Saturday, September 29, 2012

Weekend Wishlist

With the chilly weather having descended on us, this week it's all about the winter warmers. Whilst I like the sunshine, there's something really luxurious and self-indulgent about snuggling up in cosies on the sofa and reading, blogging, eating chocolate and drinking tea. I won't be making too much of a habit of the chocolate, but I will definitely be cooking up some deliciously warming dinners over the coming weeks, so either way I will be enjoying snuggling up at home. I also think that this time of year is when we really relax, rather than rushing around and trying to squeeze 101 things into the day and make the most of what few sunny spells we are blessed with oover the summer months.
I am in love with the studded leopard print purse above, and since I am in dire need of a new one I will be popping this beauty on my Christmas wishlist. I've also discovered a long-wearing concealer by Origins, which intrigues me no end, having never tried any of the cosmetics from their range. This one claims not to cake or crease, as well as hiding dark circles and blemishes, and the fact that Origins like to pack their products with natural ingredients makes this one a must.
I am looking for a beautiful new foundation for winter, and one that will provide me with a stunning, flawless finish for festive nights out, so Diorskin Nude Foundation is top of my list for that.
And I can't forget to mention the Origins No Puffery Eye Mask. Many of you will be aware that I've been having problems with puffy eyes and dark circles of late, so I'm hoping this could be the this space.

We were supposed to be going on a mini road trip today, but sadly it hasn't happened, so that means staying home. I'm just about to head off for a run and then I'm thinking of doing some baking this afternoon, before snuggling up to watch a film with the hubby before he trots off to work.

What are you up to this weekend?


Friday, September 28, 2012

Spreading the Love

Since I started blogging, I have been really pleasantly surprised by all the lovely people I have 'met', at least in the online sense. Some of you might not know this, but I live a pretty long way away from my friends and family, and I had a bit of a tough time leaving everything behind and settling in when I first moved. Don't worry, this is not a sob story, and as I have mentioned recently, I am soon to move back home. But even so, there has still been a bit of a hole without my closest friends around. For me, blogging has really helped to fill that void, as besides doing something I enjoy, I have found a multitude of great blogs and Youtube channels which are very much my cup of tea, as well as chatting to lots of lovely bloggers via comments and Twitter.
Today, I thought I would share with you some of the nicest bloggers I have stumbled across since entering the blogging world, and of course, their lovely pages to boot.

Ramblings of a Beauty Bird
Sasha is such a nice blogger and I really enjoy keeping up with her on Twitter as well as reading her varied posts. She's one of those people who is genuinely just really pleasant and I would highly recommend you pop on over to her page for a great selection of beauty reviews. The products she talks about are always ones which I am interested in, which is an added bonus for me - and hopefully, you will find the same.

Grace at All That Slap
A lovely lady who has been very kind and helpful to me since the very first tweet we exchanged.
Grace is a lawyer by day and a successful blogger the rest of the time. I always trust her reviews as she is a top reviewer on Makeup Alley and, as a fan of natural products, is knowledgeable about what 

Sarah at Modern Damsel

Sarah is one of the nicest bloggers I have met. She has been sweet, friendly and supportive since the day we (virtually) met, and I always enjoy having a little bit of a chat with her on Twitter. She's a the sort of person who always says the right thing, and her lovely tweets often put a smile on my face.

A day in the life of
Laura is both a blogger and a Youtuber, and I love watching her 'What's in my Bag?' and haul type videos. She's a real natural on camera, and has some great beauty tips. I really appreciate the support she's shown my blog since starting to read it, and I strongly advise you to pop over and have a good read of hers! She is also currently running a fantastic Nars giveaway that's not to be missed.

I love reading Alice's posts and they often manage to make me laugh. I really like reading her lists of 'Current Loves', and I always appreciate her lovely comments on my blog, too. Pop over and have a read and you'll see what a nice person she is.

Sal at Petite Sal
Little girl, big thoughts
I love Sal's makeup tutorials. She has posted about  several amazing Arabian looks she has created, with really dramatic eyes, and I am always so impressed! This girl has definitely got talent. 
I've also enjoyed chatting to Sal on twitter, and we seem to have similar views on a few things. 
She's currently running a giveaway of her own, so don't miss your chance to win a Smashbox Primer and two lovely bracelets.

Nicole of Rambling Beauty

Rambling Beauty
I think Nicole and I have been reading each other's blogs pretty much since day one. Nicole is dong a beauty therapy course, meaning she really knows what she's talking about, and has some great products and pearls of wisdom to share. She did disappear of the scene for a bt so I'm glad to see she's now back and blogging again!

I've only recently met Rachael, but I have really enjoyed talking to her and I adore her blog, which is a delightful mix of lifestyle and beauty. She often posts delicious recipes that I can't wait to try, and I love hearing her tales of life in the country.
Rachael has kindly organised a weekly  chat for those of us who either write or enjoy reading lifestyle blogs, so if you would like to take part then just be on Twitter at 7pm every Sunday. Use the hashtag #lbloggers to get involved.

(I'm sorry I wasn't able to include a screenshot/header for all of you, but I had some trouble trying to do them on some of your pages :( )

If you like the sound of these lovely ladies then do click on their links for some pleasant weekend reading. If you don't have time now then worry not, I have popped their buttons up on my sidebar, so you can reach them through those any time you've got a minute.

Hope everyone is enjoying their Friday evening!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Makeup: The Good, The Bad or The Ugly?

I first started wearing makeup at the age of twelve. I say 'makeup', but what I really mean was a chalky coat of white eyeshadow on each evelid. Blending? Forget it. Mascara? What? I think what really got me started was my older sister insisting upon plucking my naturally thick eyebrows for me. She took me from caterpillar central to wafer-thin arches, and somehow managed to convince me at the time that they were the way forward. To say I cringe about it now is an understatement, and it's fair to say I regret ever letting her loose on them - especially considering that some of the damage remains to this day!
After the white eyeshadow, I soon progressed to black eyeliner and hair mascara, and it wasn't until several years later that I truly discovered makeup and how to wear it. I was probably about sixteen when I first complained to my mother about my dull-looking skin, and she suggested that, as I was going on a night out, I try some of her Clinique Superbalanced Liquid Foundation. From the moment she popped it onto my face for me (in shade Cream Chamois, if anyone's interested), I was in love. My skin looked just incredible! Smooth, glowy and healthy - why hadn't I given foundation a try sooner?? 
Actually, I'd always prided myself on not needing to wear anything on my face itself, as I had been blessed with good skin, but had I known the difference a good, well-chosen base could make then perhaps I'd have converted a little earlier. Growing up, I'd seen my sister getting ready for school in front of the mirror every morning. Almost without fail, she would ask me, "Do I look orange?", and not wanting to hurt her feelings, I'd - without fail, again - assured her that no, she didn't. Do I need to explain that that was a lie? The thing is, having never dabbled in makeup myself at that point, I didn't really know what it was supposed to look like. Anyway, thankfully she soon learnt what suited her and found herself the right shade - it was a learning curve for her too, much like my white eyeshadow and thick black eyeliner. Let's be honest - we've all made mistakes when it comes to beauty.
After my first dalliance into my mother's high-end foundation, and finding myself without the funds to buy such an expensive product (well, they're not cheap to a sixteen-year-old. Actually, they're still not), I would regularly sneak into her room before a night on the tiles and pop some on, foolishly assuming she'd be none the wiser. Of course, she was - I left foundation fingerprints all over the wall and door on my way out!
I spent the next few years experimenting with what did and didn't suit me and gradually began building up my own makeup collection, beginning to wear foundation on a daily basis, and it was only in the past couple of years that I began becoming interested in application techniques. It was beginning to read beauty blogs that set me off, and I was delighted to find that there were normal people out there who knew about these things.
For a while, I was a 'one o f everything' kind of girl, in that I couldn't understand why people would need more than one foundation, blush or mascara at once. Oh, how things change!

Anyway, the point to my little makeup story is this:
Is discovering makeup really a blessing? Or are we actually doing ourselves more harm than good in the long-run, and making our lives more stressful to boot?
I certainly don't regret the discovery of makeup on a daily basis. I genuinely enjoy applying my 'face' in the mornings, and seeing it go from tired and drained to healthy and glowing, and if I'm going out somewhere special then I adore having the opportunity to really make the effort. 
But what happens when your skin breaks out, and could do with a break from all those products? What happens when you go away for the weekend and forget your makeup bag? Or when you're off to the beach or the pool?
My point is, by wearing makeup every single day, we become dependant on it, and it really makes those occasions when we really should give it a miss that bit harder to deal with. Who wants to apply a full face of makeup to go for a run in the park? Well, no one....but then on the other hand, are we really just dying to show off our bare, puffy-eyed, tired faces to the world either? Probably not. If we weren't so used to people seeing us with makeup on then it wouldn't have to be such a traumatic experience going without - or such a pain applying it for nothing, for those of you who just can't bare to be seen without it.
If I'm honest, I usually do slap on a bit of tinted moisturiser before I go to the gym or the beach, and it really annoys me that I feel the need to do so. Yes, it evens out my skin tone and makes me look more 'awake' and healthy. But as I mentioned earlier, before I started using makeup, I was always secretly pleased that my skin 'didn't need it'. I was perfectly happy with the way it looked, and didn't think twice going out without a scrap of anything on my face. I think that my philosophy now tends to be that yes, I could go without - but why would I want to if I could leave the house looking that bit better and feeling that bit more confident? In my case, I really do use just the bare minimum in these situations, but I know there are many of you who would go the whole hog due to much the same philosophy, and then again there are some of you who are happy to go bare-faced (good for you!)
Something else to consider - especially in the case of us beauty bloggers - is that all these products are not really doing our skin any favours. If we didn't shell out so much money on lotions and potions to prettify our faces then we wouldn't need to go and fork out another small fortune on skincare to correct the damage we are doing - and we wouldn't need to worry so much about anti-aging, either.

I think the ideal would be to never start wearing makeup during the day. Then we'd feel even more special when we did use it, which would be lovely for things like birthdays and celebrations, and at the same time our skin would be free to breathe for the most part. However, I know that a lot of people start wearing makeup for other reasons. It's not always to be 'grown up' (let's be honest - that's what it's all about in the beginning) or to look our prettiest - sometimes we have things that we would like to cover or disguise in order to feel more confident about ourselves, and I don't really see how this can be a bad thing. It's easy for people to say that you should just let it all hang out and be proud of your flaws, but who is really ever going to be proud of a great big spot on their chin?

It has its good sides. It has its bad sides.

What are your views?
Do you feel confident to go without makeup?


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Smashbox Image Factory Collection A/W 2012

Inspired by some of the iconic images captured at Smashbox Studios over the past few years, Image Factory is the new Autumn/Winter 2012 collection from (who else?) Smashbox. Perfect for the glamorous ladies amongst us, this small yet sophisticated collection features two beautiful neutral eyeshadow palettes, two bold cream blushes and  a selection of waterproof shadow liners and lip glosses.

Smashbox Photo Op Palettes in Icon and Muse

The Photo Op Icon palette contains a selection of dramatic eye colours for a show-stopping evening look, including rich, smokey shades Thunder, Blackout, Roast and Blackcurrant, and pretty neutrals Alabaster and Seafoam in a matte finish.
Muse is filled with an array of gorgeous neutrals which will take you from day to night, with shimmery shades Russet, Truffle,  Sandstorm and Juniper, with mattes Bare and Sumatra for a more pared down, day-time look.

Lip Enhancing Glosses in Fab and Snappy, Waterproof Shadow Liners in Charcoal and Metallic Bronze and Airblush Whipped Cheek Colours in Soft Plum and Nude Rose

The Lip Enhancing Glosses come in sets of two - Fab and Snappy, as seen above, make up one pairing, while you can also get your hands on Luxe and Chic (a dark chocolate plum and a pale baby pink). The glosses have a high-shine, mirror like finish and Smashbox suggest mixing the two shades in your set for an even more unique look.
The beautiful whipped cheek colours come in a mousse-like formula and are designed to blend easily to create an airbrushed, photo-ready look. I can tell you now that Soft Plum is right up there on my 'Dear Santa' list, as it's such a beautiful berry shade that's going to be just perfect for the upcoming festive season
The Waterproof Shadow Liners are limited edition, so be quick if  you have found yourself popping them on your wishlist and can no longer see a future for yourself without them! I know I'll be hunting myself down one, if not both, as they are going to be fantastic for creating a smokey eye in minimal time to take you straight from work to Christmas cocktails - because let's be honest,  no one needs much of an excuse for a knees-up from now until the end of the year, do they? It's good to be prepared!

Oh dear, oh dear. My Christmas list is expanding by the nano-second, and we're still only in September.

Do any of these products float your boat?


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Life Lessons

The fact that it is going to be Fresher's week next week for many of you has really got me reminscing about the good old days this weekend.
This is not another 'advice' post. I've seen lots of those floating around over the past couple of weeks and I think they've pretty much got it covered. But I wanted to share a few of my experiences with you, because...well, because I'm indulging myself, really.
When I look back at the three years I spent at university, I feel such a strong sense of longing. I would love to go back in time and do it all again in a sense, but at the same time, I know that it wasn't all plain sailing and that I went through some tough times, too. That's the thing about hindsight - it's easy to remember the good bits and forget about the bad. But I don't think that's really such a terrible thing, because at the end of the day the good almost always outweighs the bad.
I remember my Freshers' Week like it was yesterday. Arriving in halls to find that my room for the next year was not much more than a prison cell, and that the oven in the kitchen - to be shared by seven people - was quite literally the size of a microwave. But after the initial shock (horror), my new housemates gathered in the kitchen and began to chat, and before long we were getting on like a house on fire and heading off down to the Student Union bar to make the most of the cut price drinks on offer.
My university - or at least, those in halls on my campus - were an extremely sociable lot and we spent a lot of time in that bar that year. Sadly, I've since heard that it closed down after we finished uni, as the more recent students just weren't interested. Worse still, the campus itself has now been closed too, and is scheduled for demolition. It makes me so sad to think that a place that holds so many good memories for me is just going to be destroyed forever.
In the first semester, I made the mistake of getting together with one of the guys who lived on my floor. It was short-lived, as fresher relationships often are, and you can imagine that it didn't make for the most comfortable living situation for the rest of the year!
The following year rolled around, and having successfully managed to balance lectures and fun in the first year and still come away with great grades, I was in for a shock. The work - or at least, the markers - suddenly became much harsher, and I wasn't prepared for that. I had been certain that I had everything covered, and all of a sudden my marks weren't what they once had been, and I must admit, I found it really disheartening. So much so that I did start to dodge a few lectures and get behind with my coursework. I was also living with four girls I had met in the first year, and the living situation was really not living up to my expectations. Truth be told, I never really felt that I clicked with them all that well (apart from one, who I had been very good friends with since day one), but the process of house-hunting begins so early on in the first year that you don't really have the chance to get to know people properly before you have to arrange your set-up for the next year - or at least, not in my case.
Luckily, I had a job in a local restaurant and I absolutely loved it to bits. I started there when the resteraunt was just about to open it's doors to the public for the first time, and the team became like a big family to me. I have never worked somewhere that EVERYONE got on in such a way before. We would hang out together at work, after work and at the weekend, and ironically, these people turned out to be the best friends I made whilst at uni - and they weren't even students! I had such good times with them, and we are still close to this day.

In my third year, I found myself still living in the same house, as no one had really wanted to bother with the hassle or upheavil of finding somewhere new. It was easier just to stay put, and I didn't really mind anymore since I was rarely at home. This was the year that I met my husband and finished uni, the year one of my housemates tried to take her own life (yeah, we won't go into that) and the year I made some decisions about my future, so all in all, a pretty dramatic time for me!

So there you go, that's my uni experience in a nutshell. What did I learn from it?
- Never get together with a housemate. Especially in the first semester.
- Don't spend all your money on Tesco Finest and Marks and Spencers nosh. You are a poor student.
- Don't take out TWO student overdrafts. It might seem like free money at the time but it's not so much fun paying back all the money you spent on cider and late night takeaways :(
- Never put a whole egg in the microwave.

And on a slightly more serious note:

- Don't get disheartened when you start the second year. The first year is only designed to ease you in and get you up to speed, so the marks are always more generous in order to encourage you. Your marks may take a dive in the second year at first but those good ones you started off with are proof that your lecturers think you have it in you.
- Don't give up if you end up stuck in a living situation you are not comfortable with. If you really can't move out then just spend time with friends who make you happy. Eat with them, study with them - you only really need to go home to sleep ;)

What was your Fresher's Week like? Do you have any regrets about your uni experience if you have already finished? What are your fondest memories?
If you have just started, what are your first impressions, and if you're just about to then what are you most apprehensive about?


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Weekend Wishlist

Behold, my Weekend Wishlist has landed.
This week, it's all about comfy embellished knots and cosy jeans for the coming winter months. Actually, I haven't been a 'jeans person' for a while now, ditching them in favour of tights and dresses for many a cold day, but A/W 2012 brings with it such fabulous options, such as this gorgeous ombre pair, that who am I to resist - let's be honest, jeans will always be the most comfortable and chilly day-friendly option.
There are lots of beauty bits on my wishlist this week, including the new MUA Pro Brow Kit and the popular Undressed Palette. Actually, I want pretty much everything in the new MUA collection, which is due out on September 26th and features a multitude of treats. Favourites of mine are the amazing Nail Constellations, cream blushes and their version of the Laura Mercier shimmer brick.
I've also been coveting the Origins Clear Improvements mask of late. Many of you will know that my skin has been going a bit crazy recently (probably self-inflicted as I have really been going to town experimenting with various new products!) and this little gem claims that it uses charcoal to act as a magnet, drawing dirt and debris out of the pores and leaving the skin free to breathe again. My pores are actually quite good, besides the ones on my nose, but those ones do seem to be permanently clogged. When I do manage to get them clear, it doesn't last two seconds, so I'm intrigued to see if this beaut can live up to it's claims.
Speaking of Pores, I am also after the Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Correcting Serum, which basically claims to do the same thing, only without the charcoal. It also guarantees to leave the pores 58% smaller within two weeks, which is a pretty bold claim, so again, I think this deserves to be put to the test!

What'son your wishlist this weekend?


Friday, September 21, 2012

Skincare 'Mare: Back to Basics

                          A mere fraction of the products my skin has been trialing recently, along with items from Pai, Suti, Nourifusion, Laura Mercier.....endless list...

Recently, it seems that my skin has been getting worse and worse. It's really frustrating, because I had perfectly good skin in the first place, with only the odd spot here and there at that time of the month. But after years of neglect, relying almost solely on facewipes to do the job and often falling asleep in my makeup, it was time I started taking responsibility for my skin and giving it some TLC. Yes, it seemed to be fine. But if I didn't start looking after it properly then I would have no one to blame but myself if I did happen to break out terribly, or worse still, begin to age prematurely.
For a while, I had a pleasant relationship with Liz Earle skincare (as many of us bloggers have done). My skin seemed to quite like it and I found that I really enjoyed the process of cleansing my face with Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser and then following it up with Instant Boost Skin Tonic and ......moisturiser. I did, however, notice one or two more little blemishes appearing on my forehead from time to time, but they were very small so I didn't think much of it.
Eventually, I ran out of my Liz Earle stash, so I decided to experiment with a few new products - not because LE wasn't good enough, because it was, and I loved it - but just out of curiosity, really.

Recently, I was lucky enough to win a big hamper of skincare goodies in a blogger giveaway, and I was thrilled at the prospect of having some new products to try out. Funnily enough, despite my love for all-things beauty, I didn't use to have much of an interest in skincare, seeing it more as a necessity than an enjoyable ritual, but nowadays I genuinely take pleasure in my daily routine - and especially in pampering myself with facemasks a couple of times a week.
Anyway, I started using my lovely new products - all at once, as I had received a cleanser, toner and moisturiser all from different brands - and also started using masks more regularly, and yet all it seems to have done is make my t-zone start producing excess oil (really annoying if you've got a fringe, as it makes you look 'unclean'!) and cause my skin to start breaking out in big, red, angry spots! I wouldn't call it acne, and it is only usually one or two at a time, but seriously - I've never had spots as big as the ones I am getting now! I've also noticed a couple of blocked pores on my forehead, whereas I've only ever had them on my nose before. It seems to me that the more I take care of my skin, the more it rebels. Unfortunately, as I did start using all of my new products at the same time, it's impossible to know f something in particular is causing my issues. I'm using a cream cleanser by Pai (which I have now discovered contains nut oil), a refreshing peppermint spray toner from Suti and a light Orchid moisturiser from.........., and the interesting thing is that all are supposed to be nice, natural products, with minimal additives or parabens, which understandably, I thought would be doing my skin a world of good.
I popped into a local chemist yesterday, hoping to get my hands on some Sudocrem, as several of you lovely ladies suggested to me on Twitter that I pop some on my blemishes in order to send them on their way as quickly as possible. The pharmacist told me that the use of a toner can actually sometimes do more harm than good, as closing your pores can prevent your skin from breathing. And there I have been, spritzing away with even more enthusiasm since my problems began, with the belief that closing my pores was the best thing I could do to prevent breakouts.
After chatting to my mum on the subject of skincare, when she remarked that I'd always had lovely skin and that perhaps by trying to take care of it I was actually smothering it, I had to concede that maybe she was right. But how can you go from a regular, thorough skincare routine to leaving it well alone and not feeling disgusted? I just don't think I could do it.
In a bid to find out if it is, in fact, the products I'm using that are causing my breakouts, rather than hormones or something else, I have literally abandoned them all - at least for now - and gone back to a simple product I used to use in my teenage years - a Clean and Clear gel face wash! It feels so wrong, and I am really missing spritzing on some toner and slathering on a good layer of moisturising cream before bed. I gave myself one last clarifying mask last night, hoping to send my exisiting blemishes on their way, and now I'm going to stick to the basic face wash and a plain, unperfumed moisturiser for a couple of weeks and see what happens. I feel as though I'm about twelve years old again, but it has really made me think:
 Are we so concerned with preventing premature ageing, breakouts and the like that we really are just wasting our money, overloading our skin with things it doesn't need and doing it more harm than good?

What are your views? Do you any skin saviours for when your skin just can't take any more?


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Blemishes: A Quick Fix

A few days ago, I almost cried when I woke up with a big, red angry spot on my chin the size of a house. Almost - but then I remembered Twitter. I got straight on there to tweet you lovely fellow beauty bloggers and see if anyone could suggest a quick fix, and I did indeed receive a few suggestions, including toothpaste, lemon juice and Sudocrem.

Well, toothpaste was the first thing I tried. I popped some on and then went to sleep in the hope that I'd wake up minus my unwelcome lodger, but alas, it wasn't to be. 
Later that day, I tried some lemon juice. I left it on all evening, and then applied some more before bed, but again, it was all to no avail. Soap didn't work either.
Next, I went in search of some Sudocrem, but my local chemist didn't have any in (!?) and suggested Bepanthen, which I almost went ahead and bought, but I decided I wanted to research it a bit more before doing so to see what the general consensus on that was.

At home, I hopped on Google to see what else I could come up with, and I stumbled across a few people saying that lavender essential oil worked quite well. As I had some to hand, I decided to pop some on as a last resort before bed.
Well, I woke up the next morning and voila - the spot had dried right out and shrunk considerably in size!
Now, it won't get rid of your spot completely, but if you've got one of those awful red, swollen ones starting to come up then I'd highly recommend dabbing some of this on sharpish. I've had another one come up since and put the oil straight on, and it seems to have stopped it developing into the size it would otherwise have been.

Do you have any well-guarded spot fighting secrets (other than the Origins Spot Remover, which seems to be current favourite in the blogging world!)?


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

MUA Pearl Eyeshadow in Shade 24: Reviewed

This was my first eyeshadow from MUA. I have been meaning to get my hands on a couple of their palettes for an age now, not to mention their new Nail Constellations. Before I got involved in blogging, I suppose I had always assumed that such a reasonably priced brand (read:cheap) couldn't be of particularly good quality, this having been the case with a couple of other low-end brands I'd tried.
I was lucky enough to win this little beauty in a giveaway a couple of months ago, and for some reason i've only recently got around to trying it - probably because I'm not really an eyeshadow person in the summer, as I like to keep my makeup fresh and natural.
Anyway, onto the product itself.

Shade 24, in Pearl finish, is a really pretty metallic dusky pink/mauve shade, with a hint of plum. 
Having read on numerous blogs in the past that the pigmentation of MUA eyeshadows was something to shout about, I was expecting to be impressed, and it did not disappoint. You need only lightly brush your fingertip over the surface and you will gather plenty of product, and though it is buildable it doesn't take much to achieve an opaque layer of colour. It's really easy to blend, and even more intriguing is the lack of fallout after applying the product - generally, I find this to be a problem with cheaper brands, and even with some of my favourite higher end ones like Urban Decay to some degree, so this was a nice surprise - although I can't vouch for other MUA eyeshadows just yet.

The wear is pretty good and it doesn't seem to crease much during the day. I won't go as far as saying it stays put for the duration, as I am someone who really struggles to get my makeup to stick throughout the day - whether we are taking foundation, lipstick or anything else. I don't personally use an eyeshadow primer, as I usually save eyeshadows for nights out these days.
This is a lovely shade worn on it's own for a simple daytime look, or combined with other shadows as a crease colour for a more dramatic evening look.
A word of warning, though - if you have woken up looking extremely tired, with dark circles or puffy/red eyes, then this is probably not the shade for you. Save it for when you are looking at your bright-eyed and bushy-tailed best.

This product is just fantastic value for money, retailing at just £1 for 2g. If you would like to get your hands on this or any other MUA products then you can do so online here.


Why Thanks...

Thank you kindly to the very lovely The Mary Fairy for sending a little bit of sunshine my way.
Go and check out her blog if you haven't already, she writes some great reviews and is really very nice.

1. What would you most like to change about yourself?
I think we'd all like to have a little bit more confidence in ourselves, and I'm no different. I like to think that I'm ok on the whole, but sometimes I find myself feeling really awkward or shy in certain situations and it drives me mad! It's like I have a little internal argument with myself, because the other side of me knows there is nothing to be feeling that way about.

2. What is your theme song?
I literally have no idea. I can't think of anything! I suppose life has been a bit of a rollercoaster so far, so I don't know that one particular song can really cover it.

3. One part of your life (a memory, action etc.) that you wish you could surgically remove from your brain:
Ooh, I don't know. Perhaps I have already had it surgically removed and that's why I can't think of it? Maybe Eternal Sunshine is real.
I actually believe that everything in life is character building, and metaphorically speaking, what doesn't kill you does make you stronger. That's not to say I haven't had my fair share of cringey moments though.

4. What generation do you wish you had been a part of?
1960s London or 1940s Paris.

5. What was your favourite childhood toy?
A baby doll called Laura and a massive teddy bear called - aptly - Biggie.

6. What is your favourite house-cleaning chore?
Seriously - is that a joke? I'm not going to pretend I like cleaning the house. I don't, I hate it. I do enjoy cooking though.

7. Do you use Twitter?
Why yes, yes I do.

8. Any goals?
Ohhhh, yes. Many. But things are finally starting to happen for me now and I don't want to jinx them - I'll be sure to keep you posted and let you know as and when they come to fruition though!

9. Do you really drink Margaritas all the time?
Errr.....can't say I do, no. Not really sure how or why this question came about, or what it's in relation to. But either way, I'm not a Tequila person.

10. What's the ugliest car you've ever driven and were embarrassed to be seen in?
I can't say I've ever driven a particularly ugly car, although I don't think I would feel embarrassed even if I had.

If you should feel like taking yourself some of this sunshine then please feel free, any reader of mine deserves some sunshine in their lives :)


Monday, September 17, 2012

Laura Mercier Deep Cleansing Clay Mask: Review

When I purchased this mask, I had been after a clay mask to clarify my skin and draw out any impurities for a fair while. Actually, I had pretty much forgotten about their existence, having not used one in years, but when my skin started breaking out slightly more often than it used to and becoming a little bit oily in areas I knew it was time for a little TLC.

The Laura Mercier Deep Cleansing Clay Mask is pink in colour, and a thick paste in consistency. It doesn't have any kind of added scent, so it just smells like clay, and it spreads easily over the skin without making any mess. However, I would advise you to wash your hands carefully after use unless you want pink marks all over your towels!
The mask is left on for about ten minutes, and in that time it dries in the same way that the majority of clay masks do. You can then remove it with warm water and a wash cloth.
I enjoy using this mask, but if I'm honest, I can't say that I have noticed any special results after using it. Yes, it leaves my skin feeling soft and clean. But does it unblock the pores or do away with blackheads? Well, no - at least, not for me.
I will continue to use it from time to pamper myself, as let's be honest, who doesn't love slathering on a face mask, putting the kettle on and having a bit of me-time? But if I really need something to deeply cleanse my pores then I suppose I will have to keep looking!

Do you use clay/clarifying masks as part of your beauty routine? If so, which is your favourite?


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday Sessions

This weekend has been an exciting one. Although we haven't actually done much, there's been lots of planning and chatting about our upcoming move. It's still a year away, but it's been such a long time coming that we can't help but start looking forward to it already. I'm really looking forward to living so close to my friends again and having people pop round for cups of tea or a Chinese and a chat, as it's something I've really missed. It's funny how you get used to spending time alone though, and only in recent months have I actually come to enjoy it, having realised that it's the perfect opportunity for a bit of me-time, blogging and pampering.

Last night, I decided it was my hair's turn for a bit of TLC. As you might be able to see in the photo above, my ends have been looking a bit dry, but that's nothing unusual for me. I am constantly in search of something to soften them up and give me silky, soft hair, but I think years of colouring and dying it have taken their toll, and it's going to be a case of looking after it and waiting for it to grow out. However, recently I have been experiencing some oiliness in my roots and fringe area, so I decided to try a mask that would both moisturise my locks and treat the oiliness, so I went for this DIY recipe:

50g plain organic yoghurt
1 egg
1tbsp manuka honey
1tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

I basically beat the egg and then mix in the other ingredients, before applying it to damp hair and wrapping it in a towel to keep the warmth in, as I find this generally makes any hair mask more effective. You can leave it on for anything from 30mins to an hour or two, and I went for the latter to maximise the results.

I must say, I wasn't overly thrilled at the prospect of putting raw egg in my hair, and have put off trying this for a while. It didn't smell all that enjoyable, but it did leave my hair feeling softer. However, as is often the case, I don't really feel that it has made a huge amount of difference to the condition of my hair. It seems as though anything I apply to my locks is somehow unable to penetrate the hair shaft - many of you have implored me to try coconut oil, but I can tell you that I have done so on several occasions and it just hasn't worked for me.
Oh well, I will keep trying and endeavour to find something that works for me -I will let you know when I do. Next up, I am going to get myself some Moroccan Oil and see how that goes.
Last night, I baked some banana bread, and it was so delicious that it was all gone by the end of the evening! I wasn't acting alone though -the hubby gobbled up more than his fair share! It's just so perfect with a cup of tea. If you would like to try my recipe then you can find it here.
I'm just off to join in the #bbloggers chat on Twitter now, and then after that it's going to be some nail painting and organising myself for the week. I'm hoping there'll be enough time left for a nice chill out before Monday lands again tomorrow!

Hope you've all had a wonderful weekend.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Weekend Wishlist

I seem to have created bit of a Topshop Shrine this week, as scanning the New-in section, I found myself lusting after pretty much everything! If I was in-store, I'd happily buy up this little lot and then trot off home without the need to go elsewhere.
I'm a bit scared of the huge, chunky platforms, and I'm not sure that I could pull them off, as this kind of shoe can be somewhat unflattering to the legs. However, they are certainly pretty to look at, and in my book that certainly warrants a try-on at least.
My favourites this week are the two clutch bags, with laser cutwork and studs being two of my all-time favourite details when it comes to accessories. These two beauties are so different, but with their neutral colours I would always have a little bag on hand to suit every outfit.
You may have also noticed the L'oreal Lumi Magique Highlighting Pen has snuck it's way in amongst all the Topshop goodies. I had actually never considered trying this product, but after reading this review on 'Day in the Life of Ems', I am intrigued. Most of you will be well aware about my recent problem with dark circles and puffy eyes, and Em assures her readers that this product really does the job, so I really do feel the need to try this out and see if it's really up to it!
After creating my Wishlist this week, I saw lots of gorgeous little makeup sets over on the Benefit Cosmetics site, and I'm really annoyed that I hadn't seen them before. Here are the two I am the most eager to get my hands on:

This cute little set contains everything you need for flawless skin, including The Porefessional Pro Balm (which I've already got in a sample size, but having seen how well it counters oil on the forehead I am ready to restock), a mini Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow foundation, Boi-ing 02 and 03 Industrial Strength Concealer and Hello Flawless powder. 
I love these kits and think they make fantastic presents. I will definitely be popping this one on my Christmas wishlist (too early?) and checking out the rest of the selection for friends.

Is it just me, or have you already started thinking about Christmas goodies too!?
Hope you're having a lovely weekend!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Memory Lane #3

Hello lovelies, I haven't posted for the past couple of days because there have been a lot of exciting plans being made and discussions being had - in between work, work and more work, of course.
So as many of you will know, I have been living really far away from my family and friends for some time now, and I don't think I've ever really mentioned this on here, not wanting this to become a page of self-indulgent misery and such like, but I really haven't been very happy. We moved because of my husband's work, and despite having had no issues whatsoever resettling for uni etc, this time things just weren't as easy. It's been difficult to make friends here, and as the hubby and I work complete opposite shifts it's been a bit of a lonely time for me.
So, what have we been planning and discussing all week? Well, we are FINALLY moving back again, and I couldn't be more delighted. I am now walking around with a great big smile plastered across my face and it's a great feeling after all we've been through. We won't be going just yet - not until next year, actually. But knowing that the end is in sight has already changed things completely in my eyes, as I know that every day is one day less until we're off!
So, on that note, I thought I'd share this beautiful photo of my hometown on a sunny day with you, as there is no place on earth that holds as many happy memories for me. 

Hope everyone is having a lovely week so far!


Monday, September 10, 2012

Every Day Makeup

Recently, I've found that I've changed up my daily beauty routine a little bit. I've been experimenting more with primers and serums, which if I'm honest, were products I didn't really see the point in before, being a skeptic and not really believing they'd make much of a difference. However, as it turns out, I was wrong, and as a result, have been able to change some of the other products I was using too. I've found myself wanting to go for a really basic, natural look for the warmer months, and I like that this gives me more scope for creating a more dramatic look for a night out, rather than just feeling that I look the same all the time.
 Read on for details of my current face of the moment.

L'oreal Youth Code Luminise Super Serum
Now, I don't often say this about a product, and I certainly didn't think I'd be saying this about a serum. But this stuff is absolutely amazing! I was sent several samples in the post, and wasn't particularly excited about trying them, but one morning, when I had woken up looking particularly tired and...well...rough, I decided to slap some on to give my skin a little boost. The serum claims to 'even and illuminate',  and it really does do just that. I was amazed to see how well it had evened out my skin tone and even almost felt that I could go makeup free (I say almost because my puffy, dark-circled eyes would not allow for it). Seriously, really impressed, and no, no one has paid me to say this. I have been using it on a daily basis ever since (each sample allows for about four or five applications) and am eager to get my hands on a full-size version of the product before I run out.

Benefit The Porefessional

I don't really suffer from enlarged pores just yet (thank goodness), but recently I have found that my T-zone has suddenly become oily, causing my makeup to slide off my face. As you can imagine, this did not make for a very good look come the end of the day, and, tired of glancing in the mirror and wanting to cry (I've always had good skin!) I decided to give this stuff a go and see if it would help with that. I really think that it does, as it mattifies the area, provides a good base for my makeup and seems to keep things as they should be for that bit longer. Hurrah.
Benefit Erase Paste in Shade No.2
I somehow forgot to include this in the collective photo, but make no mistake, I can't live without this thanks to my dark circles and puffy morning eyes. It's the best concealer I've tried, and I've been using it daily for about a year now. It doesn't work miracles though, so I'm still on the lookout for something that does!

Estee Lauder Invisible Fluid Makeup in 2WN1

I had tried a couple of samples of this about six months ago and really liked it, so recently I caved and bought it. I was gutted when I first applied it only to find that my skin just didn't look how I had remembered with it on, and I actually took it off and put on my usual Revlon Photoready instead, and this product was left sitting on my shelf for a couple of weeks. But then, after trying out the L'oreal Youth Code Super Serum for the first time, I felt confident enough to try popping on my Invisible Fluid again, and I wasn't disappointed. The two of them have been my favourite combo ever since. Invisible Fluid is pretty sheer, so I would only recommend wearing it either in the summer or if you are blessed with an even skin tone, but if you can relate to neither of these then the serum is your friend and you can pretty much wear it any time :)

L'oreal Glam Bronze Duo in Blonde

I love this bronzer. You can see in the picture that I've got mere crumbs left, but I'm making the most of them! This is a lovely matte bronzer (no shimmer) made up of two different shades (one light, one dark) and together they combine to make the perfect shade for contouring and adding a bit of colour for my skin tone. As you know, I'm not actually blonde, but I do have quite naturally pale skin - not milky white, but very light - so this is just right for me. I actually much prefer this to Benefit Hoola and will definitely be re-stocking soon.

Benefit Posie Tint

I have been pretty much obsessed with the Benefit Coralista blush since I got it, and had therefore neglected this little Posie Tint sample size, which I got my hands on at the same time. But over the past couple of weeks I have been really enjoying using this on my cheeks for a really pretty, dewy, rosie glow.

Mac Mineralise Skin Finish in Soft and Gentle

This is one of those products that everyone raves about, and yet it has always been 'just ok' for me.   I quite liked it, but then it was nothing special. But somehow, now that I'm using it along with Posie Tint, it has really grown on me, and the 'healthy glow' effect it gives seems to be far greater, so I am finally finding that I really want to put this on each day rather than having to remind myself to use some just because I've got it and I don't want it to have been a waste of money. I'm really happy that I've now found a way to make it work for me.

Topshop Eyes Kohl Liner 

I've been enjoying using this liner in place of my usual black or brown. It's a really deep, dark blue and I usually use it just on the outer corners of my lower lash line, or sometimes along my top lash line too if I fancy something different - it really depends on my mood.

L'oreal Volume Million Lashes Mascara in Brown

My all-time favourite mascara, and still going strong. Read my review  here.

Revlon Lip Butter in Raspberry Pie

Resurrecting the Lip Butters! This is a gorgeous berry shade and is perfect for the coming Autumn/Winter season. It's really rather pigmented compared to most of the other Lip Butter shades, and after over-dosing on corals and pinks for summer, this is a welcome addition to my daily routine. Although saying that, I don't use it every day - I still switch up my lip colours a bit, but I wanted to include a lip product and this is my current favourite.

What are your current beauty favourites?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday Sessions: Pamper Party

Mini Facial
You will need:
A facial cleanser
A good exfoliant or thermofoliant
A clarifying face mask (if you have dry skin then you may want to skip this step)
A moisture mask
A flannel/muslin cloth
Numerous cups of tea
Copious amounts of chocolate.

What I use:

1. Pai Camellia and Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser
First, I cleanse my face and neck using gentle, circular motions, remove gently with a muslin cloth, rinse and then pat my skin dry with a towel. If I was just doing my usual morning or evening routine, I'd spend more time gently exfoliating my skin with the cloth by rubbing it gently in (again) circular motions, but as we are going for a full on pampering session here it's not necessary (the second step takes care of that).

2. Dermalogica Multivitamin Thermofoliant
Next, I gently exfoliate my face using - again - the circular motions. I always try not to be too aggressive with this step as I don't want to leave my skin red raw - remember, we are trying to give the skin a treat, not a punishment. I usually exfoliate for 1-2 minutes and then rinse and pat my face dry.

At this stage, it's quite nice to steam the skin, which can be done in a couple of ways. You can either fill your sink or a large bowl with hot water and place a towel over your head, letting the steam permeate your skin and open up your pores, or you can soak a washcloth in hot water, wring it out and place it over your face for a few minutes. If you go for the latter then you may need to replace the cloth a few times to keep it hot, but either way, this is a great way to prepare your skin for the clarifying mask as it will make it easier for it to get into your pores and remove any impurities.

3. Laura Mercier Deep Cleansing Clay Mask OR Nourifusion Multivitamin Clarifying Mask
I tend to alternate between these two masks. I'm not really sure why - it's just because I've got them, really. I do enjoy using both though and think that perhaps each one might bring some slightly different benefit to my skin.
With the Laura Mercier mask, I apply it and leave it for 10-15 minutes, while the Nourifusion one can stay on for up to 20. Both masks will dry within this time, so to remove them I just add water and gently massage my skin. The mask softens and washes away. I normally have to rinse my skin a couple of times afterwards with warm water and grab the muslin cloth to remove any last little bits of residue.
Keep your eyes open for reviews of both of these masks coming up very soon.

4. a) Liz Earle Intensive Nourishing Treatment Mask
Now, at this stage you could really just spritz on some toner and apply a nice luxurious moisturiser (more on that later), but personally I like to give my skin an extra treat by slapping on a moisturising mask. Don't worry, this won't counter the effects of your clarifying mask - the first mask removes excess oiliness and impurities, while your moisturising mask will replenish your skin's moisture, leaving it smooth, supple and soft.
This mask is recommended to be left on for 15 minutes, but I'll be honest with you - when I do this, I don't really feel the effects. What I really like to do is apply a thick layer and then just leave it on. Yep, that's right, I don't rinse it off at all - I go to bed in it, and by the morning, mys kin has absorbed every last bit, leaving it ten times softer than it otherwise would have. Being a cream mask, this won't dry out and leave your skin feeling tight while it's on, but nor will it stay wet and sticky, so there is really no problem with sleeping in it. However, you might not want to sit around with it on your face all evening as it doesn't really mix with eating/drinking, so I usually make sure I do this not long before I go to bed, although on occasion I do remove it after a couple of hours and continue on to step 4b - it's really down to whatever I'm feeling like doing at the time.


4. b) Suti Peppermint Water Organic Facial Toner 
You can spritz this onto you face and gently pat it in to tighten your pores and refresh your skin, and follow it with...

Herbalife Skin Activator
Pop on a nice thick layer to moisturise and hydrate your skin.
If before bed, you will probably want to use a night cream instead.

When I'm having my pamper session earlier in the evening, the next step is usually to get into some comfy loungewear, settle down with a nice big cup of tea and maybe some chocolate and watch some of my favourite Youtubers' latest videos. And catch up on blog reading, of course (I usually have my litttle sessions when I'm on my own so that I can 100% do what I like).  I might also throw a pedicure, some nail painting and maybe some hair masks into the mix, but that's a whole other story - I can't really suggest anything in the way of hair masks as I am still searching for one that has any effect whatsoever on my locks!
Before bed, I often slick some coconut oil or Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream on my lips and apply some foot cream before popping on a pair of socks - I like Sanctuary Moisture Rich Foot Butter at the moment.

What's your idea of a perfect pampering session, and what products do you like to use?


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Weekend Wishlist

5. Chain Insert Jumper  6. & 7. MUA Constellations in Pisces and Scorpio (available from 26th September) 

11. Alesha Boots   12. Wine Dip Hem Skirt

I've given in this week, and finally my Wishlist has well and truly entered the A/W zone, rather than stradling it along with summer, as it has been doing for the past few weeks. I still wasn't ready to let summer go, what with all the gorgeous clothes still in the shops, and the wardrobe-full I had yet to unleash. But now it has become apparent that I am fighting a lost cause, so who am I to stand in the way of all the lovely wintery warmers and rich, festive shades hitting stores?
Wine seems to be a strong trend again this A/W, and one that I'm more than happy to embrace. As well as digging out my burgundy jeans from last winter, I'll also be updating my wardrobe with this gorgeous dip-hem skirt. After I had created my wishlist, I noticed that Miss Selfridge are also doing the Ostrich effect bag in wine, and I think I prefer it to the brown one, so that's going to be another must-have.
The thing I am most excited about on my wishlist this week is 100% the new MUA Nail Constellations, out on 26th September. These are basically pots of teeny tiny beads which will adhere to nail polish, so they can be used to create a plethora of different nail art designs or just worn covering the nails, which I think looks pretty darn good. There are five to choose from - Libra, Gemini, Scorpio, Leo and Pisces, and they will be available for the bargainous price of £3 from Superdrug. If, like me, you just can't wait until then, then check out MUA's Facebook page here to have a nose and see the other colours available. Personally, I am in love with all of them, and am so glad that MUA have stuck to their reasonable prices for these innovative little gems.

This weekend I think I'm going to be having another relaxed one. I had the day off yesterday, so the hubby and I spent the afternoon lounging around a coffee shop drinking hazelnut lattes and reading - me, Fifty Shades and him Mockingjay (the third book in the Hunger Games trilogy). Actually, I started reading the Hunger Games books before he did, and when I told him about them he somehow managed to claim them for himself, so I'm still waiting on him to finish Mockingjay so that I can get my teeth into it! I suppose you could say that's why I've ended up reading Fifty Shades, as despite my original protests, I needed something to fill a gap, and it was there. Ok, I might as well be honest - yes, I was intrigued by all the hype surrounding it, but I had genuinely had no intention of reading it. And yet here we are. I'm not finding it too bad so far, but I have to say, I find the character of Anastasia Steele unbelievably annoying. I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it and may want to, but the way she keeps biting her lip (by chapter ten, she must have done this at least twenty times) is really starting to grind my gears. How repetitive can you be!? Anyway, I will reserve further judgement until I have finished the book, as I am only just about to get to the juicy bit, but as yet I can't see myself picking up the other two books in the trilogy.

Tonight it's Skyping, blogging and cups of tea for me.
Do you have any exciting plans?
What's on your Wishlist this week?


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