Friday, 28 February 2014

February on my mind

For me February is the new January! I've had a slow start to the year, or at least that's how it feels and at least partly that is because December was a whirlwind of activities, but I also didn't do the whole new year = new plans thing. So many of my friends and colleagues started the year with lots of optimistic plans for the new year, but it's not actually until now - the end of February, that I'm starting to see semblance of a path to where this year might be heading for me. Another reason why it's as if the year has just started is that the first 40 days were so miserable that you could barely set foot outside for fear of being whisked away by one of the wicked storms we've suffered in the UK, but I've certainly made up for being more or less housebound and have spent a lot of time outdoors, visiting some of my favorite places close by like Mottisfont Abbey, which I've got a picture post coming up on that very soon.

We also went a bit further afield for a very brief visit to Scotland to spend time with the family, which is always nice and so is a change of scenery every now and then. Although I was remarkably restrained in the duty free - to the point that I actually think I deserve a medal for that! I take this as another sign of February being January filled with lots of good intentions, and after my Splurge vs Steal article I really am trying to spend on the right things. Having picked up some fabulous Kérastase hair products, I'm so glad that the experts think this is an area to invest in - who am I to disagree.....?

I might have spent a lot of time in my Hunter wellies this month, but I'm not quite ready to swap them for high heels as my preferred shoe and although March may be the month of wind and taxes, here in the South we are almost already in Spring - the time to bring out strappy sandals! Definitely something to invest in...

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Makeup look of the month

After having indulged in quite heavy and elaborate makeup over the winter months, the month of February has been like a cosmetic detox for me and I've worn a minimum of products. Most days I've gone for the no makeup look using exactly the same products that I talked about in the Natural Edition, and when I've needed something a little bit more on the eyes and lips, I've worn the look that I'm showing you today - a time-saving minimal effort look that is still put together enough for work, or an evening out.

Starting with the eyes, I've kept it simple by applying the MUA Colour Blast Eyeshadow Tint (£3) straight from the stick all over the lid, blending it up towards the brow bone with my fingers. The color - Bring it back, is a beautiful golden dark bronze and it's perfect for a light wash across the lid as a base or to use on its own as I have. To add some more depth, I've used the Rimmel Scandaleyes Micro Liner (£5.49) in Black as close as possible to the upper eye lashes. I wanted a very subtle and precise look so I kept the line very thin, starting immediately in the inner corner of the eye and then making it slightly thicker towards the outer corner to define the eyeshape. If like me you're still improving when it comes to eyeliner, this product is great to use since it has a very thin felt tip and I feel that you have a good control over it when you apply, so you get just the right amount you need. After that I've applied lashings of the Seventeen Falsifeye Mascara (£6.49) in Black to get really long, whispy and flared lashes which this mascara is great at creating, even though it's not strong on volumising the lashes. Finishing the eye area, I've at least temporarily gone back to using a trusted eyebrow pencil after a less than successful detour into eyebrow mascara country - best to be forgotten... At the moment I'm still using the Rimmel Professional Eyebrow Pencil (£2.99) in Hazel 2, and for this look which is groomed and well shaped, but not too dark - this pencil works well since it's easy to use to get the right definition.
Moving on to the face, I've kept it very fresh and natural with a dabbing of the MUA Bronzer (£1) in Shade 1 in the hollow of my cheeks and on the sides of my nose for some basic sculpting, and then a light sweep of it on my forehead and chin, where the sun would naturally hit the face. This shade is just right for me - it's golden without any orange or dirty brown undertones and it blends beautifully into the skin. I know I've talked a lot about MUA lately, and for good reason. MUA has made such an effort to make great quality product at affordable prices available to us and they keep expanding their range - enabling us beauty junkies, but I'm only too happy to be enabled when nothing is more expensive than £9! I've applied a little bit of the Bourjois Little Round Pot Blusher (£7.99) in shade 16 - Rose Coup de Foudre, which is a gorgeous muted coral with a slightly burned undertone and a hint of shimmer to it. I've placed it a bit higher up on the cheekbones rather than straight on the apples of my cheeks for some more definition and it's beautiful for a fresh rosy appearance. Last but not least I've lightly placed some of the gorgeous MUA Undress Your Skin Highlighting Powder (£3) that I talked about earlier this week just above the blusher on the cheekbones for a dewy, light shimmer.
To finish the look and to balance out the eye makeup I've used the No 7 Moisture Drench Lipstick (£9.75) in Mulberry. I'm very surprised that this lipstick isn't mentioned more often, although of course competition is stiff when it comes to lip products but it really does deserve to be mentioned since it's incredibly moisturising, long lasting and gives a lovely satin finish. There's also a lovely range of shades available and Mulberry is a beautiful dark rusty red shade with just the right depth when you want a red lip but nothing too vibrant or too vampy - it's simply very easy to wear. That's the most worn makeup look this month - it's straight forward, but chic and appropriate for most occasions. I hope you like this type of post since I'm planning on doing them more often in the future so I hope you'll let me know in the comments what you think and I'm really looking forward to reading them. Have a great day everyone!

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

February favorites

February has been a very mixed month for me when it comes to makeup products, and unfortunately I've felt quite underwhelmed by a lot of the new products I have tried. This has meant that I've turned to some old tried, tested and well loved favorites to restore the balance. One of the new products that I've recently tested and really taken to is the Orly Bonder Rubberized Basecoat (£8.70). Let's just  disregard the somewhat strange name right away and go straight to the excellent qualities of this basecoat. The formula contains ingredients that make the basecoat feel ever so slightly sticky, and rubbery which means that nail polishes will get a better grip and last longer on your nails. When I use this basecoat nail polishes will last approximately 2-3 days longer than they normally would so e.g. a Barry M nail polish, usually lasting 3 days now stretches to 5 before the chipping is substantial. It is more expensive than many decent basecoats on the high street, however the bottle is a generous size and considering you don't need to apply nail polish as often any more, it's well worth getting. I'm so excited about this basecoat - yes I know... it is only a basecoat, BUT I'm beginning to hope that this is the solution to my unsatisfactory relationship with Chanel polishes which on my nails always chip already after a few hrs. I'll take it for a Chanel specific test drive and let you know how it went.

The fragrance that I've been wearing the most this month, is the gorgeous DKNY Energizing Fall EdT (£42). I've been feeling a bit cold and miserable after all the rain and the time spent outdoors and this has been perfect to restore my mood. It's an unusual but well balanced EdT with it's warming spicy and fruity scent of mandarin, lemon, jasmine, magnolia, musk, vetiver and cardamom. The blend is so harmonious, calming and beautiful with lots of substance and I'm suprised that I haven't seen it on more perfume shelves of department stores. 
A completely new discovery for me this month, and already a firm favorite is Batiste's Dry Conditioner (£3.99). It's the same concept as with dry shampoo, you basically spray it onto dry hair and then brush and style as usual but instead of cleansing your hair, this conditioning spray adds nourishment which makes the hair smooth shiny and sleek. It's an amazing product that adds a lot of volume, freshness and control without the crispiness of a hair spray. I'm completely addicted to it and start using it already the day after a hair wash and I'm definitely trying the one for strength and shine next.

One of the must have products in any decent makeup collection is a perfect nude lipstick, something which I had been trying to find for aaaages. After much searching and swatching I eventually found one in L'Oréal's Color Riche Collection Privée (£8.19), more specifically in the shade Julianne Moore. It's a gorgeous peach color with just enough pink for a subtle and natural look, and since I've already reviewed it in more detail in my article about natural colors for makeup where you can also see a swatch, I'll only mention here that the formula is moisturising and pleasant to wear, and it fades well throughout the day. I've worn this shade so often since I bought it, not just on a "no makeup" day and although it took me a while to find a pale shade that I'm confident in wearing, I've finally got it now and it was well worth the wait.

Since I've spent so much time outdoors in February I haven't really felt like getting all glammed up in my best YSL Youth Liberator Serum foundation, so after a bit of digging around in my tash I've rediscovered the No 7 Instant Radiance Foundation (£12.50). It's perfect for those days when you're feeling a bit tired and your skin is stressed, and it'll give a light to medium coverage as well as a natural finish. The formula is lovely and silky with light reflecting particles that makes the skin look radiant but without any glitter or shimmer, and it feels great and soothing on tired or dry skin. The foundation is a little bit more expensive than many other great options from e.g. Bourjois or L'Oréal, but the No 7 Match Made Service makes it worth those extra few pounds since you're guaranteed to get as close a match with your natural skin tone as you can get.
I debated with myself if I should include this last beauty product that I've loved this month, but in the end I decided to put it out there. As you may remember I did a review of the Diorblush from the  Trianon collection earlier this month, which was a bit of a let down simply because of the weak pigmentation, which is why I decided to show this bargain blusher, MUA 1D Cheek Tint in Coral Cutie. Expensive doesn't always equal great quality! It's a lovely soft and creamy cheek tint in a stick form, which is easy to apply and blend in and it stays in place all day long. Dab a little of this beautiful sunny coral shade on your cheeks and blend for a fresh and healthy looking glowing skin. This was a limited edition MUA product which I bought in Superdrug last year for no more than a few pounds, but since it's now only available on ebay these days the price is hugely inflated, as so often happens although you should be able to get one for around £5-6, and it's definitely worth it. 

I don't usually include non beauty items among my monthly favourites, but since it was a bit thin on the beauty ground this month for me, I thought I would show you a scarf I've been wearing at least a few times a week since I got it for Christmas. It's a two toned reversible cashmere scarf from LK Bennett - one of the sides and the tassels are in a gorgeous warm cerulean blue, and when you turn it over the other side is in a cool steel blue. It's long enough to double fold it and it's lovely and wide to use as a cashmere throw or stola. I hope you've had more luck than I with new products this monthly, and I'd love to know if you've also got any non beauty products among your February favorites?

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

MUA Undress Your Skin Shimmer Highlighter

For me 2014 will be the year when I'm trying a lot of new types of beauty products and try to include them more in my makeup routine. I've already started to explore for me new ways of filling in my eye brows and another product that I haven't used very regularly up until now at least is highlighters. Since I'm still very much a novice regarding highlighters I didn't want to spend a fortune on a product that might not be for me at all, so I decided to go for this lovely shimmering gem from MUA (Makeup Academy) a brand that has proven with several of their products that you don't need to pay an arm and a leg for a good quality makeup item.
The Undress Your Skin Shimmer Highlighter (£3) comes in quite a sturdy plastic no frills compact and you get a very generous amount of product. The packaging is far from glamorous, however the highlighter itself is beautifully presented with a pretty swirly pattern, that makes it look like a much more up-market product. The highlighting powder is very sheer and sits lightly and comfortably on the skin without settling into fine any lines or creasing. The texture is smooth and easy to place and blend onto the brow and cheek bone and even though the formula is light, it doesn't flake or break into pieces when you apply it. Another great thing is that it's densely packed with pigmentation and the lightest sweep with either a brush or your fingertip across the powder will pick up loads of product with a beautiful radiant shimmer. It may look a little bit pink in the pan, however on the skin it's simply soft and luminous and the champagne colored shimmer looks very natural even in very strong lighting. When you've applied the highlighter it stays in place all day and the subtle shimmer adds a lovely healthy glow.
Last month I did a post on my favorite 5 MUA products but at the time I had only just started to test this highlighter, but had I written that post today this wonderful product would be included in that group of favorites for its subtle natural glow and the beautiful design of it. If like me you've just started using highlighter, and you're looking for a great starting product, this is ideal and if I've tempted you enough to buy this lovely shimmer you can get MUA from Superdrug or directly from MUA online, and the great news is that MUA also ships worldwide!  

Monday, 24 February 2014

Manic.Monday: Peachy Keen with China Glaze

It's Monday again, and time to polish up on our polishes. A month or so ago I bought some lovely new nail polishes for spring and summer and one of those was China Glaze Peachy Keen (£4.38) which is a beautiful and radiant light coral color - simply perfect for summer. Yes I know it's still a few months to go before we're there, and I may not feel the warm sun on my face yet, but I can still channel a summery look on my nails
At the moment China Glaze isn't readily available on the high street in the UK, which is a real shame since it's an excellent brand with an amazing range of colors. So far I have tried three different shades and I have been extremely happy with all of them. Usually the formula has a great consistency and the polishes come with a superb wide brush that covers so much of the nail that you only need one brush stroke for each coat. With Peach Keen I found that the formula for some reason is a little bit thinner than the other shades that I have tried, so I had to wipe of the brush quite a few times to make sure that I only got a tiny drop of formula on the brush to avoid making a complete mess of the application. The pigmentation is so rich that despite using much less than I usually would, you still get a lovely opaque color with just one coat. As you know I usually apply two coats, which is also what I'm wearing in the photo however with China Glaze I have start to not use a top coat since the formula contains an ultra shine strengthening ingredient which also helps to make the polish chip resistant, and on average I would say that it lasts for about four days before you need to touch up.

Since the formula of Peachy Keen was a bit thinner I must admit that some of the nails got a slightly thicker coat than I would have wanted and I could tell that the wear wasn't as long lasting as it usually is, and I unfortunately noticed chipping already the day after I had applied the color on quite a few of my nails. However since it's such an easy to apply and quick drying polish I won't hold this against it and I've really enjoyed wearing this happy, sunny and summery versatile peachy color and I'm sure it'll look even more beautiful with a tan. You can easily get China Glaze online, and I prefer to get my stash from since they often have some amazing deals and free delivery. If you haven't tried China Glaze yet I would highly recommend that you browse the fantastic range of shades and treat yourself to some gorgeous new polishes for summer.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

When life gives you lemons...

Some natural products seem to be the cure for a little bit of everything. Just look at how many uses there are for honey, ginger, avocado and my personal favorite, the happy sunny lemon. Lemon is exceptionally rich in vitamin C - nature's own antioxidant that neutralises free radicals which is important to fight of colds and infections, it also has a calming effect and can help to get rid of nervousness and tension, and of course it has lots of uses when it comes to beauty. Lemon oil and citric acid is often used in beauty products to treat skin conditions like acne or eczema, but it also has strengthening and shining effects that are useful for hair and nails and with just a few lemons from your closest grocery store you can make all sorts of wonderful home remedies yourself. I'm far too lazy to make my own beauty treatments but since I love to use products that contain lemon, not only because of the healing qualities but also because of the amazingly zingy and zesty smell, I'm lucky that there is so much to choose from in most stores, starting with a great shower gel from The Body Shop.

The Body Shop shower gels are all soap-free, so they're gentle on the skin but at the same time it's easy to work up a good lather for a lovely foamy shower or bath. The Sweet Lemon shower gel contains essential oils to help sooth and moisturise the skin and it has the most amazing sunny, soft and fragrance without the usual tangy sharpness of lemons and instead it's creamy like a lemon mousse - yummy!
For a proper pampering session you also need a rich and indulgent body butter to finish with and for the most amazing range of scents, there's no other brand like The Body Shop. Regardless of which scent you prefer they all have the same ultra rich and creamy consistency enriched with shea butter that will soften even the driest of skins. What I love most about the body butters is that they blend into the skin almost immediately when you massage it in, and that they seem to lock in the moisture for a long time afterwards, making the skin feeling luxuriously smooth. The Sweet Lemon body butter is perfect to use in the mornings to vitalise and prepare you for the day ahead, and the creaminess of it made it a lovely base for both fresh and floral scents. This was one of my favorite ranges from The Body Shop and it's such a shame that they don't sell it in the shops anymore (the closest you can get to this zesty and creamy fragrance is with the Satsumas products), but if you're interested in this gorgeous Sweet Lemon scent you can easily get hold of these products on ebay.

As you probably know by now, I love to surround myself with scent and go through quite a lot of candles, and most of them are from Lily-Flame. I have reviewed several of their candles before since they have a great range of scents with something for everyone, and they usually burn really well for about 35 hrs or so. One of the first candles I tried from them is the Lily-Flame Citrus Crush Scented Candle (£8.50) which is a beautifully fresh tangy and summery mix of lemons and tangerines that is so invigorating and energising. It's a perfect mood booster - it always makes me feel very harmonious and refreshed and I absolutely adore it.

A product that I had read a lot about and was really looking forward to trying is the EOS Organic Lip Balm (£5.99) and the first one I got was in Lemon drops. It's a 100% natural and organic product with SPF which is rich in vitamin E, shea butter and jojoba oil to help keep your lips moisturised and smooth. For me the biggest selling point is the adorable packaging - it looks like a yummy little candy egg and it comes in loads of different tempting flavors, one more delicious than the other. It has a very subtle and fresh lemon scent and flavor that unfortunately doesn't last very long on the lips, but it adds a lovely natural sheen to the lips. What I really need from a lip balm is for it to also add long lasting deep moisture that nourishes the lips, but the texture of the EOS lip balm feels more waxy than moisturising or creamy and I find that I have to use quite a lot of it to get that sense of hydration, and I also have to reapply it very often for that feeling to last. Overall it's a cute product, almost a novelty type of lip balm - great as a gift for someone and if you're curious about these little pots, Naturisimo has a great range of flavors and they also offer free delivery worldwide.
The last lemony product in this zesty collection is the Lush Lemony Flutter (£6.50) which is one of the must have products that are part of my hand and nail care routine. It has a lovely rich buttery consistency with lots of nourishing oils from soya, avocado and coconut and. Take just a tiny bit of the butter, heat it up between your fingers and massage it into the cuticles and hands for an intensely moisturising and creamy treatment, and you're left with a gorgeous soft and sweet scent on your hands. Since it is such a rich cream it does leave a very slightly oily feel and sheen on your nails that I personally just leave to sink in over night, but if you want to do a manicure afterwards - you need to wipe the nails clean. I use this fantastic product at least four times a week and I'm convinced that it's helped to make my cuticles stronger and healthier.

So when life gives me lemons, I prefer to put them in beauty products and enjoy the delicious fresh and sparkling scent of warm summer days - at least it's a lovely reminder until we get there in a few months time. Do you make your own beauty products - or if you're more like me, preferring it to be served to you - which are your favorite products with lemon?

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Dior's Trianon eyeshadow palette in Pastel Fontanges

A few weeks ago I shared with you my first impressions of the Diorblush Trianon Edition that I got after a great event at Debenhams to look at the beautiful new Spring collection. You may remember that I was a bit disappointed in the lack of pigmentation and really struggled to get any color payoff at all. With this fresh in my mind I have to say that I was a bit worried to try 5 Couleurs Trianon Eyeshadow Palette (£41) since the colors in 234 Pastel Fontanges are very sheer pastel shades, and I was prepared for the worst. The packaging is as usual glossy and sleek with a great mirror, two double-ended foam applicators and a handy velvet pouch to store the palette in when you're on the go. The applicators are fairly flexible to work with, and although I prefer to use brushes when I apply makeup at home they're definitely useful when you're out and about and you need to check your makeup. The eyeshadows are beautifully decorated with the embossed pearled ribbon and the cute little bow, and if like me you're drawn in by beautiful packaging - this will undoubtedly seduce you.
The colors in the Pastel Fontanges palette are pale and delicate with a luminous beautiful shimmer to them for a very fresh faced look:

Top left - a subtle light silver grey, which I've mostly used as a highlighter mixed with the lemon, or on its own in the evening.
Top right - a lovely soft periwinkle blue, that I've mostly used as a crease shadow in combination with the pink. 
Middle - a pale lemon chiffon color, perfect to use as a highlighter or as a base shadow in combination with the gunmetal gray, or another neutral shade. 
Bottom left - a creamy, soft gunmetal grey with a faint blue undertone, great for evening wear or as a contrast to the pink, blue or lemon. I have used this mostly as an eyeliner.
Bottom right - a gorgeous light ballerina pink which works really well as a base shadow in combination with any of the other colors of the palette or a glorious purple.

The texture of the eyeshadows on your skin is very creamy and blendable, and despite the sheerness of the colors the pigmentation is very impressive and I was surprised at how easy it is to build up color. Not only is the pigmentation great, but the eye shadows are also very long lasting without any creasing. I was absolutely amazed to see that the colors that I had applied in the morning were still in place, looking lovely and lustrous in the evening -  and I had only used my Urban Decay Eyeshadow primer and Soap & Glory One Heck of a Blot powder to set them. 

The only thing I noticed was that the eyeshadows break up fairly easily, so you need to try and not be too heavy handed when you swirl your brushes, or you'll quickly see flakes of product falling out. Because of this I suspect that the beautiful pattern won't stay intact for long, and I've already noticed that the pink shade looks considerably less lovely than the other colors in a very short time. Since the eyeshadows are so shimmery I would also recommend that you try to be fairly precise in placing the product on the eyelid or under the eye, since it can be quite difficult removing excess shimmer without ruining the application or foundation.
234 Pastel Fontanges (in natural light)
234 Pastel Fontanges (in artificial light)

With this little box of beauties you can create some very pretty, subtle and fresh faced looks. Since it is a very pale and minimal look, it's essential that you've got a flawless foundation that has been properly set. Personally I think a matte look is the right way to go since the shimmery eye shadows in combination with a shimmery foundation is all too much and it would distract from the finesse of the eyeshadows. I'm thrilled about this palette, and so happy to find that there were no issues with pigmentation or wear at all, and I think that it'll be the perfect makeup to accompany a soft and romantic pastel colored summer outfit

Friday, 21 February 2014

Splurge vs Steal - Beauty products

In the most recent edition of Marie Claire UK there was a very interesting feature about the eternal question for us beauty addicts - Splurge or Steal, which products should you not apologise for investing in and which shouldn't you be embarrassed about scrimping on. So armed with the expert's opinions I decided to have a look in my bathroom cabinet and my makeup drawer for a quick check on whether I have spent my money on the right products and also if I actually agreed with the expert recommendations. The feature split the products into three different categories; Skincare, Haircare and Cosmetics so I'll stick to that and we'll start with the Skincare category.
We all know that expensive creams aren't always necessarily better than more affordable ones, and for a lot of products the main reason is that a lot of premium and high street brands in fact are owned by the same large corporation. E.g. Armani and L'Oréal belong to same happy brand family, which means that if you are prepared to wait a few years, the same technology and formula that is used in some of the Armani products will eventually trickle down to a L'Oréal equivalent. Makes perfect sense when you think about it, but my challenge here is that I am probably THE most impatient person in the entire world, and waiting in any shape or form is definitely not my strongest point. Add to this that I am a firm believer in investing in skincare so let's see where the experts recommend that we for spend our money when it comes to some essential skin care products:

Moisturisers: Expert Advise - Scrimp. I have normal skin but it does tend to get dehydrated, so using a rich and nourishing moisturiser that plumps my skin is essential to me - in fact it's my no 1 priority to make sure that I have a moisturiser that hydrates my skin all day long through drip feed technology. I haven't yet found a budget buy that does this for my skin, which is why I've stuck to my trusted Estée Lauder and Gatineau up until now and I absolutely adore the intense and immediate moisture boost I get from Estée Lauder's Hydrationist Maximum Moisture Creme (£35). Saying that though, I will definitely try the Nivea Cellular Anti Age Skin Rejuvenating Day Cream (£14.99) that Marie Claire recommended since Nivea and La Prairie - The best high tech skin care brand in the world, belong to the same family, so maybe I just need to learn to be a bit more patient. 

Serums: Expert Advise - Splurge. According to the experts the most important products are those that work at a cellular level, like serums, which is why these should be invested in. I've used serums for quite a while and my personal favorites are from Gatineau and Estée Lauder. The trick is to find a serum that works for your skin type and for whatever need it is that you want to address - dullness, deydration, color correcting etc. Earlier this week I talked about a wonderful moisture boosting serum from Gatineau from the Aquamemory range, but another of their serums that I use regularly is the fab Activ Eclat Flash Radiance (£46) which is an energising serum which contains vitamins and other ingredients to add not only an intense boost of moisture, but also instant radiance and plumpness to the skin.

Face oils: Expert Advise - Splurge. The experts advise that you should never scrimp on facial oil since it's only the highest quality of natural essential oils that nourishes the skin properly. For me the best facial oils are from Clarins or Decléor. I absolutely adore Clarins Santal Oil for dry/dehydrated skin (£30) since it makes your skin incredibly smooth and plump and the amazing aromatic scent just makes the experience even more enjoyable.

Eye creams: Expert Advise - Splurge. Since the eye area is so delicate and the area of the face likely to show the first signs of ageing, this again is another product worth splurging on. Both Estée Lauder and Kiehl's have some wonderful rich eye creams, but the one that has taken me through winter without any dryness is Kiehl's Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado (£20). It has a very subtle, fresh and clean scent and the the vanilla colored formula is wonderfully rich, heavy and indulgent. It makes the eye area feel protected, nourished and radiant and you can even use it as a masque for the eye area.
One of the main things that I learned from this article is that you don't necessarily need to have shampoo and conditioner from the same range, which is something that I have always done. Apparently you get much better results if you use different products to compliment each other e.g. a volumising shampoo but a repairing conditioner. Again, this makes perfect sense and I can't believe I haven't even thought about this before, but as of now I will definitely look at exactly what my hair needs and not hesitate to get different types of shampoo and conditioners:

Shampoos: Expert Advise - Scrimp. I completely agree for lots of reasons, one of them being a very practical one - affordability. If you go through a lot of shampoo, then personally I don't think it's realistic to spend more than £5-6 on each bottle. Another reason is that there are lots of very good moisturising shampoos available on the high street and one of them, which I always seem to have at least one bottle from is the amazing, gorgeously scented Aussie Miracle Moist Shampoo (£5.99) that leaves your hair soft, detangled and very well behaved.

Volumisers: Expert Advise - Scrimp. I don't use a lot of volumising products at the moment mainly because as part of Operation Rapunzel, focusing on making my hair healthy - I've mainly used moisturising, nourishing and repairing products. The only volumising product I use is a styling product for when I occasionally blow dry my hair - John Frieda's Luxurious Volume Blow Out Spray (£6.99) which is great for adding some long lasting volume. I have read some very positive reviews of this range in general and I'll definitely try some of the other products in this range too.

Conditioners: Expert Advise - Splurge. The main reason for using a conditioner, is to try and improve the quality of your hair, and you'd be surprised at how much even daily brushing can impact the texture. According to the experts you should avoid budget products since they tend to contain a lot of silicone which will add a wonderful shine to your hair, but it won't add important nourishment. Instead we should be looking for products that contain proteins that can help to repair damaged hair at a cellular level. This is a tricky one for me since I have long hair and use up a lot more conditioner than shampoo, but I do think it's worth spending on a conditioner that is ultra nourishing for your hair. In the long run it'll make it easier to detangle and brush through and save a lot of unnecessary heavy handling, and the Macadamia Natural Oil Moisturising Rinse (£31.95) makes the hair beautifully sleek. After all, your hair is the one accessory you wear every single day and it does deserve some TLC.

Hair Oils: Expert Advise - Splurge. With hair oils, it's exactly the same as with conditioners and the experts advise us to not compromise on these saying that you get what you pay for. Although a lot of the hair oils are very pricy, the good thing is that a little goes a long way and from a price per use point of view you could probably use the same oil for a year, if you stick to the recommendations and only use a drop or two for the ends of your hair. This is exactly what I do with my Macadamia Healing Oil Treatment (£10.35) and not only does it smell beautifully nutty, it's so light weight and lovely on the hair leaving it smooth and nourished.
It may surprise you to hear that when it comes to cosmetics, I'm going to stick my neck out and say that in my experience there are few products that are truly worth splurging on. I do believe in investing in the canvas, i.e. any thing that makes the very most of your skin, but when it comes to eye shadows, mascaras, blushers and nail polish etc - of course I'm sure there are excellent options from premium brands, but there will be equally strong products from affordable high street brands and the absolute majority of the time, that's where I choose to spend my money and it seems that's exactly what the industry experts say too. 

Mascaras: Expert Advise - Scrimp. Out of all types of makeup products this is probably the category that I know with 100% certainty that I can get an excellent mascara for about £10. Don't get me wrong I love my YSL mascaras, but L'Oréal and Maybelline for me has the best range overall, and one that I have loved for a good few months now is the L'Oréal False Lash Flutter Mascara, known as the Butterfly mascara, (£10.99). It does it all for me - lengthens, volumises and flares, it's simply perfect!

Blushers: Expert Advise - Scrimp. Having recently spent a ridiculous amount of money on a Dior blusher that completely let me down, I couldn't agree more with this. Most brands on the high street has at least one blusher that is absolutely super, and my favorites are from Bourjois and Sleek. The Bourjois' Little Round Pot Blusher (£7.99) is a classic and there's a lovely range of shades to choose from.

Nails: Expert Advise - Scrimp. According to the experts the difference in quality between most nail polishes is minor and what really makes a difference is the use of a quality top coat. I'm not sure that I agree with that statement since there are several very well known polishes and brands that just don't last well on my nails, even if I wear a great top coat. I do however completely agree that you can really scrimp on nail polish, and with excellent brands like Barry M and Rimmel showering us with affordable beautiful colors, why would you spend almost £20 just for the sake of the brand. unless you absolutely want to... For me Barry M is fabulous not just because of the formula, but because of the variety of effects you can get and the Barry M Magnetic Nail Paint (£4.99) is a great example of that. 

Foundations: Expert Advise - Splurge. When it comes to foundation it makes little sense to have a super skin care routine, and then to use a foundation that either clogs up your skin or that doesn't show it off as well as it could, so don't feel guilty for lusting after the premium foundations - just go for it and invest in one. My favorite is the YSL Youth Liberator Foundation (£37) and I have got a fantastic amount of wear out of it and the way I see it - I'm combining skin care with makeup for a beautiful radiant complexion. It's worth every single pence.

Lip Glosses: Expert Advise - Splurge. This is another one that I'm a little bit torn about. I agree with the experts when they say that wearing sticky shiny, pale lip glosses isn't a good look for most of us, and personally I prefer lip glosses with high pigmentation that almost turn into a stain like the YSL Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stain Lip (£23.50) which is the perfect grown up version of a lip gloss. However there are also more affordable gems like the Tanya Burr Lip glosses, and I absolutely love the ones I've tried so far - more detailed review of the shades I've bought will follow soon...

Brow Pencils: Expert Advise - Splurge. The last product is Brow Pencils - a product that I'm very interested. The experts reckon that this is also a product that should be invested in, not only because getting the eyebrow right is so important for your overall appearance but also to get just the right balance of wax, color and long wear. Up until now I have been very happy with budget options from Collection and Avon, although at the moment I'm using the Rimmel Professional Eye Brow Pencil (£2.99) which I'm less satisfied with since it's just a little bit too hard to work with. I am very glad to see that the experts recommend that we splurge on this, since it gives me an excuse (as if I needed one) to invest in an Anastasia Brow Wiz (£16) which I've been lusting after for aaaaages.

Overall it seems like my splurging and scrimping is somewhat in line with expert advise, but its always useful to rethink what we actually spend money on and I hope you've been inspired to look at the products you use as well, and like me you might even decide to change some things around.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Save it for a rainy day...

As I mentioned in yesterday's post I've been enjoying the fresh air lately, taking long daily walks with my camera and I certainly haven't let the rubbish weather stop me. Instead I have jumped into my Hunter's with a smile since every drop of rain justifies me buying them, put on a warm jacket, finger less gloves (the amateur photographer's best friend!) and with a massive tumbler of hot chocolate I have braved the elements. After you've been outdoors it's so lovely having a nice bath with some lovely oils to relax and heat you up from the inside out, and then snuggle up in front of the TV with something yummy - after all, you have just had a long and very tiring walk! Today I've put together some outfits that might inspire you to join in a daily walk, or at least you can use that as an excuse to buy something new and cute, and it doesn't get much cuter than this owl dress.

New Look Fur Trim Hooded Parka £49.99 // Hunter Tall Glitter Wellies £46.75 // Dorothy Perkins Black Owl Dress £24 // Etsy Camera Bag £30.12 // Accessorize Chunky Waffle Gloves £7 // Starbucks Hammered Tumbler in Rose Gold £14.95
 ASOS Sweatshirt with Lady and the Tramp £30 // Next Brushed Back Lounge Pants £20 // Aromatherapy Associates Miniature Bath Oil Collection £32 // Jo Malone London Rain White Jasmine Cologne £82 // Lily-Flame Mellow Figs and Garden Mint Scented Tin £8.50 // Michel Cluizel Chocolate Macaroons £7.19

It's so much fun creating mood boards like this and I really hope you liked the outfits. If there's a specific theme for a mood board you'd like me to do, please let me know in the comments section below, or tweet me (@makupbcandlelit). In a couple of hours it's wellie time again for me - Bring it on rain, Hunter and I are ready for you!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014


I've been doing a lot of walking lately and I find it quite soothing and relaxing to take a break at least once every day and get some fresh air to clear your mind. It's also a great opportunity to take a breather and be mindful of things around you, and when you do take the time to look around it's really interesting what you actually see among the things that we look at every day, but rarely pay attention to. I've taken so many photos lately during my walks, that I wanted to do a picture post of some of the things that have come my way during my walks this week. We have just passed Valentine's and it may still be grey and rainy but judging by these photos, Spring is well on its way and I bet that in just another two, three weeks everything will be in full bloom and I for one can't wait.

Hope you all have a wonderful day and maybe you'll have a chance to stop and take a second to look at what's all around us! Xx

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Fave 5 Estée Lauder products

The first premium brand that I ever tried was Estée Lauder, and ever since it's been one of my most loved and trusted brands that I keep going back to time and time again. The brand is almost 70 years old and for me Estée Lauder embodies high quality products, tasteful designs, and approachability. One of the things that I love is that it's a strong brand cross the board and you'll find excellent skin care as well as gorgeous perfumes and great makeup, and today we'll look at my favorite 5 products at the moment.

One of my most loved moisturisers ever is the Hydrationist Maximum Moisture Creme (£35). The technology behind it focuses entirely on optimising how moisture is absorbed by the skin for an instant moisture boost, how it strengthens the skin's moisture barrier and how it retains moisture throughout the day, which all helps to make your skin look plump and healthy. It's available in two different types - one for normal/combination skin and one for dry skin. I always get the one for dry skin which has a lovely velvety and almost gel like texture, despite being a cream that boosts the skin with moisture all day long. The cream is absorbed into the skin with the lightest touch and you'll instantly feel energised and refreshed and in the evening when it's time to remove the face of the day, the skin feels exactly as soft, supple and hydrated as if you'd just applied your moisturiser. The moisturising qualities are so impressive and the cream works just as well in winter as in summer time, and an added bonus to the enjoyable experience of using it is the beautiful soft scent - an absolute gem!
Another pick from the great Estée Lauder skin care range is the Resilience Lift Firming/Sculpting Eye Creme (£44). Since my skin tends to get dehydrated I always look for rich and intensely nourishing formulas for the delicate eye area, and this is wonderful to use. It contains ingredients that helps to boost production of natural collagen and elastin that are essential for making the skin look firm and plump and it also has luminizing optics that blur out the appearance of darkness and lines around the eyes. Even though it's a very creamy formula it easily sinks into the skin and it feels very light weight and refreshing, and the skin looks so smooth and radiant as if you've slept for 10 hrs. It is a fairly expensive cream, but the first one I tried lasted four months after using it twice a day, so you get an excellent amount of wear out of it. I've mentioned before that I love products that feel as if they are actually doing something and this eye cream doesn't only feel as if it's doing something it IS doing something and I will definitely keep repurchasing it.

Estée Lauder often releases the most incredible collectible little powder compacts in all kinds of designs and shapes, adorned with amazing jewels and one of the most recent editions was the Zodiac. The compacts are quite small and fairly heavy, in gold color with different crystal designs depending on the star sign. Even though I don't actually use much powder I instantly fell in love with the collection and just had to have the Scorpio Zodiac Powder Compact (£38.50). It comes with a tiny applicator and the Lucidity Translucent Pressed Powder that is included is refillable so when it runs out, you just need to get a pan for the compact (£15). It's a completely indulgent trinket that I definitely didn't need, however because it's so small and dainty it's perfect to carry with you in a small hand bag, and I do feel a bit like a glamorous film star taking out this beautiful compact, powdering my nose and fixing the lipstick.
Speaking of glamorous, that's exactly the word I would use to describe the Pure Color Vivid Shine Lipstick (£20) in Hot Lava. The Vivid Shine formula is creamy, hydrating on the lips, long lasting and has clusters of different shaped prism pearls in it to create a luminous effect that also heightens the color. It's also has pearls in silver and gold to neutralize your natural liptone, which means that all of the more than 20 different gorgeous colors should look lovely with any skin tone. This particular shade is Hot Lava, a beautiful warm, sophisticated deep red in stylish and sleek packaging for a very elegant and groomed look. I love this vintage shade because of the satin finish, its crystal effect and versatility. We should all have a classic go-to red in our lipstick wardrobe, and if you haven't found yours yet, you should definitely try this or one of the other red shades from this lovely lipstick range. 
When it comes to nail polish, for me personally there are very few premium brands that beat the great options from the high street, but Estée Lauder is one of them and the Pure Color Nail Lacquer (£14) formula is one of the best that you can get. First of all the nail polishes look luxurious and amazing in the heavy crystal bottles - it's a real treat to buy one, and secondly the formula is intensely pigmented with a super shiny finish. The brush is nice and wide which makes application very easy and together with the pigmentation you quickly get a wonderful opaque and even finish. The nail polish dries very quickly, so if like me you prefer to apply two coats, you can still get your mani done in under five mins since you really don't need a top coat. One of the things about Estée Lauder polishes that I value the most is that unlike a lot of other premium brands, the polishes long lasting (on me about five days) and they will not chip or smudge easily, and I've never been disappointed in the wear with any of the polishes I have.

There's a lovely range of colors and effects to choose from, and we have two different shades from my collection. The first one is Dilettante, which is a gorgeous ice cream colored, crisp light blue with a hint of mint to it, just perfect for the Spring & Summer pastel trend, and the other one - Blue Blood is an intense, shimmering deep royal blue with such high shine it's almost mirror like. I love these polishes and am excited to pick up some new shades from the S&S collection, and I've already got my eye on an intense orchid shade - Insolent Plum.
From left to right (two coats, but no top coat):
Blue Blood

I have quite a few other Estée Lauder products that I use regularly, and even though I haven't mentioned them here today I also highly recommend that you try one of the great repair serums, or one of the gorgeous gelée powder eye shadows, they're all a nice introduction to this classic brand that stays contemporary by constantly reinventing itself.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Manic.Monday: Its a wrap!

Nail art has become more and more popular and I find it so inspirational to see how creative some are with their designs. Unfortunately I'm not very good at it myself and my creativity goes as far as maybe applying a cute sticker and to keep the magpie in me happy, I might add a couple of gemstones. Luckily there are lots of ready made nail art in all kinds of intricate designs, styles, colors and prices ranges available in the form of nail wraps, which is what I'll be looking at today. There are different types of nail wraps and they come in different materials like fabrics or paper and the techniques needed to apply them also differ depending on the material, with some being a bit more hard work than others e.g. some need a hair dryer, or UV lamp but having put in the effort, most nail wraps last for about two weeks so it could definitely be worth it.

The nail wrap in today's post is Avon's Nail Art (£8) in Bedazzled which is a paper wrap with glue on one side that you just stick and press on to the nails, sounds easy enough! Unfortunately I haven't been able to add a link to the product since Avon has done its usual thing of updating the webpage faster than you can say Bedazz... and if a product isn't in a current campaign, you just won't find it online either - it's the thing I dislike the very most about Avon, but that is a rant for another day...
It's easy to see why I The Magpie was drawn to Bedazzled - it's such a pretty design with actual little stones in white, pink, blue and purple on a glossy black background with thin silver stripes. Nail wraps usually come in a variety of different sizes to fit all shapes of nails, and I would highly recommend that you size them up and decide which ones to use for which finger before you start working away. You also need to prepare the nails making sure that they are dry and clean with no nail polish on them before you apply the wraps. Some brands also instruct you to buff the nail, so that the wrap attaches better however personally I don't do this since I'm cautious of anything that might damage or ridge the nails unnecessarily.

When you're prepped the nails, you can apply the sticker, finishing one finger at a time. You'll probably find that you need to cut off some of the wrap for it to fit to the nail - at least length wise. Place the wrap as close to the cuticles as you can without overlapping them and then firmly press down the wrap to fit the shape of your nail. It's also at this point that you might choose use a hair dryer to heat up the wrap slightly to make it more pliable and easier to shape to the nail, however these Avon wraps are already very easy to work with that I don't think it's needed, and in case the wrap doesn't sit as you would want on the nail, you can easily peel it back up without ruining either the nail or the wrap and then just place it back down again.

The easiest way to get the right size is to use a nail clipper to adjust. To make sure I get as close a fit as possible I turn my finger around so I can see exactly where the tip of the nail ends, and that's where I cut off the excess and smooth out the wrap across the nail. I know that this isn't exactly what you're instructed to do - instead you're supposed to leave a little bit of excess, so that when you've applied the nail and made sure that it's sitting on nicely and evenly, you fold the excess over the tip of the wrap you take an emery board and file of any bits of the nail wrap that is sticking out. That way the wrap should sit very snuggly on the nail, however I really dislike filing my nails and the few times I have tried doing this with an emery board I always end up taking of a little of the nail too, which is not ideal. Since I'm being such a rebel by not following the instructions properly, instead I apply a very thin coat of clear topcoat at the very tip of the nail to seal the edge in properly.
I would say that all in all it takes about 45 mins to do both hands, if you apply the wraps to each nail  - so if this is what you have in mind, you definitely need to set some time aside since it's not something you do quickly. The effect is definitely striking and if you've taken your time to apply the nail wraps properly, they should last about 10 days. Although I love the extravagant look, it's not practical for me since the wraps are sensitive to daily wear and tear and every time you have your hands in water, apply body lotions, skin creams or oils and even tap away at a keyboard, the edges of the the wraps will come off little by little and I find that I have to smooth them back down onto the nail several times a day. Personally I've never managed to get the wraps to last for more than 5-6 days before I'm so annoyed with them that I have to take them off but when it's time to remove the wraps, it's the easiest thing in the world and you just peel them off with minimum effort.

Considering the time it takes to do a full manicure using nail wraps versus the impracticality of them, I will stick to only using them as an accent nails in the future, but I do love the elaborate designs that you can get, and I'm definitely going to invest in a few more. If you're tempted by this beautiful bejewelled look you can get these wraps on eBay at a very reasonable price, and with that - today's post is a wrap!