Sunday, 23 November 2014

Gatineau Skincare Vaganza

Christmas is just around the corner, and apparently it has been even since before Halloween in some shops... If the amount of Christmas food, beautiful wrapping paper and dazzling Christmas lights didn't give it away - the amazing beauty gifts currently on offer everywhere you look certainly do. As you know I'm a bit of a skincare addict and this is the best time of year to stock up on beautiful little jars and bottles and a set I definitely can't resist is the amazing Gatineau Skincare Experts Collection*. It's a luxurious, full sized 5 piece collection which contains 2 bottles (!) of skin serum, a neck cream, a wrinkled corrector, and an anti-ageing moisturiser of your choice to suit your skin type - who can say no to that?!

So let's have a look at the products, starting with the Collagene Expert Targeted Wrinkled Corrector (£39.50), which is a bit of a Cinderella product as I like to call it. It's the type of product that produces great results, and that although you definitely can use it every day, I choose to save for those occasions when I need a Fairy Skin God mother to do some magic. It contains a marine collagene formula which not only adds hydration to the skin, but also helps to retain it for a plump and rested look. Even though the formula almost instantly smoothes lines and revives the skin, it's very light, completely without any scent and it absorbs quickly, which is why I sometimes even apply it over my make up on days when I look especially tired. It comes in a slim tube with a very handy little roll on applicator, which not only makes application quick and easy, but it's also great for carrying with you in your bag. So if you're going to a ball, maybe this is the product for you!
Next up is the Age Benefit Perfect Skin Serum (£49), which is a day version of the Age Benefit Ultra Regenerating Night Elixir. Since I've used this serum on and off for the last 2 years, I think you could say that this is an old friend of mine and I especially like to use this in the winter time since it's great for tired and dull looking skin or if the tone and texture needs to be refined. It comes in a sleek and elegant looking bottle with a pump function to make it easier to control the amount you dispense. Good start right?! The first thing you'll notice about this product is the beautiful pale lilac colour and a very subtle scent that reminds me a tiny bit of violet, but no need to worry -  there's no hint of purple left when your skin has absorbed the serum. The texture is creamy but light, and a little bit thicker than most serums and it leaves your skin feeling incredibly soft, smooth and radiant. The serum is super intensive, which is why it also shows results very quickly, however that means that you should use it as a treatment for a month, and then let your skin rest for at least another month before you use it again.

I mentioned that you get to choose a moisturiser that fits your specific skin needs, from 3 Gatineau ranges which all include anti ageing properties but have slightly different focus areas; Melatogenine which is for smoothing lines and wrinkles, Defilift which targets slack or sagging skin and Age Benefit which targets the 5 signs of ageing (lines, sagging, hydration, pigmentation and radiance) and is great to combat dry skin. My skin tends to get dehydrated even though I consume water like a camel, so the Age Benefit range is a great option for me. The Age Benefit Integral Regenerating Cream (£85) contains artichoke leaf and extracts from Hibiscus seed. In addition to sounding like a delicious salad, these ingredients have qualities to help the skin cells to regenerate and to protect them from early ageing. Thank you Gatineau! The formula is quite rich but it just melts into the skin, giving it a mega boost of moisture, making the skin feel thoroughly hydrated and smooth. This feeling lasts all day, without the skin turning sticky or greasy, and there's no need to to worry about any dry patches showing through your makeup. Although all of Gatineau's products smell lovely in their own ways, this one smells simply divine; it's a clean, natural but elegant scent that makes this cream a delight to wear. For me this is the most luxurious cream from Gatineau's product range and it's worth every penny - not just because of the actual results, but how it makes you feel. So Santa, please get me a barrel of this amazing cream for X-mas, I've been very good...

Last but definitely not least is the wonderful Strategie Jeunesse Firming Throat Gel (£42). I know that there are different camps when it comes to neck and decolletage products, but I'm definitely in the camp of frequent and dedicated users, and since I'm such a fan I have also mentioned this little gem previously. This product is more of a gel than a cream, with a lovely light weight consistency that sinks into the skin making it feel toned and refreshed. It contains vitamins, minerals and protein extracts with powerful anti-oxidants that help to tighten up and lift the skin of the jawline and smooth the delicate area of the decolletage.

The total value of this wonderful collection is over a heart stopping £260, but you can get it on special offer at as of this weekend for an incredible £61.92! This is a great gift for someone - don't forget about yourself, we all know a little pampering, especially in the busy weeks leading up to Christmas!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

FOTD - Recreating my wedding makeup look

Doesn't time fly when you're having fun? Today we're celebrating our wedding anniversary and although it feels like we got married only yesterday, it's been 5 years already. Traditionally 5 years is considered the Wooden anniversary - maybe that means that Him Indoors will give me a couple of acres of Amazon forest...  Since it's our anniversary I thought it would be fun to recreate the makeup look I was wearing on my wedding day and even though I won't be using exactly the same products, the colors will be very similar.

At the moment I have much more of a tan than I did at my wedding and for an every day look at this time of year I normally wouldn't even bother with foundation, but since I'm making a bit more of an effort with this look I applied the No 7 Instant Radiance Foundation (£12.50) in Wheat. In my opnion the No 7 foundations don't get nearly enough credit and mention in Blogiverse. Not only are they great value for money, but the matching service means that you will definitely get a shade that is as close to your skin tone as possible for a perfect seamless match. The radiance foundation is a lovely and light medium coverage foundation that adds a nice warm and natural glow to your skin but without that heavy, caked feeling on your skin. It's fairly long lasting so it should stand a fair chance during these hot sweltering days we've been having lately. Now, I know that a lot of wedding looks are quite soft, natural and paired down, but I like a defined eye - always have and always will and it's a look I wear most days of the year. So for my wedding makeup I didn't want the complete opposite or something totally out of character since after all, this is the day of all days to feel comfortable and great about yourself, so my makeup artist and I decided to do a lighter version of a defined eye that was still in keeping with what I would usually emphasize, using slightly softer colors
For the eyes I used Avon's True Colour Eyeshasdow Quad Nudes (£9) in Barely There. All of the shades have surprisingly strong pigmentation and the formula is soft and creamy that allows for gradual building up of the colours, which will last the majority of day before you start seeing them fade. As a base for the entire lid I used shade no 2, which is a beautiful muted, dusky rose colour which blends so well with shade no 4 - an intense sepia brown, and on the middle of the lid I added a light sweep of shade no 3, a chamoisee with a beautiful subtle shimmer. I also used shade no 1 as a highlighter and in the inner corner of my eye, and the pale but warm cream colour is a nice contrast to the other colours. I really like these Barely There shades and even though they definitely are on the nude side they don't disappear into the background and are anything but bland. To add some depth and eye definition I applied Rimmel's Soft Khol Kajal Eye Pencil (£2.99) in Sable Brown on the lower waterline. It has a wonderful soft and water resistant formula that stays in place even on the teariest of days, so if you've got a special occasion coming up - give this one a go!

The only mascara for me at the moment, which you'll probably remember from my July favourites,  is Bourjois Volume 1 Seconde Mascara (£9.99). Already from the start it has just the right texture, as if it's been used for a while and the wide, firm brush makes it very easy to apply layers upon layers to quickly volumise and shape the lashes as much as you want in a few seconds and the effect is amazing. It's very long lasting but also easy to remove in the evening. I'm very lucky with my eye lashes and even the bottom ones are fairly long, but these days many mascaras with their wacky and strangely shaped wands make it tricky to get a nice and smudge free application. The solution to that issuette is the famous Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara (£13) which has the tiniest brush I've ever seen, making messy lines under your bottom lashes a thing of the past. I prefer to use the shade brown since I personally am not a fan of the lower lashes being too distinct and spider leggy and I think it works well, even with black mascara on the upper lashes.

For my cheeks I used my beloved Sleek MakeUp Blush (£4.49) in the most stunning shade ever - Rose Gold. I love this romantic coral shade with its golden shimmer, that makes your cheeks look so dewy and glowy making it perfect for a romantic occasion. The consistency is silky smooth and blendable and the blusher is so richly pigmented that you only need to dab your brush in it to get enough product for both cheeks - in the photo I've literally just lightly swept the brush over the apples of my cheeks, and as you can see that's more than enough for a radiant finish. When I tried to recreate my wedding day look I wasn't surprised at all to see that I had almost identical shades for all the products but one - the one item that I had to rummage around for was a lip colour and the closest I could find in my stash was the L'Oréal L'Extraordinaire Liquid Lipstick (£8.99) in Rose Symphony. This is supposedly a dupe for the fantastic YSL Glossy Stains, and there are definitely a lot of similarities. Let's look at the formula; it's soft, moisturising, silky, non sticky, intensely pigmented and with a brilliant glossy shine and it comes with a great flexible doe foot applicator. It's long lasting and when the shine has faded you're left with a noticeable stain that lasts literally ALL day. It's an excellent product and definitely a more affordable option to YSL. Rose Symphony is a warm vermillion pink shade, and although the colour I wore on my wedding day had more coral in it and the finish was not quite as glossy, the overall look is very similar. I had so much fun recreating the look again and now I'm off to pack a bag since apparently I'm going away somewhere, and I mustn't forget to take all these items with me so I can create the same look for this evening.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The latest from Jo Malone - Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne

Getting a new lipstick always cheers me up, a new nail polish is sure to put a smile on my face and a new eye shadow palette definitely makes my day, but what truly makes me giddy and excited is a new perfume. Scent has always been very important to me and not only does it compliment an outfit or a look, it has the ability to inspire, comfort and relax making you the most confident person in the world, or the complete opposite if you get a fragrance that for whatever reason doesn't work for you. I don't knock any type of fragrance until I've tried it; fruity, floral, spicy, green, foody, classic, contemporary - I've tried it all, but what really draws me in is a scent that captures a mood, an atmosphere or a scene, and the latest one to do just that is Jo Malone's Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne (£40).
Many of the most well known Jo Malone scents belong to either the citrus, floral/light floral or fruity category but for me this latest addition to the "quintessentially British" fragrance library doesn't fit in any of them, and in fact it opens the door to a completely new category. It's described as a combination of fresh air, sea spray and woody notes that capture the scent of the English coast. When you first spray it you'll get a burst of zesty but soft grapefruit and an undertone of cool marine saltiness, which makes the scent initially airy and light and after that it gives way to deeper tones of subtle musky, warm ambrette seed and sensual, aromatic sage. I've never come across a composition like this and it creates a very natural, understated and dreamy fragrance with a slightly raw and gritty undertone reminding me of salty sun kissed skin. It's a sophisticated, relaxed and harmonious scent as far away from florals as you can get and I would even say that it can easily be worn by both women and men.

As much as I am enamoured with this scent unfortunately I have to say that as with many of the other Jo Malone colognes the scent doesn't last as long as I would have liked and on me it starts to fade after only a few hrs. That's not going to stop me from wearing it and it doesn't take away from that fact that it's a scentsational fragrance. I absolutely adore this modern, beachy and woody scent and it has definitely captured the spirit of summer, which will be perfect for keeping spirits up as we move into Autumn. Jo Malone has a wonderful range of scents that are now modern classics, but I love the innovative concepts and new directions we've seen this year - first with the London Rain Collection and now this amazing evocative scent. The unique Wood Sage & Sea Salt launches in September and it will be available in a hand & body wash, body creme and candle as well so you can surround yourself with the memory of summer, and we can all live the rest of the year by the sea side.  

Monday, 4 August 2014

Manic.Monday: The Queen of pink - Maybelline's Pink in the Park

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that I've been playing around with nail art a lot lately and have used a rainbow of different colors and looks, so today I thought I would break away from the bonanza of colors and effects, and maybe even surprise everyone by keeping it simple. Not only that - I've chosen a color that I don't wear very often... pink! I'm living proof that you can be a girly girl, without living in pink. Don't get me wrong I LOVE pink, I really do, and others look amazing in it but pink is just not a color that I'm naturally drawn to either when it comes to fashion or makeup, and truth be told the only reason I got this shade was because it was a 2-for-1 deal in Superdrug and I thought - why not?! And indeed why not - just look at it... I crown this shade the Queen of all pale pinks!

This beauty is called Pink in the Park, and it's from the Maybelline Superstay Gel Nail Color (£4.49) range which is available in 20 different colors. Having tried a lot of the different gel polishes on the market I was very excited to see how this one from Maybelline measured up with the others. The formula is quite thin and a little bit runnier than many of the other gels so you need to be careful and wipe off as much product as you can from the brush before you apply the coats, although be aware that this means that each coat can dry a little bit sheer, but personally I'd rather build up the color gradually and avoid making too much of a mess on the cuticles. The polish comes with a lovely high quality wide and flat brush that fans out over the nail, making application nice and easy if you've got the right amount of product on the brush. The polish dries quickly and the pigmentation is good for being a light shade and two coats are just perfect for creating a lovely opaque finish in just a few minutes. When the coats have dried, you'll also get a great glass like high shine finish, as you would with most gel formulas and you really don't need to apply a separate top coat.
The claim is that this formula will last for 7 days, but on me it doesn't last longer than an ordinary nail polish, so after about 3 days there was a bit of chipping on my nails that needed to be corrected and compared to other gel polishes e.g. Barry M or Nails Inc it didn't last quite as long as these brands. However, with a shade like Pink in the Park, all is forgiven - it's such a stunning, delicate cool powder pink without too strong a blue undertone, which means that it would work really well with a lot of skin tones. I'm completely in love with this shade to the degree that it's the only pink that I've reached for this season. This Queen of all pale pink shades isn't just for the park - take Her to work, to the beach, a night out - in fact wherever, just make sure that you treat Her it with the royal respect She deserves!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Sleek's Gloss Me Lip glosses

As a beauty junkie I want it all, and I want LOTS of it. You can never have too much of a good thing which is why I'm completely indulging in lip glosses at the moment; gone are the days of old fashioned horrible sticky and plasticky formulas and we're now spoiled for choice with gorgeous shades from a variety of brands in all price ranges from premium beauty to more budget friendly options. The latest lip glosses to hit my radar is from one of my favourite brands: Sleek. Sleek has an amazing range of products in every colour of the rainbow, and they are all of excellent quality at very affordable prices - a beauty addicts dream! If like me you love to experiment with colour I can't recommend the amazing eye shadow palettes enough and have reviewed the lovely Garden of Eden previously (you can read that post here). But let's focus on these irresistible lip beauties - the Sleek Gloss Me Lip Glosses* (£4.99) come in simple and polished packaging that really show off the different shades, which by the way are completely true to colour from the tube so you don't have to worry about colour changes when you swatch them.
The formula is lovely and light without being runny (and it goes without saying that it's completely non sticky!), and it comes with an applicator that is quite long and thin, which makes it very easy to trace the contours of your lips for an even perfect application. I have to say that the applicator is a little bit on the stiff side for my liking, however it's not unpleasant to use in any way, and again for precision work that stiffness might be extra useful. When you apply the gloss it sets immediately on the lips with a silky smooth feeling and full coverage, so you can quickly build up the color and shine to the intensity that you prefer. You'll get hrs of wear from this lip gloss since it's so long lasting, on me it stays brilliantly glossy and next to flawless for about 5 hrs, and the pigmentation is wonderful and so intense that even after the gloss has faded, you can still see the colour as a stain on your lips. That does mean that you have be careful when you apply the more intense shades to avoid messy contours. The Gloss Me shades come in 12 gorgeous shades with 6 new shades added to the range recently from pale nudes to vibrant berry tones, and regardless of which colour you go for, the gloss is packed with shimmer that really makes your lips pop in the sun.
Left to right:
Hawaii Honey // Maria, Maria
Thai Orchid // Angel Falls

I've tried four of the most recent colour additions; Hawaii Honey - a golden coral pink, Maria Maria - a warm rusty amaranth red, Thai Orchid - a glorious intense blue toned Persian pink and Angel Falls - a pale silky beige nude. They are all so distinct pretty in their own right and work so well for different looks but the one shade I love the most is definitely Hawaii Honey, coral doesn't get any better than this and I already know that this is one shade I'll bring with me on holiday later on this month! I absolutely adore the Gloss Me texture and finish and for me, these are exceptional quality for the price you pay. You can pick up products from Sleek's fab range either directly from Sleek, or in Boots and Superdrug, so go on and Gloss Yourself Sleek!  

Thursday, 31 July 2014

July on my mind

Some months are like a whirlwind; you just get swept away with the energy and activity of it and just hope that your feet will touch the ground at some point - that's what July's been like, both for good and for bad. I've been very busy focusing a lot on my training, to the extent that I even forgot to celebrate the 1 year birthday of Makeup by Candlelight on July 8 - so I'll just have to say thank you so much to everyone for all your support now instead, and wish for another amazing year!!! Lately I spend more and more time away in London and other places which is so exciting, but my body has definitely taken a beating from it, so I've really had to be nice to myself. Not in the superficial way I would usually be nice to myself before, e.g. by buying something new that I wanted, but in the "real" sense of looking after myself properly through healthy eating (but still with the occasional treat of course), mindfulness and maintaining a healthy balance of things. Since Him Indoors already spends most of the week traveling somewhere, this month has meant that we've not had that much every day life together but when we've finally managed to be in the same place at the same time, we've certainly made up for it by painting London red or enjoying some quiet time in the garden, playing silly games and BBQing while relaxing over a glass or two of bubbly - it's been like a mini holiday. More than anything though July has really been a month of family time since we first had my parents over from Sweden for a while, and then it was time for the Scottish clan to descend on us for a few days and our visitors have taken us all over the South & South East of England on different adventures, which has been so much fun. While it's always nice to get back into the routine again, it's a bitter sweetness since the house all of a sudden is so quiet as soon as the family leaves and it takes a few days to adjust, which I think only the cat enjoys. Last but not least we have finally booked a holiday for the end of August, to keep us going for another month which I think we're going to need since I don't see this whirlwind slowing down any time soon, in fact it'll be quite the opposite. I know this vortex is going to pick up speed even more in a few days time, so I just need to hold on to my hat, let myself be swept away and relax knowing that we have some sunny and adventurous days to look forward to - 29 in fact, but who's counting...

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

July favourites

Since I had to cut down on my blogging in June and earlier this month I haven't actually done a monthly favourites for a little while although except for the EdT I have a feeling that they would have been pretty much the same in June too. My routines have changed quite a lot over the past few months, partly because of the weather and partly because I'm on the road a lot more than I used to. Because of the sunny weather and since I love to be outdoors as much as possible to catch some rays, my main concern has been to make sure that I've been wearing some great sun lotion, and the product I've used the most is the lovely Hawaiian Tropic Sensitive Face Sun Lotion SPF30 (£12.60). It has just the right consistency for the face; light, silky and sheer without clogging up the pores and since it's for sensitive skin it's also free of oils and fragrance that could potentially cause irritation in the sun. The lotion absorbs quickly into the skin making it feel not only protected from those pesky UVA and UVB, but also moisturised and smooth. The only thing is that I don't think it's water resistant, at least it doesn't feel that way so I would definitely recommend that you re-apply several times a day, especially if you've gone for a cooling dip in the pool.
After a post sun shower to freshen up I've loved to use the Avon Shea Butter and Chocolate Truffle Body Soufflé, First of all it smells absolutely divine of chocolate mousse and even if like me you're not a chocolate lover you might find that you have to really stop yourself from testing it to check if it's as yummy as it smells.... hrmm - did I reveal too much there...? Anyway, this body product has a wonderful whipped, light and creamy texture that feels amazing on the skin, and it absorbs quickly without leaving any sensation of tackiness. What I like most about the soufflé, except for the chocolate scent is that it makes the skin ever so slightly radiant with a rose gold shine, which makes it perfect for summer use to emphasise tanned skin. As far as I know it's not available in the current Avon campaigns, but you can easily find it on eBay (£6.75), and I'll definitely stock up on it when I've finished up this one.

So the skin's looking radiant and bronzed, and since I've been on the go so much these past few months I haven't bothered with foundation or tinted moisturiser - all I've done is sweep my very used MUA Bronzer (£1) in shade 1 over my face for a natural, healthy looking glow. I know I've raved about this ridiculously affordable bronzer before - I need to start testing another brands... but for me it's just brilliant. The product is light and finely milled so it's easy to work with and to build up a stronger bronzed tone if you wish, the shade is sunny and natural without too much orange and it lasts fairly well throughout the day. I would say that you probably do need to buff up the colour after about 5 hrs, but then again considering the price, it's not the end of the world. If you haven't tried any MUA products before, this is the one to get and don't be surprised if you find yourself repurchasing it over and over again - I have, about 4 times...

Sticking with the quick and easy makeup theme, let's have a look at the the products that I have worn every single day without fail in July. I've been on a bad mascara streak, having tested several budget friendly products and not  been impressed with a single one of them, but finally there was a glimmer in the mascara dark with the  Bourjois Volume 1 Seconde Mascara (£9.99). It has just the right texture that I like and that usually doesn't come until the mascara is near it's end, i.e. it's liquid enough but a tiny bit sticky, which makes it easy to build up volume and length if you apply several coats. As with every other mascara these days it comes with a special "unique brush with spherical (and straight) bristles to wrap every lash in a 360° motion", I guess that means that the brush is supposed to make sure that you get colour on all sides of your lashes. Even though I'm not too sure about that statement, I do know that the brush is quite wide, firm and great to work with to shape the lashes for a wonderful volumised effect with luscious separated lashes. This was a complete impulse purchase, but I'm so glad that I decided to take a chance on it since it's the best mascara I've tried since I fell in love with L'Oréal's False Lash Flutter Mascara (the butterfly one). Thank you Bourjois for restoring my faith in affordable mascaras!
My preferred daily lippy has been Revlon's ColorBurst Matte Balm (£7.99) in Unapologetic which I recently did a review on that you can read here, so I won't go into more details about it except to say that the colour is the most perfect vibrant coral pink, perfect for a one-product look lounging by the pool. As you probably know I tend to wear different perfumes every single day to suit my mood, outfit etc so although I haven't exactly worn this gem every day, it's still a definite favourite this month. Ever since I first stumbled across Thierry Mugler's Alien EdT, I have looked forward to every new edition, and I have never been disappointed, they have all been outstanding! This season's newcomer - Alien Eau Extraordinaire EdT (£68) is no exception. As usual the bottle is very interesting with its beautifully cut angles and pale gold details for a glamorous outer space look and feel. It's a fresh, sparkling, sunny and harmonious fragrance mixing sweet Tunisian neroli, citrusy bergamot, elegant white tiare flower and warm amber. It's a very confident, poised and delightful scent and I always feel happy and pampered wearing it, and for warm sunny days - what could be more fitting than a warm sunny scent? That's the end to almost two month's of favourites... as much as I love them now I have a feeling that they won't be the same in August, but as I always say - it's a girl's prerogative to change her mind!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Manic.Monday: A glitter girl's little helper - IsaDora Peel Off base

For nail polish lovers and magpies alike there are a lot of amazing sparkling, glittering gem like effects to create these days, all equally eye catching in their own ways. Every time I show a glitter or shimmer polish on the blog, I often hear: "Looks great but is probably really difficult to remove", and it's a very fair and expected comment since a lot of these types of nail polishes often are a complete nightmare to remove, and it'll take nothing less than industrial strength poison to make your nails nice and clean of them. At least that is up until now, Glitter lovers over the world rejoice - we now have peel off base coats to the rescue! The idea behind these base coats which are specifically intended for textured and glitter looks, although you could of course use it for standard nail polishes too, is that when the time comes to change your color you simply lift up the polish along the edge and then peel it off in one go. The first peel off base I heard off was IsaDora's Peel Off Base and since the concept seemed far too good to be true, I obviously had to see for myself if it really could be as easy as this.
In the bottle the formula looks milky white and thick, actually almost gloopy as if you were going to paint your nails with glue, however as you apply it you'll find that the consistency is actually quite thin and easy to spread over the nail. Because of the thin consistency and the wonderful wide brush, you only need a tiny drop for each nail, otherwise you'll notice white build ups along the cuticles as it dries. After about 30 secs the peel off base sets into a finish that is silky smooth to the touch and the fairly opaque white color dries into a much more transparent shade on the nail, which works even under sheer pastel colors. Now your nails are prepped and ready for whichever bejewelled, glittery polish you have in store, and as I tested this base I chose one of my most glittery holographic polishes (that I'll review separately in a few weeks) that looked as if it could be a real challenge to remove.

Since I wanted to see if the peel off element would impact the wear, I didn't use a top coat and on me the holographic effect lasted about 3 days which is pretty normal wear, however I must say that it did feel as if the finish was a little bit more sensitive to everyday wear, and it probably could start to come loose at the edges even sooner than that. When the edges start to come off a little from the nail, you can without any effort at all, simply peel the polish off using your fingers and it'll release from the nail in one big flake, without leaving anything at all on the nail.
As you can see in the photos, the polish has come clean off so need to go back in with another remover to do any corrections and it really couldn't be any easier than this. I am so impressed with how well this works, and even though the peel off base might make the polish a little bit less long wearing - a reason perhaps for not using it under normal nail polishes, it's definitely not a concern for me since it makes removing effect polishes a 1 second job. It can unfortunately be very difficult to get hold of IsaDora in the UK (please, please, PLEASE IsaDora, come to the UK market soon!!!), but there are other brands that do a similar peel off base, e.g. OPI (£11.95), although I personally haven't tried that one yet. If you have tried the OPI version, please let me know what you think about it and if it's as incredible as the one from IsaDora, which should be every glitter girl's little helper. 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Out and about: Dipley Mill, a garden lover's dream

Last week we had a royal visit from Sweden, well almost.. - my parents came to visit for a few days which was so lovely since I unfortunately don't get to see them more than a few times a year so I like to treat them as royalty when they are here. We were extremely lucky with the weather, basking in almost 30C and since we wanted to do as much as possible outdoors we ended up going on a few mini trips to see our surroundings, and on one of the days we went to the incredible Dipley Mills, to have a look at the famous gardens. I come from a long line of gardeners with fingers greener than that of the Green Giant and my family can look at a plant and all of a sudden it bursts into bloom. Somehow mysteriously I have none of those genes and with me it's quite the opposite - I can merely glance at a plastic flower and it withers and dies...  but I still certainly appreciate beautiful gardens and it's always an opportunity for Happy Snapper, so I hope you'll enjoy these pictures from our visit.

Dipley Mills is one of the beautiful places that you can visit as part of the National Garden Scheme (NGS) and I would recommend that you keep an eye out for the next open day, since it's a stunning and inspiring place even for those of us that don't exactly have green fingers.  

Friday, 25 July 2014

On Cloud Nine with fabulous looking hair

I am the first to admit that I have spent a LOT of money on beauty products throughout the years, and most of it quite happily, but there are things that I probably shouldn't have bought and the biggest black hole for me is definitely the one for hair styling tools - if you've read any of my previous hair styling posts you may remember that I refer to my pile of tools as Mount Remington, the place where all my unused styling gizmos go to die. I have forever been pursuing the dream of the perfect curl, but after meeting Gladys the BaByliss Pro Perfect Curl that hunt is well and truly over, so instead I turned my hair obsessive eye onto the search for the one and only hair straightener... I know I've gone from curls to straight - it is a contradiction, but a girl is allowed to change her mind, in fact it's all part of the allure - at least that's what I keep telling Him Indoors! For years I've had a bog standard straightener that I have made work very hard to get poker straight glossy locks, and to be more than fair - it's certainly done what I asked of it, but like most of us I'm a busy girl and definitely don't have time to spend 30 mins in the morning straightening my fairly long hair. So after a few seconds of deliberation I decided to invest in a quality award winning wide straightener, and now I'm very happy to introduce to you to my latest hair styling friend, perfect for long and thick hair - Cloud Nine's The Wide Iron (£101.36), affectionately known in our household these days as Nino.
Nino has lots of excellent qualities that I think would make him endearing to most of us; first of all unlike many styling products he has an on/off button and then a separate temperature gauge so you can easily set and control the temperature as you wish in a range from under 100 to over 250, and with the clear LED display it's easy to read which heat setting you're using. The iron heats up to the desired temperature faster than you can say hair straighteners and it also switches itself off if you haven't used it for 30 mins, a nice safety feature for the forgetful among us. The main thing that attracted me to this straightener in the first place is that the plates are extra wide, smooth and glossy which means that it's quicker and easier to either straighten or curl my mane of hair. What would usually take me 30-40 mins mins, now only takes 10 mins which is a massive time saver for me and let's face it, who doesn't want to sleep an extra half hour in the morning? As an extra bonus the plates contain a "mysterious ingredient" (according to Cloud Nine) that adds shine to your hair as you it, but if I'm completely honest I can't say that I've noticed any extra shine although the smoothness of the plates do mean that that I've noticed very few frizzy or broken strands of hair after I've used it and the overall finish is very sleek and silky soft.

When I bought Nino from my local salon (the amazing Guillaume Vappereau Salon) I also got a complimentary Cloud 9 Magical Potion (£16.16) a great heat protectant spray which contains UV filter and a nourishing leave-in conditioner element. Not only does the spray protect and soften your hair, it also contains quick dry properties that will reduce the drying time with as much as up to 50%, which if you have long hair like me is quite a lot. Before you spray it all over your hair, shake the bottle properly to mix the ingredients and you'll find that the clear liquid that you can see in the photo will turn milky looking. The consistency is lovely and soft, a bit like a dry oil - silky on the surface but without any greasiness and it'll absorb into your hair very quickly without leaving any residue. It has a very subtle scent that reminds me of warm clean cotton but it's so faint that it's barely noticeable and it doesn't linger on your hair either. After you've combed the potion through your hair, style as usual and personally I also find that it somehow helps to keep my hair straight longer, which is always great when you've spent time on straightening it in the first place and on me the finish lasts about 3 days (without having to use John Frieda's Frizz Ease 3 Day Straight Spray £6.99), even after working out which is AMAZING! So what does the end result look like I hear you say? - well, since you ask let me show you...
There's no denying that professional styling tools like my little Nino from Cloud Nine are expensive and perhaps not something you would splurge out on every day, but before you go for 2nd or even 3rd best keep in mind that that these irons can be used not only for straightening, but curling and waving too, the smoothness of the quality plates makes a difference to the finish and the health of our hair as we're torturing our locks with heat styling, and the results last a long time. I am extremely happy with the Cloud Nine Wide Iron and would thoroughly recommend it for a quick and sleek trip to hair heaven.    

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Fave 5 Clarins products

I still remember the first time I tried a Clarins product many moons ago; ahhhhh, it was in the infancy of my beauty addiction and I still get nostalgic thinking about it, because it wasn't only the first time I tried Clarins, it was also my very first premium beauty product EVER - a momentous occasion! After a scare with an eye infection potentially caused by a cheapy mascara I decided to invest in a mascara that was both dermatologically and ophthamologically tested and that was the beginning of my wonderful friendship with Clarins. The brand was founded in 1954 and has ever since the start had a very clear emphasis on pure and clean plant based products, many of them traditional medicinal plants combined with a strong eco- and fair trade responsible ethics, which you today can enjoy in local spas all over the world, a real treat! I haven't yet been so lucky to go to one of the spas but today I've got 5 of my favorite Clarins products that I simply can't be without to recreate that spa feeling at home.

First up among my Clarins favorites is the Liquid Bronze Self Tanning (£19) that I also reviewed in another post in mid April but this product is so excellent that it definitely deserves another mention. I'm far from an expert at self tanning so any products that I go for and even end up using repeatedly, simply has to be fool proof and the Liquid Bronze is just that. The consistency is a colorless, thin lotion that you apply by wiping a cotton pad with the product over your face as many times as you like to get the shade you're after. When it comes to self tan products for me this is a one of a kind - it dries very quickly on the skin, it has a soft and subtle scent - far from the burned biscuit smell that we all know, and it doesn't transfer onto clothes, another one of my pet peeves. It feels cooling and light on the skin and after you've applied it, the skin feels moisturised and nourished and a few hrs later you'll have a gorgeous bronzed glow and most importantly the color is perfectly EVEN and streak free. The shade will last 3-4 days before you need to top it up, which I think is fairly good but even if it had been less than that I wouldn't have mind since it's so easy to apply and get a great results - a real gem of sun in a bottle!

In this world, there are hand creams and then there are HAND CREAMS - the princess products that make you feel invincible and gorgeous, and the Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment (£18.90) definitely falls into that category. Let me just acknowledge straight away that there are fore sure more budget friendly and perfectly good hand creams out there, but this pampering moisturising cream with extracts of Sesame, Japanese Mulberry and Myrrh which all soften and protect the skin is worth every single tiny penny. The formula is luxurious and creamy without being oily and it absorbs straight into the skin without leaving any greasiness, making even very rough areas of your hands as soft as a peach, at the same time as it nourishes and strengthens the nails and cuticles. It has an addictive invigorating and subtle whipped citrus scent that lingers for a while which always lifts my mood and makes me feel refreshed. Ever since I first tried this amazing treatment a few years ago, it's been a staple item in my overstocked bathroom cabinet, and I still keep buying it in great value duo packs at the duty free, a testament to how good the cream is from someone who can't even commit to the same color of nail polish for a whole week!
One thing that Clarins does REALLY well is facial oils. Regardless of what your individual needs are, Clarins has a wonderful, luxurious oil to meet them and at one point or another I have been lucky enough to try them all. As my skin tends to be dehydrated or dry, the oil that suits me the best is the incredible Santal Face Treatment Oil (£32). It comes in a lovely glass bottle with a pipette, which is so handy to make it easier to get just the right amount of oil that you need. The Santal Oil is very rich and heavy and as much as I love it I wouldn't wear it during the way since it definitely leaves a bit of a shine on the skin, but for night time it's a wonderful treatment either replacing a serum or mixing a couple of drops with a mask for a really intense over night hydration boost, and in the morning your skin is plump and smooth. It's a very luxurious oil with an amazing warm and slightly oriental scent of aromatic cardamom, and it has such a soothing effect on me that I always bring it with me when I fly, to make me feel relaxed and settled. I adore this oil and since you only need so little of it, it'll last you a very long time so look at it as a long term investment.

I'm the first to admit that micellar solutions are so handy for cleansing your skin especially when you're in a hurry, or too tired to do a full cleansing routine but at the same time there are very few micellar solutions that will give me that incredibly clean sensation that you get from using a separate cleanser, followed up by a toner and my absolute favorite toner is the Clarins Toning Lotion for Dry/Normal Skin (£17.10) It's an alcohol free gentle lotion that is perfect for finishing of a deep cleanse, ensuring all cleanser is removed without leaving the skin feeling stripped of moisture or with dry patches. It contains ingredients that are all frequently used in products for sensitive skin since they eliminate itchiness and redness; camomille, linden and alpine herbs, and it has a wonderful ever so slightly green, peppery scent that feels very refreshing and luxurious on the skin. Using a toner might seem old fashioned to some, but for me it definitely works and you won't get a better or more comforting one than this!

As you may know I'm a big fan of using night creams and last among my fave 5 today is the Multi-Active Night Youth Recovery Comfort Cream (£44) a great, intense cream for those who are not too keen on the very rich, thick consistency that a lot of night creams usually have. Although it is thicker than moisturisers for day wear, the formula is surprisingly light and it has an amazing fresh herbal scent to it. It's packed with ingredients to help the cells renew and repair over night - the best time for intense treatments, e.g. kiwi, Imudilin, carob extracts and shea butter, well known for it's softening qualities. Gently massage a pea sized drop of this night cream all over your face and in the morning you'll wake up to soft, radiant and restored skin. As I have dry skin I must admit that I feel as if I have to use quite a lot of product to get good coverage and a sense of deep hydration, however my beauty therapist keeps telling me that you can actually apply too much, and in doing so clog up the pores and a small amount of this contains enough nutrients to comfort and replenish the skin. That's my list of current Clarins favorites, and if you haven't tried any of the wonderful products from Clarins range yet I would highly recommend that you give at least one or two of these a go, and I'm sure that like me you'll form a very long lasting friendship with this fabulous brand!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Manic.Monday: She paints seashells on the seashore

Summer time is sunny time is beach time - warm golden soft sands, cooling turquoise blue waters, wispy palm trees swaying in the wind and beautiful unusual seashells waiting to be collected as a memento from the holiday. Somehow everything is better at the beach; even the most minimal tan looks gorgeously bronzed, wavy boho hair comes without having to use lots of hair products and bizarre looking styling tools and natural sunkissed skin smells lovelier than some of the most prestigious perfumes in the world. Now you can have that relaxed beach feeling everyday with the help of the latest of Ciaté's innovative textured manis; it's Ciaté's Shell Manicure (£20) so forget your pastels, forget your neons - this summer the coolest nails are covered with crushed seashells!
This latest ingenious look from Ciaté comes in sets of three different colors with one base shade and one bottle of shell fragments in a matching color; pink (She Sells Seashells), white (Wish Upon A Starfish) and this gorgeous muted lilac called Mermaid You Look. The base shade in this kit is Pillow Fight (£9), a lovely muted thistle color for a subtle and sophisticated look and although the formula is perhaps a tiny bit more fluid than your average nail polish, the consistency is still easy to work with for an even finish and it's also very quick drying, always a plus when you want to build a nice opaque finish. The pigmentation is nice and strong even with a softer shade like Pillow Fight, although for me personally one coat only is on the sheer side so as usual I prefer to apply two coats for some solid color blocking, especially to off set an effect finish like these seashells. On me two coats under a top coat lasts about four days, which is a bit longer than average in my opinion and it's still very easy to remove using a standard nail polish remover.

Now on to the fun bit - the seashells! As with all these manicure kits you can be as creative as you like and wear the textured effect on as many nails as you wish, but for me less is more and one or two nails creates just the right impact. I love the untamed, natural and ever so slightly rough look and feel of the crushed seashells. The color of the shells is a gorgeous pearlescent lilac and mauve with a silver shine to it, perfect with a tan for a mermaid inspired look. Pour a generous amount of the fragments over a nail that has just been painted, then tap the shards gently into place and repeat a few times until there's an even coarse and fairly dense coating of seashells. Once you've applied as much as you want, you could finish with a topcoat to seal in the fragments, and make the finish potentially last longer but personally I think it ruins the relaxed but interesting and eye catching effect. As unusual and unique as this look is, it does require some patience from the wearer since it's far from practical. Because of the rough edges and the different shaped fragments some of them will stick out more than others, resulting in a lot of things getting caught on them - hair, lace, linen anything really that has a slightly uneven surface, which also means that the look won't remain pristine and perfect for long.
Without a top coat the effect lasts about two days before the first flakes start to come off, although you'll still get at least two more days wear out of it, and it is very easy to cover up any areas with more seashells as needed. Not unsurprisingly this textured finish takes a bit of work to remove, but in my opinion it's well worth the effort for a one of a kind, remarkable finish. If the choice is between this and some of the other seasonal colors, I know which one I'd rather shell out on - bring on the seaside look, and embrace your inner mermaid.  

Friday, 18 July 2014

Unapologetically gorgeous

As much as I love scorching hot summer days, they do prove a challenge from a makeup point of view especially if you're very active, or have a long commute and lately I have literally stripped everything back and my makeup bag has never looked so empty. Not wearing foundation or concealer can seem daunting and bare summer skin can be very unforgiving, but luckily my skin has been well behaved lately and I have a bit of a tan that is quickly highlighted even more with a quick sweep of a bronzer. Apply a fabulous mascara for some long fluttering lashes and the last but most important touch is a punchy, colorful lippy and the past few weeks I've been using one of the amazing Revlon ColourBurst Matte Balms (£7.99). I've mentioned before how much I love this format of lip product and after my first encounter with the beautiful matte effects from Revlon a while back, I've added new colors regularly to my collection.

I love how fuss free and practical the chubbys are with their twist up function, and unlike a lot of lipsticks that have quite a flimsy packaging it's next to impossible to break the stick as it bumps around in the handbag throughout your every day adventures. It has a lovely minty fresh scent that lasts a little while after you've applied it and despite being a matte lip balm the formula is wonderfully creamy, smooth and pleasant to wear thanks to nourishing ingredients like mango, shea and coconut butter, which is perfect for hot summer days when your lips easily get dehydrated and chapped from the sun. With such a buttery consistency you might expect that the stick would melt or break in hot weather, however the balm seems to be very resilient and I haven't noticed any difference to it's consistency even after I'd accidentally left it out in the sun for a few hrs... phew... When you first apply the ColourBurst balm you get a lovely intense and silky but matte effect that fades evenly without those despicable dry patches or contours, however at least on me it doesn't last very long. In cooler temperatures an application lasts a little bit longer than 2 hrs and during these hot summer days it's unfortunately even shorter than that. Even though for me there are lip chubbys from other brands that last much longer, Revlon has the best and most varied range of colors (10 different matte shades) and the color Unapologetic is sheer (or rather matte) perfection! It's a glorious intense sunny coral pink that will make even the palest of skin tones look glowy and radiant - a gorgeous eye catching shade for every occasion, have a look here on my Instagram for a swatch, and I make no excuses for having used it constantly for the past few weeks. 

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The InstaWeek that was #5

The name of this post should probably be The besquillion InstaWeeks that were, because unfortunately it has been THAT long since I published a new post. I've had so much going on the last few weeks and it's been a challenge to get even the every day stuff to come together that I was forced to take some BB time - Blogging Break time... Anyway I am now back again and as a nice gentle start I thought I would share some photos from my Instagram of things that have been going lately.

The InstaWeek that was: 
I've spent a lot of time in London the last months but with neighbors like Diptyque you won't hear me complain (and I haven't bought a single thing!) // Absolutely LOVE this latest Alien creation from Thierry Mugler, it's simply out of this world... // After long and intense days there's nothing like some pampering time at the spa // The latest stash from Ciaté  - got to love the mosaic or the crushed shell mani // Swedish Midsummer with traditional snaps, and yes we did finish them all // What to do on a scorching summer day? - Well ice climbing in Covent Garden of course... // Indulgent Sunday breakfast with raspberry croissants because raspberries are great for the skin // Loving London Summer evenings // Healthy tuna and salmon sashimi lunch to make up for the raspberry croissants

Highlights the past weeks:
- Ice climbing!!!!! Oh my goodness - such good fun and a great workout too, although I think I need a bit more training before I head to K2
- Beautiful balmy London evenings chilling out with Him Indoors

Hope you've also had a great few weeks! I'm so excited to be back in Blogiverse and don't forget to check out the new posts coming soon!

Monday, 23 June 2014

Manic.Monday: A brush with water decals

For being a self confessed polishaholic, I have experimented surprisingly little with nail art and the furthest I've gone into the realm of different nail art techniques is to apply gemstones (surprise, surprise...) or using self adhesive nail stickers so when I got a selection of gorgeous water decals* from Born Pretty the time had come for me to go forth and explore the wonderful world of nail art. I wanted to do something summery with fresh contrasts so as a base for the look I used Barry M nail paint (£2.99) in Matte White. Barry M is one of my go to brands and I have to say that I've got more of their nail polishes than I can count. The consistency of this particular shade is ever so slightly different than the others in that it's a tiny bit more runny which means that you only need the smallest of drops of product for it to cover your nail, which would also help to minimise any mess of excess polish on cuticles etc. Even though the formula is a bit more difficult to work with, the pigmentation is fairly strong for a light shade and far from sheer, although I would definitely recommend that you apply two coats for a nice opaque solid color, which isn't really an effort since each coat will dry quite quickly. Matte White is a lovely crisp, clean and fresh look for summer, perfect for enhancing a tan and despite being a matte finish you still get a lovely and natural shine that lasts for about 3-4 days on its own before it starts to chip.
Having let the white base dry properly I moved on to try my luck with the beautiful water decals*. I absolutely loved the abstract brushstrokes in azure blue with gold specks and I was very excited to see how they actually turned out on the nail, and if they were easy to work with. When it comes to water decals, the clue is in the name and you basically need to plunge them into water to get them pliable enough for sticking them onto the nail. According to the instructions, you should peel the film off the decal before you dip it into water, but I found it impossible to take the film off while dry, so I would recommend that you simply cut out the shape of the decal then put it in the water for up to a minute and when you take it out, it'll already have started to come away from the paper making it very easy to transfer onto the nail using a pair of tweezers. After you've placed the decal on your nail, you soak up any excess water with a cotton pad or some tissue - blast the nail under a blow dryer for about 20 secs so that the decal is completely soft and dry, and then finish off by sealing it in on the nail with a top coat. Once the decal has set on the nail, it'll last for about 4-5 days and it's also surprisingly easy to remove with a good dip and twist nail polish remover, taking no more than a few seconds to remove.
I do like the effect and having got the hang of the technique now, I think that with more practice and experimenting with different colors and also other accents, you can create some really wonderful look, however I also have to say that it is quite fiddly and a fair amount of work just to get a decal on your nail - approximately 5-6 mins for each nail that you decide to decorate. As much as I love different nail looks, personally I prefer a simple self adhesive sticker to the effort you have to put in with a water decal, but if you have some time to spare you should definitely give it a go and see how you get on with it and Born Pretty has a great selection of all kinds of nail art for next to nothing and they always have great offers on, including free worldwide delivery. To make it even more difficult to resist, you get an additional 10% off on whatever you treat yourself to when you enter the discount code CANW10, so head over to Born Pretty and embrace your creative side for some unique, eye catching nails.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Fan di Fendi? Oh yes, I'm definitely a fan!

Before we look at this gem of a scent, Fan di Fendi Eau Fraiche that I've been wearing religiously for the past week, which is a bit of a record for me I thought I would talk a little bit about today since it's one of the most important and popular holidays of the year in Sweden, it is - Midsummer's Eve! Originally it's a pagan fertility celebration of the summer solstice, but today we celebrate it more because it's the official start to summer and we have the the shortest nights of the year, where in some parts of the country you can still see the sun at midnight - an incredibly beautiful sight. At Midsummer the whole country stops, cities and towns are empty as a lot of people go to the countryside or the coast to join in the celebrations, which might seem a little bit "exotic" if you haven't seen them before - just ask Him Indoors about his first encounter with Midsummer, but to sum it up it's all about lots of food, dancing and drinking. When I was a child we would always start the day with picking wild flowers to make a wreath for my hair, and also because according to tradition girls who haven't yet found their other half, should put seven different wild flowers under their pillow, and they'll dream of their future husband - sweet isn't it, and I seem to remember ruining many pillow cases that way... There's also always the equivalent of a May pole with flowers and leaves, that we dance around and you'll see people dressed up in traditional clothing from the different Swedish counties, and this is when the infamous "frog dance" takes place. Having worked up an appetite, there's usually a feast of traditional Midsummer food; pickled herring in lots of different sauces, sour cream, chives, new potatoes, dill and strawberries. Midsummer's Eve is usually a great relaxing day with your friends and family and if I've made you curious about this well loved Swedish tradition or the "frog dance", you should have a look at this short and hilarious You Tube video.

 Traditional Midsummer's Eve celebrations
Midnight Sun 

A fragrance which for me perfectly captures Midsummer is the beautiful Fan Di Fendi Eau Fraiche EdT (£32.75). Before I got the Eau Fraiche I had tried many of Fendi's previous scents, but none of them were right for me, and with their spicy, balsamic wooden notes I found them quite heavy and to be honest - a bit old fashioned. But when I first tested Fan di Fendi Eau Fraiche I was totally surprised at how different it was from the others and I was immediately completely hooked. The scent comes in a stylish and minimalist chic bottle with the classic Fendi logo at the front in a light green color, hinting to its fresh and harmonious character. It's a gorgeously well balanced blend of feminine sensual white flowers including jasmine, zesty fresh citrus and bergamot, green tea, soft orange blossom, and a warm but not overwhelming hint of cardamom.  
Fan di Fendi Eau Fraiche is a gorgeously well balanced blend of feminine sensual white flowers including jasmine, zesty fresh citrus and bergamot, green tea, soft orange blossom, and a warm but not overwhelming hint of cardamom. It's a very unexpected, contemporary scent and on a hot summer day, its airy greenness is a perfect cooling and comforting scent that is also very refined and graceful. I absolutely adore this scent and am so glad that I decided to test it, despite my previous experience of Fendi fragrances and now I definitely call myself a Fan! It's not always easy to get hold of Fendi scents and I actually bought mine at duty free early this year, but you can find Fendi in Harrods and online at where they also offer free UK delivery. Although I only have a small May pole for the table and we won't actually be doing any silly dancing, I've got the food and drink all planned and smelling sweetly I'm off to start celebrating Midsummer. Have a Glad midsommar - Happy Midsummer everyone! Xx