Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Monthly Beauty Favourites | May 2017

I didn't expect to have many favourites this month as I went from enjoying my final days off to starting a new job and wanting to rely on products that I was familiar with but as I glanced around at those that had been reached for repeatedly I found I had a nice selection for you.

First is a product I wish I had stuck with my enjoyment of and avoided the trip to have my eyebrows threaded, Parissa Brow Shaper Mini Wax Strips*. I first tried these strips at the beginning of the year and whilst trying to adopt a thriftier lifestyle. As I shared in my full review of the Parissa range I found these wax strips easy to use and ideal to tidy up brows between threading appointments. Unfortunately in the days before I begun my new job I decided to 'treat myself' to having my brows threaded and the threader was rather overzealous and thinned them out a little too much than I would like. Apparently they were uneven! Now I'm debating whether to return (elsewhere!) for a tidy up and assist with the reshaping or tackling them at home with my Parissa kit.

One of the joys of working my way through my skincare cupboard has been rediscovering old favourites, one of which is the Trilogy Make Up Be Gone Cleansing Balm*. I first tested this product over a year ago and it had fell to the back of my stash in favour of oils, and a slight lax approach to my evening skincare regime. Interestingly during my time off work my evening regime became my favourite and reaching for the Trilogy Cleansing Balm has been a pleasure. I have not used many balm cleansers so I have little to compare this too but I find it removes make up and has a nice slip to move the balm around my face to add a little facial massage which again is not something I've been prone to do. Under £20 this is a balm that I would happily repurchase when the time comes and am pleased with it's make up removal.

Another cleanser that I didn't expect to favour so was Good things Stay Clear Purifying Cleanser* due to it's 'anti blemish' claims and it marketed for younger skin than mine. My skin does become oily in the Summer and I do have the odd hormonal spot at that time of the month but otherwise I'm pretty much in the 'normal' camp. Despite this, if only for the delicious smell it's become a cleanser I'm enjoying using as my morning cleanse and I can't deny this months 'visit' went by without my typical blemishes that would appear. Thanks to extract of mango, blueberry and willow-bark to purify and decongest the skin to manage oiliness it has actually come into its own the past week as I've battled the London Underground on one of the hottest weeks of the year. If oiliness or blemishes are an issue for you I'd recommend giving this affordable cleanser a try.

I reference The Hero Project and their Glow Drops* in my new in post last week and whilst I've not dabbled the past week with adding to my foundations due to the aforementioned Underground commute it's a product I was enjoying before my return to work and especially over the Bank Holiday when I abandoned make up and felt that just wearing the drops gave my skin a fresh radiance that meant make up wasn't necessary.

Two make up favourites were Coty Airspun Loose Face Powder and Charlotte Tilbury's Filmstar Bronze and Glow*, the latter being another product I've never quite fallen in love with and been of the mind I could take or leave it. Starting a new job and again referencing that hot and humid weather and commute I wanted to look my best without piling on too much make up, and of course there were the early mornings when contouring to any degree was the last thing on my mind. Everyone loves the Filmstar Bronze and Glow palette and I've never quite understood the fuss. I won't go so far to say this is a must have but I'm certainly warming up to it. Using the bronze and glow adds enough definition and warmth without overkill and likewise the highlight is suitable enough for wear in the office. As I type I have no desire to swap this duo out any time soon.

Similarly the Coty Airspun powder is a product I picked up on a US trip due to many mentions by Glam Life Guru Tati. Typically I would use my Chanel Les Beiges powder but as you will see in a forthcoming post I need to replace and before I do so I wanted to tackle other products in my collection. Tati uses this to bake under her eyes and I haven't gone so far as that just yet but a dusting to set make up before a spritz of Mac Fix+ is working for me. The packaging is quite cumbersome and it's by no means suitable for anywhere other than the dressing table but it might add some longevity to my future Chanel powders, saving them for on the go.

And finally it's two tanning products I've shared with in their own reviews lately, St Moriz Dry Oil Self Tanning Mist* and Skinny Tan Ultimate Dark Mousse*. Both have found their way into my routines, namely due to how tired I may be feeling of an evening or how much effort I wish to put into my tanning efforts. Skinny Tan Mousse tends to form part of my Sunday evening back to work pamper routine and then adhoc through the week St Moriz mist works as any colour might be fading as I have to shave my legs whenever they will be on show. I was concerned the St Moriz mist might cause streaking from the Skinny Tan but so far I've been lucky and they appear to work in tandom perfectly.

What products have you been loving this month?

*this post contains press samples and affiliate links

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Monday, May 29, 2017

Hello Kitty Party Time

Today's post is a little later than planned as I have been over at my brother's home celebrating my nieces 2nd birthday, but that also makes it rather appropriate that I'm sharing with you a fabulous bundle of goodies I received from Party Bags and Supplies*, a supplier of everything you need for your themed parties.

My first choice was to pick my parties theme and I was spoilt for choice. You will find every possible character you can think of to choose from; Disney, Pokemon and even Paddington Bear as well as your typical every day choices such as Dinosaurs or animals.

I decided on Hello Kitty under the guise of my niece would like that but really it's because I've always wanted to have a Hello Kitty party. I received the Hello Kitty Party Tableware Pack* for 8 guests which contains plates, cups, napkins and a tablecloth. I decided to share my Hello Kitty party with my nieces over the Easter weekend when we were enjoying lunch at parents. My nephew and I set everything up and it was so easy to just grab the box and set up and at the end of the evening throw everything away. Although my mum kept the tablecloth a used again another weekend so you'll get one or two uses from it.

Perhaps most exciting for my nice was her goodie bag and this is where I think Party Bags & Supplies excels is their pre-filled party bags. I've helped many friends over the years either buying or filling party bags for their little ones parties and it can often be an expensive task buying the random toys, which often the children will abandon for the sweets not to mention the time spent preparing them ready for the event.

I received the pre-filled Hello Kitty party bags* which for £1.60 each contain Hello Kitty Bubbles, stickers, a bracelet and some sweets so all you need to add is some birthday cake. I particularly liked that you can buy individually so whether your child is having a party for just one or two friends or the whole class you can ensure you have a bag for everyone without a number left over being wasted. Of course if you want to add one or two extras to your pre-filled bags of perhaps make your own you can always pick from the range of items available online.

In the ever competitive world of childrens parties sometimes it's nice to keep things fun, simple and anything that makes things less stressful for the parents has to get a thumbs up.

What party theme would you choose?

*this post contains press samples

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Products I Used Up | April 2017

I have a mixed bag of empties from last month to share with you, including many that were a number of products all waiting to have their final dregs used up and had been hanging round longer than necessary. The first such products were the PRO:VOKE Liquid Blonde Colour Care Shampoo and Conditioner* which prevent any colour build up from those of us who like a little helping hand to have our hair looking sun kissed.

I hadn't reached for this duo for some time as I'd been testing other products but having left some time between appointments with my colourist as I waited for the start of my new job I was keen to ensure the blonde tones that were growing out were still looked after. I still have other products from the PRO:VOKE brand sitting in my bathroom but I will happily repurchase any of them when the time comes.

Radox has received so many mentions throughout the years on Florence and Mary, most often in these types of posts. Whether it's shower gel or bubble baths you will quite often find a bottle sitting in my bathroom in one for or another. My favourite is the 'For Men' (why?) Muscle Therapy Bath Soak, which despite my eye roll at it's name, I do indeed love for it's 'manly scent' a mix of peppercorns and ginseng. I feel that it holds it's own for filling my bathroom with any of it's high end competitors and for just £1 I will happily repurchase for many more years to come. That said stay tuned as I'm testing one or two other brands at bath time I'll be sharing with you in coming posts.

Another favourite is Roger & Gallet Fleur de Figuier Hand Cream* which smells amazing and I can guarantee whenever I apply someone in close proximity will comment and ask 'what the lovely smell is'. This is a hand cream I will definitely repurchase, in fact I'd purchase any of the products from the Fleur de Figuier quite happily. This handy size is perfect for throwing in my handbag and adds another layer of fragrance if you're missing your perfume.

I decided to pack Champneys Heavenly Days Sleep Pillow Mist* for my holiday to St Lucia and on my return carried the habit of spritzing my pillows before bed until the bottle made it's way into my empties bag. More costly than the Ragdale Hall Pillow Spray I have repurchased many times I expected to continue as I was. In fact I've found that the Champney's Pillow Mist is perhaps worth the higher price tag as I've found myself missing it and the Ragdale Hall offering a little too overpowering and synthetic for my liking. It's currently buy one, get one half price so it seems like a good time to make the investment.

Moving onto skincare and the vials of KYPRIS' serums and oils I was sent to review back in February. As I said in my initial review depending on your needs and more importantly if you have the budget the various offerings were a pleasure to use. My favourite was the pictured Moonlight Catalyst and I found it complimented my skin.

The next two products, Sarah Chapman Skinesis Intense Hydrating Booster and Bobbi Brown Hydrating Gel Cream were as you can see only samples so I have no lengthy time period with which they were tested for review but I both found them enjoyable to use. Sarah Chapman is a brand I'm keen to explore more and I used the Hydration Booster during my flight to St Lucia and I'm happy that I look far more refreshed than I felt and that my skin benefited from it's use. Bobbi Brown is better known for her make up than skincare but I found this Gel Cream sample in my stash and decided to use post my holiday to ensure I didn't suffer from skin drying out as my tan faded. It's certainly lightweight on the skin and make up, as I would expect, sat nicely on top but I don't feel a need to buy full size, nor able to say don't because I only received a couple of uses from the small size.

Interestingly as I went back to some earlier posts featuring Radox and labelled them appropriately I saw that the YesTo Cucumber Facial Wipes* featured way back in 2014 and as I said then they were a perfect flight accompaniment which was indeed their purpose in 2017. Whilst I didn't wear any make up on my outbound flight by the time I was ready settle down for my a film and post-lunch snooze I wanted to freshen up and the YesTo wipes were perfect for that, and saved the day when my friend, jealous of my in-flight pamper routine was disappointed she had worn make up and I was able to say 'I have just the thing'. I know wipes aren't the best thing for our skin but they are 'allowed' on flights and whilst I wouldn't rely on them as part of my cleansing regime I will certainly ensure a stash is available for when needed in a pinch or on my next flight.

Two very sad additions to the empties bag were a vial of my Chanel Coco Mademoiselle perfume and L'Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation, both having holy grail status. Spoiler alert the final vial from my Chanel travel set will also be making it's way into my empties next month and I will be using as an incentive to use up many of the other perfumes in my collection. Coco Mademoiselle was always my favourite perfume, and I'm sure it's one I'll continue to repurchase although I like to change with my moods these days rather than adopting the 'signature scent' approach. And on the note of Chanel, you'll see Suddenly, Lidl's interpretation of the scent which I don't think is too bad. Of course for about £4 you cannot expect much but I used to have it sitting on my desk at work to touch up perfume when I felt I needed a refresh for the journey home but rather not waste the 'real thing'. On the note of the Lidl scents I picked up the Chanel No 5 dupe for my mum recently as I was more impressed with that. I actually sprayed in the store on entering, carried on with my shopping and kept getting a whiff of 'my mum' that I had to buy for her to try.

Back to my favourite foundation, which despite a back up in situ and numerous other foundations to pick from I am still squeezing every last drop out of this tube. I wear the US version and find the coverage flawless and one that will last well for me throughout the day, even tested yesterday for my first day back to work.

Another old office favourite was the Maybelline Lips in Cherry. Purchased as it compliments my often worn red lips whilst allowing added moisture. This has been repurchased and is waiting for the appropriate moment to be added to my new office stash.

Final word goes to the pricey but fabulous By Terry Terrybly Growth Booster Mascara* which became a regular after it accompanied me to Center Parcs. The brush is big, thick and coats lashes that boosts volume that as I type this I want to hit buy now as I realise I'm missing it.

What products have you used up this month you wish you hadn't?

*this post contains press samples and / or affiliate links

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Monday, May 22, 2017

New In | May 2017

Without sound cliched one of the great things about blogging is not so much the 'free stuff' (because nothing is ever 'free') but the introduction to brands that you may not have been aware of or discovered otherwise. This month one such product was YOPE Verbana Natural Liquid Soap*.

I hate the dry feeling after washing hands and I'm always reaching for my hand cream to relieve that feeling so a liquid hand soap isn't something that would typically excite me despite a bottle of 'something' always sitting by the kitchen and bathroom sinks but YOPE has impressed me.

Firstly I love the scent of Verbena, a citrus that makes it perfect for me to freshen hands after the task I hate most, washing up although it was how my hands feel after using. In fact after the first time I used it I was waylaid by my laptop before sitting on sofa where I would usually reach for my hand cream and as I was typing away I suddenly realised that I had indeed not felt the urgent need to rehydrate my hands.

Housed in a hefty 500ml pump bottle with cute imagery you'll find 90% of the ingredients are natural, free from parabens, silicones but does include Vitamin B5 and allantoin which will soothe irritation and makes it great for sensitive skins, or indeed those who find they're washing there hands often.

UK reality starts are giving Kylie Jenner a run for their money with the release of make up products, one of those being Chloe Ferry of Geordie Shore range. In addition to sunglasses and eyelashes is a range of Matte Lip Glosses and I was recently able to sample the By Chloe Ferry Matte Lip Gloss* in shade Rose. When I hear gloss I think of something sticky and what I would shy away from and I would argue this is more akin to a liquid lipstick but it doesn't feel as drying and far more comfortable to wear. The shade Rose is great and perfect for Summer. For me it's a little to on the bright and almost neon side for regular wear, I wish I was returning to Ibiza in the Summer as I could see this being a staple and it'll certainly make an appearance over weekends but not quite suitable for the office. I'm quite keen to hit purchase on the shade Rouge, you know I love my red lip products and having recently decided the Sephora Lip Creams are not something I can wear this would be a great alternative.

Last month a new skincare brand hit QVC, The Hero Project* and I was sent a couple of testers from them to try out, one in particular The Hero Project Glow Drops* I am loving and interestingly it was the product I was less keen to try, the other being The Hero Project Hyasoft Instant Moisture Boost*.

Starting with the Glow Drops which is your typical facial oil to brighten your complexion thanks to Vitamin C but I wasn't excited enough to swap it out for the current products in my rotation but it was their recommendation to apply before make up that made me take the plunge and since then there has been no going back. I applied on my skin after moisturising and was impressed with how my skin literally 'glowed' but not in that usual way other oils can. I was interested to see how my foundation would apply and sit on top of the Glow Drops and it complimented my favoured L'Oreal Infallible Matte Foundation wonderfully and if you're smarting the L'Oreal Pro-Glow Foundation has not yet reached the UK shores this is a great way to create for yourself. If you have dry or mature skin this is a great way to regain that glow and it's priced at £20 which makes it one of the most affordable products of it's time.

As I alluded to The Hero Project Hyasoft Instant Moisure Boost made less of an impact on me, although a small sample isn't always enough to give a full impression or review. It's similar in consistency to Pixi's H20 Skindrink Hydration Gel, which I favour although I've had more opportunity to put to the test and you will pay about £10 more so it will depend on your budget.

Finally is a repurchase of the L'Oreal Brow Artist Plumper, a product I favour for quick and easy brows on a day to day basis. I find the brush is the right size for me to work with and it dispenses enough product to fill my brows without overloading them. I do find that this new product provides more colour and hold at it's early stage and as someone who plays with their eye brows do suffer some piling until it dries out a little but nonetheless it's a product that I appreciate the price and finish off when I'm not interested in using products to give a finer finish.

What new products have you been trying out this month? Do any of these spark your interest?

*this post contains press samples and / or affiliate links

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Tried & Tested | Skinny Tan

Skinny Tan Review

It's hard to go on social media without seeing Skinny Tan* products popping up. It's the new favourite faux tanning brand doing the rounds with bloggers, myself included, and features everything from gradual tanners to your usual mousse as well one or two interesting products such as the Roller Applicator I have my eye on. 

So who are Skinny Tan and how are they different? Skinny Tan is the first of it's kind to combine a natural tanning active with naturally derived skin smoothing actives that will tan, contour and reduce the visible appearance of cellulite. Guranan, a caffeine derivative that you'll usually find in firming and cellulite creams so to find it in a tanning product is revolutionary. 

I did acknowledge the name could be offensive to some but I understand why and whilst I won't say that I typically have my cellulite on show so no real need to improve it's appearance to the public I do feel that a tan flatters me. 

The first step within any tanning regime is exfoliating or as Skinny Tan put it, using their Pre-Tan Primer* and it really puts in you in the holiday mood thanks to is coconut scent. This is a lovely product, the formula is cream based and contains crushed walnut shells but it isn't harsh and it's one of the lighter scrubs I've tried and makes for a somewhat more pampering experience. Contained in a tube makes it easier to dispense the product and less wastage than using a scrub from a tub although you are paying for the privilege. Your Skinny Tan Pre-Tan Primer contains 125ml of product for about £9.99 whereas something like your Soap & Glory Scrubs are £8 for 300ml so it's down to personal preferences and hunting out offers. Superdrug currently has buy one get one half price on the Skinny Tan range for example.

Skinny Tan Review

Skinny Tan contacted me whilst I was in St Lucia and once we'd had a chat about my preference for mousse self tanners I bravely decided to give Skinny Tan Self Tan Mousse in Ultimate Dark*. Usually I'll go for the light versions of fake tanners but I thought having a Caribbean tan I'd want to fake as it faded now would be as good a time as any.

Now I am in now way a professional faux tanner. I dabble but it's not something I do regularly and also find the whole process a bit of a faff. Exfoliate, waiting for it to develop, do I risk leg saving, washing up, keeping moisturised it all feels a bit too high maintenance for me, hence a recent love for the St Moriz Dry Oil.

Skinny Tan has somewhat converted me and it's something I've been really impressed with, especially in such a 'dark shade'. It's typical to mousse tanners I've used in the past although much darker in appearance and you can easily see where you are applying. I was quite cautious on my first application but received positive results and a day or two later I bravely applied a more generous layer and now I'm at the stage where I'm not sure, and convinced that this is my natural skin colour as opposed to the help I've received from Skinny Tan.

Wearing the darker shade I find that I can obviously see where applying and once it's developed and apart from some dubious application on my feet (as I say I'm not professional) otherwise I have no streaking and it looks quite 'natural'. It's definitely something that I will and am using frequently and I'm pleased that I'm able to layer without it looking patchy.

The scent of biscuits usually associated with fake tanners is not evident with Skinny Tan and there's a slight tackiness as you would expect but nothing uncomfortable. Whilst my sheets didn't come off completely unscathed I found they actually came off better when I've used lighter tans so that is a definite bonus.

Skinny Tan Review

Perhaps one of the reasons other fake tans have no lasted so well on my skin is my lax attitude to body moisturising. It's something I'm much better of at the moment whilst enjoying time at home and I hope that when I return to work next week I'll maintain.

Skinny Tan After Glow Gloss* is designed to help maintain your tan and keep skin hydrated by adding a gloss for a 'model sheen'. The coconut scent is baked and pairs wonderful with Estee Lauders Bronze Goddess, my Summer fragrance.

The gloss should only be applied after the tan has been developed and when I used on my legs on one of the rare warm days in London last week I felt like J-Lo as I admired the sheen. As someone who considers her legs to be their 'weak point' seeing them bronzed and glossy was pleasing. There is slip to the legs and as I sat on the train with my legs crossed it was noticeable but again nothing to be concerned with and dried down soon enough.

My experience with Skinny Tan was very positive and it's definitely a brand I will repurchase and use in the future. If you've seen all the coverage I'd recommend you try it out, whether you want a gradual, one hour or overnight product there's certainly something for you.

You can find Skinny Tan stocked in Superdrug on the high street but you'll also find offers on the Skinny Tan website featuring gift sets which will save you a few pence - and they'll even tell you when it's cheaper to buy in Superdrug!

Have you tried Skinny Tan?

*this post contains press samples and / or affiliate links

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Disney | Customised by Me

Despite my trip to Walt Disney World being many months away it would appear that my family and I are discussing plans and sharing our latest findings and adding things to our ever growing lists of things to do. I will be sharing posts on Disney holiday planning when the time comes around, as although we do not travel until November it was this weekend I had to book Mickey's Backyard BBQ, after reading Lottie's post, once the window of opportunity opened - and I missed the first tier as I was too slow.

In addition to all the practically planning there is of course the opportunity for preparing outfit. I don't think any holiday results in as many photos as a Disney holiday does but it also gives the opportunity to have a little fun and add some Disney Magic which is why it was perfectly timed when Customised by Me got in touch and asked if I'd like to try out their service.

Quite simply as the name would suggest Customised by Me offer a range of products, in the choice of your favourite Disney character which can be customised to your choosing from Star Wars to your favourite Disney Princess. I was offered to pick a couple of items from the site and I must say I was spoilt for choice.

First I searched my favourite Disney character, Alice and choose an iPhone cover for myself and then I decided to get my mum a little fun treat. She is note a 'Disney person' but she does love any sort of adventure and is looking forward to her first trip to Walt Disney World so I thought what better to get her in the mood than a Buzz Lightyear tote bag. The bag received a lot of attention from my niece who loves Buzz so mum especially loves using the bag when she is shopping and if there is one thing using bags for life gives us now is to have a little fun with those we choose.

Prices are comparative to similar items on the market although you bonus is the free customisation which makes the items more special. I can imagine picking some wonderful items for children to surprise them with the news of their Disney holiday, or perhaps choose a customised towel for the trip.

Customising your items is easily done, and you can pick your favoured colour to match your item. My one criticism is that you can't pick 'exactly' where you'd like your customisation, or indeed the size of the font so with some images it will appear that it's just been added 'anywhere' but as you can see from the Buzz tote and Alice iphone cover the customisation sits perfectly fine so it's a minor niggle.

Whether you have a little one to buy for or indeed like Peter Pan choose not to grow up, which character would you choose?

*this post contains press samples

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Monday, May 15, 2017

My St Lucia Make Up Routine

I'd be embarrassed to show how much make up I actually took to St Lucia and instead am sharing some of the highlights and the products I reached for most during my holiday. Starting with my first dabble with the Lottie London brand and the Insta Filter Power Eraser Stick*.

This was the first time I've used a Pore Eraser Stick so I was unsure what to expect having used only 'cream' products in the past but I was really impressed with how much I enjoyed using it. It was so easy to use, simply apply the product from the stick directly to skin and then blend out with fingers. Used in conjunction with my favourite foundation, L'Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation it created such a flawless finish. In fact one night as we arrived home and reviewed the evenings photos I commented on how shiny my face was in comparison to previous nights and then I remembered it was because I'd forgotten to apply the Lottie London pore eraser on that occasion.

Sticking with the 'base family' my concealer of choice was Wet n Wild Illumi-Naughty Highlighting and Concealing Pen, the very cheap 'interpretation' of the YSL Touche Eclat which I did have in mind to purchase in Duty Free yet decided to stick with it's poor packaging imitation. This highlighting and concealing pen is great for just a few dollars and I'm currently debating as it appears to be making it's way into the empties pile is it something I 'must' purchase when I'm in the US at the end of the year. It's a very light concealer so definitely not one for concealing very dark circles but one assumes on holiday you're better rested than any other time. The highlighting aspects are exceptional and it really does brighten up under the eye, in fact as my face became more tanner during my trip I had to abandon using this as it was just a little too light for me.

It's no surprise that Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer was my bronzer of choice. I dabble with contouring but certainly not on holiday and prefer instead to simply bronze up the face hoping that 'beach glow' is already doing it's thing. I find when using this bronzer more than any other I'm less inclined to feel the need for contour even back home in the less beachy conditions.

An old favourite from Milani has climbed back to the top since my return, the blogger favourite Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso. I tend to lean towards pink blush tones rather than peaches but Luminoso has managed to steal my heart. I'm always conscious that too much blush will interfere with my red lip of choice but Luminoso managed to balance that hint of colour without overpowering. Due to its sheen if you're happy with only a subtle highlight you might be happy that this provides just enough.  

I was on holiday so I wanted a little more glow and despite it's un-travel-friendly size I took the Wet n Wild To Reflect Shimmer Palette in Boozy Brunch (formerly part of the Fergie collection) as it's been a favourite leading up to the holiday. Before I go on I must say much of this make up has made up that which I've reached for on days when I've applied make up whilst at home, other than switching products in out as I'm trying to declutter before I head back to work and daily make up wearing. On that note I have to say for those Champagne Pop lovers I prefer this highlighter. It doesn't pack as much of a punch but I find this blends into the skin and suits my mature skin much more than the Becca classic. The pink and gold swirled together really does create a beautiful rose gold highlight that will compliment many make up looks. And if you want more glow keep piling it on.

Moving onto the eyes which I will always admit are not my strongest area for make up application and skill and certainly not an area I want to experiment with on holiday. My trusty Lorac Pro 3 Palette was my staple but I mixed things up with one or two of my favoured L'Oreal Infalliable Eyeshadows. Of course Amber Rush was there but it was Golden Emerald which was the shade I enjoyed reaching for having a bit of fun with, if you can wear green eyeshadow on holiday when can you wear it. As we know these have all but disappeared in the UK so I'm hoping I can stock up some more in Florida when I visit in November.

I was sent Joan Collins Class Act Mascara* prior to my trip and thought that would be perfect conditions to test out. Sadly it's not something, and I have persevered since returning, that has worked out for me. Aesthetically I love everything about it, the gorgeous, weighty gold packaging, the thick brush and indeed the appearance of the mascara on my eye lashes. Unfortunately this is such a wet mascara and the minute I apply it is all over my eyes. Hours later I'm spending half the evening removing fall. I had hoped perhaps the heat was adding to these woes but it has continued on my return and I've had one or two near misses as I tried to make it work and I almost went into interviews with panda eyes. On a positive my mum has popped midway through drafting today's post and quite unplanned thanked me for the mascara I had given her, indeed the Joan Collins Class Act one. For her it is working a treat and she said how full her lashes look wearing it so it would seem what didn't work for me works for her and may do for others.

Lip products are those that I typically over pack for holiday, especially when I consistently reach for a red lip. The first was one you'll have seen in my monthly favourites, the L'Oreal Lip Paint in Red Actually which I picked up at the airport - because of course I didn't have enough packed already. I've eyed up other shades but nothing has particularly jumped out but I'm thinking of taking another look at Red Fiction which I believe is more of a true red and think it could be a big hit.

Ciate London score top marks for the packaging of their Pretty Stix Lipstick* which I was able to try in bright shades Me Me Me and First Love. I'm not too much of a bright pink wearer, in fact I'm currently decluttering those I own but Me Me Me has earned a place in my collection. These are like the more sophisticated older sister of the Maybelline Baby Lips. The pigmentation is that of a regular lipstick but thanks to Brazilian Murumuru Butter you're receiving the moisturising properties of a balm. They are slick and shine so make a great day to night option for the Summer.

As keen as I'm to try the Ciate London Pretty Stix in the nude shades it was the Benefit They're Real Double the Lip in Nude Scandal* that performed the job in St Lucia. On the nights when I dabbled with my L'Oreal Infallible Green eyeshadow it was this lip shade I reached for. The more I use the new lip release from Benefit the less I 'get' the whole double shade combo but that doesn't mean I love them any the less and this still remains one of my favourite nude shades.

By day I didn't want to worry about lipstick smudges whilst exploring St Lucia but I still wanted a little something for those all important selfies. Joan Collins Glorious Gloss in Piper* provided enough of a pink tint without looking like I'd packed on the make up. I'm not usually one for glosses, as a smoker if they're too sticky its a no no but I was found this was creamy rather than sticky whilst still giving the gloss finish.

Finally a couple of brushes I'll give a mention to for their cute but functional travel friendly size. The Sephora Mini Multitasker Brush has accompanied me on many holidays and works a dream for apply foundation. I love my beauty blender but I find it a tad cumbersome for travel.

QVS is a new brand that I can't help confusing with the well known shopping channel. I was sent a selection of brushes from their range and you'll see one or two others popping up in future posts but today it's the Flat Top Blusher and Blender Brush* which I'm singing the praises of. I used this with the aforementioned Milani blush and despite typically using rounded brushes for blusher found that I could work well with it and it's been packed into my travel bag for future trips.

As I say this list wasn't exhaustive but these were the 'favourites' if you like and certainly products I've lazily reached for since my return knowing the results work for me.

Do you overpack make up on your holidays?

*this post contains press samples and / or affiliate links

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Vichy Idealia Night Time Routine

Vichy Ideal Peeling Review

I love Vichy as a brand, especially the Idealia range designed to protect against the stresses of modern living. The newest product to this range is Vichy Idealia Peeling* a unique water-light formula with the power of a serum to refine pores, improve skin texture and smooth fine lines. The gentle peeling action, unlike similar products is suitable for even sensitive skin and acts to create long-term radiance and improve skin quality and leave it looking brighter.

An energising blend of antioxidant Blueberry Polyphenol and fermented Black Tea will work to restore your skins natural glow as you sleep. Simply apply to skin under a night cream will increase the efficacy of night creams and serums, by allowing for deeper penetration of active ingredients.

Even with my hardy skin I was apprehensive about using nightly but its certainly the least harsh toner of it's type and I do think they're doing their skin a disservice with the name 'peeling' as I think it would put people off.

At £30 for 100ml it's twice as much as the famous, and stronger Pixi Glow Tonic so I think depending on your skins needs and budget will steer you in the direction of the more suitable product. The Vichy Ideal Peeling does feel more luxurious in a heavy glass bottle and the scent is enjoyable and something I always look for in products that I use at night time. Despite nightly use I find a little goes a long way and it's lasting longer than would expect and is perhaps preferable to the pre-soaked pad options.

To keep things 'matchy matchy' I'm using Vichy Idealia Skin Sleep* which I've reviewed for you before. Again a great scent, luxe packaging and a light formula that feels less suffocating than some other heavier night creams. Whilst I appreciate I'm not a slave to an alarm at present I still find I have restless sleeping patterns that I need to hide in those job interviews.

Have you tried the Idealia range from Vichy?

*this post contains press samples and / or affiliate links

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Head to Toe Beauty Picks

My bathroom is slowly resembling a showroom for TIGI products and it's fast becoming one of my favourite haircare brands as I'm yet to find a product I do not like. Having put aside the Totally Bleachin range whilst I wait for the sun to reappear instead I've been using TIGI S-Factor Stunning Volume Shampoo* and it's complimenting conditioner.

The TIGI S-Factor range works with a 'body-boosting formula' that adds bounce to fine and flat hair which sadly is a category my hair falls into at times. Often my fear is that these types of products are too heavy and as I am washing hair less whilst spending more time at home, again I can find it actually has an adverse effect on my hair but thanks to Pro-Vitamin B5 and natural Jojoba Oil it adds no weight and cleans hair that requires minimal styling with enhance texture and definition.

My only complaint is with the TIGI S-Factor Stunning Volume Conditioner* which is really difficult to squeeze from the bottle. I appreciate this is 'first world problems' at it's best but when I'm in the shower I don't want to struggle with packaging - especially early morning. I have worked round this by unscrewing the lid so it's a little cumbersome and not ideal but worth the extra effort.

Also from the the S-Factor range is TIGI S-Factor Smoothing Lusterizer* a product I thought I would dismiss quickly but interestingly have found it's one I reach for after washing. Again this type of product can be in danger of weighing down hair but a little goes a long way to smooth the ends of my hair and leave them looking less like theres an urgent need for a trip to the hairdresser. If that sun ever does reappear it also provides protection against heat styling tools. I find it works best for me on weight hair and I just add a little to the ends.

From head to the toes and let me tell you that nothing identifies my age more than my disinterest in wearing painful shoes. When it comes to footwear, despite acknowledging that I feel better in heels, after five minutes of wearing them I'm retreating to my comfy flats but of course some circumstances require I suck up the 'pain' and bring out the heels especially the past couple of weeks as I've been embarking on interviews in London.

One of the problems I have is the sexy affliction of wide feet, but frustratingly so not so wide that if I buy shoes with a wide feet they are actually too big for me. It's like a great game of which irritation shall I choose, too tight or too loose?

Enter Sticky Heelz* which have come in handy and allowed me to utilise a pair of heels that were slipping off my feet - no one wants to lose a shoe walking into an interview - before I'm in a position to treat myself to some new 'back to work heels'.

Sticky Heelz are a twin-pad design, one side sticks to your shoe and the other is stuck to either your foot or will work with tights. I've used in both instances and find that it works better when I'm not wearing tights and I have been wearing for short periods of time but it certainly works better than anything I've tried previously.

Each pack of Sticky Heelz contains two shoe pads and four heel pads and again, depending on how you manage you'll get a couple of wears out of them. It can be a little fiddly trying to get your foot in your shoe to line up and stick to the shoe pad but as I expect like me you're dealing with a pair of shoes that are already 'too big' you'll have some room to play around with and practice makes perfect. I'd definitely recommend giving these a try before you discard a pair of shoes that are causing you problems.

And finally the book that's kept me company whilst between meetings is Kiera Cass, The One the final instalment in The Selection series. Finally revealing 'the winner' of The Selection process and finding out finally who will become the wife of Prince Maxon I admit by this point I was bored of the series and this book. Of course being a young adult book I can argue I'm not their target audience and once again I felt it repetitive and was really not warming to America, the lead in the story.

If you're a fan of the Hunger Games or The Bachelor then you might like these series and I found it an easy read that didn't requite much concentration or brain power which was reserved for impressing future employers.

*this post contains press samples and / or affiliate links

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Friday, May 5, 2017

If I Won The Lottery

Red Chanel Wallet on a Chain

Many years ago I visited a psychic who told me I would win the lottery which is ironic as I'm not actually someone who plays often. Often friends and I will purchase a ticket on a whim, spend hours listing all the wonderful things we would purchase with our millions only to be disappointed when our numbers don't come up and dreams of retiring are dashed.

Worse is those occasions when you are lucky to see your numbers drop and find your winnings are not quite the millions you were anticipating. There is some good news from Lottoland who have a new way you can play the lottery - even the famous Powerball in the US - and that is lotto betting. You can find out more here but in summary you still guess which numbers will be drawn but are not restricted with a ticket or location for which lottery you want to take part in and it's all done online so no fear of losing your ticket and those millions you intend to win.

So if I were lucky enough to win the Euromillions what would I spend all that cash on? Of course there are all the 'boring' things; a lavish home that I could decorate from head to toe without watching the pennies but its those smaller but no less extravagant things I'd treat myself to. 

I always said it would be a Chanel bag until I was lucky enough to own one but even so I'd love to have them in various sizes, different coloured hardware; that is the sort of thing only a lottery winner (or Khardashian) could dream off. Perhaps a full set of Louis Vuitton luggage for my travels used when I whisked my friends away on an all expenses paid trip to Las Vegas complete with first class travel and a luxurious suite on the strip. 

Pineapple Inflatable Float

Travel would most definitely be high on my agenda, an empty suitcase, the Louis Vuitton ones obviously and visiting whereever takes ones fancy, staying in the most luxurious hotels and not worrying about the ridiculous cost of roaming charges (you should see my bill from St Lucia!). I would love to return to Hawaii and discover more of the islands but just rocking up to the airport with no financial worries and picking a flight would be a fantastic experience.

Of course if I'm living this high life beauty must be high on the agenda. I don't consider myself particularly high maintenance where pampering is concerned but to have a hairdresser 'on the payroll' to accompany me on my travels and style my hair ever morning would be amazing.

Perhaps my picks are somewhat frivolous but wouldn't that be the joy of seeing so many digits in your bank account? Money might not buy happiness but I'd sure give it a try.

What would you buy if you won't the lottery?

*in collaboration with Lottoland

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Book Review | The Santangelos by Jackie Collins

The Santangelos Jackie Collins Book Review

It was a sad day for many when Jackie Collins past away but thankfully her legacy of books remains and I for one have been reading her novels for years, I'm sure earlier than was even age appropriate. Jackie Collins is the queen of the 'bonkbuster' and was sharing tales of Hollywood glamour, grit and sexploits way before any of us had heard of Mr Grey.

Lucky Santangelo and the Santangelo clan have had their stories told over a number of books and The Santangelos is the final book in this series and its easy read was the perfect companion for my holiday to St Lucia.

A vicious hit, a vengeful enemy, a drug addled Colombian club owner and a sex crazed Italian family...the ever powerful Lucky Santangelo has to deal with them all. Meanwhile Max - her teenage daughter - is becoming the 'It' girl in Europe's modelling world. And her Kennedyesque son, Bobby, is being set up for a murder he didn't commit. But Lucky can deal. Always strong and unpredictable, with her husband Lennie by her side, she lives up to the family motto - Never fuck with a Santangelo. Lucky roles... the Santangelos always come out on top. The Santangelos is an epic family saga filled with love, lust, revenge and passion.

Whilst it had been some years since I last read about The Santangelo's I happily dived straight in and was able to enjoy it as it's own tale with enough background added into remind me of what had led the characters to the current time.

Jackie Collins allows you to be transported to another world and yes they can be a little far fetched, exaggerated even but I enjoy that and it's known that Jackie would be 'inspired' by people she met in her Hollywood travels so it's always fun to try and work out who she might be talking about in the 'real world'.

Characters are glossy, some you love, others you love to hate and I can almost be grateful for my simple life with no fears of enemies taking a deadly turn but this is escapism at it's best.

Jackie Collins books are perfect for holidays or those of you who only have snatched moments to read. There are a lot of breaks in the story as it moves between locations and characters so you're able to find natural stops to reapply sun cream, go for a swim or perhaps give your loved ones attention. It's an easy read and perhaps not the most high brow of books but it's a great read and I whizzed through this in only a couple of days.

Are you a Jackie Collins fan?

You can find more book reviews here.

*this post contains affiliate links

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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Maintaining Bronze Goddess Status

A month ago I was celebrating my birthday, sitting in my parents garden with the sun beating down yet today I'm typing away with the heating on - what is the weather doing? Nonetheless there are one or two ways I can pretend the sun is still shining.

First is a firm favourite from last year, Estee Lauders iconic fragrance for Summer, Bronze Goddess which is back at House of Fraser on 1st June. I picked this up in Duty Free last year and it was of course the scent I travelled to St Lucia with.

As soon as I spray the perfume I'm transport to warmed climes and reminded of my holidays which can be needed in less than desirable circumstances or weather. I find it's a scent that lingers well on the skin and one that people often comment on and ask what I'm wearing.

In my initial review I discussed how it can be more a growing in scent, first sprays I wasn't impressed with but do test it on your own skin to see how it settles as you might change any negative first impressions.

My only plea to Estee Lauder? Please bring out a travel friendly size for times when we're tackling limited luggage allowances.

My St Lucia tan is slowly fading so I'm currently dabbling with a few tanning products to ensure my legs don't return to their pasty hue, one of which is St Moriz Dry Oil Self Tanning Mist*. Usually I prefer a mousse for my faux tan but often it requires a little more care and attention to apply than I would like. All the prep and then time to develop when often I decide that I want to bare my legs with only a matter of hours to spare or don't want to fuss with washing off.

I first tried this out over the Bank Holiday weekend after stepping out of the shower and thinking it's now or never, especially as the dry oil will lock in moisture from the shower so even before we get into it's tanning qualities it creates a nice finish on the skin whilst keeping it hydrated.

You simply spray St Moriz Dry Oil Mist onto your skin and then using a mitt (I picked up one from Home Bargains recently that I'm really impressed with) blend into skin. In my opinion it is more spray than mist although not aggressively so and a few well distributed squirts work like any other product. I am always nervous when there is no guide colour but the oil formula allows you to pay attention to where you have applied.

You won't have a lingering 'fake tan' scent from St Moriz but there is a heavily perfumed one on applying that I'm not too big a fan of and it does smell artificial but dissipates quickly that I only remembered on spraying as writing todays review.

Usually I find myself walking around starkers when I've applied fake tan, or reaching for onesie as it dries but another point to St Moriz is the fast drying formula. It isn't greasy, sticky or tacky to touch and very quickly after applying I was able to dress, and even diced with danger and wore a white t-shirt and there was no transfer.

Your colour will deepen throughout the day, and whilst I applied of an evening before visiting friends it was certainly evident in the morning and as I sat Facetiming with Ben I kept brandishing my 'tanned arm' pleased with how it looked.

I have found the colour lighter on my legs which I put down to being over cautious when applying and will be a little more heavy handed next time but there is a bronzed glow which I appreciate and can see the appeal of applying this on the morning I head to work and leaving for drinks in the evening with pins I'm proud of.

As someone who likes quick and instant results created with ease this is going to become a firm favourite and a product I'll be reapplying frequently. If you're a faux tan newbie or perhaps want a more subtle glow to your skin do try out St Moriz Dry Oil Mist as I think you'll be impressed.

*this post contains press samples and affiliate links

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Review | Jolen Creme Bleach

JOLEN Cream Bleach Review

Jolen Creme Bleach* is one of those products that I've always been aware of, seen in family bathrooms but never really talked about nor a product I had used. Earlier this year during awards season Thandie Newton (hands up who loved her in Line of Duty) shared a selfie of her bleaching her 'tache' in preparation for the red carpet and I was recently sent the iconic product to try for myself.

Jolen Creme Bleach,  the no 1 selling bleach brand in the world, is a cream and powder which when mixed together will lighten facial hair in under 10 minutes they claim - read on for my experiences with Jolen Creme Bleach*.

As a general rule my method of hair removal is threading, although I recently tried the more affordable option of at home waxing with success so I was keen to see how, at £4.35 the even thriftier option of at home bleaching would work for me as someone with dark coarse hairs.

Your box from Jolen will contain the 'tried and tested formula' components of their cream and accelerator, a mixing cup and tray and spatula and I admit my first impressions were 'well isn't this all a bit of a faff'. Of course it takes seconds to 'measure' out the powder and cream and mix but there's more components than grabbing a wax strip although with Jolen Cream Bleach being suitable for sensitive skin it is the less abrasive option than waxing.

Once mixed well you apply the cream to the area requiring attention, in my case my upper lip, using the spatula and then wait eight minutes. I did pick up the scent of peroxide whilst it sat on my lip which I imagine will be a deal breaker for some. It wasn't troublesome for me but it's certainly not something that creates a 'luxurious experience'.

I do not have sensitive skin, of course you must carry out a patch test before using any product of this nature, and didn't find it uncomfortable when applied. I knew it was there, and perhaps there was an ever so subtle tingle or sensation but nothing to cause concern.

Once the time period had passed I removed and noted that a couple of hairs had not lightened sufficiently so I reapplied for a further five minutes which I did find things started to a little more sensitive and I would be concerned for those with sensitive skin that it the longer time periods that may be required could cause some concerns.

I was impressed that my dark hairs were indeed lightened and in a pinch it's definitely something I would consider and I was happy with the effects although I do prefer removal by threading or waxing. I think Jolen will work for those with fairer or softer hair, in my case I think it's a little too 'present' even when lightened to give the appearance I like but it's a product I'll happily keep to hand between appointments.

Have you ever used Jolen Cream Bleach?

*this post contains press samples and affiliate links

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