Monday 31 December 2018

Party Season Sparkle With JD Williams

Black Sequin Shift Dress / Silver Sequin Clutch Bag / Silver Glitter Sandals

I love getting dressed up for Christmas party season. This is the one time of year when there's no such thing as too much sparkle & everyone gets themselves looking as glam as possible. You certainly can't go wrong with a glitzy sequin dress & I've been wearing this one from JD Williams non-stop. They have an amazing range of party dresses with something to suit every taste, budget & dress size. I picked it out along a few other pieces from their website to wear at all the parties I'd been invited to throughout the Christmas season. It's a real statement piece so you don't need tons of accessories to make it work. I really like this dress because it's so comfortable to wear but makes it look like you've made a lot of effort getting ready. Sequin dresses have the potential to be quite irritating but this one is made from a soft, stretchy jersey fabric so the sequins won't scratch your skin at all. The classic shift shape skims over any lumps & bumps so it would be flattering on most body shapes. The flared angel sleeves are great for hiding bingo wings & the neckline shows off my cleavage without being too revealing. The dress is available from size 10 to 32 & there's even a silver version if you fancy reversing my look. It's such a jazzy dress with a lovely shape & I'll be keeping it for many party seasons to come!

I decided to go with silver accessories as I normally always wear black & gold together. I wanted something a bit different but equally as sparkly to wear for Christmas parties. These glittery sandals come with a cushioned flexible sole which makes them surprisingly easy to dance in & they look even prettier in person. It might be cold outside but that will never stop me from wearing heeled sandals instead of shoes! It can sometimes be difficult to find high heels that come in different widths but like most shoes from JD Williams, these are available in D, E & EEE. I fell in love with this little sequin clutch bag as it goes beautifully with the dress & is just the right size for keeping all your party essentials safe. You can wear it as a clutch or as a cross body bag as it comes with a delicate silver strap inside.

To keep the silver theme going, I wore these fab Kiss Gel Fantasy false nails in Fanciful. They're nude with silver glittered tips & I can't think of a more appropriate style for party season. Of course, I also had to incorporate some silver into my makeup. I used the Stila Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eyeshadow in Diamond Dust all over my eyelids. I'm obsessed with these, they're so sparkly & add some instant glamour to any eye look. I can't get enough of red lipstick at this time of year. I mainly stick to pinks or nudes for everyday wear but Christmas & New Year's parties demand a red lip. I'm wearing Jordana Ticia Liquid Lipstick in Paint The Town. It's super bright & bound to draw attention to your lips as the clock strikes midnight.

Whether you'll be dancing the night away or finishing off the last of the Christmas leftovers on the sofa, I hope you have a wonderful time tonight as we celebrate the end of 2018. I'm definitely looking forward to the new year & I'll see you all tomorrow in 2019!

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Tuesday 18 December 2018

Tips For Perfecting & Professionalising Your Blog

[AD] Collaborative Content

Like most bloggers I started out writing blog posts as a fun hobby that also helped me to connect with people who had similar interests in beauty & fashion. After working with brands on collaborations for a number of years, the progression to becoming a professional blogger was gradual & almost accidental. Many people still don't see blogging as a real career & wonder how it's possible to make money from writing stuff on the Internet but the amount of hard work that goes into running a blog could easily prove them wrong. Blogging is an already crowded market & a lot of the people who have become really successful were simply in the right place at the right time. However one of the best things about blogging is that there truly is room for everyone. No matter what you want to write about, there's bound to be someone out there who wants to read it. People are naturally drawn to websites that are easy to navigate & pleasant to look at so it's important to make your blog look as professional as possible even if it's only something you do in your spare time. It can also increase your chances of getting to work with the brands you love! Turning your blog from a hobby into something that you can pursue as a career isn't an easy task but there are a few simple changes you can make to create greater success for your blog. Perfecting & professionalising your blog will take a lot of time & dedication but trust me, it will all be worth it in the end. Whether you're improving your blog photography or working hard to improve your writing skills, there are many ways to better your blogging business. I thought I would share some tips that can help to catapult your blog from simple to spectacular.

Buy A Business Address
When you collaborate with brands or receive letters from your followers you might not want to let them know that your blog is actually based from the corner of your bedroom. Although that is nothing to be ashamed of, you want to come across as professional as possible. For privacy's sake, it's not the best idea to give out your home address to anyone & everyone. Head to & see how you can obtain your own business address to receive blogging mail. PR samples are a great perk of blogging but you never know which courier they're gonna use. Having your own business mailbox means no more waiting in for parcels from the likes of Hermes or Yodel for fear of them getting left in a bin. You can even check your mailbox from your mobile phone, so you can go and collect your bits & bobs as soon as they arrive.

Update Your Equipment
When starting out as a blogger you might not have the best camera or editing software but this is definitely something you should invest in. If you want to professionalise your blogging business you need to get up to date with your equipment. Whether you're updating your laptop, investing in new lighting or splashing out on a state of the art camera, it will all be worth it when you see your blog succeed. Blog photography is so important & it's harder to take good pictures without a decent camera. I started out blogging with a Canon 400D & then moved to a 650D when I wanted something a bit better. I now use a 70D which is brilliant for both photo & video. Lenses are also really important as they can totally change the feel of a shot. I switch between a 18-135mm, a 50mm, a 40mm & a 24mm depending on what kind of picture I'm taking. A lot of people don't seem to realise that it's totally acceptable to use your iPhone camera for blog photos. The newest iPhones have such fantastic cameras that you don't even really need to get a DSLR anymore. I currently take all my photos in natural lighting but it can be a struggle at this time of year. I've got some soft boxes but I'm planning on getting a ring light as they tend to be easier to move around. In terms of software, Photoshop & Lightroom are the best for editing photos. If you're just getting into video editing, iMovie is more than enough but if you want something really professional then Final Cut Pro is the way to go.

Reach Out To Brands
Back when I started blogging, brand collaborations mainly involved being sent samples for review purposes. I'm still more than happy to produce content in exchange for products but nowadays sponsored posts are the norm. If you have yet to land your first paid brand collaboration, then now would be the perfect time to start chasing. It can take a long time to actually get paid by a brand for endorsing their product so the sooner you can start the process, the better. Even if you start by buying one of their products yourself & doing an honest review about it, this is an excellent start. As long as you tag the brand, they should notice you & you might gain a PR contact in the process. Keep up this consistent work & you will land that dream collaboration in no time.

Improve Your Writing Skills
It's true that not all bloggers have a background in writing, in fact many just start up their blog because they have a passion for a niche topic. The way in which you write your blog posts is what will make them stand out from the rest. Think about tone of voice. Do you want your blog to impartially review or inform your readers about products? Or do you want your blog to be informal, friendly & personal? Either way, learning how to become a more professional & polished writer will start to bring you more success. In order to become a better writer you just need to practice, practice, practice. Write all of your initial thoughts down on the page, then learn how to refine & edit them into something entertaining & flowing. Always perform a spell check before publishing your posts. It's so easy to make simple mistakes when you're busy typing away but being pedantic about grammar & spelling can make all the difference in terms of professionalism. Take an online course if you really want to become a super serious writer!

Your Website Platform Is Important
When someone clicks onto your website, they are going to make a million first impressions from the way it looks & navigates. There are so many awesome platforms out there for you to choose from, whether it's Blogger, WordPress or Wix. It's always worth paying to upgrade your platform so that you can make full use of the customisable options. If you struggle with customisation, Etsy is full of amazing blog templates that will take your site to the next level. I still use Blogger as I'm more than happy with the way it operates but I would recommend buying your own domain name. This gives you your own personal space on the Internet & increases your chances of landing brand collabs. The more unique your website can be, the more seriously people are going to take you. Make sure that your blog is optimised to work on all devices. If you spend some time checking that your website is slick & sophisticated, you will have peace of mind that your followers are in for a great experience.

Create Aesthetically Pleasing Social Media
Although this is not the be all & end all of being a successful blogger, it really does help to have aesthetically pleasing social media. Your Instagram grid should be consistent & pleasing to look at, so that your audience can determine exactly what you're all about right away. I still struggle with this & definitely don't post on Instagram as much as I should do but I think people mainly watch Instagram Stories now rather than scrolling endlessly through their feed anymore. I still believe that blog posts have much more permanence than Instagram pictures. Blogs are easier to search through, they're more informative & you retain full ownership of the content. A lot of bloggers that I've followed for years have abandoned their sites in favour of Instagram as there's more money being pumped into the opportunities there. It's such a shame as there are so many flaws to Instagram & even the best content can be completely lost to the algorithm. Organic reach has become more difficult & things like the swipe up ability being locked behind a 10k follower wall makes it harder for the vast majority of people. I think it's important to make your Instagram look good but don't forget that long form content should be your priority.

So try out some of these ideas & see how your blog could be turned into something much more professional. With a business address, all the high tech equipment you need & a wonderful website, you will be setting yourself up for long term success. All of these updates & improvements won't happen overnight but if you put in the hard work you will start to see results sooner than you might think!

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Friday 23 November 2018

Image Skincare Vital C Travel Kit

Image Skincare Vital C Travel Kit* - £28

Travel kits are a great way of testing out new products before committing to a purchase. They're also really convenient for taking on holiday as you don't have to worry about decanting anything or being forced to throw away restricted items at the airport. I'm always eager to try new skincare products that are infused with vitamin C so I was really excited when Image Skincare kindly sent me one of their Vital C Travel Kits. After trying & loving their fantastic sheet masks I was keen to see how the rest of their products measure up. They're an American skincare brand so their products aren't very well known over here but I've heard loads of good things about this range in particular. In this set you get four products from their Vital C range & one product from the Prevention+ collection as well as an adorable silk eye mask designed by DANNIJO. This luxurious mask feels so soft & comfortable to wear. It blocks out the light really well & will ensure that your beauty sleep remains completely uninterrupted. Unfortunately I don't think that the eye mask or the pretty pink packaging are available in the UK but all of the skincare products in the Vital C Travel Kit can be purchased from Image Skincare.

The Vital C range is Image Skincare's original & best selling collection. It promises to rehydrate, repair & renew your skin. The products would be ideal for those with dry, dehydrated, redness-prone, sensitive or aging skin types. Vitamin C is especially good for brightening up a dull complexion so it's always an ingredient I look for when buying new products. Apart from the Hydrating Repair Crème, all of the Vital C products have a strong orange fragrance so if you don't like citrus scents, this might not be the best range for you. I managed to get one week of use from this kit so I definitely got a good feel for the products & noticed some visible results within that time. There were a few items that I completely fell in love with & some that I would probably avoid in future but I'm glad I tried this tester kit as it has given me a better insight into Image Skincare as a brand overall. After using some more of their products, it's easy to see why they're so well loved across the pond.

Image Skincare Vital C Hydrating Facial Cleanser
This creamy, hydrating cleanser feels so refreshing to use. The pale yellow cream turns clear as you massage it onto the skin. Image Skincare suggest massaging your face for one minute before rinsing it off. You can just use your hands for this but I found that it works brilliantly with my Foreo Luna Mini 2. It turns slightly milky & emulsifies when combined with water. This removes impurities whilst infusing skin with high levels of vitamin C to brighten as it cleanses. The cleanser has also been enhanced with retinyl palmitate to boost radiance & brighten sun-damaged skin. It left my skin feeling really fresh & balanced afterwards so it was well prepped for the rest of my skincare routine.

Image Skincare Vital C Hydrating Anti-Aging Serum
The next step is to apply the Hydrating Anti-Aging Serum. This is one of Image Skincare's best selling products & it is also my favourite item from the travel kit. Similar to the cleanser, this serum also has a creamy texture. It's really hydrating & adds instant radiance to a dull complexion. The serum helps to support collagen production which plumps up the skin & softens the appearance of wrinkles. It also protects against oxidative stress & environmental damage. This wonder serum greatly reduces redness & immediately makes my skin tone look more even. When I first tried the Hydrating Anti-Aging Serum I was shocked by how quickly it had transformed the appearance of my skin. I would definitely purchase the full size version of this serum as the results are truly amazing!

Image Skincare Vital C Hydrating Repair Crème
I really enjoyed using the Hydrating Repair Crème. This rich, emollient moisturiser would be great for dry skin that is prone to redness & sensitivity. It intensely hydrates & provides long lasting moisture to the skin without making it look greasy. This cream features hyaluronic acid & ceramides which help to prevent the evaporation of moisture by forming a healthy barrier on the skin. The antioxidant formula protects against free radicals and it combats the visible effects of stress, fatigue & other environmental factors. It feels deeply nourishing & leaves my skin feeling exceptionally soft. This moisturiser would be the perfect way to revitalise & repair your skin overnight.

Image Skincare Vital C Hydrating Enzyme Masque
Another product that I would repurchase is the Hydrating Enzyme Mask. This product strongly reminds me of the Elemis Papaya Enzyme Peel. Some chemical exfoliants can be too powerful for those with sensitive skin so fruit enzymes are a much gentler way to resurface the texture of your skin. This mask uses papaya & pineapple fruit extracts to gently dissolve dead skin cells. The fruity ingredients give it a gorgeous scent so it's a real pleasure to use! The creamy mask format keeps the skin feeling hydrated & it also features hyaluronic acid to further plump up the skin. It infuses skin with protective antioxidants & vitamins to reveal a healthy looking glow. I managed to get three applications from this little tube which is how often they recommend using it per week. You simply apply a thin coat to freshly cleansed skin & leave it on for 30 minutes before washing it off with cool water. I'm accustomed to using really strong acids so I was surprised when it made my skin tingle. This sensation only lasted for about five minutes but it must be pretty potent! It's a fab mask to use whilst soaking in the bath or chilling out with a good book. It left my skin feeling super soft, smooth & hydrated. My pores looked really refined too. I'd highly recommend this mask as it manages to exfoliate the skin without irritation or compromising moisture.

Image Skincare Prevention+ Daily Hydrating Moisturiser SPF 30
When using vitamin C products, it's really important to wear sun protection so I understand why they added this product to the kit. It's just a shame that this moisturiser was such a let down. I don't mind moisturisers with added SPF but they're not my favourite thing either. I'm a fan of the Alpha-H Daily Essential Moisturiser SPF 50+ but it's still much better to wear a regular day cream & a separate sunscreen. This particular product is proof of that. The moisturiser feels really rich so it'd be great for dry skin & it doesn't pill when applied over the serum. However on anyone else it soon deteriorates into a greasy mess. The sun protection comes from zinc oxide so it's a mineral sunscreen. These sit on the surface of the skin creating a physical barrier against UVA & UVB rays. The main downside of physical sunscreens is that they leave a white cast on the skin. They're also thicker & greasier than chemical sun protection products. For me personally, combining this kind of sunscreen with such a rich moisturiser is a recipe for disaster. Worst of all, it never fully dries down. When I wore this it made my skin feel slightly tacky all day & touching my face felt rather unpleasant. I couldn't wait to wash it off at night! Overall I loved the Vital C range but this Prevention+ moisturiser definitely did not work for me.

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Thursday 22 November 2018

October Favourites

Jordana Ticia Cosmetics Base & Sparkle in Stargazer
I have well & truly fallen down the rabbit hole of Instagram beauty brands. When you start following loads of Manchester-based makeup artists you'll notice that a lot of them use products from the same few brands & one that kept popping up in some of the most glam pics I came across was Jordana Ticia Cosmetics. They mainly sell lip products but Base & Sparkle is easily their best product. I've started favouring loose pigments over pressed eyeshadows for when I want something really pretty on the lid & I am completely obsessed with this easy to use eye duo. You simply apply the metallic cream eyeshadow base onto the lid with a flat eyeshadow brush like a MAC 242 & then pat the pigment over the top. Together they create the most beautiful, high shine effect on the eyes. Base & Sparkle comes in four different shades but Stargazer is definitely my favourite out of the bunch. It's a gorgeous soft sparkling gold that instantly adds a bit of glam to any eye look.

Doll Beauty Doll Light Highlighter in Like A Diamond
Another brand that I discovered via Instagram is Doll Beauty. They are probably best known for their incredible false lashes but their highlighters are absolutely stunning! They do a couple of different shades that I often combine for a blinding effect but if I could only buy one it'd be Like A Diamond. It's a bit lighter than Shine Bright so it's better suited to my skin tone & makes my cheekbones glow like nothing else. It looks super smooth on the skin & shimmers without being glittery or highlighting texture. I find that it works best if I apply it after spritzing some MAC Fix+ over my face as this amps up the pigmentation even more & allows the powder to really melt into my skin. I've been a fan of theBalm's Mary-Lou Manizer for the longest time & this is the only powder highlighter I've found that has managed to surpass it's power whilst matching the pale yellow undertone. It's such a beautiful product & if you like your highlighters on the blinding side, then this is the one for you.

The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%
We all know how much I love The Ordinary but when I tried one of their earliest Vitamin C formulations, I wasn't too impressed. It had a gritty texture which was cosmetically inelegant & made it generally unpleasant to use. They have since released various other forms of Vitamin C & I decided to take a chance on their Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%. I went through a whole bottle of their Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA & was really impressed with how quickly it faded my post-blemish scarring. By combining it with Ascorbic Acid they've created a super-charged serum that reduces the signs of aging & lightens hyperpigmentation as well as brightening & evening out the skin tone. The texture is lovely to use, there's no stickiness, greasiness or grittiness. The propanediol base makes it feel perfectly smooth on the skin but it still absorbs quickly. I starting seeing results after about a week & it's managed to lighten my scarring even faster than the Alpha Arbutin alone. My complexion looks much brighter & fresher now, I'm really happy with the way my skin looks since I started using this product every morning. This powerful combo of ingredients is pure genius & definitely worth adding to your skincare routine.

Bali Balm Lip Balm in Bergamot & Grapefruit*
Winter weather calls for a hardcore lip balm & this year my product of choice comes from Bali Balm. This luxury vegan lip balm is incredibly moisturising due to the fantastic blend of coconut oil, castor seed oil, kukui nut oil & candelilla wax. It instantly makes my lips feel soothed & hydrated which is exactly what you need at this time of year. This intensive lip treatment will shield your skin from the elements & will stay on your lips for hours. The rich formula contains active botanicals that are high in antioxidants & boast antibacterial properties. One of the best things about this lip balm is the bespoke flavour. Bergamot & Grapefruit is a wonderfully potent combination. The bergamot provides the soothing familiarity found in Earl Grey tea whilst you get bittersweet citrusy notes from the floral grapefruit. These ingredients give the lip balm a clean, crisp & fruity taste. Bali Balm are a really eco-friendly brand. Not only are their products vegan & cruelty-free, you can also send your packaging back to them for recycling once you've finished with the lip balm. Beauty products must generate a huge amount of plastic waste so it's great to find a brand that are so dedicated to minimising their environmental impact.

MAC Jamie Genevieve Lipstick
Jamie Genevieve is one of my favourite YouTubers of all time. She's such a beautiful person, inside & out. I love watching her full beat makeup tutorials as well as her weekly vlogs with Jack & Drogba. In terms of makeup Jamie is probably best known for her blinding glow, dark smokes & nude lips so it made perfect sense when she announced that her collaboration with MAC would be the ultimate nude lipstick. I went out to Selfridges in Manchester & bought it immediately. The lipstick is a medium beige with warm yellow undertones & it has a satin finish. Obviously as Jamie is really tanned it's a nude on her but it looks brown on me. I still really like the colour though as it's hard to find true beige lipsticks without any hint of pink. I love how Jamie always wears a darker lip liner & I think that her lipstick looks best with MAC Stripdown. I hope she comes out with more collabs soon as I'm pretty sure I'd buy anything she brings out. I recently picked up her Tired Girl Club t-shirt & it's one of the comfiest tops I own!

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Wednesday 31 October 2018

Lush Halloween 2018

Happy Halloween everyone! Instead of going out trick or treating this year I'll be chilling in the bath tonight with some of these products from the Lush Halloween 2018 collection. Lush are one of the few brands that actually bother to bring out Halloween products so I always look forward to seeing what goodies they have on offer. Last weekend I finally managed to pop over to Leeds & pick up a few treats. The main thing I wanted to buy was the Bewitched gift set. For £26.95 you get a soap, a bath bomb & two bubble bars along with a fantastically spooky knot wrap. They have loads of different limited edition bath products for Halloween but in my opinion this set features some of the best smelling products & the design of the reusable packaging was just too cool to resist!

Lord Of Misrule Bath Bomb (£4.25)
I don't often buy bath bombs anymore as I prefer the moisturising qualities of bubble bars but Lord Of Misrule is a Halloween treat that's not to be missed! When you first put it in the bath, this bomb turns the water into a creepy shade of slime green. As it continues to fizz the bomb cracks open to reveal a pink centre which creates some gorgeously gross looking bath art. It also has popping candy inside which crackles as the bath bomb dissolves. Once fully dissolved the entire bath turns a deep wine colour. It's a really fun bath bomb to watch! Of course the best part is the smell. The powerful scent comes from a spicy herbal blend of patchouli & black pepper oil along with vanilla for sweetness. It's warming & relaxing, perfect for a cosy night in.

Ghost In The Dark Soap (£5.95)
There's much more to this adorable little ghost soap than meets the eye. If you get him wet, he actually glows in the dark! Not a huge amount but it's still a fun gimmick for Halloween. Lemongrass & bergamot are two of my favourite fragrances so I really love the smell of this soap. It's a tangy & sweet citrus scent that lingers on your hands or body for ages. The soap lathers up well & feels creamy on the skin. Solid soaps can be quite drying but Lush make some truly lovely ones & Ghost In The Dark is no exception.

Bewitched Bubble Bar (£4.95)
It wouldn't be Halloween without a black cat! This bubble bar features frankincense & bergamot oil to make your bath smell completely magical. It's sweet & woody, fruity & refreshing and unlike anything I've tried from Lush before. Like most bubble bars it can be crumbled in parts to make it last longer but if you only use a little bit the water will turn a weird grey colour which isn't the prettiest thing to look at. I'd recommend using the whole thing to turn the bath water fully black. Bewitched creates a ton of bubbles & it made my skin feel super soft. I hope that Lush come out with more products using this scent as it's very unique & something I'd love to experience more often.

Sparkly Pumpkin Bubble Bar (£4.75)
This bubble bar was the product that made me want to visit Lush at Halloween in the first place. I love anything sparkly or pumpkin related so this little beauty has been calling my name for a while. This is definitely the messiest product in the set as it's covered everything else with orange glitter but at least it'll be a lot of fun to use in the bath tonight. Sparkly Pumpkin turns your bath water a rich orange colour & creates mountains of skin softening bubbles. The blend of juniperberry, lime & grapefruit oils is truly gorgeous. It's a combination of warming spices & uplifting citrus zing. This bubble bar is the ultimate Autumnal treat, I just wish it was available all year round!

Magic Crystals Body Scrub (£10.95 / 300g)
Lush have also brought out two new body scrubs with their Halloween collection but these products will be joining their permanent lineup. They kindly demonstrated both products on my skin in store but I still couldn't decide which one I liked best. Thankfully they gave me a sample pot of Magic Crystals so I could test it out properly at home. I'm a big fan of Lush's body scrubs because they use salt as a base & always have the most gorgeous scents. Magic Crystals is really special because of the bright purple colour, it definitely looks like something a witch would brew up in a cauldron. The scrub smells strongly of mint with a hint of aniseed. It features menthol crystals, spearmint oil & peppermint oil for a really refreshing polish that will make your skin tingle all over. The scrub is made from fine sea salt & Epsom salts so it's great for rubbing over your muscles after the gym. They've also infused the scrub with fresh rosemary & sage which have antimicrobial properties to help cleanse the skin. The consistency of this scrub is quite thin but this means that you only need to use a little bit each time. Magic Crystals leaves my skin feeling soothed, soft & tingly fresh so this mystical minty blend is well worth trying out.

Scrub Scrub Scrub Body Scrub (£12.95 / 300g)
Even though I loved how incredibly soft Magic Crystals made my skin feel, I eventually decided to purchase a full size pot of Scrub Scrub Scrub. The juicy blackcuurant scent was utterly irresistible & is very similar to the fragrance of their Comforter bubble bar. In the pot it kinda smells like Wine Gums but the full fruity power is unleashed once you apply it to your skin. Scrub Scrub Scrub is a great release for Halloween because the pitch black colour is certainly a bit spooky. The scrub is black because it contains powdered charcoal as well as fine sea salt so it does a brilliant job of exfoliating your skin. Charcoal deeply cleanses the skin, absorbs excess oils & has antibacterial properties. The dark crystals are also infused with toning rosemary, grounding pine & refreshing buchu oils. It gently polishes & buffs away dead skin cells, leaving your whole body feeling baby soft. The consistency is much thicker than Magic Crystals but again a little goes a long way. The gorgeous blackcurrant scent really lingers on the skin & transforms your bathroom into a magical place. The only thing that's not so magical about this product is the mess it leaves behind in the shower. Cleaning up afterwards is a small price to pay for the beautiful fragrance & wonderfully soft skin. This is one of Lush's very best body scrubs & if you're a fan of The Comforter, you will absolutely love Scrub Scrub Scrub!

Bewitched Knot Wrap
Lush sell lots of different knot wrap designs but this one is exclusive to the Bewitched gift set. Witches & cats aren't just for Halloween so I'll be more than happy to use it all year round! It's made from 100% organic cotton & is the perfect gift wrap alternative. We waste so much paper when wrapping presents so this long-lasting, reusable packaging is an awesome addition to this gift set. You can reuse it as a scarf, a bag or a tea towel but my favourite way to wear a knot wrap is as a cute & quirky headband. I love the neon green & pink colours which complement the Lord Of Misrule bath bomb. It's a great way to brighten up any outfit & do your bit for the planet at the same time.

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Thursday 11 October 2018

Bali Balm Bergamot & Grapefruit Lip Balm

Bali Balm Bergamot & Grapefruit Lip Balm* - £20

A heavy duty lip balm is an absolute must-have at this time of year. As the weather gets colder, my lips always get drier so I've been on the hunt for something to keep them properly hydrated. My latest & greatest discovery is Bali Balm, a luxury unisex lip balm. The rich, intensive formula is 100% natural, vegan & cruelty-free. Each lip balm contains active botanicals that are high in antioxidants & boast antibacterial properties. Most importantly, they make your lips feel incredible! Bali Balm is currently available in four different flavours: Bergamot & Grapefruit, Cinnamon & Burnt Orange, Lemon & Black Pepper and Sandalwood & Ginger. To create each flavour Bali Balm collaborated with Russell Batemen, a London chef well known for his fresh, innovative cuisine.

I decided to go for the Bergamot & Grapefruit lip balm as I love citrus flavours and I'm obsessed with Earl Grey tea which is heavily flavoured with bergamot oil. The balm is strongly scented & has the most wonderful citrusy aroma. Even though I obviously know what bergamot & grapefruit taste like, I was pleasantly surprised by the flavour of this lip balm. I expected something quite mild & sweet but it's actually pretty powerful & somewhat masculine. Bergamot oil is known to have both calming & uplifting effects, while the grapefruit acts as a purifying agent. It also features peppermint leaf oil & rosemary extract. Combined, these ingredients give the lip balm a clean, fresh & fruity taste that really packs a punch!

Some of the best lip balms on the market use beeswax, honey or lanolin as a base. However Bali Balm are a vegan brand so they don't use any ingredients that are tested on or produced by animals. Instead the lip balms are created from ingredients that are readily replenished without harming the environment. The Bergamot & Grapefruit lip balm contains coconut oil, castor seed oil, kukui nut oil & candelilla wax. Blended together, these ingredients create the most luxurious moisturising balm that almost melts into the lips. It's so comfortable to wear & doesn't feel greasy or sticky at all. The smooth semi-matte finish will appeal to all genders. A little goes a long way with this product and it instantly makes my lips feel more supple & hydrated. For a lip balm, the staying power is really impressive. This stuff stays on my lips for hours, shielding them from the elements & treating them overnight. It's one of the best cures for dry, chapped lips & it also makes a fantastic base for matte lipstick.

The lip balm comes packaged in this bespoke moulded gift box. The bold white & orange packaging feels expensive & high quality. The box is fully recyclable as Bali Balm are very passionate about looking after the environment but it's kind of thing you'd probably want to keep as storage for little bits & bobs. The product inside is wrapped in delicate tissue paper that matches the gift box. It all looks extremely classy & high end. It's the kind of thing you'd be thrilled to receive as a gift or a stocking filler. The lip balm comes in this green squeezy tube with a slanted applicator that really hugs your lips. The tube has a simple, elegant design that easily slips into your handbag. For £20 you get 15ml of product which might seem expensive but everything about this item screams luxury. There aren't many luxury brands that are so environmentally friendly or willing to donate to charitable causes so in my mind that makes these lip balms worth every penny.

One of the things I really like about Bali Balm as a company is that they seem much more environmentally minded than other brands. They created the 'Kiss The Planet Pledge' as a way to support eco-friendly, sustainable & cruelty-free practices in the production, packaging & use of their lip balm. Bali Balm really go out of their way to make sure that when you buy their product you're also contributing to organisations that are doing their part to make the world a better place. They even include a pre-paid envelope with every order so that you can send your empty lip balm tubes back to Bali Balm for recycling. I only hope that more beauty brands start up similar recycling initiatives to help reduce plastic waste as this is such an important environmental issue that affects us all.

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Wednesday 10 October 2018

Neom Organics - Scent To Make You Feel Good

Aromatherapy is a powerful thing. Different scents have the ability to stimulate the mind & body, impacting on our overall wellbeing as well as our state of mind. Just a hint of a particular aroma can conjure old memories or make you feel a certain way. While I don't believe in aromatherapy as an alternative to traditional medicine, I definitely think that it's an effective tool for managing stress, anxiety & depression. Today is World Mental Health Day & as someone who really struggles with anxiety and depression I thought it would be useful to share how I use aromatherapy as a form of self-care. I'm trying hard to build up my resilience to everyday stresses & I've found that practicing different relaxation techniques helps me to cope with my anxiety. Aromatherapy comes in many forms. You can use an essential oil diffuser, room sprays, burn candles, perform aromatherapeutic massage or use pulse point roller balls. Sometimes I want to reward myself with a more luxurious form of aromatherapy & that's when I bring out a selection of goodies from Neom Organics. They have a whole range of products designed to have different effects on your wellbeing through the power of aromatherapy. All of their fragrances are 100% natural & made from blends of the purest essential oils. They smell simply divine & most certainly live up to their name as scents to make you feel good.

When I'm on the go I always carry aromatherapy products in my backpack to help soothe my mood or boost my energy. It can be especially useful when travelling via public transport as you never know what your nostrils will encounter on your journey! I love these little sprays from Neom because you can use them to spritz your own skin as well as the air around you. Spray the bottle upwards & let a scent cloud rain down upon you. Take this time to breathe deeply, allowing yourself to relax whilst inhaling the wonderful fragrance. This simple act can create a great moment of calm during a stressful day. My favourite sprays are the Mood Lifting On The Go Mist & the Energy Burst On The Go Mist. The Mood Lifting Mist features their signature Great Day fragrance made from a blend of eight essential oils, the most prominent of these being wild mint & mandarin. It has been specifically created to help lift your mood & calm the body. The scent is really fresh & instantly makes me feel a bit brighter. This is my go-to when I'm really stressed out & desperately need something to help me relax. It might sound weird but the smell instantly transports me to a happy place that helps me to get through the rest of the day.

When I'm going through a period of depression even the smallest things can seem overwhelming & use up all of my energy. Drinking loads of coffee or other stimulants can often make things worse so I prefer to use something more natural. The Energy Burst Mist does the job brilliantly with it's expertly created blend of seventeen energising essential oils. Citrus scents always make me feel more refreshed so I'm a big fan of this sparkling grapefruit, lemon & rosemary concoction. This glorious fragrance helps to invigorate the body, sharpen the mind & give you that much needed boost of energy. It immediately perks me up & motivates me to do everything I need to do when I'm feeling down. If you want something a bit more discreet then I highly recommend the Intensive Energy Boosting Treatment. It features the same fragrance blend as the Energy Burst Mist but in a roller ball format. You can use them individually or together for an even more intense experience. To activate these therapeutic oils simply roll it over the pulse points on your wrists, temples & behind your ears. Organic coconut oil is used as a base for the essential oils so it feels really lovely as you massage it into your skin. Aromatherapy is often said to be most effective when focusing on pulse points so this will ensure you get the most benefits out of the highly potent Burst Of Energy fragrance.

I'm very obsessive about washing my hands, to the point that I've sometimes made the skin cracked & sore! I hate getting sick & germs in general so I wash my hands a ridiculous amount of times every day. When you wash your hands as often as I do, it's important to use something that will gently cleanse & leave your skin feeling soft. I always try to find something with a wonderful scent too because if something smells good, I automatically associate it with being clean. I picked up the Great Day Body & Hand Wash as well as the Burst Of Energy Body & Hand Wash from Neom. They feature the same two scents as the On The Go Mists so you can continue to surround yourself with these fragrances even when washing. You can use them as a regular shower gel or as a hand wash. Personally I prefer to use Burst Of Energy in the shower & Great Day as hand soap but they're both fantastic for either purpose. These soaps are packed with mineral rich Japanese seaweed, anti-oxidising pomegranate & soothing aloe vera for clean, soft skin. The scents linger for ages in the bathroom as well as on the skin. They're both really uplifting & promote positive thoughts so washing with these products is always a great way to start the day.

One of my favourite things to do at this time of year is to get cosied up in bed with my snuggly dressing gown, a good book, a large cup of rooibos tea & bask in the soft glow of a candle. It's such a simple ritual but it feels weirdly indulgent. A relaxing bedtime routine such as this is one of the best ways to combat nighttime anxiety. Pricewise, Neom's treatment candles are definitely in the luxury category. Their travel candles are a great choice if you want to try them out but don't want to spend nearly 50 quid on a candle. I purchased the Happiness Travel Scented Candle which provides 20 hours of burn time for £16. The candles are hand poured using 100% natural vegetable wax & there's a massive 14-18ml of essential oils in each one. I think that Happiness might just be my favourite out of all the Neom scents! It features a complex blend of seven fresh, first pressed essential oils including neroli, mimosa & lemon. There's also natural fresh grass notes to evoke the scent of a fresh Spring morning. This fragrance has been designed to help you balance your emotions & feel more positive. The clean, floral aroma completely fills the room with joyful, mood-elevating fragrance even when not lit & is the perfect accompaniment to these dark Autumn nights. Every time I catch a whiff of this candle it literally makes me feel happier & I feel like it makes my home a happier place too. I can't get enough of this treatment candle & the three wick version is currently top of my wishlist!

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Wednesday 3 October 2018

Dermasuri Deep Exfoliating Mitt & Rice Milk Brightening Face Exfoliator

Exfoliating my skin is something that I always look forward to every week. It almost resets my skin, unclogging pores & polishing the surface so that I'm left with a perfectly smooth canvas for makeup. Generally I like to go for gentle chemical exfoliants on my face & a more intense physical scrub on my body. I was stoked to try out these two products from Dermasuri because they certainly seemed to tick my boxes when it comes to exfoliation. Dermasuri are an award-winning skincare company passionate about bringing the beauty secrets of the East to the West. I'm already majorly into Asian beauty products so I was keen to see their take on these increasingly popular trends. Their skincare range promises to deliver glowing & refreshed skin using a blend of highly curated ingredients. Here I have the Deep Exfoliating Mitt & the Rice Milk Brightening Face Exfoliator. Both of these products exfoliate the skin but in very different ways & I have to admit that they are absolutely incredible!

Dermasuri Deep Exfoliating Mitt (£19.95)
I've tried so many different body scrubs but I've never been completely satisfied with my purchases. Most scrubs I find in Boots use sugar as an exfoliant & when I use those I feel like I'm literally letting money run down the shower drain. They might have a beautiful scent but my skin never feels significantly smoother afterwards. It's been surprisingly difficult to find something that can thoroughly polish my skin & leave it feeling unbelievably soft. After years of searching, I think it's safe to say that I've finally found what I was looking for. It doesn't have quite the same olfactory impact as the scrub I usually end up buying from Soap & Glory but this Deep Exfoliating Mitt is the best body product I have ever used!

Inspired by the green Italy towels used in traditional Korean spas, Dermasuri created the Deep Exfoliating Mitt as an at-home version of this hardcore treatment. It's quick & easy to do yet far more effective than any body scrub. The mitt relies on friction to exfoliate the skin so it's best to use it before any shower gel or hair products. For optimum results you should allow your skin to soften by going into the shower, bath or a steam room for five minutes beforehand. It should be used on wet skin but not running water so step away from the shower & gently squeeze the mitt to dry it out. Then you just have to vigorously rub it over the areas that you wish to exfoliate. You will immediately be able to see the dead skin cells being removed & the more pressure you apply, the better the results. It looks kinda gross to see all these weird grey rolls of skin coming off your body but it is also immensely satisfying. You might think that having a shower every day is enough to keep your skin clean but you will be shocked by all the grime that this mitt removes.

Unlike shower poufs, loofahs or scrubs, the unique fabric of this mitt grabs & sloughs off all those dead skin cells from your body. This helps to rid your skin of impurities & improve circulation resulting in noticeably smoother, healthier looking skin. I'm prone to keratosis pilaris which means that I get small bumps on my upper arms. Using this mitt has completely done away with them! It's pretty remarkable as I've had them for years & this got rid of them in just a few weeks. You only need to use this mitt once a fortnight to maintain the results so it ends up being really good value for money. As well as keratosis pilaris, it also works well on ingrown hairs & clogged pores. I don't use fake tan personally but I know that you have to exfoliate before you apply it & when you want to remove it. I'm sure that this would work wonders if you want a really even looking tan. If you're fed up of trying pointless sugar scrubs, give this mitt a go. I can guarantee that the results will have you shook!

Dermasuri Rice Milk Brightening Face Exfoliator (£29.95 / 25g)
As amazing as the Deep Exfoliating Mitt is, unfortunately you can't use it on your face. It'd be way too harsh on that area but thankfully Dermasuri have a much gentler alternative. The Rice Milk Brightening Face Exfoliator is a gommage style gel product. Much like the exfoliating mitt, this stuff also produces visible rolls but in a much gentler way. These rolls are the product itself balling up but somehow they manage to lift away the dead skin cells & exfoliate the skin. You simply massage a few pumps onto damp skin & it gets to work immediately. The more you rub, the bigger the rolls become so it's a good excuse to indulge in a bit of proper facial massage. Unlike the mitt you don't need to apply much pressure as the rice milk formula does it all for you. When you wash it off your face you're left with baby soft skin that feels polished & smooth. It makes my face feel really clean & fresh without stripping it of moisture. Plus it is completely unscented so if fragrance is an irritant for you then you should be totally fine with this. It's best to use it about three times per week to reveal a brighter, more youthful complexion.

The rolling gel formula strongly reminds me of the Ginvera Green Tea Exfoliating Marvel Gel but this product uses rice milk as the key ingredient instead of green tea. The enzymes in rice milk have brightening properties that make your skin look radiant. When used regularly it can lighten scars & pigmentation. It can also help to reduce oil production which means fewer clogged pores & blemishes. Skin whitening products are very popular in Asia, especially those featuring rice milk. It was said that women who worked in the rice paddies always had beautiful skin because they washed in rice milk & Japanese Geishas also used rice milk to keep their skin smooth underneath their heavy makeup. I think it's interesting that such a basic ingredient has such a rich history as a beauty product. This exfoliating gel also features hyaluronic acid & vitamin E to keep the skin hydrated & nourished. This product is so much fun to use because I'm addicted to seeing all the rolls coming off my face. I normally stick to chemical skin peels as I'm not a fan of face scrubs but sometimes you just want to physically see those dead skin cells being removed. The super gentle formula is also brilliant if your skin is too sensitive for acids or if you want to avoid them during pregnancy. The Rice Milk Brightening Face Exfoliator is such a wonderful skincare product & I'm utterly obsessed with it!

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Tuesday 2 October 2018

What I Bought From Glossier

It has almost been a whole year since Glossier first launched in the UK. To be completely honest I wasn't too excited about the launch as their whole natural beauty aesthetic really isn't my thing. I like to wear a lot of makeup & I like people to be able to see the effort that has gone into doing my makeup! Many of their products are overhyped & overpriced, especially their skincare range. Why would you spend £24 on one of their Super serums when The Ordinary make exactly the same product for a fiver? The cult of Glossier is very strong & in the end FOMO led to me ordering a few things just to see if anything lived up to the extraordinary hype surrounding their products. As an impulse buyer I normally want to try everything but when I placed my Glossier order I stuck to a small list of four items that I was longing to put to the test. I think it's telling that since the initial launch none of their new releases have piqued my interest so this looks like it might well be my one & only Glossier haul.

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser (£15 / 177ml)
Skincare is very important to me & a good cleanser should be the cornerstone of any skincare routine. It's not often that I try anything new these days as the CosRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser is just absolute perfection to me but the Milky Jelly Cleanser seemed to tick all of my boxes. Gel formulas are my favourite to use, it has an excellent pH level of 4.5-5.0 and it's extremely gentle on the skin. You can use it on dry skin in lieu of a makeup removing balm or on wet skin as a regular face wash. The aptly named cleanser has a thick, viscous texture that comforts the skin & features a blend of five skin conditioners. It contains rosewater to soothe & poloxamer, which is normally found in contact lens solution, to cleanse. I normally love rose scents but the rosewater in this sometimes makes me gag. As a second cleanser it does a decent job of washing my face & leaves my skin feeling really soft without any tightness. However I don't rate it as a makeup remover at all. You have to really scrub at your face to get rid of every last trace of makeup & for me that negates all of the gentle cleansing that this is supposed to provide. Overall it's by no means bad but it's just okay? It's an alright product but I don't love it. I really do not understand the hype around this cleanser. I've relegated it to the shower to wash any excess conditioner off my forehead but otherwise I would not use the Milky Jelly Cleanser as a regular part of my skincare routine.

Glossier Birthday Balm Dotcom (£10 / 15ml)
Balm Dotcom is one of Glossier's star products. They claim it's a universal skin salve but like most people, I only use it as a lip balm. I was sorely tempted to order one in every flavour & colour possible but in the end I just went for the Birthday edition. The Birthday Balm Dotcom is untinted with subtle shimmery particles. Best of all, it tastes like cake! The flavour was inspired by Milk Bar, the award-winning bakery owned by Christina Tosi. I love watching her on Masterchef USA & would give anything to try her cereal milk ice cream or rainbow sprinkle birthday cake. Sadly I'll have to settle for a cake flavoured lip balm for now. I'm a big fan of the thick, moisturising texture and the scent & taste are incredible. The shimmer in this Birthday Balm Dotcom makes your lips look super pretty too. Before I ordered it I wasn't too sure if this product was just glorified Vaseline due to the inclusion of petrolatum but I honestly think it's so much better. If I were to repurchase anything from Glossier, this would be it as I'm not sure how much longer I can resist collecting all the other flavours!

Glossier Boy Brow in Brown (£14 / 3.12g)
Blocky Instagram brows are finally falling out of fashion & natural fluffy eyebrows are back at last. If that's the look you're trying to achieve then there's nothing better than a tinted brow gel. I've used quite a few brow gels from the likes of Anastasia Beverly Hills, Benefit & MAC over the years. They were all brilliant but Boy Brow is better than all of them. It thickens, fills in & grooms your brows all in one go. It's so quick & easy to use, giving your brows the desired amount of texture & definition in no time at all. One of the best things about this product is the tiny brush applicator. It's a minuscule spoolie that coats every individual brow hair without blobbing the product on your skin. Boy Brow comes in four different colours: blonde, brown, black & clear. I went for brown & I was really impressed with this colour. It's a deep ashy brown without a hint of red. I hate it when my brows look too warm so this shade works well for me. It has a creamy wax formula for a flexible hold that doesn’t flake but it still manages to keeps my brow hairs in place all day long. I get my brows tinted & threaded so I already have a pretty good shape but this stuff really helps to beef them up without making them look completely unnatural.

Glossier Cloud Paint in Beam (£15 / 10ml)
I was in two minds about ordering one of Glossier's Cloud Paints because I normally detest cream cheek products. I always set my base with powder & then I always apply a powder blusher on top so I felt like there was no room in my makeup routine for a product like this. People really seem to love these Cloud Paints though & I have to admit they look exceptionally pretty on the cheeks. They have a collection of six different shades that are designed to work on a wide range of skin tones. After much deliberation I decided to get Beam as I'm a sucker for peachy cheeks. Cloud Paints have a light, liquidy texture that easily blends out with your fingertips. They're sheer but very buildable & impart a healthy looking flush to the cheeks. I tend to be quite heavy handed with blusher but with these it's hard to apply too much so they always look fresh & natural. They go on very smoothly & contain blurring powder pigments which ensure a seamless finish. I adore the soft apricot tone of Beam, it really perks up my complexion & also looks cute when used on the lips as I have done in these photos. I still don't reach for it quite as often as my powder blushers but I certainly don't regret buying one of these Cloud Paints.

When I ordered these products from Glossier my expectations were really high & in the end the only thing that disappointed me was the Milky Jelly Cleanser. After actually testing their products I think that they do somewhat live up to the hype. A lot of people love Glossier & they definitely make some great stuff but most of their products don't interest me at all. I don't like their 'cool girl' attitude or that you need to have perfect skin to use most of their cosmetics. The transformative power of makeup is so much more interesting to me & their minimalistic approach just isn't in line with my own preferences. Now that much of the hype has died down I'd love to hear which Glossier products you like & what you think about their natural, no-fuss style of makeup!

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