, brush out my hair and spray some salt spray, pop on my hat and then take up residence on a sun lounger – perfect. The AVEDA Veil is a little expensive than what I would usually pay at £21.50 for 100ml – I even thought I’d discovered a travel size when I picked it up in store and was shocked at how much it cost – but it’s hand luggage friendly and a little goes a long way. I’ll be able to use this spray on my forthcoming tips to Italy next month and Las Vegas later in the year.

Another favourite for my friends and I in Menorca was Vichy Ideal Solei Double Usage After Sun Oil* (what a name!). I had been using during the trip and a couple of days in when my friend commented on his peeling skin I passed him the bottle. By the end of the week everyone was stopping by to use it and as you can see from the usage it’s barely made a dent.

As the name suggests you can use one of two ways; apply directly to dry skin or in the shower to wet skin. I used both ways, for speed the shower worked well and stopped that slightly oily slip you get on hands with any oil products but if I wanted to give my skin something of a sheen and had a little more time and was not worried about any oil on clothing then it was post shower.

I mentioned the oily slip although this is not greasy, nor unpleasant, and only a bother on the hands. On the skin itself, legs, arms and the like it gave a lovely finish and skin drank it up after a day in the sun and felt supple and moisturised. Whilst I was using SPFs and I’m not something of a sun worshipper I had a little ‘burn’ from a morning out on the open seas but I can report that I didn’t peel at all nor experience that tingly tight skin which often occurs on holidays. I’ve packed this away ready for my trip to Italy next month.

It’s over two years since Tarte Lights Camera Lashes Mascara appeared in a favourites post and here it is again, my second tube at that, making it fight for ‘holy grail’ status. Back in 2014 I said that this mascara made me want to ‘throw out all others I own’ and I feel no different now. This is the mascara at which I’ll benchmark all other mascara’s. It was the one I chose to pack for my holiday knowing that my lashes would look long, thick and volumised. I love it.

On our first night on holiday my friend commented how nice my make up looked (yay me!) and from that night on would join me to get ready and rummage through my make up bag to try out what I had. The two products she liked in particular were L’Oreal Infallible Eyeshadow in Amber Rush and Mac Extra Dimension Skin Finish in Magnetic Appeal and I agree she made good choices. I jumped on the L’Oreal Infallible hype when it did the blogger rounds and was able to pick up Amber Rush, a US exclusive during one of my trips. It’s had on and off usage and it was only the past couple of months whilst decluttering my make up that I realised how much I loved this make up. My eyelids aren’t my best feature so I need to be careful of heavily glittered lids but the infallible formula is heavily pigmented enough to work for me. I remember wearing to work one day and a colleague walked into find me admiring my eyeshadow as I had forgotten, or at best not fully appreciated how good this looks. Whilst I add some definition to the crease and liner when wearing Amber Rush it works just as well on its own making it a time saving for nights out when you’re in a rush. Amber Rush is a dupe of Mac’s Tan Pigment, and whilst I’ve never used that myself I’d still say buy the high street version. Mac Pigments last forever and they’re not the most travel friendly compared to the L’Oreal pressed pigments. This renewed love means I’m going to have to add a few more of these little beauty’s to my collection.

Magnetic Appeal is a limited edition product from the Magnetic Nude Collection that I picked up on something of a whim after seeing Jaclyn Hill raving about it way back in 2013. It was more ‘I love the look of that’ rather than knowing exactly how or when I would wear it and it has had sporadic use over the years. When it does come into its own is when I’m holidaying and I’m offering a darker skintone that lends itself better to the product. Like Mac Mineralise Skinfinishes this can be used as a highlight, blusher or bronzer depending on your skintone and Magnetic Appeal is certainly on the bronzer side for me. I use this as something of a do it all on my cheeks when on holiday and whilst it initially scared me using a lighter hand and blending it does look fantastic and will really make the skin glow which is just what we’re looking for on holiday.

Finally another unloved MAC product, Girl About Town Amplified lipstick. I’m pretty sure this was one of my first MAC lipstick purchases but I’ve been off bright pinks, this is a ‘bright fuchsia’, and it’s sat in my draw for I don’t know how long. Yes, yes it’s probably well past its use by date. It was Stacey I think I saw wearing this on Snapchat and thought that looks great, I have that and dug it out. I decided to take it on holiday knowing that much of my clothing for the trip would lend itself well to the colour. If you apply heavily this is very pigmented as the finish suggests but there’s a nice sheen to each which makes a change from the matte lipsticks everyone is tending to favour these days. I don’t normally bother with make up ‘round the pool’ but on the odd day where I wanted to liven my face up or perhaps we were heading to lunch I’d press this on to create a more muted stain which worked perfectly.

Well that wasn't quite the 'shorter' post I had intended, top marks if you reached the end!

*this post contains press samples and affiliate links

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

HEMA Beauty Range Review

High Street Beauty Secrets

As high street beauty ranges creep up in price I'm always keen to seek out alternatives for a more affordable price point and see whether there are some hidden gems beyond the usual suspects. HEMA Beauty might be one of those brands worth exploring more.

I hadn't heard of HEMA until they got in touch and invited me to an event which unfortunately I was unable to make. They kindly sent me a few products to try which I can share with you today. HEMA reminds me of Tiger with only six stores across the UK, including Stanstead Airport, a branch I'll be checking out in August when I head off on my next trip. Take a look at their website and I'm sure you'll have one or two 'oooh I need that moments'. They even sell acrylic storage.

So let's talk make up and how my experience with HEMA Beauty was. The first two products I dismissed quickly, although as is often the case my initial thoughts were unfair. Foundation Brush No 13* is the 'old style' flat paint brush which we don't see anyone using, myself included. Instead I found this is perfect for applying face masks and made the whole process so much easier and less messy. It now sits in my bathroom to reach for with ease. Next was the Clear Eyebrow Gel No 31 something I just expected not to have any need for it as I like my coloured brow products. I threw it in my holiday make up bag nonetheless and found it handy to tidy my unruly brows for a day at the beach. It doesn't leave brows crispy so I'll definitely be trying when I'm just using eyebrow pencils.

Disappointing was the Coverstick in Shade 05* as for me it is too drying and stiff to work with. I have given it some good use and on initial application it covers nicely but after some time it starts to settle. I'm not giving up completely and may play around a little more but I think I prefer a more liquid formula.

Blushers and Bronzers have always been my favourite beauty products and at the moment I'm loving a lazy approach with using more natural, 'shimmery' shades as blush that both warm up the skin and highlight in one swipe. If it's shimmer you're after than the Wet and Dry Blusher Powder in 54* is gorgeous. A warmer version of Milani Luminoso this gives a lovely glow to the skin. The shimmer is not chunky and I'm reaching for this often especially now I have a tan. My favourite blush of all time is Mac Peaches and Cream from the Osbournes Collection which has a satin sheen to it so I'm always looking for similar products, would HEMA's Satin Blush Powder* be it? Shade 01 I have is perhaps a little light for a replication but it's a nice subtle blush if you're wearing heavy eyes or lips and want to keep cheeks neutral. I'm definitely keen to experiment with some more colours.

Moving on to lip products and these were a great success and even when I shared an Instagram post on the brand a friend commented how she loved the Soft Matt Lip Balms* and found them better than Mac. And I'm inclined to agree. The first thing I love about these products is their twist up design. I will always choose the product I don't have to sharpen, especially when holidaying. I have shades No 8 and No 11 which are both lovely, No 8 a pinky berry that will be great when we transition from Summer to Autumn (assuming we have a Summer!) and 11 gives that 90s brown nude lip that I'm still clinging on to. Nice but nothing special is the Fabulous Fluid Lipstick in 01*. The shade is a little too peach to suit me although it works dabbed on with nude lip colours. As for the formula it's a little chalky for my taste whilst being creamy and feels comfortable.

Finally are two products I'm still yet to try; the Metallic Eyeshadow in 06* (which is more purple than it appears online) and the Long Lasting Nail Polish in Shade 814*. Swatching the eyeshadow I didn't find the 'metallic high gloss' finish they mention on the website and it did appear patchy but I will hold of judgement until I've tested properly. Likewise I need to find out if the nail polish deserves it's 'long lasting' name.

Final mention goes to this little travel pouch* which I used on my recent holiday. It's one of those papery pouches or pencil case as HEMA calls it and was ideal for storing my work iPhone and portable charger whilst travelling or hitting the beach. My friends were frequently borrowing it whenever their batteries were waning so it was perfect to reach in and know where to find it whilst ensuring it wasn't covered in sand.

Have you heard of HEMA before?

*this post contains press samples

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

HEMPZ | The Perfect Summer Body Lotion

Moisturising my body is the one aspect of my beauty routine I'm lacking, although I think that's often the case for most of us. That said I tend to up my game when I have a pump dispenser as it seems to make things easier for me. As one of my Roger & Gallet Body Sorbets reached it's end enter Hempz Triple Moisturiser Body Creme*.

Hempz is a brand I had not heard about nor seen on the shelves but one sniff of the Grapefruit and Peach scent and I was sold. It's a large 500ml size bottle which thanks to a pleasing minty blue colour looks pleasing on the dressing table. And of course there's the pump.

Rich in Vitamin E, C, B1, B2, B3 and B6, Hemp Seed Oil is in all Hempz products - there's everything from body scrubs to tanning lotions - to maintain healthy skin and help give skin a radiant glow and I certainly know, especially with my light holiday tan that using body lotion helps maintain that just stepped out of the sun look.

It's not a sticky body lotion, the worst trait in warmer months, especially for us in the UK that seem to be subjected to limited sunshine but humid temperatures. I can pop this on as I'm getting ready in the morning and add clothes soon after.

You'll also find that Hempz products are Gluten and Paraben Free and 100% Vegan something I note is becoming more and more important.

What body lotion are you enjoying at the moment?

*this post contains press samples

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Monday, July 11, 2016

JANJIRA Marine Radiant White Range

Janjira is a brand I've had some exposure too with their gorgeous massage therapy candle and eye cream (which may I add comes in the largest pot it lasts for ever). They have just released their Marine Radiant White collection and I was able to try a few products from this aesthetically pleasing range.

All products in the collection contain a unique ingredient called Aglowhite, an extract from brown algae. Enriched with antioxidants that have a triple action on the skin by brightening, exfoliating and protecting. Skin is left looking more luminous your complexion clear.

Marine Brightening Radiant White Brightening Cleanser* is a creamy cleanser that I prefer for morning use although it works perfectly for removing make up of an evening. Whilst this is gentle on the skin I do find it causes a slight irritation around my eyes so I'm cautious when applying and most definitely a little goes a long way I can see this tube lasting some time.

My next step is the Marine Radiant White Brightening Toner* which comes in a fabulous pump dispenser. This is a refreshing toner that my skin enjoys looking hydrated and bright after use. Whilst I always go in with serums and moisturisers there's no urgency after using this as skin feels so hydrated.

Another product in the range, with the added ingredient of Sorghum Bicolor Stalk Juice to rejuvenate the skin is the Marine Radiant White Brightening Booster Serum*. Just a drop or two of this serum works to instantly make my skin look clearer and smoother. Of course as with all the other products in the range there is Algowhite and Vitamin C for its anti-ageing properties.

Finally is my favourite product from the range, Marine Radiant White Illuminating Day Cream*. As the name suggest it really does leave skin illuminated and is so light that wearing make up on top sits comfortably. Protecting against sun damage, pollution and other irritants this is a fantastic addition to my skincare line up.

The Janjira Marine Radiant Range is an affordable high end range, if there is such a thing and depending on your needs will help you make your choice as to what you think is affordable, for example I'd happily spend £24 on the moisturiser but perhaps less reluctant to spend £20 on the toner... although that packaging tempts me alone.

Have you tried Janjira skincare?

*this post contains press samples

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Friday, July 8, 2016

Personalised Gifts from I Just Love It

Following on from my review of I Just Love It gift range I was offered an opportunity to try some items from their personalised offering. I chose the personalised children's toiletry bag* as it was perfect for my friends son. I consider myself to be lucky enough to have some wonderful holidays but this little man is particularly well travelled for a three year old. 

After a chat with his mum who told me he was in need of a little toiletry bag for their next trip I was on the case. Available in blue or pink whatever your preference and personalised with the name of your choice its ideal for little ones heading off on school trips or to ensure that they can easily identify their bags.

Large enough to house all the products little ones might need such as toothbrushes and toothpaste it's certain to make bath time easier for mum or dad whilst on bathing duties in what can often be cramped hotel bathrooms. A handy hook ensures that you can hang all the essentials in easy reach.

Let's hope Charlie enjoys his next holiday.

*this post contains press samples

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Carmex Classic Wild Pot

Carmex Wild Pot

To know me is to know that I have something in common with Bet Lynch and Kat Moon - a love of leopard print. Stick leopard print on anything and I'll want it from clothes to beauty products. When Carmex got in touch with the leopard print edition I was sold.

Carmex Classic Wild Pot* is exactly what it says on the tin, leopard print packaging and the Classic Carmex formula - perfect. Carmex always reminds me of my early trips to the US when my friends would stock up on this affordable balm.

Carmex leaves a slight tingle but really will moisturise your lips better than many other lip balms I've tried, even those I've enjoyed. The only downside for me is I'm not a fan of products I have to dig my fingers into so I usually prefer the tubes.

Interestingly whilst on holiday Ben pulled out a pot of Carmex (not the leopard I might add) and I asked if he liked it. 'I do' he said 'it works'... well you can't say any more than that.

*this post contains press samples and affiliate links

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Summer Brights from Orly and Kiko

When I received the press release for the Orly Pacific Coast Highway Collection my eyes lit up. I don't think there was one colour that I wouldn't wear and any would be a perfect nail choice for my Summer holiday.

I was lucky to be sent two shades from the range; Life's A Beach* and Scenic Route*, the latter being the shade I chose to wear for my week away. On receiving the nail varnishes I treated my toes to Life's A Beach, a beach appropriate subtle neon orange. Whilst a lovely shade and were I returning to Ibiza this year I'm sure I would've been swayed by this shade but I wasn't ready to commit the colour to my nails and I prefer to match my toes and nails when holidaying.

I was very tempted by Scenic Route for my trip as it is a bright enough shade whilst complementing my outfit choices. Before committing I tested for a week on my natural nails (I treated myself to acrylic stiletto nails for my trip for longevity). This was my first time using Orly polishes and Scenic Route was a little difficult to work with. There is a thin brush rather than the short, square designs I prefer and find easier when painting nails myself. For such a strong shade I found application a little patchy and it did require a number of coats. Even when applied in the salon onto my acrylic nails it took some work for an opaque finish and I was left in front of a dryer for some time due to the thick layer.

Those issues aside once the colour was on my natural nails I was impressed with how long it lasted without chipping and when many people commented on the shade I knew it would be the one I would happily commit to for a week away. If you're looking for creamy, fun and bright nail shades for your holidays definitely check out this collection available from Grafton Beauty.

Sticking with the 'Summer Brights' I took advantage of an offer from KIKO a couple of months ago and purchase a couple of their Water Eyeshadows with two shades, 218 Grapefruit Pink and 219 Flamingo Pink (the purchase not swayed by the name I promise!). Both shades are very similar with 219 being more pink to 218's orange and admittedly you could easily manage with one or the other but I couldn't choose. Both came on holiday with me and it was 218 that received a little more love during the week. The shades are nicely pigmented and apply smoothly on the lid. The shimmer when dry as I used them isn't overpowering and has a slight shimmer rather than too much sparkle which suits someone older such as myself. I was cautious as to whether these shades would work for me but was very happy.

What Summer Brights have you been discovering?

*this post contains press samples

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

BOOK REVIEW | Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

Let's dive right in and I'll tell you I did not enjoy this book and found the ending a complete disappointment. So much so that I actually re-read the last couple of pages wondering if I'd missed something due to the late hour and my skim reading the overly descriptive narrative.

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll is on the New York Times best seller list and Reese Witherspoon has optioned it for a film, and I'm not entirely sure why.

Her perfect life is a perfect lie... Ani FaNelli is the woman who has it all: the glamourous job, the designer wardrobe, the handsome and rich fiance. But behind her sharp edges and meticulously crafted faced lies the darkest of pasts....

When a documentary producer invites Ani to tell her side of the chilling and violet incident that took place when she was a teenager at the prestigious Bradley school, she hopes it will be an opportunity to prove how far she's turned her life around since then. She'll even let the production company film her lavish wedding, the final step in her transformation. 

But as the wedding and filming converge, Ani's past threatens to come back and haunt her. And as her immaculate veneer starts to crack, she is forced to question: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for - or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

Sounds intriguing doesn't it and all the reviews suggest it's a page turner so why was I disappointed? Please note whilst I won't provide any intentional spoilers some elements of my review may allow you to make assumptions about the story.

Starting out it felt very 'Devil Wear's Prada' TifAni, or Ani as she is now known works for a fancy New York magazine, projecting a perfect image whilst planning a wedding to her blue blooded fiance Luke. It starts with a few suggestive thoughts that perhaps Ani is the villain, is she a likable character or has she simply been through such a trauma that it has 'made her this way' - what is she hiding from yet prepared to participate in a documentary about?

Initially I wasn't sure whether I was meant to like or dislike Ani, and certainly the characters surrounding her were not shown in a positive light either, that much like Gone Girl I found myself switching off with indifference. I kept reading as I wondered was this cast of unpleasant characters to make you like Ani more, or at best understand her? I don't know but by the end I still didn't feel absolved or sure how I felt.

It's a very timely tale, especially as we see how Amber Heard is currently being victimised in the press, and this is the story of a 14 year old girls struggles to fit in. Less serious but still topical you can align the current trend of bloggers 'living the high life' and the need to project a positive image and fit in at all costs with Ani's struggles at a school filled with wealthy students.

Of course I was as intrigued to know 'what actually happened' that I kept turning the pages and whilst the incident(s) were dreadful I felt that the already mentioned overly descriptive nature of the book meant that these were surrounded by so many other details they were diluted.

On one hand the incidents were black and white but again, the details of everything else meant I was almost confused. Constantly I was wondering how does this fit in, is it relevant, who is that person again without actually coming to any conclusion.

Additional characters appeared to feature only to pad out the story and add another thread to the tale without having any real purpose and as I've already said the ending... well I was simply 'is that it'.
Was Ani happy with the resolution? I believe so and there was some justice but I felt it lacked the impact it should have.

Whilst I might not perhaps have inclined you to reach for this book I'd love to know if you have indeed read it and what you thought.

*this post contains affiliate links

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