Thursday 31 December 2015

Things I Loved In 2015

Melanie Martinez - Cry Baby

I first heard of Melanie Martinez on Vine of all places but I was soon drawn in by her songs & alternative aesthetic. You have no idea how tempted I am to copy her hair! She's not very well known in the UK yet but she was a contestant on The Voice USA before releasing her album Cry Baby earlier this year. It's a concept album about a character called Cry Baby which is partly based on Melanie's own childhood traumas/experiences. All of the songs combine childhood themes with adult situations & they're all incredibly catchy. My favourite tracks would have to be Soap, Dollhouse & Sippy Cup but I actually really like all of them. It's rare for me to find a record where I don't feel the need to skip any of the songs so this is definitely my favourite album of the year. I really hope that Melanie tours in the UK soon as I would love to see her perform live!

Other Faves: Lana Del Rey - Honeymoon / Fall Out Boy - American Beauty/American Psycho / Little Mix - Get Weird

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - Downtown

For some reason the first time I heard Downtown I decided that I hated this song & made Andy turn his car radio off! Then I saw the music video & somehow I fell in love with it. Who knew that singing about mopeds could be so much fun?! Eric Nally's parts really make the song for me & I wish I could pull off his crazy dance moves in the video! I keep finding myself singing random lyrics from it out of nowhere. Right now it's the tiramisu line... Anyway this was my favourite song of 2015 because it's such an earworm & I can't help but sing along.

Other Faves: Drake - Hotline Bling / Little Mix - Black Magic
Fall Out Boy - Uma Thurman / Jack Ü feat. Justin Bieber - Where Are Ü Now

The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up - Marie Kondo

January is the perfect time for some spring cleaning so if you haven't read this book yet then I highly recommend checking it out. Marie Kondo is a Japanese cleaning consultant and this book guides you step by step through what is known as the 'KonMari' method for tidying, simplifying & organising. Some of it I find to be a bit excessive but it does deliver some very helpful tips to get your home & life in order. One of the main things that I took away from this book is the idea that the things you own should 'spark joy' & if not you should throw them away. I do tend to hoard things that I never use so it does make you think about your belongings differently. It's an especially powerful message if you need to clear out your wardrobe or makeup collection. I'd love to lead clutter-free existence & while I doubt that will ever happen, this book has definitely helped to steer me in the right direction.

Other Faves: Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn / Among The Shadows - Various Authors
Only Ever Yours - Louise O'Neill / A Head Full Of Ghosts - Paul Tremblay

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I was so incredibly stoked to see the new Star Wars film. I'm someone who didn't actually mind the prequel trilogy (in fact I loved Revenge Of The Sith & have it on DVD!) but I really hoped that The Force Awakens would be a return to the former glory of the original films. Episode VII was everything I could have wanted & more. Of course it was brilliant to see Han, Leia & Luke again but I completely adored all of the new characters. Rey, Finn & Poe were amazing and had great chemistry. BB-8 is the cutest droid ever! I have huge weird crush on Adam Driver though so seeing him as Kylo Ren was just exhilarating. I really wanna go see it again on a 3D IMAX screen this time. The last time I bothered to see a film more than once in the cinema was LOTR: The Two Towers but I think Star Wars is something you really do need to see a few times to take all of it in. Plus you know... Adam Driver <3

Other Faves: Inside Out / Ex Machina / Birdman / A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

TV Show
American Horror Story: Hotel

There's been so many brilliant TV shows this year but the programme I most look forward to every week is American Horror Story: Hotel. I've seen all the other seasons of AHS & this one is my absolute favourite. I thought Edward Mordrake was such a cool character in Freak Show so I was really glad they brought back Wes Bentley this season & as the main character, no less. Chloe Sevigny is my bae so even though John & Alex are terrible people I love seeing them together. Lady Gaga's acting has been great but Evan Peters is really knocking it out of the park as James Patrick March. He's such a creepy yet intriguing character. I could watch a whole show just about him! I only hope that Hotel doesn't suffer the same fate as Ryan Murphy's other shows where they start off really well before crashing & burning at the end (Popular, Glee, Nip/Tuck, every other season of AHS!).

Other Faves: Game Of Thrones / Better Call Saul / This Is England '90 / Humans / Transparent / RuPaul's Drag Race

Steven Universe

Chloe always seems to find cool new shows to watch on her iPad & it's because of her that I started watching Steven Universe. It's about a young boy called Steven who hangs out with three aliens called the Crystal Gems. Steven is half-gem so he's figuring out his powers as they go on adventures & save the world. I love the animation style & the songs are ridiculously catchy but what makes Steven Universe stand out from other cartoons is that the show explores many adult themes in a way that's understandable for kids. It touches on things like feminism, gender & sexuality. The gems take on a female humanoid form & can 'fuse' together to create stronger gems. One of the characters, Garnet, is a fusion made up of Ruby & Sapphire and is said to be the 'physical embodiment of a lesbian relationship'. I think it's really great that there's a show with such strong LGBT references for kids these days. I'm sure most of it just goes over Chloe's head but it makes me enjoy the show so much more.

Other Faves: Death Parade / Sailor Moon Crystal / Teen Titans Go! / Tokyo Ghoul √A

The Legend Of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D

The only current games console that I own is the Nintendo 3DS & there hasn't actually been many good games out for it this year. The only one I purchased was Majora's Mask which I was really excited about as I never got to play the original on N64. I love Zelda games & I have to say that Majora's Mask is one of the best in the series. The story is quite dark but the whole collecting masks & resetting time mechanics made it very enjoyable. There are tons of RPGs coming out in 2016 though so I already know that next year will be fantastic for gaming. I'm especially looking forward to Fire Emblem Fates, Hyrule Warriors Legends, Bravely Second & Project X Zone 2!

Other Faves: Pokemon Shuffle / Pokemon Rumble World / The Legend Of Zelda: Triforce Heroes

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Favourite Products Of 2015

Vitage Age Defence Power Skin Repair / Sarah Chapman Intense Hydrating Booster
Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Gel SPF 50+ PA++++ / Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid
Bravura London Salicylic Acid 2%

Skincare is such a huge passion of mine & 2015 has brought so many amazing new products into my life. I took part in the Vitage 30 day skincare challenge & completely fell in love with their products. This moisturiser makes my skin feel as smooth as a baby's bottom & their Revitalising Daily Cleanse is another integral part of my current skincare routine. I tried so many brilliant hyaluronic acid serums this year but nothing can compare to the Sarah Chapman Intense Hydrating Booster. It's pricey but oh so worth it. Asian beauty products have started to make their way into collection & I cannot rave enough about this Bioré sunscreen. It dries instantly without any white cast or greasiness, sheer perfection! Of course chemical exfoliants are my main skincare obsession & this year I relied more on BHAs than AHAs. My skin is has been spot-free for months now all thanks to these two BHAs from Paula's Choice & Bravura London. They're both really gentle on the skin whilst being extremely potent but I noticed visible results from my very first use of the Bravura peel. Clogged pores literally ejected themselves from my skin!

Body Products
The Library Of Fragrance Sex On The Beach Cologne Spray / Salcura Bioskin DermaSpray
Pump It Up Cucumber Fresh Dry Body Wash / Soap & Glory Sugar Crush Body Wash
Palmer's Skin Smoothing Lotion With AHA/BHA

The Library Of Fragrance create so many incredible scents that you won't find anywhere else. They brought out some cute purse sprays of their most popular colognes & as it's my favourite cocktail I couldn't resist snapping up Sex On The Beach. It's fruity & delicious, just like the drink. As an eczema sufferer DermaSpray has been a godsend for dealing with any flareups on my body. It allows you to treat all those hard to reach areas with the utmost of ease. I've recently started going to exercise classes at the gym and if I don't have time to shower afterwards this dry body wash from Pump It Up keeps me smelling fresh & clean. When I'm at home my shower gel of choice is Soap & Glory's Sugar Crush. I've gone through countless bottles of this stuff as I just can't get enough of it's uplifting zesty fragrance! As I love using acids on my face I decided to try a body lotion with acids in it too. Palmer's Skin Smoothing Lotion is really effective at removing dead skin & it works wonders on my bumpy upper arms.

Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3 / Bumble & Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil
Scott Cornwall Precolour Protein Spray / Kérastase Ciment Thermique / Alterna Caviar CC Cream

In an attempt to fix my broken hair I decided to get an Olaplex treatment when I last had my roots bleached. My hair looks & feels so much healthier since I had it done. It really is incredible stuff & I highly recommend going to a salon that offers it with their colour services. Olaplex No. 1 & 2 are for salon use only but No. 3 can be used at home to maintain your hair between appointments. This tiny bottle cost me £30 but I absolutely love it! I use the Bumble & Bumble oil before blowdrying my hair which always makes it super soft & shiny. Protein is really important for repairing damaged hair so I often use this Scott Cornwall protein spray to protect my hair before dyeing it. It limits the damage from chemical processes whilst giving you longer lasting colour. I could not possibly live with Ciment Thermique! I've been using this product for years & it is a lifesaver for damaged hair. It is heat activated so I always apply some before drying my hair. It protects your hair from the heat & strengthens it at the same time. I love using creams to style my hair & Alterna's Caviar range is simply phenomenal. The CC Cream provides 10 different hair benefits so this is another fab choice for damaged locks.

Nivea Men Sensitive Post Shave Balm / Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow
Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation / MAC Pro Longwear Concealer / Ben Nye Cameo Luxury Powder

The Nivea Men Sensitive Post Shave Balm is surprisingly one of the best primers you will ever find. It does smell a bit manly when first applied but the high glycerin content will keep your makeup in place all day long. It's so cheap too! At the other end of the price scale is Charlotte Tilbury's Wonderglow. It's one of my favourite products to apply before my foundation as it gives you that beautiful 'lit from within' look that we all desire. This year Charlotte Tilbury also brought out her much anticipated Magic Foundation & I'm obsessed with this product! It provides much more coverage than her Light Wonder foundation yet still feels weightless on the skin. The colour range is better too. It builds really nicely & gives me a truly flawless base. I've had quite a few different concealers on rotation this year but one I always come back to is the MAC Pro Longwear Concealer. The coverage is amazing & it never looks cakey whether I use it under my eyes or over any blemishes. A few months ago I tried baking my concealer with this Ben Nye Luxury Powder & it was a complete revelation! I used to always get creases under my eyes but this powder put paid to that entirely. It smooths & mattifies the skin like nothing else.

Illamasqua Broken Gold / Isehan Kiss Me Heroine Make Volume & Curl Mascara
Charlotte Tilbury Rock 'N' Kohl in Barbarella Brown / MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot in Groundwork
Anastasia DipBrow Pomade in Medium Brown

I am partial to a bit of glitter in my makeup but they can be so messy to use. Illamasqua Broken Gold is an eye gel that you can quickly brush onto your lids for a bit of instant glamour. It features tiny gold leaf particles that sparkle in the light & it looks totally stunning on the eyes! The Isehan Kiss Me Heroine Make Volume & Curl Mascara is exceptionally good. Japanese mascaras tend to be quite highly regarded in the makeup community & this one is brilliant. The waterproof formula makes my lashes look so curly & long. Charlotte Tilbury's Rock 'N' Kohl pencils are the best eyeliners I've ever tried. They glide on like a liquid & don't budge whatsoever. I like to smudge this one along my lashes to make them look even fuller. I've barely used proper eyeshadows this year. The MAC Pro Longwear Paint Pot in Groundwork is my everyday go-to eye product. It's so easy to use & adds just the right amount of definition to my eyes. For brows I don't think I'll ever find anything better than the Anastasia DipBrow Pomade. Everything else kinda sucks in comparison. This is all you need to get those brows on fleek!

Cheek Products
Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso / MESAUDA Milano Diamond Baked Blush in Mariah
BECCA Mineral Blush in Flowerchild / Soap & Glory Solar Powder / Anastasia Beverly Hills Illuminator in So Hollywood

Shimmery blushers are my jam. There were three that really stood out to me as my favourites this year. I saw so many people on YouTube using Milani Luminoso in their makeup tutorials & it is such a beautiful warm peachy shade. MESAUDA Milano are a brand to watch in 2016, their products are fantastic! Their Diamond Baked Blush in Mariah is a gorgeous deep plummy pink & has been my go-to Winter blusher. Peachy pinks are my ultimate favourite for blush colours & BECCA Flowerchild fits the bill perfectly. It blends like a dream & gives my cheeks a wonderful glow. Contouring took a back seat in my makeup routine & instead I've just been sweeping on some of Soap & Glory's Solar Powder. It warms up my complexion & adds a bit of definition to my face. I mainly use the lighter side but both shades work for pale people like me. After years of being faithful to theBalm's Mary-Lou Manizer my heart was stolen by Anastasia's Illuminator in So Hollywood. I still use Mary-Lou every day but if I feel like adding some extra glow to my skin I like to layer So Hollywood over the top. The golden shimmer is really intense but that's exactly what I've been looking for in a highlighter!

Lip Products
MAC Brave Lipstick / Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Sultry
Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick in Unicorn Blood / Charlotte Tilbury Lip Magic / MAC Soar Lip Pencil

My favourite lip products this year all seem to be quite similar shades! For Kylie Jenner-esque lips I've been loving the combo of MAC Soar & Brave. I really like the formula of the Revlon Matte Balms. Sultry is the most perfect Winter berry lipstick & it lasts on me for hours. However nothing compares to the ultimate staying power of Jeffree Star's Velour Liquid Lipsticks! You can eat, drink & kiss with them on and your lipstick will still look immaculate afterwards. I'm utterly obsessed with them & have bought so many new colours. I can't wait to share some swatches on here! Unicorn Blood is the colour that first drew me to the range & this vampy deep burgundy shade is to die for. Charlotte Tilbury's Lip Magic has been keeping my lips in tip top condition & acts as a lovely base for any other lip product.

Nail Polishes
Barry M Gelly Nail Paint in Coconut / Essence The Gel Nail Polish in Don't Be Shy
OPI Fashion A Bow / Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil / Mavala Mavadry Top Coat

I'm a bit late to the party but I finally tried one of the Barry M Gelly polishes. The formula is brilliant, providing a glossy, gel-like finish with a single coat. Coconut is a warm off-white shade that I loved wearing during the Summer. Another surprise favourite was this lime green gel effect polish from Essence. Their nail polishes are ridiculously cheap but I was blown away by the high quality of Don't Be Shy. For Christmas this year I wore OPI's Fashion A Bow from Gwen Stefani's 2014 Holiday Collection. This bright red shade certainly made me feel very festive. I've been trying to take better care of my nails so I apply this Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil as much as possible to keep the skin looking healthy. Mavadry is still my favourite top coat. It dries any polish in seconds & adds a wet look finish to my nails.

Beautyblender / Morphe M460 Flat Contour Brush / Kiss Cosmetics Double Ended Lip Brush
Anastasia Beverly Hills #12 Large Synthetic Duo Brow Brush / Bravura London Chemical Peel Applicator Brush

I first bought a Beautyblender a few years ago when I was a devotee of Estee Lauder Double Wear. When I moved on to other foundations I stopped using it for some reason & it got a bit too gross to use. I finally bought a new one & I had forgotten just how good they really are. The Beautyblender makes it so easy to apply & blend foundation for effortless, flawless coverage. I've jumped aboard the Morphe brushes hype train and purchased a few of their brushes for contouring & highlighting. The M460 Flat Contour Brush is truly fabulous! You can use it to apply contour colours but I also like to use it with the Ben Nye powder to bake underneath my contour for a really clean line. Kiss Cosmetics brought out their wonderful Double Ended Lip Brush which is the perfect accompaniment for my Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipsticks. It's so important to get clean edges when applying those lipsticks & this brush gives me the control that I need. I use the Anastasia #12 brush with my DipBrow Pomade. It has a spoolie on one end to brush through your brows & an angled flat brush on the other end to smoothly apply the colour. I would highly recommend getting one if you're a DipBrow fan! Finally we have this little fan brush from Bravura London which is what I use to apply their chemical peels. Cotton pads tend to soak up too much product so applying it with this brush means that you'll use less of the acid, you can spend less time on application & the chemical exfoliant will be applied evenly.

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Wednesday 30 December 2015

Christmas Presents

Charlotte Tilbury Makeup
Just like last year, the main thing that I wanted for Christmas was some more Charlotte Tilbury makeup. I just love everything about Charlotte as a person & I can't get enough of her products! As soon as I laid eyes on her latest rose gold & night crimson makeup bag I knew that I needed it in my life. It's such a beautiful bag with plenty of room inside to store all of my CT goodies & I adore the little lipstick zip charm! I'm obsessed with the Matte Revolution lipsticks so I got Very Victoria along with the Iconic Nude lip liner. The lipstick is a soft rosy brown nude inspired by Victoria Beckham. It's one of Kim Kardashian's favourites & I'm sure it'll become one of mine too. I also got the Feline Flick liquid eyeliner & a couple of eyeshadow brushes. Compared to the Real Techniques Bold Metals brushes, Charlotte's collection isn't much more expensive but applying your eyeshadow with these feels like your eye is being stroked by a tiny kitten. They're the softest brushes I've ever touched & I'm completely enamoured with them!

I always ask Andy to get me some new lingerie for Christmas & he did very well with both of these. I've wanted a harness bra for so long as I think they look really cool peeking out from under your clothes. This one was from an Etsy shop called ColieCo & it can be adjusted to fit anything from a 28 to a 38 back. He also got me this gorgeous red glittery set from Boux Avenue. Their lingerie tends to fit me really well & I love their overall aesthetic.

Audio Equipment
I've had a few failed attempts at making YouTube videos already but it's something that I do want to persevere with in the coming year. Personally I currently find watching videos more engaging than reading blogs & I think many other people feel the same way. I plan on doing some makeup tutorials & I wanted a mic to record a voiceover with. One of my favourite Let's Players said that he uses this Samson mic for his voiceovers so I got the same one. I can plug the USB cable straight into my Macbook Pro & record without any hassle. The sound quality is excellent & it came in a set with these headphones which will be perfect for video editing. I might try my hand at podcasting too!

Kindle Paperwhite
I bought myself a basic Kindle for Christmas a few years ago but I always regretted not getting the Paperwhite version. My mum kindly treated me to an upgrade & having a light built into the screen is infinitely better! I can read a book anywhere without having to disturb other people & the new display is super sharp. The battery seems to last longer too which was a pleasant surprise. I kinda miss having buttons on either side of the device as I find myself touching the screen & turning pages by accident but it's all worth it for that wonderful built-in light!

Marc Jacobs Daisy Gift Set
Having never owned a Marc Jacobs perfume before I was pleased as punch to be given a bottle of the Daisy eau de toilette. It's such a classic fresh floral fragrance & the bottle looks totally stunning on my dressing table. It's sophisticated & feminine without being too sweet. The perfume came with a Daisy Bubbly Shower Gel & a Daisy Luminous Body Lotion. Normally I don't care for the other products that come in perfume gift sets but these two are genuinely lovely & smell almost as good as the real thing.

Soap & Glory Products
My in-laws got me this cute box of goodies from Soap & Glory. I've previously bought & loved all four of the miniature products in this set so I was very happy to receive some new supplies. Who doesn't love Soap & Glory products?! Their shower gels are fantastic & Clean On Me is one of my favourites. The best product from this set is definitely Hand Food which I'll be keeping in my handbag for some much needed hydration on the go.

Birth Chart T-Shirt
I find astrology to be really interesting and love learning about things like horoscopes & tarot cards. I religiously check out my monthly forecast on Astrology Zone & I would really like to get a proper birth chart drawn up some day. In the meantime I can just wear this awesome birth chart t-shirt to show that I'm a proud Leo. As part of Selfridges' Christmas grotto, The Numinous collaborated with YRStore to create these custom astrological t-shirts. The shirts are unisex so if you're planning on ordering one I would recommend sizing down. Each design features symbols related to your star sign including an astro glyph, colour, planet, birth stone, the Chinese animal you were born under & your life path number in numerology. It's an entirely unique present & the finished design looks really cool!

Alice Bow Insoles
My mum has always been obsessed with the Royal Family & if Kate Middleton buys something, she has to buy it too. She told me about an article in the Daily Mail which said that the reason Kate can spend hours at all these royal engagements wearing high heels is because she puts these Alice Bow insoles in all of her shoes. So my mum went a bit crazy and bought two pairs for herself, me & my sister. The insoles are specially designed to cushion the ball of the foot & boast high-quality padding wrapped in premium Italian leather. They have different padding depending on whether you're wearing flats or high heels & I have to say that they definitely do make a difference. The pink & gold leathers look lovely inside my footwear whilst adding comfort & support to the cheapest of shoes.

Sailor Moon Merchandise
I'm a diehard Sailor Moon fan so I was really pleased to get this mug & coaster set as my present from Chloe. In fact I often consider getting a Sailor Moon tattoo! The artwork on these two items is so cute & I love drinking my nightly rooibos tea from this mug. I was in need of a coaster too as I normally end up leaving my tea on the floor to protect my desk & inevitably forget about drinking it!

I got so many lovely presents for Christmas this year & I'm incredibly grateful for every single one. The Charlotte Tilbury makeup bag was my absolute favourite though <3 This Christmas was a lot of fun as I made sure to buy Chloe games that we could all play together. We got a few board games & she asked for Mario Party 9 for the Wii as she loves watching videos of it on YouTube. We played it for hours on Christmas day & we got so into it that I nearly forgot to cook Christmas dinner! It all went to plan in the end though & tasted delicious. Pigs in blankets are literally my favourite thing about Christmas, I ate six of them haha! I must've been fairly good though as I still managed to lose 0.5lb at Slimming World this morning. I hope you all had a brilliant Christmas & got everything you wished for!

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Tuesday 1 December 2015

November Favourites

Illamasqua Broken Gold
Illamasqua are forever inventing exciting new products that you can't find anywhere else on the market. They recently launched their Equinox collection & for me the star of the show was their Broken Gold eye gel. Broken Gold features tiny gold leaf particles that sparkle in the light & really add some oomph to your eye makeup. It gives a shattered metal effect that looks beautiful when layered over neutral eyeshadows. I love glittery eye looks but real glitter can be a nightmare to remove. I can get this stuff off with a quick swipe of micellar water on a cotton pad. It looks absolutely stunning & is utterly perfect for the festive season.

Isehan Kiss Me Heroine Make Volume & Curl Mascara
I've been testing out quite a few different Asian beauty products lately & it's like a whole new world to explore! The products are so innovative & feature cutting edge ingredients that we tend not to have over here. I decided to buy a couple of the Isehan Kiss Me Heroine Make mascaras as Japanese cosmetics have an amazing rep. I've completely fallen in love with the Volume & Curl one. The formula is extremely waterproof. In fact I had to buy their special makeup remover in order to get it off properly! The curl it gives my lashes is unrivalled & helps make them look even longer. The volume is decent but I like to layer it with other mascaras to achieve my preferred lash look. Seriously this mascara is incredible & you won't find anything better if you want super curly lashes.

Bravura London Salicylic Acid 2%
Bravura London have been on my radar for quite some time now. They specialise in at-home chemical peels which are like the next step up from everyday exfoliating toners. As my Paula's Choice BHA was running out I decided to buy the Bravura 2% Salicylic Acid peel. Salicylic acid works wonders on spots, blackheads & closed comedones. I find that my skin responds better to BHAs than AHAs so it's a must-have ingredient in my skincare routine. The application process of this peel is slightly different to many BHA & AHA treatments. First you need to wash your face & then wait 30 minutes for your skin to return to it's normal pH level. Next you put some of the acid into a glass & apply it with a fan brush. After two minutes you can wash it off & carry on with the rest of your skincare routine. Peels are bit stronger than toners so the effects are a lot more immediate & this stuff has totally blown me away. It has improved the texture of my skin so much & my face is entirely blemish-free at the minute. I was so impressed with this product that I ended up buying a few more items from them on Black Friday & I cannot wait to try them out!

Bee Good Youth Enhancing Hydrate, Smooth & Prime Serum*
The weather has been horrific lately & my skin has been suffering as a result. It needs all the moisture it can get so I've been slathering on this lovely hydrating serum from Bee Good. This product is part of their new Youth Enhancing range but it's suitable for all skin types, not just mature skin. It's a light creamy serum with a gorgeous herbal scent. It features a slew of potent natural ingredients including Bee Good's signature British wildflower honey, propolis & beeswax. There's also collagen stimulating peptides, firming blackcurrant seed oil & moisture boosting larch extract. I love using this on my skin because it's really calming & soothing and delivers instant hydration. My skin is left looking plumper & feeling much softer. This serum slots in nicely with the rest of my routine for a happier, healthier complexion & it certainly banishes those Winter skin blues!

MESAUDA Milano Diamond Baked Blush in Mariah*
I was recently sent a few products from an Italian cosmetics brand called MESAUDA Milano & I am freaking obsessed with them! All of the products are such good quality & the colours are simply divine. I'm a sucker for pretty blushers so I practically swooned when I first applied this one. The texture of the Diamond Baked Blush is exquisite. The ultra-fine powder feels silky to the touch & almost melts into the skin for a truly flawless finish. It has a luminescent sheen to it which gives the skin a fresh & radiant glow. Mariah is obviously named after everyone's favourite 90's diva, Mariah Carey. The blusher is a deep plummy pink shade with gold shimmer running through it. The powder is intensely pigmented, one tap with a brush is literally all you need. Mariah is such a stunning colour & it would be ideal for any Autumn/Winter makeup look.

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Friday 27 November 2015

Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night Creme

Ole Henriksen Invigorating Night Creme* - £37.60

Ole Henriksen's products combine powerful actives, essential fatty acids & soothing botanicals for a bit of everyday luxury in your skincare routine. I've reviewed a few of his products in the past & have nothing but praise for the Truth Serum Collagen Booster. Following the hugely popular Invigorating Night Treatment, one of Ole Henriksen's latest creations is the Invigorating Night Creme which is exclusive to Escentual in the UK. This rich moisturiser promises to re-texturise the skin & replenish moisture while you sleep. The base of this nourishing night cream is shea butter & evening primrose oil which help to keep your skin feeling supple & soft. It is enriched with glycolic, lactic & fruit acids which are fantastic at treating things like spots, closed comedones, dull skin, rough texture, fine lines & wrinkles. It also boasts vitamin C to boost collagen production & brighten the complexion. In theory the Invigorating Night Creme sounds like a truly amazing moisturiser & that's exactly why I wanted to try it out in the first place. However it didn't quite live up to my expectations...

For me the main selling point of this product was that it combined AHAs with a moisturiser when in fact, this turned out to be it's downfall. I would liken it to using a moisturiser with SPF. You might be moisturising your skin & protecting yourself from the sun but that product will never be as effective as a dedicated day cream with a layer of sunscreen on top. Likewise the Invigorating Night Creme will never be as effective as a separate AHA exfoliating toner followed by a rich night cream. As a moisturiser it's a fairly decent product but again it could be better. The gel cream texture feels really nice when you're applying it but a few minutes later my skin is left feeling tacky & it's almost like it leaves a tight film on my skin. It contains a lot of needless irritants & is so heavily perfumed that I can taste it. The AHA content also makes any active blemishes sting which is not something I normally experience with chemical exfoliants. By morning my skin does feel much softer & looks plumper with a radiant glow. But I've found that while it makes some areas look smoother, it clogs pores in other places like my forehead. Another thing that lets this product down is the packaging. Jars are really unhygienic as you have to keep dipping your fingers into the pot. The jar packaging also decreases the efficacy of both the AHAs & the vitamin C. It might seem like this cream has a lot of beneficial ingredients but if they can't work properly on the skin then they may as well not be in there.

I've been using AHAs on my skin for quite a while now & therefore it has become accustomed to high potency products like Alpha-H Liquid Gold. I would imagine that if you're completely new to chemical exfoliation then this product might revolutionise your skin but it didn't really do much for me. It's not a bad moisturiser & while I don't love it, I don't hate it either. I suppose it would be quite handy if you're feeling too lazy to finish off your evening skincare routine with two products instead of one. I'm more than happy to invest in my skin but if I'm gonna spend 40 quid on a skincare product I want to know that's it's worth the money. Unfortunately I just don't think that this is. You'd be much better off buying a separate AHA treatment & a night cream. Not only will you get better results but you'll probably save a few pounds in the process.

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Thursday 19 November 2015

Salcura Bioskin DermaSpray & DermaSerum

Eczema is a chronic skin condition that affects millions of people around the world. I suffered very badly with it as a child & I have vivid memories of constantly visiting the doctor in the hope of being given a cure. I was subjected to a myriad of prescription treatments including steroid creams, paraffin moisturisers & bath washes which only served to make my condition worse. In the end I think we just gave up because nothing the GP prescribed had worked on my skin. I went through childhood unable to stop scratching my limbs, making them redder & sorer every day. It wasn't until high school when I got the most horrific flareup on my thighs that I actually found something that worked. The skin on my legs was weeping so much that I couldn't even wear tights to school & I'd just had enough of living like that. I can't even remember what prompted me to do this but I went to Holland & Barrett and bought a bottle of pure vitamin E oil. I slathered it on my skin several times a day & it worked like magic. The oil allowed me to gently rub away the scabs stuck to my skin & helped to heal up those painful welts. I was completely amazed that something natural had worked where medicine had failed & I think it's really important to get the message out there that prescription products aren't always the best thing to use when you have these kind of skin ailments.

Like the majority of adults with eczema, my symptoms have improved over time. I no longer need to apply the vitamin E oil because I no longer get huge flareups. Instead I'll get something like a dry patch on my hand, an itchy eyelid, cracked skin on my elbows or a reaction to jewellery. When these small flareups occur I don't want to douse myself in oil so I started looking for something that would nurture my skin without being messy or greasy. Salcura got in touch & asked if I would like to try some products from their Bioskin range. As I wholeheartedly believe in treating eczema with natural products I couldn't wait to put them to the test. The Bioskin range offers a natural solution to dry skin conditions whilst being totally free from artificial fragrance, SLS, parabens, paraffin, lanolin & steroids. Both DermaSpray & DermaSerum are 98% natural and devoid of ingredients that are widely accepted to be unsuitable for problem skin. One of the key active ingredients in these products is sea buckthorn oil which is rich in nourishing omega fatty acids & highly regarded for it's healing effects on the skin.

Salcura Bioskin DermaSpray* - £16.99

As the name suggests, DermaSpray comes in a convenient spray bottle. This allows for easy application even on those hard to reach areas. It is ideal for use on your limbs & torso. I've also seen some comments on their website from people who have successfully used it as a scalp treatment too. DermaSpray provides an everyday source of moisture & vital nutrients that is absorbed deep within the skin to aid it's own natural healing process. Along with the aforementioned sea buckthorn oil, this spray is packed full with natural ingredients. These include sunflower oil, safflower oil, grape vine oil, eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, orange oil, lavender oil, rosemary oil, olive oil, almond oil, peppermint oil, urea & aloe vera. It contains so many oils that you might expect it to feel greasy as hell when in fact the opposite is true. The spray is so light & fine that it absorbs within a matter of seconds. It looks & feels invisible on the skin but has a strong herbal/tea tree scent when first applied. It is very potent & might not be to some people's taste but it fades quite quickly anyway. DermaSpray should be used daily to maintain healthy skin. However during periods of persistent dryness & irritation you can spray it on as much as you like to soothe the affected area. Spraying on this product effectively breaks the itch-scratch cycle by providing rapid itch relief. Scratching often exacerbates the severity of eczema so something like this will help in more ways than one. The spray doesn't make my skin feel particularly soft to the touch but it does make it feel instantly nourished, soothed & hydrated which is exactly what I need to keep my eczema at bay.

Salcura Bioskin DermaSerum* - £11.99

DermaSerum is intended for daily use on the face either underneath or instead of your usual moisturiser. I normally use it under my moisturiser like any other face serum. It soothes the skin without feeling greasy or heavy so it's easy to slot in with the rest of your skincare routine. I think this product is really brilliant because it's ideal for anyone with dry skin, not just those with eczema or psoriasis. The creamy gel serum feels very lightweight yet it immediately floods the skin with moisture. This serum gets to work quickly by targeting dry patches & calming down any irritation. It works by sinking deep into the skin to nourish skin cells earlier on in their life cycle which makes them healthier when they reach the surface. The hassle-free gel formula gives you greater control over the application process. You can smooth it onto your entire face or you can just apply it where it is needed like your eyelid or around the hairline. It has the same herbal/tea tree scent as the DermaSpray which also dissipates shortly after application. One of the best things about this product is that it instantly relieves any itchiness. The skin on your face is a lot more delicate & on show than the skin on your body so scratching at it will make things look a lot worse. Treating chronically dry facial skin with a serum like this will speed up the healing process & help to prevent any future flareups too.

I'm really glad that I got to try these two products out. My skin always becomes drier in the Winter & more prone to patches of eczema. I've been using both of the Bioskin products religiously & they've kept my skin in tip top condition. I had some flakiness on my ears from a reaction to some jewellery & the DermaSerum has gotten rid of it completely. It's especially good at targeting small areas like that. If you've exhausted everything your GP can offer & desperately want some eczema products that are actually effective, natural & safe then look no further.

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Saturday 14 November 2015

DIY Christmas Beauty Hamper With Boots

If you're someone who likes to get their Christmas shopping out of the way early then I'm sure you've already started buying a few bits & pieces. This year instead of wrapping up all your presents individually, why not create a bespoke gift hamper? Personalised presents are always the way to go when you want to give something really unique. Of course, you can buy ready-made hampers but who wants to receive something boring like shortbread & preserves?! Hampers can be tailor-made to suit anyone & they're even more special when you make them yourself. As I'm a beauty lover, Boots challenged me to create a homemade Christmas beauty hamper. I'd never attempted to make a hamper before but it was actually really easy & fun to do. Boots kindly sent me a wonderful selection of beauty products & most of the supplies to decorate the hamper. I'm so pleased with how it came out & it's a huge relief to know that I've already got one Christmas present ready to go! Here's how I made my Christmas beauty hamper...

You will need:
- Cardboard box
- Festive wrapping paper
- Shredded paper
- Sheet of tissue paper
- Cellophane
- Ribbon
- Gift tag
- Bow
- Scissors
- Double sided tape

As I had been sent quite a few gold decorations I decided to do a black & gold themed box. I spotted this luxury gift wrap pack in Boots & was instantly drawn to the black & gold paper. With their 3 for 2 offer on Christmas gifts, Boots is a great place to buy your wrapping paper. I bought a Lego Friends advent calendar & a Barbie doll for Chloe which meant that I got the gift wrap set for free! I used this to cover my cardboard box. This was probably the hardest part for me as I'm not the best at wrapping presents, let alone an open box. I used the double sided tape to keep the folds as neat as possible & it turned out surprisingly well!

The next step is to pad out your box with paper to act as a base for your products. If you like the look of the shredded paper you can just leave it there but as I wanted to stick with the black & gold colour scheme I placed some decorative gold tissue paper over the top. You need to push the shredded paper underneath towards the back of your box to create a slope. This helps with the positioning of your products & allows you create an attractive visual display within the hamper.

Then you just need to pop all of your gifts inside the hamper. Place any heavy items towards the front with lighter products towards the back. If you're making multiple hampers for different people you can open up gift sets & use the individual products in each hamper. Play around with the items until you get the perfect arrangement. Fill in any gaps with smaller items like lipstick or chocolates. Use double sided tape to stick them to the tissue paper & prevent them from moving about in the box.

Once you are happy with the arrangement of your products you need to wrap your hamper in cellophane. Tape the cellophane to the bottom of the box, wrap it around as tightly as possible, cut off the excess & secure it with double sided tape. Then you just need to trim the sides before folding & sticking them like regular wrapping paper.

To make your hamper look even prettier you can add a few final decorative details. I slipped the gift tag onto the gold ribbon & wrapped it around the box. Then I finished it off with a large gold bow at the front. That's all there is to it!

Here is my finished DIY Christmas beauty hamper! I think it looks absolutely smashing & I really enjoyed putting it together. It was much easier to do than I had imagined & took hardly any time at all. This would be an ideal luxury gift for a friend or family member & it looks so much more impressive than regular gift wrap. It would be lovely to do this for other special occasions too & you can really spoil your loved ones with all of their favourite products. Now that I know how simple they are to make I'll definitely be putting my hamper curating skills to good use this Christmas!

If you fancy making your own beauty hamper, Boots have put together this very helpful video tutorial with step by step instructions. Don't forget to check out the Boots Beauty Hamper page for more Christmas gift inspiration & useful tips on wrapping presents. Let me know if you're planning on making a bespoke gift hamper this year!

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