Friday, 31 January 2014

Life for less

Living on a limited budget is no fun, especially at this time of year when pretty much every brand going is launching tantalising new goodies. Whether your limited funds are a result of studentdom, unemployment or just how damn expensive the basics have become there are a few things you can do to make it a little more bearable and still afford the occasional beauty essential. Yes, lipsticks, nail polish, mascara and concealer are most definitely essentials!

Max out those loyalty cards - if you're going to spend, and it's pretty unavoidable if you want to eat, you might as well get something out of it as well as lunch. Get your paws on loyalty cards for the stores you use and hand them over on every visit. Remember some cards like Nectar can be used in a variety of places. Make sure you use any vouchers you get to max out points too, although obviously don't spend extra just to use a value based voucher! Boots are particularly good for vouchers at the moment...

Track your spending - keeping a spend diary is just as revealing as a food one. Keep a track of everything you spend for a couple of weeks and you'll probably see where you could save a few pennies here and there. Once you've done that set yourself a reward to out those pennies towards - maybe one of those lovely spring launch products.

Bargain hunting - limited budgets usually mean high end products are a big no-no but they needn't be. Check out discount websites like Direct Cosmetics for a wide and regularly updated selection of products from drugstore and higher end brands. Direct Cosmetics is by far my favourite as they stock current as well as discontinued products and their prices represent a serious discount. Beauty shopping on eBay is a bit controversial but there are genuine sellers out there if you carefully check feedback and the wealth of sample sizes on offer mean you can try more expensive products before committing to a big spend on the full size version. For clothes, shoes, accessories, etc crack on - you're bound to find something you love for a fraction of the high street price.

DIY - can't afford expensive face masks, body scrubs or hair treatments? Make your own! There are loads of recipes on the web for all manner of beauty essentials using pretty much what you have in your cupboard. Imagine what you could do with just olive oil, brown sugar and honey! Candles are delightful but definitely a luxury so why not try making your own instead of buying them? Pick up some cute cups or glasses in a charity shop, get your hands on some soya wax, wick and essential oils and get creative!

Scoop a dupe - if there's a particular product you're dying to get your hands on but it's a bit pricy then do some research and find a dupe. While I think with skincare you often get what you pay for there are drugstore dupes for most high end makeup favourites which are almost as good as their expensive counterparts and some are even better! A few of the bloggers I follow have done a lot of dupe posts recently so check out my blogroll to get you started. 

How do you afford those little luxuries when you're counting the pennies?

Thursday, 30 January 2014

What's on my nails #5

Time for another peek at what I'm sporting on my tips this week! For this manicure I'm defying the grey weather (it is STILL raining in Hampshire) and have gone for something a bit more cheerful in the shape of Essie Butler Please.

It's been a while since I've done a blue nail and I fell in love with this shade as soon as it dropped through my letter box in a Direct Cosmetics order so naturally it had to be the first to be tested of the (ahem, several) new additions to my stash. It's so bright and vibrant and not at all January-ish!

As you can see, Butler Please is a vivid electric blue with not a hint of shimmer, just block colour with a gel like shine. This is the sort of colour that would look good on any skin tone but is especially "poppish" on paler hands like mine. Annoyingly though this Essie offering isn't as nice as others I have. The formula is quite thick meaning 2 coats plus base and top coat made my nails noticeably thicker and unfortunately it chipped pretty badly, requiring regular repairs until I lost patience and took it off after 3 days. Beautiful colour but disappointing quality.

What's going on on your nails this week?

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

My Skincare Routine - Moisture, moisture, moisture!

I've always found moisturisers to be the most difficult part of my skincare routine to get right. I must have tried hundreds from severely mattifying to super rich but none of them felt like a perfect fit. Thankfully, and due in no small part to extensive blog-ucation on the subject, I've currently got a couple on the go that seem to be working for me, and with the rest of my skin care, pretty well.

Most mornings I reach for Vichy Normaderm Hydrating Care which moisturises and also contains some of my favourite face-friendly salicylic and glycolic acids to fight imperfections such as blemishes, scars and uneven skin tone. It has a pleasant fresh scent and a surprisingly thick formula which requires a little time to sink in before applying make-up but helps to mattify any oily patches.

Lovely as it is Normaderm is mainly aimed at oilier skin types so sometimes I don't find it imparts sufficient hydration for my contrary combo skin. On days when it's not enough (which is quite a few thanks to central heating and chilly weather) I've recently been trialing Caudalie's Vinosource Moisturising Sorbet and I am delighted with it! It contains grape water, camomile and grape polyphenols to sooth, hydrate, calm and strengthen skin. It doesn't promise to mattify but I find my usually oily bits much less problematic when I use this so it must be doing a pretty good balancing act somewhere. My foundation also wears much better atop this moisturiser. This one I will be keeping around!

For night moisturising I recently took a daring step and added an oil. It seemed rather counterintuitive to add oil to already oil prone skin but everything I read suggested it could actually help and I'll try most anything once. Well everything I read was true - oil is, bizarrely, and oily skin's friend! I'm using Trilogy Natural 100% Organic Rosehip Oil as it also helps with a host of skin concerns I have including blemish scars, skin texture and first signs of ageing. Since using this, combined with the AHA serum I mentioned here, the scars and congestion on my cheeks has really improved and the fine lines on my forehead are almost gone. Hurrah!

I like to top off the Rosehip oil with a night cream and I recently got a generous sample of REN's Frankincense Revitalising Night Cream. As you may have guessed I'm a huge REN fan so of course I had to try and and it's quite nice as a finisher before I go to sleep. My skin seems a little brighter come morning and it's nice and soft too.

So that's what's keeping my face hydrated at the moment, although I'm sure I'll spot a new cream I simply have to try at some point in the not too distant future. I'm basically a skincare magpie! You'll noticed I've missed off eyes from this post - in the interests of not giving you an essay to read I'll include eye creams with next weeks post on my favourite face masks.

Does choosing. Moisturiser come more easily to you? What do you like to slather on to keep dehydration at bay?

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Janina Ultrawhite Toothpaste

I don't have naturally sparkly white teeth, and not a lot of people do. In fact the natural colour of your enamel is hereditary, and of course it's affected by what you eat and drink and whether you smoke. For a truly dazzling white smile I would probably need professional whitening, which is way beyond my budget, but a little helping hand from my toothpaste certainly wouldn't go amiss. I have to admit I haven't seen much difference with them in the past, and I've tried quite a few, but that never stops me wondering so recently I picked up a tube of Janina Ultrawhite Extra Strength.

This is more of a premium whitening toothpaste, if toothpaste can ever be called premium, which promises to take care of the usual oral concerns while using Bromaine Complex, a clever bunch of fruit enzymes, to whiten teeth without the same abrasive action you would get from baking soda. In fact the BBC's Health Watchdog programme found this was the only toothpaste (compared to other leading brands) which contained ingredients actually capable of whitening teeth and it also scored top in a Which? survey. Sounds too good to be true?

Actually I'm reasonably impressed. It does the usual toothpaste thing very well and has a strong minty flavour which leaves my mouth feeling tingly and definitely clean. It doesn't froth up excessively leaving me with a mouth full of icky tasting foam (Aquafresh High Definition I'm looking at you) but it's got enough substance to feel like it's actually cleaning my teeth rather than just polishing them (ahem, Pearl Drops...). But does it whiten? Well, yes to an extent. I don't have a just stepped out of the cosmetic dentist's office smile, and not did I expect to, but my teeth are noticeably brighter and less yellow tinged than they were after 2 weeks' usage.

Janina suggest you brush with this normally for 3 minutes and don't rinse in order to maximise the whitening effect but I just can't not rinse at all so I've tried to rinse less, which I'm getting used to. Also I imagine I'll see greater results when I get my electric toothbrush working again (epic charger fail). I actually look forward to brushing my teeth with this, in the same way I look forward to using a face mask I know really works. It's the only whitening toothpaste I've seen any decent results from and I shall be sticking with it. There's also a matching mouthwash I might invest in.

Are you blessed with perfect pearly whites or do you like to give Mother Nature a helping hand too?

Friday, 24 January 2014

17 Hits The Spot

Concealer is, without doubt, a makeup essential. No ifs, no buts. Whether it's blemishes, redness, thread veins, dark circles or some other imperfection, the right concealer has the power to hide what you don't want the world to see leaving you looking flawless and feeling confident.

Blemishes are the main flaw I seek to conceal and I've spent a long time trying to find just the right formula to cover without cakiness, which sticks around past lunchtime and which fits my limited budget. Finally I think I've found it in 17 Phwoarr Paint. Hurrah!

Phwoarr paint is labelled as an under eye concealer but I think Boots made a mistake there as blemishes is where it really excels. I have tried it under the eye but found it too drying, although less dehydrated skins might be ok with it. The shade range is very limited with just two offerings but as you need very little most caucasian skins will probably find one or the other suits.

It's fairly solid in the pot but with a creamy texture which blends over blemishes really well and is thick enough for full coverage but without looking cakey. And boy does this stuff stick! Long after most of my makeup has given up the ghost my blemishes are still sufficiently covered to not be particularly noticeable, even when they're really red against my very pale skin. Now that is impressive! You only need a little bit and I find the best way to apply is the good old tap tap with a finger method.

What's your favourite covers-all concealer?

Thursday, 23 January 2014

What's on my nails #4

After giving my nails a bit of a rest (hence no post last week) I'm back with one of my favourite shades from Ciaté's Mini Mani Month advent calendar - Pillow Fight with a little touch of Confetti as a simple accent. This is actually the first Ciaté polish I've ever tried but with more than a dozen others to sample it won't be the last to feature on this little blog!

Pillow Fight is a gorgeous and rather elegant grey lilac which sort of seems appropriate given the greyness of the weather, although this is much prettier than a rain cloud! It goes on quite sheer so three coats would be optimum (I have two coats in the picture and it's not quite opaque around the edges) but it lasts well and is completely shimmer free so gives a gel like shine with a good topcoat. As always I used a generous helping of  Seche Vite.

Confetti is a mix of very small silver and holographic glitter particles in a clear base. It's not too festive so it's perfectly wearable outside of December. Coverage is quite good but as with most glitters it's worth swirling it around a bit on the nail to ensure it's evenly spread.

I'm looking for inspiration - what's your favourite Ciaté mani?

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

My Skincare Routine - Tone & Treat

So I've finished cleansing - what next? Well, next I go for some chemical exfoliation and I'm currently using Nip + Fab Glycolic Fix Exfoliating Facial Pads. These smell lovely and have a rough side to exfoliate and a smooth side to, well, smooth! I think they're approximately 2.8% glycolic acid so they're not going to give you a full on peeling effect but they do seem to provide a nice daily dose of exfoliation. They also contain hyaluronic acid and blue daisy to help sooth, although I don't find them especially irritating. Nice as they are, though, I've read some amazing things about the Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner so that might have to be my next pick.

If my skin is really acting up and irritated I ditch the Nip + Fab pads and reach for Boots' Botanics 100% Organic Rosewater Toning Spritz, which  is wonderfully cooling and refreshing and seems to take the heat out of any irritation. I'm a huge sucker for fresh rose scents too and this one does not disappoint. I spray it all over my face then lightly dab it off with a cottonwool pad.

Toning done and it's serum time! My favourite is REN ClearCalm 3 Replenishing Night Cream which is sort of a cross between a serum and a moisturiser. It has a light gel cream texture which melts into the skin and soothes irritated blemishes while working to combat scars and protect pores. I use this every night on top of any other serums and occasionally during the day if I'm staying in and piling on the skincare.

Another night serum I've recently added is designed to compliment the exfoliating toning step. REN Resurfacing AHA Concentrate contains no less than four acids (glycolic, lactic, citric and tartaric) and is starting to help smooth the fine lines peeking through on my forehead as well as slough away dull skin. It smells a bit funky though, almost acrid and smoky. I only use this every other night, and not when my skin is feeling irritated, as its fairly strong.

After my morning tone I've been applying S5 Purity Serium which contains rainforest bioactives to work on reducing the appearance of blemishes and pores. This serum has a slightly slimy texture but sinks in almost on contact and really does help to reduce my blemishes and heal them more quickly. I don't want to bore you (and this is turning into the longest post ever) but seriously, this stuff is good!

Despite all the things I've already mentioned I think there's still a serum shaped hole in my routine. As I've been ill recently my skin has been ultra dehydrated so I'm on the hunt for a moisture imparting potion and I've got my eye firmly on Caudalie Vinosource SOS Thirst Quenching Serum. I'll let you know how I get on with it!

Have you tried any of these? What did you think?

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Mascara Edit

My eyes are my favourite bit of my face and I'm lucky enough to have quite long, thick lashes which readily hold a curl, but they still need a helping hand (or wand) to really make the best of them. These are some of the mascaras which made it through a recent cull of my makeup stash.

Starting with my all time favourite, Benefit Bad Gal Lash. I absolutely love this mascara! It really defines my lashes making them look thicker and showing off their full length. One coat is enough for daytime and 2 or even 3 gives a really eye catching (sorry) look for nights out. The brush is a rather large traditional spoolie type but it's tapered making it easier to get those fiddly lashes at the outside of my eyes, although admittedly it's not great for bottom lashes. My only niggle is because my tube is brand new there's a lot of product on the wand making it difficult to avoid smudging it onto my eyelid but I know this will sort itself out after a few weeks of use and for now a piece of card works as a guard.

Possibly my second favourite mascara is Clinique High Impact, which I've managed to get as a GWP so often I don't think I've ever bought a full size. The pretty standard looking but dense spoolie wand is actually very effective at getting right to the root of my lashes without leaving eyelid smudges and it makes them look lovely and thick. Length takes a bit more building up than with the Benefit offering but conversely this one works better on bottom lashes. Oddly enough I don't actually find more than one coat of this gives a greater impact, but maybe that's just me.

A rather new GWP addition, but one I'm rapidly coming to love for my bottom lashes, is the No7 Extreme Length Extend. This has a spiky plastic brush which normally I would avoid like the plague after trying an appalling one a few years ago but recently I thought I'd give them another chance and this one seems ok. The mascara itself I don't find particularly volumising but it does give good length. Where it excels for me is as a bottom lash product because the brush is very slim and the spikes are short enough to get into my lashes without getting all over my lower lid and it doesn't clump.

Sticking with No7 for a moment, I recently picked up the Exceptional Definition mascara which has the most interesting brush. It's another of those plastic ones but it's a 3 in 1 with the one side having longer spikes on a curved base, the other densely packed short, flat based spikes like a comb and some extra spikes around the tip for good measure. It's meant to allow for loading the lashes and then ensuring no clumps and it does this reasonably well. This isn't meant to be especially volumising or lengthening, which it isn't particularly, but it does define what you have quite well. It's supposed to be nourishing too but since I don't wear it every day I can't comment on that.

The last product in my line up is Rimmel Scandal'eyes and to be honest I just can't decide if I like it. When new it was way too wet and clumped terribly but now the tube is a few months old it's settled down a bit and I like it more but it still doesn't compare to the benefit or Clinique ones. The brush is massive, tending to catch my upper lid a lot, and it's far too big for lower lashes. It's no more volumising or lengthening that the first No7 one above but it clumps a whole lot more. It smudges the most and the quickest of all of them too. On the whole not one I'll repurchase but my 17yr old sister in law seems to love it so maybe it's better suited to teenaged eyes.

As you may have guessed I love mascara and there are at least a dozen I want to try so expect a repeat of this post, probably with all new favourites, at some point in the future!

What's your favourite lengthening and plumping lash potion? 

Friday, 17 January 2014

The Feeling Better Factor

So it's January. Christmas is over, the weather is awful and there's a pretty good chance you've got a cold. I certainly do, courtesy of Mr P, and I feel utterly rubbish but there are a few things that will make me feel at least a little bit better even if I can't quite manage feeling human at the moment!

Keep cosy - When you've got a cold the last thing you need is to be cold so warm and cosy is where its at when it comes to flu fashion. I have my fluffy dressing gown and my fleecy PJ's but my feet usually end up freezing so there's nothing better than wrapping them up in a pair of really snuggly socks. Think super soft knits, fleecy linings and as chunky and thick as you can find. I have loads of pairs but the pretty pastel spotty pair pictured were a pressie from my sis-in-law so they're extra special.

Soothe a sore nose - A straw pole of my friends reveals a myriad of things used to combat the sore nose you get from all that rubbing and blowing, from E45 to Vaseline. I do rate E45 as a moisturiser but the best thing I've found is this Botanics Organic Super Balm. It's 93% organic, truly fragrance free and has a melting oily texture which nourishes and soothes raw skin. It also provides a bit of a protective barrier against future wiping. This balm makes a pretty decent lip balm and works wonders on really dry patches of skin too.

Breath easier - Traditionally eucalyptus is the oil to clear the sinuses but I'm not a fan as it seems to linger in the house for weeks after my cold has departed and my poor dog hates it. Tea tree oil, on the other hand, smells lovely (to me anyway) and has a similar clearing effect. It also has a fantastic clearing effect on my skin, which breaks out spectacularly whenever I'm under the weather. To breath easier add a few drops of oil to an aroma diffuser or oil burner, especially just before bed. To combat those illness-related blemishes dip a clean cotton bud in the oil and apply a little bit to each blemish. Tea tree can be a little drying so you might want to treat your skin to some extra moisturising too. Superdrug's 100% Pure Tea Tree Oil is the best value and always seems to be on offer.

Indulge - I know we've all eaten a tonne of chocolate over the festive season (guilty) but when I have a cold I really crave sugary hot drinks. I'm sure its because of all the energy my body is putting into fighting off my cold. That's my excuse anyway! My favourite way to get my fix is a huge mug of hot chocolate because its really warming, soothes my sore throat and the steam helps to clear my head. Besides, I can't take Lemsips and I don't drink tea or coffee so my options are a bit limited. I'm currently loving Galaxy Bubbles Orange. Simply delicious, and at least it's sort of low-cal!

There are a few other things I rely on to help me feel better. I hate being bored at the best of times so a good book, DVD and a stash of blogs and YouTube videos to keep me amused is essential. A long hot shower with lots of steam and freshly washed bedding makes sleeping easier and as I'm usually feeling ultra pathetic I need lots of hugs from Mr P and the dog!

How do you make yourself feel better when you're under the weather?

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Sale Scent Steal

I thought I was done with my sale shopping but a quick trip to good old M & S yielded a delightful surprise - this lovely little set by French parfumeur Fragonard. It comprises a 50ml Mademoiselle Fragonard Paris EDT, a handy little mirror and a make-up bag. It was actually the bag that first caught my eye as I've been hunting for just such a bag for a few weeks. It's so cute and quirky!

Fragonard is not a company I've heard of before but a quick browse of their website reveals quite an impressive range of scents, including a mouthwatering range of candles which I just might have to investigate! Now, I'm a Hugo Boss girl through and through and have Nuit, Intense, Deep Red and Orange on permanent and almost exclusive wrist rotation - I got married wearing the Orange scent - but I loved this perfume so much from the first sniff I just had to add it to my collection.  

With top notes of mandarin and neroli, an exhale of Arabian jasmine, magnolia and orange blossom and back notes of sandalwood and musk all wrapped up with a touch of peach (yes, shamelessly cribbed from their website) Fragonard's description of this fragrance as "an olfactory stroll along the banks of the Seine and around the flower market" is pretty accurate. Whatever its reminiscent of, I think it smells divine! The heavier back notes tone the florals down sufficiently for this to be suitable for winter wear but not so much so that it wouldn't be equally suited to a warm sunny day.

Mademoiselle Fragonard Paris is only available as part of this little set which you order direct from Fragonard here for €22 plus €10 p+p or you can hot foot it down to your local M & S and see if you can grab one for £9 (it's no longer available online).

Ok, I promise that's it for sales shopping. Probably. Maybe...

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

My Skincare Routine - Cleansers

This is the first in a series of posts on my current skincare routine - the products I'm using and what's working for me. If you want to know a bit more about my skin then please check out my vital stats page, but in a nutshell its always been pretty problematic! I find chemical exfoliation and deep cleansing to be key to keeping it happy.

For my morning cleanse I use Elemis Tri Enzyme Resurfacing Facial Wash which contains ingredients to chemically exfoliate, hydrate and soothe any irritation. According to Elemis this cleanser is particularly suitable for tackling acne scarring and the first signs of ageing so it ticks all my boxes. This leaves my skin feeling really clean, soft and not at all tight or stripped. Although I only started using this at the beginning of the year I'm seeing a difference in my scarring already so it's certainly effective. The only downside for me is the slightly soapy smell (it doesn't actually contain soap). I'd prefer it to have a more refreshing scent, maybe something green or lightly citrusy, but that's just my personal preference.

I take my eye make-up off first but I don't really have a favourite eye make-up remover. At the moment I'm using up a sample of Clinique Take the Day Off for Lids, Lashes & Lips which I like but it's a bit oily and probably more suited to those who wear heavy eye make-up or waterproof mascara. I also like Boots Essentials Cucumber Eye Makeup Remover Gel which is gentle, effective (except on waterproof formulations), refreshing and cheap as chips.

I always double cleanse in the evening, even if I haven't been wearing make-up, as I feel my skin carries a lot of my day around with it and I hate the thought of not washing all that off! Generally I've been using Soap & Glory's Peaches and Clean (not pictured), a milky gel textured cleanser with an almost mentholated peach scent. It definitely lives up to its deep cleaning claims as it removes every scrap of make-up but sometimes I feel it's a bit too strong for every day. However, I recently got a mini sample of REN's EverCalm Gentle Cleansing Milk which I'm really quite taken with. It's more of a balm which emulsifies in water and is effective but incredibly gentle, leaving my skin lovely and soft. It's too early to say for certain but this might just knock S&G off the first cleanse spot.

For my second cleanse I swear by REN's ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser. Drier skins may find this a bit stripping to use every day but it's fine on my combo skin and really gets deep down into my pores, pulling out any remaining nasties while soothing any irritation and helping combat blemishes. I credit this cleanser, along with the serums I'll talk about in a later post, as being responsible for the real turnaround I've seen in my skin over the last few months. I like to leave this cleanser on for a few minutes while I brush my teeth to really let it work its magic before flannelling it off.

Talking of flannels, following the advice of skincare maestro Caroline Hirons I make sure to use a clean one everyday. The last thing I want is to be adding bacteria to my skin while I'm supposed to be cleaning it!

Check back next week to see what I use to exfoliate, tone and treat my skin.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

The Chop

If you saw my aims for 2014 the other week then you'll know that one of the things I said I wanted to do was sort out my overly long hair. Well guess what? We're not even half way through January and I can check that particular aim off already!

In a fit of early January blues I rang the hairdresser to at least schedule an appointment only to find they had one the following day. So, less than 24hrs later, I found myself draped in one of those sexy capes with soggy hair and feeling supremely confident nervous (gulp!). Before I reveal how brave I was here's a before picture to give you an idea of what my poor hairdresser had to deal with:
Excuse the terrible selfie - hopefully you get the idea!

And here's the masterpiece she created after chopping 10 inches (yes, 10 whole inches) off my locks:
I am absolutely delighted with it! It feels so light and short and I can't wait to start playing with it. Sleek and straight, texture, waves, curls - I want it all! I may have gone on a mini spending spree in the hair section of Boots to celebrate afterwards. Just a little one, but of course entirely necessary. New hair needs new products, right?

My hair was trimmed and tamed by the lovely and very talented Tasha at Andrew Smith Salon in Gosport.

Friday, 10 January 2014

The Next New Bag

In addition to my beauty and skincare sales purchases (which you can peruse here) I picked up something really quite nice from Next - a smart new bag big enough to carry all my bits and pieces with room to spare. You see what I did with the post title there?

The bag has 3 large main compartments, one of which is zipped and has three internal pockets for phone, makeup, etc. The other two main compartments fasten with magnetic poppers and between them are big enough to carry my iPad, a couple of books and a pair of ballet style slippers (don't ask!). There is also a front pocket which closes like a satchel, which I think is a lovely feature but which I seldom use.

I'm not 100% certain what material my bag is made from (the labels are silent on the subject) but my best guess is this is either nappa or very good quality imitation leather. Either way, it looks pretty good to me and funds these days certainly won't stretch to something like this in genuine leather, sale or otherwise! It looks and feels solid and the gold accents are pleasingly solid and shiny. The lining is a lovely purple colour in what feels like quite a hard wearing fabric.

All in all I'm really taken with my new, very grown up looking, purchase. I've been after a bigger, hamster bag for some time and this fits the bill perfectly. Maybe I can start looking the part of the busy manager as well as actually being one!

I purchased my bag in Next's Arnison Centre branch in Durham for £20, reduced from £40. 
Do you have a swanky new purchase you're particularly pleased with?

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

What's on my nails #3

Today's offering is another of the Rimmel Space Dust polishes, this one in Total Eclipse. A substantially black polish with hints of gunmetal foil and green glitter, this one actually looks better without a top coat (there is a coat of Seche Vite on my nails in the photo). Unusually the glossy top coat seems to take away some of the foily shimmer in this polish and makes the green glitter less obvious.

Just like the lilac Moon Walking I featured a few weeks ago here this is a quick drying polish which leaves a very textured finish on the nail. Its reasonably long lasting, although I'm not sure how it would fare without a top coat - maybe 2 days regular wear tops. I have to admit I liked this in the bottle more than Moon Walking but on my nails I think I prefer the lilac. Total Eclipse is undoubtedly interesting and quite striking against paler skins but Moon Walking has a bit of the wow factor about it.

What are your nails rocking at the moment?

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Do's and Don'ts of Dying

Don't worry, I'm not getting all morbid on you now that the festive season is over - I am of course talking about hair dye. I've been dying my hair for almost half my life now (I'm actually a natural blonde!) so here are some of the tips and tricks I've picked up over the years:

  • Apply a layer of Vaseline around your hairline, on top of and behind your ears to avoid weird looking stains.
  • Wipe away any splashes onto unprotected skin straight away with a strongly alcoholic toner (be gentle though)
  • Set up a mirror both behind and in front of you to get a 360° view and spot any missed patches
  • Buy decent gloves as the ones you get are usually useless and can't easily be reused (these are probably the best as they're latex free)
  • Use products for colour treated hair once you've dyed it to keep that colour looking luscious for longer, especially a UV protection spray.

  • Sit in a steamy bathroom while your dye is developing - you'll get drips and the dye won't take as well.
  • Skip using the included conditioner as it's designed to seal in your colour as well as add a boost of moisture. Otherwise it's fadesville for you!
  • Use hair dye on eyebrows. The results are generally not pretty! (I speak from experience here)
  • Forget to set a timer for however long your dye takes to develop. If it needs 30 minutes give it 30 minutes, no more or less, or you might not get the colour you were hoping for.
  • Do your dying right before a big event, just in case! Although you might be ok with a root touch up.

I would also suggest that if you're going for a big change in colour get it done professionally as your hairdresser can tailor the colour to suit your colouring and hair type, especially if you're going lighter. Playing with bleach at home may be ok for ombré styles but going platinum blonde in your bathroom? Your hair will probably never forgive you!

How do you ensure a perfect at-home dye job?

Saturday, 4 January 2014

My 2014 Sale Picks

This year I've tried to be very select with my sale shopping and buy things I know I've wanted to try for a while rather than anything and everything with a 50% off sticker on it. Having said that, there may be a few impulse purchases included! Here are some of my top picks:

New things to try:
Elemis Tri-Enzyme Resurfacing Facial Wash // Trilogy 100% Organic Rosehip Oil // Nuxe Rêve de Miel Baume Levres // Badger Balm Mini Sleep Balm
Image 4 of Ciate Mini Mani Month
Stocking up on some favourites:
Rimmel Moisture Renew Lipstick // Rimmel Professional Eyebrow Pencil // Ciaté Mini Mani Advent Calendar
(Ok, I may be late to the party with the last one but 24 polishes for £21? Gimme!!)
Image 1 of ASOS AUBREY Leather Ankle BootsImage 1 of ASOS Skinny Jeans in Grey Acid WashImage 1 of ASOS ALPHABET Leather Chelsea Ankle Boots
Some treats from ASOS:
Aubrey Ankle Boot // Acid Wash Grey Skinnies // Alphabet Chelsea Ankle Boot

What lovely things have you treated yourself to in the sales?

Thursday, 2 January 2014

What's on my nails today #2

Today I've gone for a classic dark red polish, which I got courtesy of my Mum (she recently discovered Shellac and has bequeathed me most of her polish stash). This is an Estée Lauder polish in Black Wine which was part of a GWP and which I can't see available individually. However Essie Up's and OPI Mrs O'Leary's BBQ are very similar.

What's your favourite rich red?

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

2014 - It's Here!

Happy New Year Everyone!

I'm not really a fan of New Year's resolutions - it's all too easy to make grandiose promises after a few glasses of festive fizz only for the cold light (and rain) of January to give you the perfect excuse not to start that daily run/trip to the gym/reduction in chocolate intake. Been there, done that, cancelled the gym membership! However, being a plan to the last detail control freak type I do like an opportunity to come up with a list of things I want to try and do in the forthcoming year. Some of them I achieve, some of them I don't, but it's nice to have something to aim for.

So, this is what I'm planning for 2014, and they are most definitely not resolutions!

Beat those blemishes! Having introduced a serious amount of exfoliation into my regime recently (look out for a forthcoming post on what I'm using) I'm determined to finally conquer my evil blemish prone complexion once and for all! That I've gotten this far is muchly thanks to fellow bloggers, particularly Kate at Gh0stparties and JennyPurr, so of course I'll be looking to those skincare gurus and the inimitable Caroline Hirons for further inspiration!

Learn to love lippie! I'm not a huge wearer of lip colour, mainly because my lips are so dry all the time, but I love the way it looks so my plan is to find a truly impressive lip balm (Nuxe Rêve de Miel I'm looking at you) and embrace all those lovely glosses, mattes, nudes, bolds and berries.

Ditch the drugstore! Ok I don't mean I'll be turning in my Advantage card any time soon, but I do want to try some more high end brands. I've never bothered with more that the odd Clinique and Benefit eye product before because of the state of my skin (although in hindsight I might have had more success with a higher end brand - doh!) but now that it's slowly starting to improve, and since getting into beauty blogs and discovering a world of wonder products, I'm ready to splash some cash!

The Chop! My hair is really long, really thick and between you and me it's not in the best condition at the ends. In truth it's too long as it gets in my way and is so heavy I can't wear it in a ponytail for more than a couple of hours without a headache. So the time has come for me to follow the blogger trend and go for The Chop. I'm not sure I'm brave enough to go shoulder length but shorter it will most definitely be, and I'm already looking forward to having hair I can style and wear in a nice up do. Watch this space to see just how brave I end up being!

Blog, blog, blog! Although this is still very much a baby blog I'm having lots of fun writing it (hopefully you're enjoying reading it too!) so I'll be cracking on with it in 2014 and at the very least let you know how I get on with my other plans. I'm aiming to get into a more regular posting routine with some new ideas I've come up with and there will definitely be some bike posts come spring - I really do ride that shiny beast on my About Me page! Of course if there's anything you'd like to see me writing about please, please let me know - I'll never say no to free inspiration!

What are you hoping to get up to in 2014?