Monday, 31 March 2014

March on my mind


When I was preparing to write this little regular summary of the month, I really had to think long and hard about March and list what I've done and initially I didn't think I would be able to come up with a lot, but I have to say that March has actually been a fab month. Let's just cover the weather and get it out of the way, in the South of the UK we've been lucky to have had several sunny days with temperatures around the 20 Celsius mark, which is unbelievable for this time of year.

As you may know I love taking photos of  well... everything actually... (after all I am known as The Happy Snapper), and at the start of the month I had the privilege of getting some private tutoring from a professional photographer which was an amazing experience and I learned so much, not only about how to use my camera to take better photos, but it was also very inspiring, and I have a feeling that I'll become a real photography geek eventually. I have one more session with the photographer in April and now that I've had time to learn about all the manual settings, I'm ready to experiment with different effects, so hopefully you'll see some slightly different coming up soon on the blog. I also attended a lovely Jo Malone event with the launch of the London Rain Collection, 4 wonderful scents themed on the scents after a refreshing March or is it April shower, and needless to say perhaps I picked up some goodies for us, which are yet to be reviewed. For someone who hates flying I spend a surprising amount of time on aircrafts and since it was my Dad's birthday I plonked myself on another flight, to spend some time with my parents in Sweden and since we hadn't seen each other since Christmas it was well overdue. We had some lovely days together just chatting away the time, having some amazing food (of course...) and going out on little day trips to familiar places that I love but don't get to see very often anymore. When I came back to the UK, another big event this month came up - I had managed to get more than 100 000 pageviews on the blog, which is an incredible milestone to reach and again I'm so thankful to all of you for the wonderful support you've given me since I started this blogging adventure!

I'm a bit of a culture vulture at heart, and something I had been looking forward to since September last year (and I'm not exaggerating in any way) was to see the fantastic Matthew Bourne version of Swan Lake. It's a provocative, sensitive and humorous interpretation and we had a fantastic time - and I needn't have worried, Him Indoors was absolutely thrilled about the performance, and if you do get a chance to see it I would highly recommend it. I don't know about you  but I'm already looking forward to April - more photography tutoring, Easter and some other exciting events coming up that I'll of course share with you.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

The Body Shop Rainforest Volumising Shampoo & Conditioner

As part of Operation Rapunzel, I have tested a lot of products the past 6 months to help my hair grow, to improve the quality and overall I am very happy with the results and along the journey I have discovered products that now have an honorable place among my staple items e.g. the Lee Stafford Hair Growth Treatment. So what's next in Operation Rapunzel? Well, while I may have a lot of hair, I would have also like to have that amazing lift and body that lasts all day long, so let the search for the perfect volume creating products begin! The first volumising products I've tried are from one of my favorites stores - The Body Shop. I've been a big fan of The Body Shop for as long as I can remember, and what initially attracted me to the brand many moons ago was their campaign Against Animal Testing, which is one of their core values that I deeply admire. Since then I've learned more about the other values: Support Community Fair Trade, Activate Self Esteem, Defend Human Rights and Protect The Planet, which all underpin the ethos Beauty With Heart: "Beauty is much more than a pretty face. It's about feeling good and doing good too". It's a wonderful mission statement which I completely agree with, and also think it's important to be reminded of, especially in the world of beauty blogs.
Let's look at the products, starting with the The Body Shop Rainforest Volumising Shampoo (£4.50) which is specially developed for fine hair, and the shampoo is supposed to boost the volume, making the hair looking shiny with lots of body. Neither the shampoo nor the conditioner contain any silicones, sulphates, parabens or colourants and it has a gorgeous fruity strawberry smell. However, I thought it was quite difficult to work up a good lather, which I quite like when I wash my hair which is also why I ended up using perhaps a bit more shampoo than I would normally use, and if like me you like a good bit of foam another way of doing it of course it to double wash. The shampoo gave a really good deep cleanse, but I felt that it was a bit harsh on my hair and it did feel just a tiny bit stripped of moisture afterwards so I loaded up on the The Body Shop Rainforest Volumising Conditioner (£4.50) and left it in for quite a while before rinsing. The conditioner is of quite a light consistency but it still has creaminess to it, but since I'm used to quite rich and heavy conditioners again I used a lot more of the conditioner than I usually would have done. This scent is also nice, although it's sharper than the shampoo and more on the herbal side. The conditioner did make my hair feel quite soft, although not nearly as restored and nourished as I would have liked, so I will only use these two products together every now and then, and I will probably replace the conditioner with a very hydrating masque. I usually let my hair towel dry before I style to minimise the strain on it, but after I'd used my BaByliss Pro Perfect Curl my hair felt light, volumised and with a nice light bounce to it, and I imagine that had I also used a blow dryer, the effect might have been even more noticeable.  
All in all, I've got mixed feelings about the Rainforest Volume range; the shampoo gives a superb cleanse and adds volume, although it doesn't lather enough and worse - it a bit harsh on my hair, and unfortunately the conditioner isn't rich or nourishing enough for me to be a great match with the shampoo. It seems like the hunt for a great volumising shampoo and conditioner continues, so which products would you recommend that I try to get lots of volume?

Beauty with Heart http://www.thebodyshop.co.uk/content/beauty-with-heart-infographic.aspx

Saturday, 29 March 2014

MOXI Makeup Brushes

Up until last year I'd never really invested in good tools for applying makeup and I would stick with whatever little applicator came with the product. In my defense I had looked at various brush sets, but more often than not the brushes would cost a fair bit more than I was willing to spend on them especially not since the quality didn't bowl me over. But things are changing on the makeup brush front and you can now get high quality brushes at affordable prices, and my latest brush obsession is the fabulous MOXI Brush Set* (£48) which I'm so fortunate to have tested. The set contains 5 brushes; the MOXI flat top angle brush, the M1 goat hair powder brush, an O1 taklon foundation brush, an X1 angled eye liner brush and the I1 double-ended brush. It's a wonderful gift set which comes in a lovely wrapped box (see photos on my Instagram), which I have already put to good use as makeup storage, and the brushes come individually wrapped and stored in a plastic cylinder that you could keep to protect the brushes if you need to bring them along for touching up on the go.

As you may know I do like lovely packaging and attractive products, and although that in itself isn't more important than good quality, it doesn't hurt to have something pretty to look at on the dressing table - and that's exactly what these brushes are too; sleek, elegant and chic with a dark grey handle and shiny rose gold ferrule. Let's start with looking at the O1 Taklon Foundation Brush (£13.50), which has dense but soft and silky bristles with a lightly rounded point to make it easier to apply foundation evenly and with a streak-free coverage. Since taklon is a synthetic material with a smoother surface, it's easier to clean than other types of brushes so they are also perfect for use if you have sensitive skin without causing any irritation.
Moving on to the MOXI Flat Top Angle Brush (£13.50) which is a synthetic brush with a very tightly packed angled bristle top, great for use with bronzer and blusher for sculpting cheekbones and the bristles feel super soft on the skin and it's nice and pliable to use. The brush is also great for liquid foundation and when I've used it with my YSL Youth Forever Serum Foundation, it easily buffs in the formula leaving my complexion with a very smooth and natural finish. Personally I actually prefer to use this with foundation rather than the O1 Foundation Brush, simply because of how lovely it feels on the skin and by using just the tip of the brush you can even use it on areas where you need more control and precision, a very versatile brush!

Included in the set is also a M1 Goat Hair Powder Brush (£13.50), which is a medium sized brush with a generous amount of bristles and the shape is to help with better precision and control. This brush also has a very dense bristle to make it easy to pick up product and to get a nice full coverage and it feels very luxurious and soft on the skin and apparently it gets even more soft with use. Even though it's intended for powder, it also works really well with blusher and bronzer and personally I love to use it with a blusher since the domed shape of the brush makes it perfect for applying blusher  with a very light touch, right on the apples of your cheeks.

Next up is the X1 Angled Eye Liner Brush (£8) which is made from synthetic fibres. The bristle is quite stiff, although it still feels soft and gentle on the skin, and together with the very fine tip the brush gives your perfect control when you apply the eyeliner, and the angled ferrule makes it so much easier to get really close to the inner and outer corners of the lashline for even application and glamorous feline flicks. I've never been very good at applying eyeliner with a brush, but the angled ferrule really works for me, and even heavy handed I can accomplish a beautiful, precise and thin line with minimal effort - I am completely IN LOVE with this brush.
We've come to the last of the brushes - the I1 Double-Ended Brush (£12.50) which also is a synthetic brush and similarly to the Angled Eye Liner Brush, the bristles are very firm to allow precision work with the brush. It's a multi purpose brush which you can use with concealers and eye shadows - applying with the flat end, and then blending and defining with the angled side. I especially like to use the angled end to blend and it makes it so effortless to achieve a lovely transition between colors.

I am very impressed with the quality and feel of the MOXI brushes, and my favorites out of this lovely 5 is the Flat Top Angled Brush, which is just wonderful for foundations, bronzers and blushers, and the Angled Eye Liner Brush which for me definitely has opened up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to eyeliner. If you were to buy each of the brushes individually, you'd pay £61 for them, so treating yourself to the MOXI gift box (£48.50) would save you some cash, and let's face it - it's not as if we don't all have a very long wish list of beauty products to spend that money on. In addition MOXI currently offers free shipping on all UK orders, and if you use the discount code MOXI10CL (valid until April 30th) you get an additional 10% off all MOXI orders.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Howdy Pilgrim!

We have a lot to thank Denmark for - LEGO, Bang & Olufsen, minimalist furniture and clothes and of course - jewellery. Some of my favorite jewellery comes from Georg Jensen, Dyrberg/Kern and Pilgrim, and I always stop by these stores when I'm in Denmark so today I thought I would share with you the loot from my latest visit to Pilgrim. Jewellery from Pilgrim has a very unique, contemporary and innovative look and I'm always very excited to check out the latest collections in the shops. Since I am rarely seen without a chunky cocktail ring of some sort, I am particularly fond of their range of rings that cover festival and boho styles as well as the more demure and classic, so the first thing I picked up was a gold plated ring with different sized gold gold nuggets. It's a sleek and stylish but fun statement ring, and you can easily adjust the size of it for a perfect fit. Unfortunately I haven't been able to find this specific ring online, however it was priced at £24.99 and you can find similar styles in the Pilgrim online store.
I've always liked the idea of stacking bracelets and it looks absolutely amazing on others so when I saw the bracelets from Pilgrim's Classic Collection for Spring 2014 I immediately zoomed in on two bracelets that I think will go nicely together. The first one is the girly and romantic Gold Plated Heart and Crystal Bracelet (£27.99). It's a stretch bracelet so it'll fit most wrists and I love the slightly textured, aged look of the gold plating and the stunning crystal encrusted heart with the Pilgrim logo on it. Even though there's enough bling to satisfy a magpie like myself, it's also discreet enough that you can easily wear it for any every day occasion. The second bracelet is the Pink Gold and Crystal Heart Bracelet (£28.40), which also is a stretch model but it's a little bit more dainty with tiny crystals at the tip of each heart for a more elegant look. I think these bracelets will compliment each other because of the contrasting metal, textures and styles, and if my experiment with layering works well, I might invest in at least one more bracelet from Pilgrim. What type of metal do you think I should get - rose gold, gold or maybe even silver?

Thursday, 27 March 2014

March favorites

What's the definition of a favorite product? An item that you love more than others, or an item that you've used more often than others? This month all my favorites are a little bit of both actually, although who knows what it'll be next month since my little club of favorites tend to change quite frequently... Let's start with something easy on the locks - hair oils are so versatile and easy to use, and one of the best ones I've tried lately is the lovely Easilocks Rose Gold Oil Heat Protector Pro* (£24.99) that I reviewed earlier this month (see article here). I had never tried this brand before but I was so impressed by how soft, shiny and protected it made my hair look and feel that I've used it a couple of times a week both before styling and as an intense treatment. The texture is light, silky and indulgent with a delightful floral and slightly spicy scent that I just can't get enough of.

My current eye shadow primer, the MUA Pro-Base Prime & Conceal (£1.50) was a bit of an impulse buy and I didn't have very high expectations of it, however this plain looking product turned out to be anything but plain (reviewed here). It's a multi purpose product which can be used both as a primer and a color correcting concealer. The consistency is velvety smooth and light weight and it's great at reducing redness and dark circles under the eyes, and also helps to make your makeup last longer. I've also used it on its own instead of eyeshadow to even out the skintone on my eyelids for a more bright eyed and rested appearance and have found that it's a great dupe for Benefit's Lemon Aid (£16.50). 
We've had some amazingly warm and sunny days in the UK with temperatures close to 20 degrees Celsius, so I've temporarily swapped my leather leggings for summery skirts but to avoid blinding the rest of the world with my whiter than white legs I've accepted some help from the fantastic Caudalie Divine Perfect Legs (£13), which is self-tanning product so easy to use that even I can get an even golden color. The consistency is ever so slightly thicker than most self tanning lotions and since it's colored you can see exactly where you've applied which makes is so much easier to get an even, non zebra like color. It also has a lovely fresh scent, unlike a lot of other self tanning products. If I can't manage to go on a divine holiday, at least I can have divine looking legs with a little help from this heaven sent goodie!

An oldie that I've rediscovered this month, which is almost as fun as trying something completely new, is Avon's Ultra Color Rich Lipstick in Instant Mocha. It's a lovely soft, creamy and moisturising formula with great pigmentation that delivers a beautiful opaque and slightly shiny finish, and since it's opaque you'll get hours of flawless wear without any drying sensation on the lips. The color is a delicious pink with a plum undertone and a lovely shine, and it's such a versatile glamorous shade. I feel a little bit bad for including it in this month's favorites since it's no longer in stock with Avon (why, why, WHY do you keep doing this to me Avon?!) and the few products I've found on eBay and Amazon are relatively expensive compared to the original price point. The closest I've come to finding a twin lipstick is MAC's Craving, which is equally rich, creamy and opaque - simply stunning...

When chubby sticks for eyes were first released I was a bit skeptical to the format, but many months and makeup looks down the line, I am a complete convert and can't praise the format enough. An excellent budget version is MUA's Colour Blast Eyeshadow Tint (£3) in the shade Bring it Back, a brilliant neutral bronzed and slightly shimmery brown. It has a lovely and creamy texture and it's so easy to apply without any tugging on the eyelid for a clean and understated sheer coverage, great for a quick and easy groomed every day look with a simple eyeliner and mascara. It wears really well throughout the day without creasing and at that price, you can't really go wrong.

A palette I have truly loved this month is the beautifully delicate and pretty Dior 5 Couleurs Trianon Edition Eyeshadow Palette (£41) in Pastel Fontanges 234 (you can read a full review here). The colors are all lovely shimmery pastels with great pigmentation and wear, perfect for fresh faced, minimal and romantic looks for spring and summer. My favorite combination so far is to use the ballerina pink with the gunmetal grey, which really brings out blue eyes. I can say hand on my heart that j'Adore Dior!
Swatches from top to bottom:
Avon Ultra Color Rich Lipstick - Instant Mocha
MUA Colour Blast Eyeshadow Tint - Bring It Back
Tanya Burr Lipgloss - Picnic in the Park

I've never really been a big wearer of lipgloss, mostly because I haven't found any with great pigmentation and wear - at least that is, until this year when there have been some real crackers on the high street. The latest one to impress me is the Tanya Burr Lipgloss in Picnic in the Park (£6.99) and its's nothing like the lipglosses I've tried before. The texture is light and very importantly non sticky with wonderful pigmentation, and when you first apply it has a gorgeous glossy look that after a few hrs wear looks like a stain. Out of the 12 colors in the range, Picnic in the park is my absolute favorite - it's a stunning brink pink shade with a slight blue undertone that is simply adorable on the lips, no wonder it's sold out in so many places!

Let me know in the comment section what it takes for a product to make your list of favorites, and what's new for March?

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The InstaWeek that was

Ever since before I got my new iPhone - my newest gadget that I simply can't be without, I was so excited to join Instagram and to take little snapshots of my every day, to share a bit more about myself and for you to see what I get up to, as exciting or trivial it may be. I know that it seems to be fairly popular to do a summary of the week in pics, so I thought I would attempt to do my very first the InstaWeek that was and I really hope you like it. If you've read my latest blog posts and follow me on Instagram you may know that the past week has been quite intense, as I have visited my family in Sweden which I do fairly regularly so in this first InstaWeek that was, you'll mostly see some snaps from my travel - so here we go!
The InstaWeek that was:
Travel mani: Rimmel Lasting Finish Polish in Marshmallow Heaven and Avon Nailwear Opal Top Coat // Waiting to board my flight, Instagraming away - got to love the iPhone! // Indulging in some amazing Japanese food before I left. There's a lot of it, but seaweed is good for the skin... // Window shopping at Heathrow, lusting over Dior's latest bag creations // Enough of the window shopping, and doing some proper shopping at the new Dolce & Gabbana makeup stand at the duty free // Decided that I quite like my new H&M sneakers with the gold chain at the back // Sephora - say no more // Heating up from the inside with some indulgent help from a mocha latte in the VERY cold Swedish weather // Quality time with Cat

Highlights this week:
- Spending time with my family. Since we live in different countries it's a luxury and it makes every visit special
- Coming back home to Him Indoors and Cat with lots of presents, it's usually the other way around and it's nice to be able to do the same back.  
- Reaching 100 000 pageviews at the weekend and getting so many lovely congratulations messages from you! Thank you so much to everyone, and don't forget to enter the international giveaway of Sephora makeup products

As you know, your views and feedback is extremely important to me so please let me know what you think of this kind of post and if it's something you'd like to see as a regular feature. Have a great day! Xx


Torup

Every time I go to visit my family in Sweden there is so much I have to fit into a very short amount of time with lots of things to do and places to see and if you can combine that with a nice cup of coffee and a cake, then even better. When I was over last week for my dad's birthday we thought we would brave the bleak weather and go for a walk and a coffee at Torup, which is a medieval castle in the South of Sweden nearby to where my family lives, surrounded on three sides by a lake and it has a big beautiful park with old historical and traditional buildings and roaming deer. It's a lovely place to visit especially in the summer and I wanted to show you some photos that I took on the day.
As you can tell from the pictures Spring is nowhere near as far come in my home county of Scania in Sweden as it is in the UK, but what's worse is that it was about 10 Celsius colder than what I'm used to in the UK, so I can tell you that it was a very quick walk followed by a nice looooong stop for hot chocolate. I really hope you enjoyed the photos and tomorrow I have some favourites in store for you. Have a wonderful day! Xx

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

All good things come to those who duty free

As you may know I have been away from the UK for a while to visit my family, and when I came back not only was Him Indoors away on his travels and  I got back to an empty house - but my cat completely ignored me for about 24 hrs.... I was not feeling the love.. Well good thing I had a gianormous duty free haul to be happy about instead. It's absolutely IMPOSSIBLE for me to have this heaven called duty free and not buy a single thing, but even I will admit that I went completely over board this time around. I tell myself that I do these things to relax before flying or so that you won't have to splurge... and if I chant those excuses aloud enough times, it makes it real. Anyway, let's just look at what I got over the last few days and I'll split the products into three groups; perfumes, skincare and makeup, but please note that this is just a teaser and that I will post detailed reviews of the products as I work my way through them.

Let's start with the perfumes, and the first one is so brand new that it's not even available in the shops quite yet, although it's supposed to be as of March - and it's the stunning Exotica from Roberto Cavalli. It's a lovely tropical and fruity scent and slightly floral scent and I have a feeling this will be one of my favorites this season. Next perfume is fairly new, it's the Elie Saab L'Eau Couture EdT (£31) which is a light and fresh, sophisticated spring like scent - and what a beautiful classic bottle! Last in the perfume bunch is Fan di Fendi Eau Fraiche (£33) which is a beautiful green, spicy and fresh scent - very comforting and harmonious.

First in the skincare group is a great little kit that would make a fab present for someone, myself e.g... the Ole Henriksen The Whole Truth Kit (£45) contains three full sized anti ageing products - serum, moisturiser and an eye cream, to revitalise and brighten the skin, and I'm very excited to testing this out. I also got a new night cream that I had had my eye on for a long time, Origins High Potency Night-a-Mins (£34) which is supposed to add radiance to the skin and make it look wonderful and refreshed in the morning. I have high hopes for this and fingers crossed it lives up to my expectations.

On to the really fun bits - makeup! My favorite designers are Dolce & Gabbana - I love the passion, opulence, sensual playfulness and very distinct point of view of their designs and I have finally taken the plunge into their makeup range, which proved to be a slippery slope for me into complete decadence starting with the Dolce & Gabbana Smooth Eye Colour Quad (£39.50) in Stromboli which has a beautiful bronzed, warm and earthy range of shades - stunning! That lead to a Dolce & Gabbana Classic Cream Lipstick (£24) in Cosmopolitan, which is a gorgeous creamy coral shade, a bit similar to MAC Vegas Volt which is another favorite of mine and I think it'll go beautifully with the warm quad. As a bonus I threw in Dolce & Gabbana's The Intense Nail Lacquer (£18.50) in Ibisco, which is a fresh and lovely warm pink and I'm really curious to see what the formula is like. i haven't even tried a single product yet and already I suspect that this is just the beginning of a new brand addiction. Last of the makeup is YSL Volume Effet Faux Cils Luxurious Mascara (£23) in Brown for beautiful long lashes. Even though I adore the Baby Doll formula I wanted to try something different and having heard wonderful things about Volume Effet, I decided to take a bit of a risk and buy it, and if it's even half as good as the Baby Doll mascara, I'm on to a winner.
Let me know in the comments section which product you would like me to review first, and your wish is my command! Before you feel too sorry for me coming back to an empty house I guess I also have to mention that Him Indoors did eventually show up with a lovely bouquet of flowers, and the cat did come around and showered me with love - so I guess all good things to those who wait... or duty free...

Monday, 24 March 2014

Manic.Monday: Nails Inc Pudding Lane

T''is the season to do pastels - la la la la laaa, la la la laaa... Every self respecting brand seems to have launched at few pastel colored polishes this spring and summer, and despite having a good few mint greens, baby blues, and lilacs already in my polish collection I so WANT to get a few news ones. But somehow  there is clearly a reasonable bone in my body because I have managed to resist the majority of the new releases and there are also other ways of doing pastels than just wearing gorgeous ice cream colored soft shades. One of the more fun pastel effects this seasons is the Speckled Egg effect from Models Own (guess what I'll be sporting this Easter...) which makes me think back to what is for me "the original" speckled effect polish released in 2012 - Nails Inc's Pudding Lane (£5), which was one out of four deliciously pretty speckled glitter polishes in different pastel shades; pink, grey, cream and blue.
The base color of Pudding Lane is a beautiful light Maya blue and the formula is very dense with glitter particles that come in dark as well as medium blue, bright lime green and silver. Since the particles are heavy in comparison with the formula, it's important that you shake the bottle before you apply it to make sure the pretty particles don't sit at the bottom and you hardly get any on the brush. The formula is the usual nice consistency like all Nails Inc polishes, and although the brush is of fairly average width you get a good amount of product and glitter as well on it, so you don't have to be careful when you place the glitter on the nail, you'll still get a fairly even distribution of it. The pigmentation of the Maya blue base is great and although I always recommend using two coats, you'll get a nice build up for a beautiful opaque finish and just enough glitter to get the right candy like sprinkle effect. I would also highly recommend that you apply a high shine top coat, for the sprinkles to glitter as much as possible.

On my nails this polish lasts about 3-4 days before it starts to chip and before you think - "pretty but tricky to remove", let me set your mind at ease since the sprinkles are so tiny and fine that they don't stick to the nail the same way as a lot of the coarser glitters, making it much easier to remove the polish than you might think, even with acetone free polish removers. I love the beautiful contrasts between the base shade and the sprinkles and I think this is a great, fun and whimsical way to do pastels this season but in a way that isn't plain or predictable, but shows personality and cheekiness. The only bad thing about this pretty polish, is that it always puts me in the mood for cupcakes or Krispy Kreme doughnuts - extra sprinkles anyone...? Let me know which color of polish or even specific polish you would like me to review in our next Manic.Monday, and don't forget - only 4 days left to Friday!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The unintentional His n' Hers - Prada Infusion

If you've read one or two or maybe even more of my previous posts - first of all Thank you so so much for being a regular visitor! and secondly, you've probably noticed hat I'm a bit of a perfume collector and to me scent can make or break an outfit, it can make me want to buy a product or run in the opposite direction and it even regulates my mood. Luckily I'm not alone in my obsession with fragrance and I am not actually not exaggerating in any way when I say that Him Indoors buys more scent than I do. But don't get me wrong - I'm not complaining, after all it's always nice with a man who wears something nice smelling and who appreciates that some moods and outfits requires a very particular scent that might not work with another look. It also means that every time we're shopping we always casually peruse the perfume counters for something new and interesting or a timeless classic that deserves to be rediscovered. I have however noticed that quite often we seem to go and try different things separately, pick up what we want and at the checkout we discover that we've bought something from the same brand - a completely unintentional His N' Hers... Seriously, this has happened on quite a few occasions, which is why I will do a series of His N' Hers scents starting with some amazing creations by Prada; Infusion d'Iris EdT (£39.95) and Infusion d'Homme EdT (£29.95).

Ladies first - so let's start with Infusion d'Iris EdT (£39.95). All the Infusion scents come in a beautiful bottle with a strict and understated design that combines the modern look with a vintage feel from the trademark Prada emblem, and depending on the ingredients the color of the bottle stop varies e.g. so far we've seen it in green, gold, pink, orange, fuchsia and this version has a white top. The bottle for the EdT is beautifully frosted and the perfume itself has a nice, fresh looking light green color. This is a is a lighter version of the original Prada EdP that was released in 2007, but the ingredients are quite different and personally I think they are completely distinct in their own ways. While the original EdP is a bit too heady and heavy for me with its oriental feeling from incense, orange blossom, vetiver and cedar, the EdT is fresh, soft and stylish. The notes are light, floral and very slightly powdery using iris, neroli and heliotrope on a woody base. It's a modern, distinct and very sophisticated scent giving off a very confident and independent impression. 
All the Infusion scents, regardless if they're for women or men have some notes in common and for Infusion d'Homme EdT (£29.95) it's the earthy woodiness from vetiver, cedar and of course also the floral element of iris. But it also has a very light and gentle aroma of neroli and benzoin, which smells a little bit like vanilla, only a bit more oriental. It's a very fresh, sparkling and sunny warm scent that makes me think of the Mediterranean, but it also has a lot of character. This is a modern and masculine statement perfume with a slightly androgynous feel, and I have actually "borrowed" it quite often and some days I actually prefer the dry, woody crispness of it to the floral powdery EdT for women. We haven't exactly got joint custody of Infusion d'Homme yet, but it does smell fantastic on women too and all sharing in a relationship is good right?

If you have a passion for perfumes, it's always worth checking Fragrance Direct since they have a great range of scents at slightly discounted prices, and you get free delivery if you order for more than £40 - it might be something to remember for Mother's Day or any birthdays that are coming up.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

100 000 Pageviews - Sephora giveaway

When I started blogging last July I wasn't really sure where it was going to take me and although I didn't exactly set myself any targets I had some very modest hopes about getting a few followers and pageviews. I never in a million years expected that a day would come when I would be thrilled to announce that I've reached more than 100 000 pageviews, which for me is a massive milestone. I couldn't have done any of this without the amazing support from YOU. As cheesy as it sounds I can't thank you enough for every visit, comment, tweet or e-mail from you and I'm so genuinely and deeply grateful for all the fantastic encouragement that you always give me. To celebrate I've got a giveaway of Sephora products for one lucky winner. The giveaway is open for international entries, and will close at midnight on March 29, and I'll notify the winner via e-mail within 24 hrs after the giveaway has closed.

Let's have a look at what's included in the prize. First up is a Sephora shadow-and-liner palette, called Miami Vibes No 11 which contains 4 long lasting eye shadows and a matte eyeliner. The colors of the eye shadows are called Golden Beige, Turqoise Blue, Hawaiian Beach and Deep Blue and the eyeliner is Dark Brown. This is one of those painting by numbers palettes and at the back are instructions on how to create two different looks - one natural, and one intense using these shades. It's a lovely warm and range of colors which will look lovely for spring and summer.
Next up is a matte long lasting blusher with moisturising ingredients that not only defines the cheeks and gives a lovely healthy glow, but also helps to make your skin look fresh and hydrated. This is in the shade Romantic Rose No 10, and it's a lovely golden peachy pink that would work with most skin tones. The last product is an nice and creamy ultra vinyl lipstick pencil for a glossy look, in the shade Miami Pink No 05 which is a juicy genuine romantic pink with a bit of a shimmer and it feels lovely and moisturising on the lips.

Again a big thank you to everyone for all the amazing support and for every comment that you leave that brightens my day. Good luck to everyone who enters and have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, 21 March 2014

MUA Prime & Conceal - dupe for Benefit's Lemon Aid

As a beauty junkie I have drawers filled to the brim of products just waiting to be used, but still somehow mysteriously it does happen once in a blue moon that I run out of something and when that happens it seems as if everything runs out at the same time.... makeup kharma or what? This is exactly what happened a while back when my trusted Urban Decay Makeup Setting Spray ran out. Its sister product, the Urban Decay Eye Primer Potion must have felt that since it decided to give up the ghost a day or so later. So when I had to get a new makeup fixing spray very impromptu and got the MUA Fixing Spray (reviewed here) I also decided to get and test its sibling, the MUA Pro-Base Prime & Conceal (£1.50). As with all MUA products the packaging is a unglamorous as you can imagine - it's a very basic, plastic pan but it does contain quite a generous amount of product. 
This is a 2-in-1 product which can be used both as a primer, to help set your eye makeup and hopefully make it last a little bit longer during the day, and you can also use it as a concealer to correct any uneven tone. The formula looks like a matte velvety eyeshadow in a golden buff color and the texture feels lovely, smooth and creamy to apply. You can probably use a brush to apply it to your eyelids, but personally I find it easier to just swirl a fingertip in it and lightly dab it onto the eyelid. When you apply it as a primer, the golden color sets very nicely on the lid and the color looks subtle, even and natural. I did notice that if you apply a bit too much it does tend to crease a little, which isn't a good sign for a primer, so you're better off keeping it to a light wash and if you do the tone is so lovely that you could even wear it just as it is without any eyeshadow on top, on a "no makeup" day for a very fresh look.

The golden tone is a great color corrector to get rid of any redness not just around the eyes, but also on any blemishes or angry patches. Since the consistency is quite creamy, you're better off using it before you apply foundation, so that you can blend it in seemlessly and add any additional concealer on top if need be. The texture is so light that it sits very comfortably on the skin without clogging the pores and I really like to wear it under the eyes ,to even out the skin tone and it makes the whole eye area look bright and rested.

This is not a pretty or glamorous product in any way, but you shouldn't judge a book by its cover and it is in fact a great primer and concealer. As a color corrector it does a wonderful job of reducing redness and foundation and concealers sit really well on top of it all day long. When I tested it as a primer I thought I would really put it through its paces so I wore it when I was traveling, and it really made the little eye makeup I was wearing stay put all day long, and it also looked as good in the evening, after a long day of airports and travel and shifting climate as it had in the morning. To me this in every way is an excellent dupe for the much loved Benefit's Lemon Aid (£16.50), but considering the massive difference in price, and the little difference quality wise my prime choice will be MUA. 

Thursday, 20 March 2014

What's in my travel handbag

After spending a few days of quality time with my family it's time again to pack my bags and travel back to the UK, and I return with a suitcase stuffed with beauty goodies that I simply had to pick up as part of my pre-flight relaxation exercises to calm my nerves. Even though it's a fairly short flight of just a few hrs I need to keep my mind busy when I fly, which means that I always carry a lot of stuff around me when I travel, so I need to dig out the most spacious bag I can find hidden deep in the tardis that is my wardrobe, and at the moment that's my 3.1 Phillip Lim handbag for Target. It's a battleship grey leather imitation version of the pashli bag with gold hardware and it has 4 pockets which is really useful to keep all your travel stuff safe and I have a lot of it... First we have the essentials like passport, keys and purse but then there's also my kindle in case the entertainment system doesn't work, my diary and a pen since I'm a scribbler making notes and lists all the time of things I need to do, plans for the blog etc and of course my phone.
On top of that I also have a mini beauty kit that I carry on board so that I can freshen up during the flight and when we land without having to rummage through my suitcase to get what I need. My in-flight "survival kit" pretty much looks the same wherever I go - starting with the lovely travel sized Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream in Pink Grapefruit (£5.70) which I've mentioned previously in my post about hand creams (see here). Having clean and fresh hands always makes me feel refreshed and energised and this cream is so light, fresh and pampering to use and it has a wonderful and delicate scent of mint and citrus fruits. I also always travel with at least one Bath & Body Works Anti Bacterial Gel Pocket (£2.10) and applying a little bit of the gels really enhance that fresh and protected feeling. Another must have handbag item, but which is extra great for traveling is the fabulous Caudalie Beauty Elixir (£10.95). It's an excellent quick fix to add some moisture to your skin during a flight even if it's not long haul, and to add some radiance when you land so you don't look shattered. The distinct herbal and aromatic scent of rosemary, and mint works so well to boost your mood and it may be a completely indulgent princess product, but it does actually work. I also make sure that I have a lip balm with me, and at the moment I'm trying to finish the Burt's Bees Honey Lip Balm (£3.70). It's rich in softening and nourishing ingredients like lanolin, beeswax and natural oils and when my lips need something a little bit more rich to prevent dehydration, then this is a great natural product and a good primer for lipsticks.
When it comes to makeup I usually travel wearing as little as possible on my skin, and to freshen up as you land I tend to only use the bare essentials like a good concealer, and among the more affordable options one of the best products is the Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer (£5.49). It's a lightweight formula with just enough coverage to hide any dark circles or irritated skin after the flight, without making the skin feel heavy and tired. To blot any shininess I also have some transparent matte powder to hand, and the gorgeous luxurious Estée Lauder Scorpio Zodiac Powder Compact (£38.50) is the just perfect size to carry with you and it also comes with a tiny sponge applicator so no need to bring any big powder brushes since it does the job for a quick touch up on the go. I also have with me a mascara so that I don't scare people with my very blonde lashes and the YSL Babydoll Mascara (£24.50) gives a volumised effect as well as long luscious lashes with just a thin coat of mascara, perfect for a wide eyed and refreshed natural look when you step of the plane. I also always have some form of lip product with me and since I'm going pretty much au naturel, the L'Oréal Color Riche Collection Privée lipsticks (£8.19) in Julianne Moore gives just the right amount of peachy pink hint of color without looking overdone. To finish off I'll spritz some perfume on, and since I'm a nervous traveler I like to surround myself with harmonious scents that are calming and soothing, so I tend to use old, tested and loved favorites and this time I brought with me the Jo Malone Nectarine Blossom and Honey Cologne (£39)which is an amazing light and fruity feel good scent without being sickly sweet.

Despite carrying almost everything but the kitchen sink with me, the best thing is that there's still space left in the bag for any unexpected duty free items that might come my way. What do you have in your travel handbag?

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Chi Chi Clothing Erika Dress for cocktail hour

I don't know about you, but I would rather be over dressed than under dressed and I'll use any occasion as an excuse to dress up to the nines, especially if I've got a brand new gorgeous dress lying and waiting in a lovely bag somewhere. As you may know I've left Him Indoors to his own devices for a few days to fly off and spend some time with my family, but before I left we thought we would have a night out on the town with a great meal and champagne, which was the perfect opportunity for me to wear my latest little blue number from Chi Chi Clothing*.
This Chi Chi Erika Dress (£49.99) is a beautiful sleek sleeveless shift dress in a muted navy blue with gorgeous gold colored lace detailing. With it's low back and concealed zip it's a very chic and elegant evening dress, perfect for cocktail hour with some nibbles.  
Dress: Chi Chi Clothing // Shoes: ASOS // Cuffs: H&M // Ring: YSL // Nail polish: Rimmel I Love Lasting Finish in Marshmallow Heaven

I absolutely love this dress and if you're looking for a new dress for spring and summer, I would highly recommend that you have a look at Chi Chi Clothing's lovely new collection of dresses for any occasion - day, evening or party, and if you're a new customer you get 10% of your first order too. I'll see you at the checkout!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

On trial: Maybelline's Illegal length mascara

If there's one makeup product that I rely on, it's mascara. While I'm lucky enough to have fairly long lashes they are as blonde as blonde can be and without color on them I'm not really to my advantage. So I've tried an awful lot of different mascaras, and there's few of them that completely sweep me off my feet with their increasingly strange looking mascara brushes, but in every mascaras defense I am VERY fussy, because I expect it all in one product: length + volume and if I can get flared, fanned out lashes with it too, its definitely a plus. By now I have a list of mascaras that I know give me all of those things, but still I keep trying new ones, because who knows - there might be an even better one out there. The most recent mascara to catch my eye is Maybelline's Illegal Length Fibre Extensions Mascara (£8.99) which promises to break every lash length law with its fibre formula. It comes in two varieties - black and waterproof black, and I decided to try the black one, but does it actually work, or have I fallen victim of a marketing crime? Let's put it on trial and see what the evidence tells us.
Exhibit A: The mascara comes in a stylish and sleek packaging which always helps to make a good and credible first impression when you're on trial and in this case it's also very functional and handy since it doesn't take too much space in your makeup bag.

Exhibit B: It's a well known inconvenience that a lot of mascaras start of being very wet, and don't really come into their own until a few weeks later when they've dried up. This is not the case with this one, instead it already from the start has a good consistency which makes it easy to get just the right amount of product on the brush, without smudging or flaking. I really like the consistency, however since I'm of a suspicious mind when it comes to mascaras, it does make me wonder if the mascara will be hopelessly dry to use after another months use or so. Time will tell, and innocent until proven guilty.

Exhibit C: The formula contains fibers that are up to 4 mm long that are supposed to extend the lashes as you apply a few coats of the mascara, and there's also a sealing element that makes sure that the fibres stick to the lashes. To help with the placing of the fibres on each lash, the long and narrow brush has 6 contact points with each lash. It's quite a stiff wand and brush, which is good for helping to shape the lashes and to comb them through to avoid spider legs. Maybelline claims that only a few strokes are necessary to build the length and that you shouldn't let the coats dry in between so that the fibres can latch on to each other. In theory this should add up to 4 mm's length on the lashes, which is quite a claim. The brush is easy to work with, it reaches all the lashes without any smudging, it does a really good job at quickly adding an even coat of color to the lashes, and it separates the lashes beautifully. Unfortunately the mascara doesn't add any dramatic increase in lash length for me and I have other mascara that don't claim the same but that give a much more noticeable lash extending effect.
From left to right:
Maybelline Illegal Length Mascara
Seventeen Falsifeye Mascara

Exhibit D: Even though I didn't go for the waterproof version of the mascara, it wears very well throughout the day and it even resists a good work out without any smudging or fading. This made me think that it would be very difficult to remove since I have tried fibre mascaras before where I've had that issue, but fortunately you can use any eye makeup remover to take Illegal Length off without any tugging and without being heavy handed.

Time for summary: Illegal Length is a nice and long lasting mascara that's easy to work with to shape your and I like to use it for a no makeup look, because of the lovely natural effect, however when it comes to adding illegal length I find it guilty of not delivering. I would have loved to be a lash criminal with long dramatic lashes and I feel a bit robbed of the 4mm extra length that it promises. If you want criminally long lashes, then you might be better off with either Maybelline's Volum' Express Falsies (£7.99) and with that I rest my case - mascara court is adjourned!

Monday, 17 March 2014

Manic.Monday: Pink at Him

Let's continue celebrating the warm weather and embrace all the feeling of spring in the air this Monday with a gorgeous sheer light peachy pink polish from the amazing Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure Nail Colour (£6.99) range. This is probably one of my most exciting nail discoveries the last 6 months and it's now one of the collections I check out first when it comes to buying new nail polishes since it combines a fantastic selection of colors with a high quality formula. The formula is a 5-in-1 that has a built in base coat and top coat which seems to be fairly standard these days, and on top of that it also contains a nail strengthener and growth treatment that nourish the nails while you're wearing a gorgeous color - not very standard at all me thinks! Does it sound a bit too good to be true? Well let's see...

For me the Salon Manicure range is the cream of the crop of the Sally Hansen polishes, with almost 60 different colors in a lovely, heavy glass bottle that contains a very generous amount of product. The first few times that I tried the Salon Manicure range I wasn't confident enough in the claims that the built in base and top coat would be enough to protect my nails and to add enough shine for a high gloss finish, however a good few months down the line and many shades later I have now stopped applying a separate base and top coat with these polishes. I haven't seen any changes for the worse in terms of how long the wear lasts so it seems as if the polish still sticks well to the nail, and I haven't had any discoloration at all, even after wearing some very intense vibrant shades.
The formula has just the right density and it comes with a great wide brush that means that you get a next to perfectly even application in a brush stroke and a half. By now I have tried all kinds of shades from this range - from deep dark vampy to light and sheer and they all have wonderful pigmentation so if you wanted to, or you're in a rush you could stick to only one coat for a lovely finish, but as always I prefer two for a truly opaque finish. As for the top coat, the formula itself is definitely glossy enough that you don't need it, and in the photo I haven't used either base or top coat. It's easy to say how long a nail polish lasts before it starts to chip, but what is considered long wear is ultimately down to each individual. On me nail polishes from the Salon Manicure range last for about 5-6 days, which I think is very long lasting, and even when they do start to go you can get away with wearing it for another few days if you have the patience, or you can quickly remove it with minimum effort with any decent dip and twist nail polish remover.

The 5-in-1 concept is great and unlike claims from many other brands, for me this really works and although I'm a die hard polishaholic changing colors more often than I apply lipstick, I haven't had any problems of dry and brittle nails or discolorations and when Sally Hansen keeps launching beautiful shades like this perfect, versatile and delicate spring color I will keep coming back for more.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Dior's Trianon Makeup Look with Pastel Fontanges

As you may remember I've had a love affair with the Dior Trianon Spring Collection ever since I first saw the promo pictures at the end of last yea, and at the launch event at Debenhams I treated myself to some of the products in this stunning collection. I've done a separate review of the beautiful Trianon Eyeshadow Palette in Pastel Fontanges (you can read it here) which is pastel heaven in a lovely little Dior box with its sheer, soft shades and today I thought I would try to recreate the look from the promo photos.

Let's start with the complexion - usually I apply concealer over a foundation, but in order to make it look as light and even as possible I actually applied my Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer (£5.49) under the foundation rather than on top. It's a great light and smooth concealer and I have somehow mysteriously managed to match it perfectly with my foundation. The delicate, petal look and feel of the Pastel Fontanges range of colors is matched with a flawless, youthful and dewy looking skin so to achieve something that's at least similar, I brought out my preferred heavy hitter when it comes to preparing your skin, the YSL Forever Youth Liberator Foundation (£37). This foundation gives excellent medium to full coverage for an even and flawless tone without feeling heavy on the skin and it also adds nourishment throughout the day to keep the skin supple and plump. The shade I'm wearing is not as pale and porcelaine as they've used in the promo photos, but it does have that subtle glow which I've then enhanced even further using the amazing budget beauty MUA Undress Your Skin Highlighting Powder (£3). I've completely fallen in love with this highlighter and wearing it on the top of your cheek bones, and maybe even a little above your cupid's bow gives a wonderful light and subtle smoothing shimmer effect. 
For my brows I used the Rimmel Professional Eyebrow Pencil (£2.99) in Hazel 2, which works perfectly for this look since it's not too dark, but it still gives enough definition of the brow arch. For the eyelids I used all of the shades in the Dior 5 Couleurs Trianon Edition Eyeshadow Palette (£41) in Pastel Fontanges 234, starting with a wash of the shimmery ballerina pink all over the lid as a base. It's a gorgeous shade and for me this is the shade that's easiest to wear out of the five since it works so well in combination with both neutrals and purples too. Having done the pink base, we move on to the slightly more intimidating light periwinkle blue - which in itself is beautiful, but in the promo photo there's a lot of it, applied all over the brow bone and under the eye. As you blend it in with the light pink, it creates a lovely contrast although I must admit that wearing a blue shade this shade, definitely pushes me out of my comfort zone. After that I mixed the light silver grey with the lemon chiffon color and added to the inner corner of my eye and slightly below to brighten that area, and to reflect the other shades. Finally I lined the lash line with the darker soft gunmetal grey to add depth and the combination with the ballerina pink is so lovely and I might even try a smokey eye look at some point using these two shades.

Since this is a very bare faced look I didn't want to volumise my lashes, and instead I went for length with the Maybelline Illegal Length Fibre Extensions Mascara (£8.99) which is great for a natural, combed through lash look and I've got a more detailed review of this mascara coming up on Tuesday, so keep an eye out for that. I very lightly blotted the odd area with the Soap & Glory One Heck of a Blot (£12) and applied the finishing touch using the Tanya Burr Lipgloss (£6.99) in Afternoon Tea. Like so many others I've been completely bowled over by this gorgeous range of lip glosses. The formula is light, creamy, non sticky and moisturising with excellent pigmentation that seems to set on your lips almost like a glossy stain. You get hours of wear out these and re-applying it is a joy since it has a delicious candy like smell. This shade Afternoon Tea, is a subtle slightly muted rhubarb and cream pink, which is perfect for a "your lip color, but better" look.
 
I really enjoy wearing and experimenting with the gorgeous Pastel Fontanges palette and I had so much fun recreating the Trianon look. Despite being such a soft and delicate colors the look works surprisingly well for evening wear too, since the shimmering colors look gorgeous when the light catches them. It is a complete and probably slightly over the top indulgence in pastel colors and using lots of light blue on your eyelid might seem a bit scary - at least it did to me, but if you keep it well blended you won't be getting flashbacks to something out of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. If you're interested in seeing more Trianon looks, have a look at Dior backstage (the link takes a while to load to be patient with it), where you'll find tutorials for another two lovely looks and you can read more about the whole collection. 

Saturday, 15 March 2014

5 Skin care travel essentials

For someone who hates flying I seem to spend an awful lot of time on airplanes and now it's time to hit the road, or shall I say airwaves again as I'm off to visit my family for a few days. When it comes to traveling, I like to keep it simple so that I have as few things as possible to log around and of course I also like to keep some free space in the suitcase for any things I might possibly - read very probably, pick up while I'm away. When I visit my family I quite cheekily use whatever hair care and body care products are around since it's only for a few days, but one thing I won't compromise on is my skincare and by now I've got my travel skin care routine down to a t. The magic word behind the routine is multi purpose, one product with several uses which means that I, the self confessed beauty junky only need a measly 5 skin care items when I'm away on a short trip.    
When I'm away for a few days I won't take an exfoliator with me, so it's even more important for me to have a great cleanser with me, and my preferred choice is the Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micelle Solution (£4.50). Normally I would only use a micellar solution as part of my morning routine, but when I travel it's so practical to get an eye makeup remover, cleanser and toner in one - what a space and time saver! It's a very mild but effective alcohol free cleanser that removes every single trace of makeup from your eyes and face, even stubborn water proof makeup. To get rid of all my makeup I'll use perhaps 2 cotton pads, and that's enough to make the skin feeling clinically clean and soft without any dehydration at all. Although this original micellar solution is no longer the hottest thing in Blogiverse, I still think it's the best one and I always make sure that I have one in this handy travel size.

I may not bring an exfoliator with me, but I always make sure that I have a generous amount of Origins Drink Up Intensive (£22) Overnight Mask with me. It contains seaweed which is well known for nourishing the skin and to help it retain moisture and it makes the skin feel brand new - overnight it makes your skin hydrated, soft and smooth. This is a life saver when you're traveling since you can use it not only as a mask or an intense night cream, but you can use it to target specific areas that have caught a bit too much sun, and even as a fabulously rich and creamy pre-moisturising treatment. It's an incredible product, worth every penny and I can't get enough of the gorgeous scent of whipped cream and orange.
Another fabulous travel product is the Clarins Face Treatment Oil Santal (£32) for dry/extra dry skin. Like all the Clarins treatment oils it's a very luxurious and rich oil based on 100% pure plant extracts and this is perfect to hydrate, calm and decongest the skin and you'll quickly see a noticeable difference with your skin appearing plump, smooth and soft as a peach. I like to use this before applying moisturiser since it doesn't cause any shininess, or as a rich nightcream. I also keep a tiny bottle of this in my hand luggage and when I feel uncomfortable with turbulence etc, which I inevitably do - the curse of being a nervous flyer, I warm up a tiny drop of the oil between the palms of my hands and breathe it in. It may sound a little bit crazy, but the gorgeous warm spicy and slightly sweet cardamom scent that reminds me of newly baked buns, helps me relax - whatever works right?

Flying, too much sun, insufficient sleep, air conditioning - it can all dehydrate the skin so my favorite travel moisturiser is the Estée Lauder Hydrationist Maximum Moisture Creme (£35). The formula is like a wonderful velvety soft gel that boosts the skin with intense moisture and then helps to retain that level of hydration throughout the day. It's lovely and light and absorbs straight away into the skin making your skin feel invigorated and refreshed. What I like most about Hydrationist is that my skin still feels lovely and smooth in the evening after using it, and it's just that kind of moisture that you need when you're stuck on an airplane for a good few hrs.

The last out of my 5 skin care travel essentials is the lovely and refreshing Dermalogica Total Eye Care (£37) which is great for hydrating, strengthening and smoothing the under eye area. The consistency is light and fluffy without any oiliness at all and it feels lovely and light weight on the skin. I never manage to get any sleep when I fly, so I usually land tired and with big dark circles under my eyes, and this is when this eye cream comes so handy. Total Eye Care has a subtle nude color and it contains light reflecting particles so when you apply it, it'll reduce the appearance of dark circles and make the eye area look so bright and fresh with a subtle radiance, to the extent that you won't even need an under eye concealer.

There you have it - 5 multi purpose skin saviors for traveling, and I'm even so conscious of space that I put the bigger products in travel sized bottles and pots... I must be getting old... What are your must have products for traveling?

Friday, 14 March 2014

March empties

Can you believe it's time for empties again? What ever happens to the days I wonder, and I'm convinced that the bad economy and inflation these past few years even has impacted time - an hour is somehow shorter than it used to be. Again I have tried my hardest this month to finish up as many products as possible and in the end I'm quite pleased with the results - 8 products that can go in the bin, which equals the right to buy 8 new products, that's the rule isn't it?
Let's start with some skin care products. Ever since I finished my beloved Gatineau Floracil (£29.50), a strong contender for the world champion title of eye makeup removers, I've been using the L'Oréal Skin Perfection 3 in 1 Purifying Micellar Solution (£4.99), the well known dupe for the original micellar solution - Bioderma. It's a great, effective and gentle all-in-one product, removing both face and eye makeup without stinging your eyes, and it also acts as a toner. The only thing I seriously dislike about it is the packaging, or more specifically the fact that there is no effective dispenser at the top of the bottle - just a big hole. This means that if you drop the bottle, or you're not careful with closing the top, the solution goes everywhere. That should be easy enough to fix and hopefully L'Oréal will do something about it eventually. Even though I prefer to use micellar solutions from other brands as part of my morning routine, I still like to use the L'Oréal 3 in 1 solution as an eye makeup remover, and at such an affordable price it's super value for money.

On to the St. Grape Aqua Bliss Natural Face and Body Scrub (£12) which is an amazing luxurious bath scrub containing natural mineral sea salt, essential oils and vitamin e. The formula is light, fluffy and creamy and the salt grains are so fine that they start to melt immediately when you scoop it out of the jar. The scrub is so delicate and gentle on the skin, leaving it smooth and supple with a gorgeous and quite strong scent of delicate jasmine. You can use this both on your body and face, but since I'm cautious of using strongly perfumed products on my face I stick to using it as a body scrub. It's a fantastic indulgent product, perfect for a pampering evening and I will get another one as soon as I've finished some of my other body scrubs.
We've come to the section of hair products for this month starting with the Avon Naturals Apricot and Shea Leave-in Treatment (£2.50). It's a lovely light cream, almost of the same consistency as a conditioner, that you apply to towel dried hair and it makes your hair very silky and so much easier to detangle. But the best thing about it is the incredible scent of sun-kissed juicy apricots and luxurious shea butter that stays on your hair and if you apply it in the evening, you'll still smell it in the morning when you wake up. This is one of the few Avon hair products that really works on my hair, and the smell of  a creamy fresh apricot smoothie is just irresistible.

Of course we have a dry shampoo as well - the TRESemme Instant Refresh Radiance Dry Shampoo Translucent Formula (£5.25). It's a slightly revamped version of the original TRESemme dry shampoo that doesn't leave that white powdery residue on your hair that some dry shampoos can do which is great, and it has that lovely recognizable fresh TRESemme scent that lingers on your hair. It's a decent dry shampoo however personally I don't find it quite as effective at oil control as some of the others I've used from Batiste or Dove, and I can't say that I've noticed that it adds any radiance as it promises either. Since it is a bit more expensive than other brands, but it doesn't have the same effect on my hair I won't be repurchasing this.

If you've followed my posts on Operation Rapunzel, you'll know that I have been using the Lee Stafford Hair Growth Treatment (£7.99) faithfully since October last year to help my hair to grow. The treatment is a protein enriched masque that you use after shampoo but before conditioner, and it helps to nourish the scalp and follicles for healthy hair. It's a gorgeous creamy formula with a delicious nutty scent that reminds me of the Macadamia range, and it makes the hair feel extremely soft and nourished. After more than 3 months of use, my hair had grown almost 6 cms, and although it might not be down only to this lovely treatment, it's certainly helped to keep my hair sleek and glossy. I can't recommend this wonderful masque enough, and in fact I would say - buy two at the same time to make sure you don't run out.

When I first got the L'Oréal False Lash Flutter Mascara (£10.99) I had some mixed feelings about it, that you may remember from a separate review I did in November (see here). Although the formula starts off quite thin, it does add a wonderful length, and as the formula thickens it also adds quite a lot of volume to the lashes. Another plus point is the fabulous fanned butterfly wing effect on the lashes that the very scary looking brush creates and the mascara also wears great throughout the day. What I found most difficult to get used to is the brush - it's big, sturdy, heavy in the hand and the shape makes it difficult to reach the inner lashes and to get a nice even coverage of the lower lashes, at least until you get used to is and you find a way to use it that works for you. Despite my initial struggles with the brush I absolutely love the dramatic lash effect this mascara creates, and truth be told I have already bought another one, and can't wait to start using it again.
This month I've finished another fragrance, Flora by Gucci - Glamorous Magnolia EdT (£48.50) one of the amazing scents from Gucci's Floral Garden range. I'm a massive fan of the original Flora scent, but the Floral Garden range is far from your garden variety of perfumes and Glamorous Magnolia is a fabulous, fresh, soft and sensual modern scent. It blends delicate white flowers with lots of character like magnolia and freesia with warm peony, invigorating citrus fruits and warm, earthy musk and wood. It's such a cool, crisp and glamorous scent and it's perfect for warm, sweltering summer days. Glamorous Magnolia - you will be sorely missed... at least until I get bottle of you, and this time I'm going large!
Last but not least is a candle that I bought just before Christmas, and I know what you're thinking - what, that's months ago? But the reason for not showing it sooner is that it burns up to 170 hrs, so it's lasted me aaaages. I had never tried this brand before but the Village Candle in Mulled Cider (£17.25) smelt so delicious of warm, sweet fruity and slightly spicy cider that I just had to have it. It came with two wicks and burnt really well from side to side, deep into the glass jar, with next to nothing left of it. The Village Candles look and smell so similar to the Yankee Candles that you can easily mistake them for each other, although the Village Candles might be slightly lower priced. With 170 hrs burn time, these candles are excellent value for money and I would definitely try this brand again. If you have tried both Yankee and Village Candles I'd love to hear if you think there's a difference between them and which you prefer?