Wednesday, 31 July 2013

July on my mind

I can't believe it's already the end of the month, and since it's raining and grey when I write this I'm getting a small taste of what autumn will bring. But thinking back on July, this is how I remember it - endless blue skies, scorching sun, very little shade and only the occasional breeze to give some relief from the heat. It was amazing and I loved every second of it.

The month started with going to see the Lion King at the Lyceum in London to celebrate my mum's birthday, and it was a fantastic show that I would recommend to anyone! The music and artists were of course outstanding, but what really made it for me was the imaginative and interactive staging. I enjoyed it so much, and even Him Indoors said he would see it again - and he's already seen it twice! I don't think you can get a better review than that...

The heat really slowed the tempo down in July and it was time to enjoy the small, everyday and wonderful things in life, spending lots of time outdoors with family and friends. Weekends were so relaxing, and we might have had the occasional ice cool cider while playing garden games on the lawn - which by the way looks like an African savanna with our very own mini lion stalking dry leaves and butterflies.

July has really had that holiday feel to it, but the lounging in the sun hasn't all been completely carefree, there have been some tough decisions to be made as well - like which sun screen to wear (who am I kidding, with me it's always Hawaiian Tropic) and what shall we put on the BBQ tonight...

I really believe in the energizing powers of the sun and at the end of this month, I've got more energy than a Duracell rabbit, I'm relaxed and more than ready for whatever August brings - Hakuna Matata!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Liebster award

So today's post is going to be a bit different from what I usually do, but I'm very excited about doing it and I hope you'll find it fun as well. This post is the Liebster Award, and you may have seen it on a few other blogs already but since I've been nominated by some lovely people (Thank you to Liz Breygel, Shubha from Blue Velvet Addict and Devon from Twitch's world!!!) out there in blogiverse, I'm so happy to join in!

If you haven't seen the Liebster Award before - it's aimed at bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers, and I think it's a wonderful initiative to get to know more blogs and the creative people behind them.

This is how it works: 
1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the questions that the tagger set for you plus create 11 questions for the people you've tagged to answer.
3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post.
4. Go to their page and tell them.
5. No tag backs!

Some of the questions I got are very similar and I did mix things up a little bit to cover 11 questions from everyone - so here we go:

Questions for little ol' ME: 
1. At what age did you start to use makeup?
- I started experimenting with make up when I was around 14. I still remember it - some mascara, eye shadow and lipgloss, but I didn't actually get into foundations, blushers and bronzers until 18-19 something.

2. What is your opinion about plastic surgery? Would you ever do it?
- Hmmm - serious question! For me this is a very individual choice. If someone is unhappy about their appearance and it's effecting them to the degree that it's preventing them from living a happy and fulfilled life, then plastic surgery could be an option - together with maybe talking to someone to address that. But I also don't think that it's something that should be undertaken lightly. Plastic surgery is a serious, risk filled option and should be considered and properly discussed with your loved ones´and professionals, thoroughly researched and you should only go to well known and reputable surgeons. 
3. What do you use everyday makeup/beauty wise?
-  OK, here it goes, but these items are a minimum: moisturiser, eye cream, mascara, eye brow pencil, bronzer and a lip balm. If I'm having a bad skin day, concealer is a definite, so overall surprisingly low maintenance!

4. Who are your favorite designers?
- I love Italian designers, doesn't matter if it's completely OTT in leather and lace and animal print or really paired down, classic and glamorous. It's a tricky one but it would have to be Gucci or Dolce & Gabbana.

5. Favorite high-end/luxury make up brand & favorite drugstore/high-street brand?
- There are so many brands to choose from and they all have fabulous products on offer, but as a whole, I really enjoy Estée Lauder's products - skincare, make up, fragrance - they have items in almost every range that I really like. When it comes to drugstore/high street it would really depend on the product. E.g. some brands have strong nail products but are less great at mascara etc. But if I had to go for just the one it would be Rimmel - purely because of their fabulous lip products, and even if you wore no other make up - a great lip makes such a statement!

6. Who is your favorite blogger/youtuber?
- I'm a huge fan of Fleur de Force and Talk Becky Talk and enjoy every blog, vlog or video that they post, and when they pair up it's even more fun!

7. Whats your favorite colour for blush/lipsticks?
- My favourite blush is Coralista by Benefit, and the current favourite (at least most frequently used) amongst lipsticks is Bourjois Lip Crayon in Peach On The Beach. 

8. Who is your celebrity style icon/inspiration?
-  I've never really thought about this, and to be completely honest I don't think I have a style icon as such, and there are also different ways to be inspired by someone. But to keep it simple I would say Kate Moss - I love her confident rock chic, carefree and understated look. Very chic!

9. Heels or flats
- No doubt about this one whatsoever - Heels (and right now Him indoors is laughing his head off, since I have been known to go for a forest walk in heeled boots... well you never know who you're going to meet and you want to be LLL - lovely long legged!)

10. If you had to live your life with just one beauty product, what it would be?
- Since I have very blonde eye lashes it would need to be mascara, although it's a close call between that and eye brow pencil (having been in the sun a lot I look a bit like Mona Lisa at the moment, if I don't wear eye brow pencil)

11. Favourite perfume?
- This is very difficult for me because I'm a bit of a collector and I change my fragrances to suit my mood, clothes, weather, occasion - you name it and I have a reason for it. At the moment though I am completely obsessed by Alien Aqua Chic, it is so sparkling and AMAZING!

That was that about me - now here are my 11 questions and the bloggers I nominate:

1. Favourite nail polish?
2. Product you would really like to try?
3. Beauty product you know you really should use, but can't be bothered?
4. Favourite skin care brand?
5. What inspires you?
6. BB Creams - Bleeding Brilliant or Boring Blah?
7. Where would you go on your dream holiday?
8. Favourite drugstore/high street  mascara?
9. Beauty product you will never buy again?
10. First perfume you ever got?
11. Most hyped product that you don't agree with?

 I'd love to hear from: 
Kate from Simplicity
Cynthia from CDel Beauty
Rebecca from RebeccaLouise-Beauty
Alicia from Makeup Mama
Gemma from Nails, Bling and Pretty things
Kay from Makeup for breakfast
Emily from Trial and Error Beauty
Jackie from FiveTwo Certified
Crystal from All That Beauty
Crystal M from Everything Beauty
Angelika from Oh Hey Angie

Monday, 29 July 2013

Dynamic Duo

There are different ways to colour match - you can either pair colours that are each others opposites in a colour wheel e.g. orange and blue (sounds ridiculous I know, but works oh so well) or go for shades that are similar to each other. But there's something about a perfectly matched lipstick and nail polish in the same hue, that just screams groomed and lady like. And don't think twin sets and pearls - instead, combine it with a really casual outfit like boyfriend jeans and a grey t-shirt. If you on top of that go for a classic vibrant red combo, your look can be the height of cool, sleek and chic in a relaxed, nonchalant and modern way.

Many labels provide products that are intended to be paired, but of course you often find items from completely different labels that happen to create a perfect pair - a dynamic duo, and for me Rimmels Apocalips Lip Lacquer and Estée Lauder's Pure Color Nail Lacquer is an example of that.

I've talked about the Apocalips range from Rimmel before (The pink edition) but to be honest I can sing its praise several times over. In the UK we've had it for a while now, so it's far from a new product, but every time I wear one of the amazing colours it's as if it's a new discovery. It never seizes to amaze me how great the formula is - rich and intense but also satiny and lustruous. This shade is Big Bang which is perfect for a vivid clear red, almost scarlet, statement lip. You do need to be careful when you apply this - don't get too much colour on the applicator, or you'll have a big job on your hands to fix any bleeding or smudging. Been there, done that - don't want to do it again, thank you very much!
Rimmel Apocalips Lip Lacquer - Big Bang

I am a big fan of Estée Lauder nail polishes, and have given a good loving home to six of them so far. From the chunky glass bottle with the gleaming gold, to the sleek reflecting finish - I love everything about them. They are so opaque and glossy with the most amazing coverage and are simply lovely to apply and wear. This shade - Pure red, is a classic and ravishing red (with hints towards scarlet, just like the Apocalips) with a wonderful sharp brilliance to it. Very retro!

The nail polishes are supposed to give a high shine finish, making an additional top coat unnecessary, but at least for me the shine isn't quite there, so in the photos I have a top coat on as seen in the photo.
Estée Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer - Pure Red

Keep an eye on the Estée Lauder website - not only do they offer free delivery and 2 samples with every order, but they also have on-line exclusive products and shades that you won't find anywhere else.

I must admit that I don't do matchy matchy myself very often, but just like Batman and Robin this dynamic duo definitely packs a punch (KPOW)!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Lashes of Lashes

Unless you are lucky enough to be born with Disney heroine-like long lashes, most of us have probably tried all sorts of products that promises increased volume and length - I know I have! After much trial and error I have settled on a product that at least for me works miracles - L'Oréal's Renewal Lash Serum. 

Here comes the science bit: The serum contains Arginine, an amino acid that allegedly helps to stimulate growth, and Centella - a medicinal plant known for it's healing and soothing qualities. Together they promise to fortify and nourish your lashes. 
The product looks very much like a clear, thicker consistency mascara, and with the curved brush you apply it exactly the same way as you would a mascara - on both your upper and lower lashes. I use this mainly in the evening as an overnight treatment, although you can also wear it under mascara during the day. Personally I'm not so keen on that, since I apply generously and it takes a few mins for the silky serum to set and dry completely. I have tried it during the day and if you're willing to wait for the serum to dry, you will find that it works as an eyelash primer that really thickens your lashes, giving a nice volumised and lengthened finish when you've applied your mascara.
For me this really works and while I noticed almost straight away that the lashes feel more conditioned, strong and smooth - making mascara application very easy, the longer term effect of lovely long lashes that I'd had been hoping for appeared after a few weeks. I've been using this for about 18 months and am now working on my 3rd serum. I'm very happy with the effect it's had on my lashes and would definitely recommend this serum, and yep - it's got to be said: You are SO worth it!

Friday, 26 July 2013

The Buzz on Honey by Marc Jacobs EdP

I know that none of us really want to think about autumn at the moment, and the warm sunny weather can easily make you think that it's still a long way to go before we swap strappy sun dresses for warm jumpers. But autumn is coming whether we want it to or not, and to make things a little easier I think about all the new, fun releases we've got to look forward to. What better way to see in the autumn than with a new gorgeous fragrance, like the latest whimsical creation by Marc Jacobs - Honey (EdP).

Let's start with the bottle - it's so cute, sunny and humorous with it's bright yellow & black stripes, and little pearl adorned butterflies. It simply exudes fun, liveliness, spirit and a zest for life. It makes me happy just by looking at it!

As the name gives away, it does contain honey and you would think - and maybe even worry, that this is an overpowering, intense or sickly sweet fragrance. But it's completely the opposite - it's a very fresh, crisp, sunny and bright scent with sparkling fruity influences. Initially there's an immediate hit of juicy, cool pear (reminds me of popsicles I used to eat as a child), followed by an element of delicious mandarin and orange blossom - but it's a gorgeous, warm and soft combination rather than a sharp and zesty, citrusy scent.

While the first impression is of an invigorating and restoring fruity and aqua like fragrance, it does evolve into a more blossomy, warm and glorious scent. There is an element of white flowers, that makes the scent crisp and feminine while the golden honey, old fashioned vanilla and subtle musk notes balance the fruit perfectly, adding substance and a slight depth. 

I know that there's been some criticism of the later Marc Jacobs fragrances as being void of character and aimed at a younger audience, and I have no doubt that Honey also will get mixed reviews - but scent is such an individual thing and if a fragrance appeals to you, then go forth and smell nice! I am completely in love with this bright and cheery scent, and for me the only downside is that despite being an EdP, it's not very long lasting - which is a bit disappointing. It evaporates fairly quickly, but since I never leave the house without the fragrance of the day anyway (I was never in the Scouts but "Be Prepared" is still how I approach my day!), it's not really that big a deal.

In my mind Honey encapsulates summer - having ice cream in the sunshine by the seaside, and that's a memory and a scent I'll happily carry with me well into autumn and beyond.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

July Favourites

The past few weeks we've had a heatwave in the UK with temperatures above 30C, which doesn't happen very often - in fact they say that the last time was in 2006, so about time we crank up the temperature I think! With the heat and the sun, my guiding principles have been - fuss free and low maintenance. Forget about foundation and full coverage make up - for me this month has been all about keeping it minimal with the help of some key items.

I've talked about Caudalie's Divine Oil in a previous post - Sweltering summer day essentials, but since I've used it every day I want to give it a special mention again. This dry oil is a mix of grape, hibiscus, sesame and argan and not only does it sound good enough to eat, but it gives a deeply moisturizing feeling. It has a lovely aromatic scent but it's subtle enough for you to easily layer it with any EdT or perfume. It really brings out your tan, giving your skin a lovely golden sheen to keep your look naturally fresh and summery.

I am a complete magpie - I am drawn to shiny, sparkly things and when it comes to beauty products the Collection 2000 Lasting Perfection Concealer is probably one of the the most unglamorous items I've ever seen. However, if you can see past that unattractive packaging (and you MUST), you'll find hidden inside the most amazing concealer ever. It claims to stay on for 16 hrs, and while I haven't exactly timed it I can say for sure that it gives amazing long lasting and matte coverage (even in temperatures of 30C), using only the tiniest bit of product. While other products may look prettier in your make up bag, in my view there's no need to get those more expensive labels when you can pick this up for a fraction of the cost.

A trusted item for minimal summer day makeup is the bronzer, and the one I've been using the most is my MUA Bronzer. I quite like the MUA product range, although it can be a bit of a hit or miss. The bronzer is definitely a hit, and it's also another bargain buy (£1)! The packaging is basic, helping to keep the price down but the pigmentation is good and gives a natural glow. The bronzer is easy to apply and build up, without it becoming thick as a layer cake. You can pick up MUA at your local Superdrug, or on the MUA web page where the bronzer is currently on sale for an unbelievable £0.50. If you haven't tried this label before - go and get a bronzer, or maybe even two - at that price, how can you afford not to?!
 Swatches from left to right
Bourjois Colour Boost Lip Crayon - Peach on the beach 
MUA Bronzer - Shade 1

I've been wearing the Bourjois Colour Boost Lip Crayon that I mentioned in my Lip Service post, every time I've been out. This is an amazingly smooth and long lasting lip crayon with SPF, that gives a high shine, sleek finish and moisturises at the same time. So much goodness is packed into this glossy lip product! My favourite shade is Peach on the beach - a gorgeous pale pinky coral that works sooo well with a tan.

My look may have been minimal these summer days but there's no need for it to be boring, so of course I've added pops of colour with Barry M Gelly Nail Paint. Everyone is raving about the gelly fomulas, and for a very good reason - FACT: THEY ARE GREAT! You can definitely use just one coat of this shade, although personally I prefer it to be very opaque so in the photos I've used 2 coats as well as a high shine top coat. 
Barry M Gelly Nail Paint - Guava

Barry M Gelly Nail Paint - Guava

I've been loving the shade Guava, which is a bright and rich, gorgeous glossy turqoise with a warm undertone of yellow, that makes me think of warm Caribbean waters. This is perfect for sunny days, and if you're not lucky enough to go away on holiday this summer, at least you can get some tropical colour on your nails for that holiday feel!

Monday, 22 July 2013

The thing that is a positive must is a little bit of Pixie Dust!

One of my most loved stories as a child was Peter Pan, and my favourite character was of course Tinkerbell. How could it not be? She shows up out of nowhere rocking that little green dress, spreads a little magic and amazing things happen! I used to dream about having some pixie dust, but now I don't have to anymore - courtesy of my BNFF Zoya.
Zoya Pixie Dust - Stevie

From Zoya's Pixie Dust Summer 2013 Collection comes Stevie - a magnificent sweet dreamy lilac shade that creates a gorgeous matte AND sparkly finish. I can't think of anything more fantastic nail wise than the Pixie Dust collection. Gone are the days when you have to decide - hmmm is it a day for matte or sparkly polish.... oooh decisions decision. Why compromise? - have them both!!!

Now I have to be very clear - this is not a polish that you sweep on and you're good to go. Nooo - in all fairness the polish does dry very quickly but this is a process that must be savoured, because the trick to getting that amazing effect is in the layering. If you're going to do it - do it right and respect the pixie dust! That means at least 3 layers and for me sometimes even 4, depending on how matte I want it.

You will end up with an incredible finish and you might find like me, that you can't stop looking at your nails. I know that textured nail polish isn't everybody's cup of tea (some say it looks like concrete, but at least it's mega glam concrete), but speaking from my own experience - wearing this will get you sooo many compliments, and rightly so!!

So now I have the pixie dust and I sprinkle it about frequently, but I still can't fly like Tinkerbell - unless it's with some help from British Airways... Oh well - maybe I can at least get a cute little green dress and create some fairy magic anyway.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

At your fingertips

With so many nail polishes and so little time, it's important for me to look after my nails and hands. So in between painting my nails all the colours of the rainbow I try to fit in products that provide some care and nourishment as well.

A while back one of my bad habits was to pick off nail polish with my fingers as soon as it started to chip - I just couldn't help myself and it was terrible for my nails. Since I discovered Pretty Quik Instant Nail Polish Remover there's no need for any of that anymore. There are several version of this out there and Bourjois is a well known one, but this little cheapy works just as well. Open the bottle, put your finger in it and twist to get rid of any polish. For ordinary polishes it takes seconds for it to disappear, but if you're wearing several layers or maybe even something sparkly (oooohhh, yes!!!) it might take a little longer. It's a little miracle in a bottle. The only thing I can't stand with this product is the smell - the remover is phenomenally effective but the pungent smell of acetone could knock out an elephant. I really wish they had a similar product that was acetone free - and it would be more healthy for nails too. The things we endure for a magnificent mani....

After that I'll use my beloved glass nail file to do any shaping necessary - truth be told, I do this as little as possible since I find that once you start filing your nails a lot, they get more and more brittle. The great thing about glass nail files is that you only need to barely touch your nail and you've corrected what you wanted. And of course there are so many pretty designs out there with sparkles, flowers, butterflies - you name it and I'm sure you can find it on either Amazon or eBay.

I've tried many nail polishes from Essie but up until a while ago never any of their nail care products, and truthfully I wasn't at all sure about the Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil when I bought it. I thought £9.95 was pretty expensive and I've used some great products that were bargain buys from Lush and Avon, but since I like to try different things I had to take the leap. It has a subtle apricot smell that makes it pleasant to use, it's absorbed quickly and it seems to do the trick. But you can get any of all the multi purpose oils that are popular at the moment, and probably achieve exactly the same result.

When it comes to nail care, there's no other brand in my opinion that produces so many little gems that really do work, as Sally Hansen. I've tried many of their products, and at the moment I alternate between the Sally Hansen Miracle Nail Growth Treatment and the Sally Hansen Nail Growth Serum.

The Miracle Nail Growth Treatment can be used as a base coat, and should then be reapplied every other day to bare nails. When I don't use that, I opt for the Nail Growth Serum and massage that into both the nail and the cuticle. Out of the two products I probably prefer the lacquer since for me that replaces the base coat, but regardless of which one you go for they certainly make your nails grow. A few years ago I had very short nails and simply couldn't seem to get them nice and long. I tried the Nail Growth Treatment and haven't looked back since. If you were to have only one single nail care product - THIS would be the one to invest in. 

I do try to give my nails a few days of rest without polish every couple of weeks to let them breath, but if I do apply a colour I'll finish off with the Rimmel Finishing Touch Ultra Shine Top Coat. Again I know that there are many options available for top coats, including the cult item Seche Vite Top Coat, but for me Rimmel works just as well, and I love the gleaming shine this gives.

I finish my glam it yourself mani with a nice creamy hand lotion and it doesn't get much better than the Caudalie Hand & Nail Cream. It has an absolutely divine smell that makes me feel energized and ready to get on with things - sun kissed Valencia oranges with a sherbetty sparkle for freshness that remind me of citrus candy. Not only does it smell amazing, but it also nourishes your hands and leaves them feeling soft, soft, soft! 

Friday, 19 July 2013

The pink edition

The colour pink is apparently a combination of violet and red and it's supposed to signify unconditional love and nurturing. It is also of course associated with the feminine and girly, but don't mistake any of those for ditziness; just look at Pink - a strong independent woman!

This spring and summer we've seen a range of pink shades from shimmery and sugary, ice cream sweet tints to more punchy, rosy and opaque versions and below are some of my picks from this pink trend.
If diamonds are a girl's best friend, then dry shampoo comes in second place. I don't think that any further introductions are necessary - we all recognize them and reach for them, for those in between days to freshen up our locks and add some more body. I've mentioned before that I love the Batiste range, and seen here is the scent Blush floral and fresh, in a pretty flowery bottle. 

Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb La Vie en Rose EdT is a summer edition of Flowerbomb, and it's fresher and fruitier than the original (you can see the full description of notes in the link for the EdT). I can clearly pick out the combination of rose and green tea which is quite prominent (reminding me of Elizabeth Arden) and it's an unexpectedly fresh but floral scentsation. Even though it is a lighter version than the original, on scorching summer days for me personally -  this fragrance is too much. As it contains patchouli, it develops far too heady for me and I prefer to save it for the slightly cooler spring and summer days when you can really pick up on the fruitier and faint citrusy notes.

Rimmel is in general a great purse friendly brand, but in my opinion their best product release in the last year or so is definitely the Apocalips Lip Lacquers. The pigmentation in these goodies is absolutely fantastic - intense but at the same time shiny and very sleek. The applicator is a dream to work with and you get so much colour with it. That's why you do have to be careful when you apply, since the intense colour means that it's not always easy to correct any smudging, particularly not with the some of the deeper red shades. Celestial is a gorgeous rich warm pink shade which is suitable for any season.
 Rimmel Apocalips in Celestial

Swatches from left to right 
Rimmel Apocalips - Celestial
Maybelline Colour Tattoo 24 HR - Pink Gold

I've also mentioned the Maybelline Colour Tattoo 24 HR in another blog and this eye shadow is far from a new product range, but because of it's staying power it's great for summer and deserves to be mentioned often. Pink Gold is a lovely cool shimmery pink which is great either as a base or is nice on its own for a subtle, fresh lick of colour - very fuss free.

My last item in this pink collection is the Barry M Gelly Nail Paint, which is an amazing formula as made for on the go application. With most of the colours you really don't need more than one layer, and even better you don't need a topcoat since the gel effect already gives you all the high shine you need. For this particular shade however - Dragon fruit, I would recommend using 2 layers for a solid opaque finish. Dragon fruit is an old fashioned, punchy barbie pink with some blue undertones that I personally think works best in the summertime.
 Barry M Gelly Paint - 303 Dragon fruit

Regardless if you prefer the cooler or warmer shades of this edition's colour there's a product and a shade to suit everyone, so we can all be pretty in pink. 

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Do first impressions last? - Origins Modern Friction

My skin has definitely taken a bit of a beating lately. As much as I love being outdoors in the summer (wearing sunscreen of course!!), it's inevitable that my skin will go through a phase of not quite knowing what to do. One minute it feels dehydrated and next minute it goes oily with the occasional breakout - but then again I guess it is a lady's right to change her mind.

Using an exfoliator a few times a week helps to balance my skin, so when my Clarins One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser finished (see July Empties post) and I needed a replacement product I turned my eyes to another super brand when it comes to natural skin care, using only organic ingredients and 100% natural essential oils - Origins.

I decided on Modern Friction, which is marketed as Nature's gentle dermabrasion. I have only tried it a few times now so in a way this is about first impressions, and you know what they say - it counts and it only takes a few seconds for someone to make their mind up, so no pressure right?! 
I really like the packaging of this limited edition; it's cute, fresh, colourful and completely captures Origins values and commitment to the environment. Personally I think that the standard packaging of Origins products could do with some snazzying up and I find this much more appealing. 

First of all - when you apply the scrub (and you don't need a lot of it), you instantly sense the aromatic, clean and herbal typical spa scent, so we're off to a great start! Secondly you'll notice that the consistency isn't coarse like some exfoliating or dermabrasion products where it feels as if you're cleansing your face with gravel... ouch! Here the exfoliating element is rice starch which gives a gentle smoothing effect. You can massage it on to either dry or damp skin, and personally I prefer it on damp skin since it develops into a lovely thick and creamy texture, similar to some masks and I was even tempted to leave it on since it felt so nourishing and soothing. Rinse away with lots of water and follow with whatever toner you use.

The effect is noticeable straight away - your skin is soft, feeling impossibly clean and radiant, which is probably the effect of the lemon oil in the product. Even though I'm lucky enough to not have very sensitive skin I usually get a little bit rosy cheeked after an exfoliation, but there's been no redness or irritation to be seen. My first impression is overwhelmingly positive - I am so SO happy with this product and would recommend it for all skin types, even sensitive!

Sometimes you have to revisit your first impressions and be big enough to change your opinion either for the better or for the worse, but I have a feeling that won't be necessary in this case.

Order from the Origins website where you'll get free standard delivery as well as some goodies and they always have some great offers on!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

MAC Lipstick - Please me

As a beauty junkie I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but up until very recently I was a MAC virgin. Not a single MAC product in my make up bag... outrageous really, when you think about it.

After much soul searching - after all was I ready for this next step? - I took the plunge and got myself my first ever MAC lipstick. What a momentous occasion - oh happy happy joy joy!

Going into a MAC store can be a bit overwhelming, because they have soooooooooo many products and colour shades to choose from. To the point that I (a seasoned shopper) almost get shopping catatonia and a severe attack of indecisiveness.... I think, but I'm not so sure....

But since it is summertime and let's face it, we all like a little bit of pastel, I honed in on the shade Please me. And it does - please me, that is. How accommodating!

The formula is very creamy so not only is it easy to apply but it seems to lock in moisture as well, making it pleasant to wear. I'll give it another thumbs up since it doesn't have that weird  "dusty" and powdery taste or smell like some other brands do. I've taken it for quite a challenging test drive the past week, and I am positively surprised at how well the lipstick has lasted during these scorching summer days  - while most lipsticks would have melted away this one stayed on like a real trooper, so we can also add long lasting to the list of great qualities.
MAC Please me

The shade Please me is a soft, feminine and classic light peony rose shade - gorgeous with a smokey eye, and what makes it different from a lot of the other lip products in my make up bag just now, is that it's matte, giving it a very natural but velvety finish. The swatch gives the impression that it's a quite intense shade - cerise with some blue undertones, but on your lips somehow mysteriously it is much more peachy and subtle.

I really like this product - can only say good things about it, and this pretty shade would also work well for most skin tones. This will not be the last time I get a MAC lipstick and I'm sure that if you are looking for a very specific shade that you haven't seen anywhere else, chances are that MAC will have it. However, they are £15 and since the high street at the moment is overflowing with great value lip products for well under £10, for me personally I think I'll be a bit selective with the products I do decide to get from MAC. 

Do you have a MAC favourite or could recommend a nice rusty red for autumn wear - let me know!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Purple rinse at my age???!!! Yes please...

A few years ago you could have knocked me down with a feather if you'd told told me that one day I would be using purple rinse, and not just for Halloween. I am indeed using it, and my hair is liking it too.

I'm sure that there's a very scientific explanation behind it, but it all comes down to the fact that opposites attract and balance each other out - a statement that is true in all aspects of life. When it comes to beauty we see this when red and rosy skin is neutralised with a green corrector or primer, and blonde hair is kept bright (not yellow) with the help of purple.

I've tried different shampoos and you can find one form or another of them in almost every shop, but at the moment I use the John Frieda Sheer Blonde Colour Renew Shampoo & Conditioner. For me they work really well. I get a nice, clean and crisp brightness from the shampoo while the conditioner helps to keep my hair soft. I do find that the shampoo can dry my hair out - particularly if I don't follow up with the conditioner or even better a rich nourishing treatment. I'm not keen on the smell of either of the products though. I find them quite perfumed in a strange artificial way, but fortunately that doesn't last long on your hair.
The current packaging looks slightly different than in the pic, but it is the same as the product above

They are a great and affordable way to keep the colour you want between salon visits, removing nasty brassiness and after all - what's the point in spending lots of money in the salon and then not maintain your hair properly?

If you are new to these tone correcting shampoos - don't have a panic attack the first time you try one. They do have a very strong purple colour, and you MUST MUST MUST follow the recommended time on the packaging - otherwise you might get a colour that Dame Edna would envy.
This is why you shouldn't use these every day - but as a radiance boost once a week or so, they work wonders to get bright shiny blonde hair. 

Sunday, 14 July 2013

My new BNFF (Best Nail Friend Forever)

As my friends know, I am very well acquainted with a lot of nail brands. In fact - I'm even on first name basis with a lot of them; Essie, Jessica, Sally, Barry and now ZOYA.

As so often happens with relationships these days, Zoya and I met over the internet last year. After a speed mani date we have quickly grown very close, our friendship is blooming and we now see each other as often as possible (sometimes even more than I see Him indoors, since he travels so much).

Zoya - Blu

First of all Zoya is very practical since she's equipped with a good wide brush that makes her so easy to get along with and every application is a joy. The formula is nice and creamy so while 2 layers always give a nice opaque look, most of the time I find that one layer is enough. Zoya is also wonderfully good natured, and don't get chipped off very easily - she stays on for days before you'll start noticing the first signs of chipping. And lastly, Zoya's wardrobe is to die for with something from every colour of the rainbow, and as a polishaholic I want to try most of it on. 

The shade in the photos is Blu, which is a pastel but it has as a cool icy tint that keeps it very pure and clean looking without any green undertones, that distinguishes it from many of the baby blue and ice cream shades we've seen around this spring and summer.
Zoya really is a great nail polish, so why not make yourself a new nail friend?

I know that Zoya is available from some salons, but I get mine from Amaraya. They have a super range of shades and free delivery on all UK orders (and speaking from experience, they dispatch super fast) - what's not to like?

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Jasmin Rouge by Tom Ford

I LOVE perfume, and scents in general are very important to me. I can't get enough of it - different scents for different occasions. Perfume, EdT, deodorants, body lotions and candles - I genuinely need fragrance. Scents stimulate me and in best case scenario they create an elated sense of well being, pure harmony - I'm invincible! In worst case scenario they can actually make me feel sick. People remember things in different ways, and I have a very strong olfactory memory (and I didn't just make that word up). This means that I actually remember things by way of smell. Certain smells automatically triggers a memory that can go back a loooooong time but I can also deliberately conjure up a scent and that in turns triggers a memory - it is truly fascinating.

A scent that epitomizes harmony and well being for me, is jasmine. For this reason I have tried many different perfumes that claim to have jasmine as one of their middle or base notes - the scents that make up the main theme of a fragrance and that is left developing and lingering after the initial spray, but I have always been disappointed. That is until I found Jasmin Rouge by Tom Ford.

I have never before come across such a pure, stimulating, complete and well rounded jasmine smell. It's a warm, sensual and daring statement with lots of energy, spice and sweetness but still soft and intensely feminine, without being intrusive, over powering or sickly sweet.

As far as I'm concerned Tom Ford can do no wrong, and I am seriously in love with this EdP. I just can't get enough of it - it is a very warm and womanly fragrance that is timeless & sophisticated, as well as inspiring and hopeful for the future. 

Dedicated to Malala Yousafzai - a flower amongst thorns
(please click the link to see Malala's inspiring speech about education for women at the UN)

Friday, 12 July 2013

Carried Away by Bath & Body Works

Carried Away - oh how easy it is for me to get carried away by Bath & Body Works (B&BW) products. In the UK we don't have this temple of all nice smelling things and cute packagings, which is unfortunate for me but my bank balance probably appreciates the breather...

Throughout the years I've still managed to get my paws on some B&BW products via eBay. I think I have an anti-bacterial pocketbac in most handbags, and the Sweet Pea Eau de Toilette is simply lovely. But I wanted to try another scent from their huge range of fragrances and I got Carried Away - literally! And I'm glad I did since it's a fresh, fruity and slightly "creamy" fragrance that make me think of sun warmed strawberries (you can see the full description of notes in the link to the B&BW web site).

Now, I do like both the body mist and the body lotion that I got, but the scent isn't very long lasting. So if you're planning on getting a body mist - be prepared to have to top it up throughout the day. 

B&BW doesn't ship internationally and there's no shop anywhere near me (closest one I believe is in Warsaw), but there are some items available on Amazon and on a website called the Bath and Body Shop.

I haven't given up hope yet that B&BW one day will decide to shop internationally or even better - open a few shops here!

My morning routine

It's so important to get your day off to a good start. I hate mornings so for me a good start would ideally mean that I could sleep to 10 every day, but since that's not going to happen anytime soon - a nice cup of coffee and a good skin routine that doesn't take forever, will have to do. The products below are great for normal to dry skin.

In the mornings I'm a bit lazy and have enough with focusing on breathing so I usually only use a cleansing water, and for a while now Clarins Water Comfort One-Step Cleanser with Peach Essential Water, has been my go to product. Super easy and fast - a cotton pad with the cleansing water and 2 secs later you're done. Voilà, a fresh base to start the day with. Perfect!
Then moving quickly on to lightly pat on a very small amount of Estée Lauder's Perfectionist serum, which works super fast with it's firming qualities. At least that's what I tell myself, and early in the morning I really need all the positivity I can get. All jokes aside this repair serum is fantastic with just the right consistency, creamy enough but not leaving any oily film or sheen, making it great for day wear.

After that it's an even smaller amount of Estée Lauder's Resilience Lift Eye Creme, to freshen up the eye area and set if up for make up, and this really works for my skin making it nice and plump. I follow on with Estée Lauder's Hydrationist Maximum Moisture Cream - another super product with mega moisturising qualities that seem to work its balancing magic just as well in winter as in summer time. It's a velvety, almost gel like texture, despite being a cream that boosts the skin all day long. And need I say it... of course it smells soooo fresh.

I finish with a couple of sprays of the Caudalie Beauty Elixir for more radiance - an often mentioned product amongst beauty bloggers and vloggers. I find the aromatic smell energizing and have also discovered that He indoors steals a spritz from it every now and then - the cheek!

Some Clarins Hand and Nail Cream to soften and protect the paws for whatever tasks lay ahead, and I'm good to get on with the day. 

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Bronze Age

There is something special about the sun. Not just the fact that it cheers me up after weeks and weeks of drab, horrible weather, but it also energizes and melts away those sharp edges around my person that have formed over a looooong winter with no end - I think I'm sun dependent to feel harmonious and come into my own. There is of course those pesky free radicals and UV rays to think about, but with some sun screen we can all enjoy the sun responsibly..... I feel like the cautionary voice in the drinks adverts.

Regardless of how much sun you want to expose yourself to, most of us still want and even CRAVE that bronzed, golden, healthy look. And there are plenty of products to help bring out whatever tan you have, or want to pretend that you have - so here are some of my favourites this year.
I'm not a fan of self tanning, probably because I'm rubbish at it and the only thing worse than a pasty green tint of winter is the streaky self tan Zebra look (at least on humans) - but Caudalie's Divine Legs has somehow mysteriously made its way into my summer stash, thanks to Him indoors. I now might actually be a convert to self tanning - this is an excellent product! First of all it doesn't have that distinct horribly fake self tanning smell like many other brands, it doesn't stain every single piece of clothing, it goes on without streaks or patches and it has an amazing glowing finish as if you had massaged oil into your skin as well. I know it sounds too good to be true - but at least for me this product means the end of pale pale paaaaaaaaaale winter skin, yaay! I don't care that it's £26 - when it's finished, I'm getting another one.

Bronzing powder is great for sculpting and contouring, but at this time of year I also use it as a blusher. With the Bourjois Bronzing Powder, £6.99 you get a great colour and it's easy to work with. Not only that - when you open the packaging it looks and smells like a chocolate bar. Aaah, completely guilt free pleasure! Just be careful not to apply too much; bronzed = good, orange = tangoed.

In the summer I don't usually bother with eyeshadow since it's bound to smudge, but the Maybelline Colour Tattoo 24 HR, £4.99 is an exception. The range of colours is amazing and I've already snapped up a fabulous cranberry for autumn because of it's fantastic staying power. It's the easiest thing in the world to apply, using your fingers all over the lid and once it's set - it's there for the rest of the day without any creasing. I don't know how they've managed to squeeze so much goodness into a little pot, but I'm well impressed and can't wait go get some more shades.

To add some definition, the Barry M Eyeliners are soft, easy to blend and full of pigmentation, and for £2.99, they're an absolute bargain.

Finish it all off with a lick of No 7 BB Lips Beauty Balm, £8.50 for a subtle fresh sheen. I'm going with an irresistible pale glossy pink that works perfectly with a bronzed look.

Swatches of the products (from left to right):
Barry M Eyeliner - 28 Bronze
No 7 BB Lips Beauty Balm - Blink Pink
Barry M Eyeliner - 29 Copper
Maybelline Colour Tattoo 24 HR - 35 On and on bronze
Bourjois Bronzing Powder - 52 Peaux Mates/halées

Clarins Santal Face Treatment Oil

I am a huge fan and follower of French skincare and while it's both easy to get hold of on this side of the Channel, and not to mention far too easy to pronounce - Clarins is an amazing brand that just keeps on producing premium quality natural products. My current skin care regime already contains a lot of Clarins, but I'm always open to introducing new pretty jars with magic potions to my cupboards.

One such magic potion is the Santal Face Treatment Oil for dry skin. Since I've spent a fair bit of time in the sun the past few months, this addition has been perfect to use in the evening a few times a week to replenish moisture and help smooth out any irritation. The oil is made from 100% pure plant extract but I would not recommend using it in the day time since it's fairly heavy on the skin.

Being slightly obsessed with scents I have to at least try and describe what's going on in this product since it's like nothing else I've ever tried. Imagine taking a handful of warm cardamom pods and then crushing and grounding them with mortar and pestle - that aromatic, exotic and soothing scent is what fills the air. It's like passing a bakery early in the morning and the smells from the newly baked bread heat you up from the inside - it is truly amazing!

A few months ago I went on a long haul flight equipped with a small bottle of this in my hand bag, and I'm convinced the oil helped me relax. Until stress free travel using teleports is invented, this will be a trusted companion both for travel and my skin.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Sweltering summer day essentials

I love love LOVE these warm summer days and evenings, although it's not always easy to keep your looks cool and fresh. On a day like today I'll make sure I've got plenty of sun screen on since I've got fair to medium skin and don't want it to turn red. I would hate for helicopters to think my red face is a landing site beacon towards the end of the day. I like using Hawaiian Tropic Sensitive Face Sun Lotion (SPF30) since it gives good cover without feeling sticky and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg compared to some other products.

I don't know about you, but my hair seems to take a life of its own when it's warm outside and there's really not much point in spending too much time on it. So I'll reach for the miracle of miracles - the dry shampoo. I love Batiste for their wide range of affordable products, quirky packaging and they're available from most shops. At the moment I'm using the XXL Volume Big & Bouncy which helps to give some extra body and a clean feel, although some of the other ones do sell much nicer. This is however quickly remedied by adding some Urban Iced Raspberry & Vanilla hairspray from Fudge. Not only does it make the bounce from the dry shampoo last but it smells amazing - just like a fruity ice lolly!

To freshen up I'll use the Caudalie Fleur de Vigne shower gel, which is such a lovely, timeless, soft aromatic floral scent, followed by the Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration After Sun to replenish my skin with moisture. Using the after sun gel is like dipping yourself in a cooling sweet fruit cocktail of coconut and papaya - oh yum.

I like showing off a tan by using some body oil, and one of the best ones is the Caudalie Divine Oil. It's a dry oil, so it absorbs straight away into your skin, leaving it silky smooth with a great subtle sheen. Another tan enhancer is to wear a pastel ice cream shade nail polish, and there are so many to choose from this season. I'm showing Estée Lauder's Dilettante, which is a lovely sugary pale Tiffany blue.

And to finish off - a couple of sprays of a summery light floral and exotic fragrance. One of my current favourites is Jo Malone Osmanthus Blossom. I realise that it's a limited edition released earlier this spring and that it's no longer available from the Jo Malone website (I even had to use Selfridges for the link to a description), but you can find it on good old eBay.

And of course, my constant feline companion had to supervise today's activities

I know what she's thinking.... "That's not the way I would do it..."

July Empties

Yes - I know that there are a lot of posts on Empties out there, but I really like to read them and the more the merrier, right?!

I have to confess that I tend to use up a product even though I may not love it, or for that matter even like it very much and my first contribution to this classic beauty blog category contains a few examples of exactly this.

For the first time in history for me I have finished a shampoo before the conditioner. Usually it's the other way around, but I think it's because I've started to use hair masques and other treatments more often than before. I have long hair that tends to get dry with damaged ends, so I always look for a moisturising shampoo - enter TRESemmé Vitamin E Moisture Rich Shampoo. I got the shampoo and conditioner a while back and I finally finished the shampoo. It claims to "boost moisture, resiliency and strength for soft, shiny, healthy-looking hair.". I didn't find much of that though - it cleaned my hair, smelled fresh but that was about it. It's an OK shampoo but it didn't rock my world and I'm not in a hurry to get the same one. Saying this, I have other TRESemmé products that I love in the styling range and I also find the Split Remedy Leave-In treatment great.

I've also tried the VO5 Hot Oil Give Me Moisture treatment since I really liked the idea of applying it to my hair and leaving it for 1 min before shampooing. Sounded easy enough and should also help strengthening the hair. It definitely made my hair soft and shiny, but unfortunately I haven't noticed any significant improvement in strength, so despite the appealing price I don't think I'll go back to this one.  

If I've started with products that underwhelmed me I'll finish strong with some staple items starting with the Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask. This is without a doubt the best mask for dehydrated skin I have ever used, and even if your skin isn't dehydrated, it's a nice treatment every week to maintain plumpness. It almost has a cinderella effect and you can really see the difference after just a few uses. I've used the mask after Clarins One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser with Orange Extract, and they're a great combination. I use the exfoliating cleanser a few times a week to get rid of any dry skin, but I know it's supposed to be gentle enough to use daily. It doesn't feel as abrasive as many other products, but it still does a super job with the deep cleaning.

Going back to hair products - I finished my beloved Bumble & Bumble Mending Complex. After styling, or even during the day when my hair's felt a bit dry, I've smoothed a few drops through the ends and it just make my hair feel deeply moisturised, shiny and the smell is amazing! Admittedly the bottle is only 125ml and comes at a fairly steep price - £25.50, but it does last a very long time and I will definitely be repurchasing.

Last but not least is the Jo Malone Nectarine Blossom & Honey candle, that's been scenting the bedroom for a few months. This is my favourite Jo Malone fragrance and the first one I ever got a few years ago now, and it certainly didn't disappoint as a candle. It is a luxury item, but I do plan to get another one, when my English Pear & Freesia is no more.

Nailing it in ombre

I know that we're in the middle of summer, and on top of it all we're enjoying a fantastic heat wave (yeeeaaay FINALLY) - but after having shown off my fingertips in every delectable pastel colour you can imagine, I thought I would mix it up a little.

We've seen ombre for hair and you could almost say that ombre is the new black, and even by The New Black when it comes to ombre nails. I know the adorable 5 colour sets are readily available in the US, however I haven't seen them or anything similar here in the UK.

But since I was feeling a bit creative I rummaged around in my stashes of nail polish and came up with a DIY version, which is very easy to do - just try and get 5 tonal shades in whatever colour you prefer that gives a nice gradient effect. And since life is far too short for only one colour on your nails, wearing ombre gives you an opportunity to go 5 in 1. 
Admittedly the colours I've gone for may be more suitable for autumn, but as much as I adore pastel nails it was time for a change.

Here are the nail polishes used from left to right (using at least 2 layers of each):

OPI - Suzi says da!
YSL - 21 Taupe Retro
Barry M - 310 Mushroom
Essie - Jazz
OPI - Sweet heart

Let there be Nail creativity!

Lip service

A few weeks ago I stopped by Superdrug for a quick browse as you do, and discovered the Bourjois Colour Boost Lip Crayons. There they were on the display - looking all shiny and luscious and I just had to have them in my life. I decided that I would give a loving home to a beautiful, corally pink that goes perfectly with a bit of a tan - Peach on the beach, as well as a sleek, zesty orange shade that I can see myself wearing into the early Autumn months - Orange Punch. Not only are they long lasting, but they glide on so easily and give a gorgeous silky finish.

For £7.99 these crayons really give the Clinique chubby sticks a good run for their money in all aspects as far as I'm concerned, and I will definitely pick up another shade - I can't recommend them enough!

I do hope that the Bourjois lip crayons are here to stay and that we'll see more interesting shades introduced with the A/W collection - Go Bourjois!!!

To prep my lips for the best base possible, I use the Lush lip scrub in Bubblegum every day to get them as smooth and soft as possible. I've seen so many bloggers and vloggers rave about the Lush lip scrubs and they are definitely worth the hype. They give a gentle scrub that leaves the lips feeling fresh and have that sweet candy scent that you can only find in Lush. The best bit though - they taste sooooooo good, so I don't mind if I put on a bit more than I actually need...

After the delicious scrub I finish with some moisturising lip balm, and at the moment I use the Carmex Strawberry balm. It's nowhere near as yummy and enjoyable to use as the Lush lip scrub (a bit unfair perhaps since it's a tough one to beat), and it does feel a bit sticky, but it'll do just now.

I will be looking around for another lip balm - perhaps something from Burt's Bees, so if you have any recommendations, let me know!