Thursday, January 31, 2013

Umberto Giannini Incredible Body Big Hair Volume Styling Set

Now if ever there was a fan of big hair, it would be me. While my hair is quite thick, it lacks that natural volume and oomph I so desire, so I was delighted to be sent the Umberto Giannini Incredible Body Big Hair Volume Set* (bit of a mouthful!) to try just before Christmas. I've always enjoyed using this brand, and find the products really reasonably priced for the quality, so I was eager to put these goodies to the test and see what they could do for me. 

Sorry about the grainy photos today, but I really struggled with the lighting when taking these photos, as it was a particularly dark and dreary day!

The set consists of the Volume Blow Dry Spray and Full Volume Hairspray, both designed to give hair the boost it needs to take on a glamorous night out, as well as all the styling tools you could possibly need to help you achieve the look.

The Incredible Volume Blow Dry Spray is spritzed onto both the roots and lengths of damp hair before blow-drying. It has a really pleasant, 'just-stepped-out-of-the-salon' smell, and left my hair voluminous and bouncy, without a hint of crispiness in sight. My locks felt so much more manageable after use, and as an added bonus, fly-aways were also kept at bay.
To achieve a full-on Hollywood hair-style, I sectioned my hair with the clips provided and backcombed the roots using the specialist brush I received as part of the kit. I then finished with the Full Volume Hairspray to keep things in place. Again, this smells pleasant and there was no crispiness or dryness to contend with - just weightless, shiny hair that was easy to control.

For me, the Full Volume Hairspray is the star of this set, as even when used alone, my hair stayed perfectly in place, seeing me through the whole of the next day and right up until the next wash. I also had my mother try this one out for me (her hair is much finer and more fly-away than mine) and even after a two-hour walk in strong wind on a damp day, her hair was still in place, without a hint of frizz in sight. She was really impressed with this one, and has already bought her own bottle!
The Incredible Volume Blow Dry Spray is a lovely product too and works well before a night out, but needs to be used in conjunction with the backcomb brush if you want to wake up with big hair again the next day.

In all, I think this is a lovely set, and it really does provide you with everything you could need for big hair.

The RRP of this set was £16.00, but as far as I can see, it's unfortunately no longer available. However, you can still get your hands on everything that was inside this box - the sprays retail at £5.49 each (for 200ml) from Boots (a price at which I'd be perfectly willing to repurchase), and if you fancy getting your hands on some UG styling tools, try this set - for £8, you get a backcomb brush, rollers, a hair pin, grips and hair clips! 

Keep your eyes peeled for a FOTD post coming up, complete with big hair created using these products.

Have you tried any of the products from the Incredible Body range?
What's your favourite product from Umberto Giannini?


Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Hi lovelies, I'm back from my week of sun, sea and sand, and let me tell you, it was bliss. For the first time in ages, I felt my mind and my body truly relax and enjoy life's little pleasures. I'm going to be posting more about my trip within the next few days, but for now I thought I'd share a few of my Instagram snaps from the week. If you don't follow me on Instagram already, you can find me as 'melotw', and if I don't follow you then I'd love to, so please leave me your user name in the comments below and I'll get on the case!
Hope everyone is well and enjoying the week so far.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

What's in My Holiday Makeup Bag?

Hello, hope everyone is having a lovely week. As I mentioned in Sunday's Weekend Wishlist post, I am currently in Brazil, and while I've not been based at the seaside, this week I'm away on a bit of a beachy holiday, hence posts being a bit thin on the ground. Truth be told, I've been so swept up in enjoying the beach and the sunshine that I've not really fancied staying cooped up in my hotel room to write up posts, but at the same time I'm not best pleased at having left my blog unattended all week. So, as I write this, the hubby is sound asleep beside me, having a nap before we go out tonight, and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get a post ready to roll and to share with you what has come with me in my travel makeup bag.

When I'm away on holiday, the last thing I want is a thick foundation on my face, so I decided to bring my Caudalie Teint Divin and Laura Mercier SPF20 tinted moisturisers.  I don't generally wear makeup on the beach, but this time around I have been going for a light application of Laura Mercier, as I can get my fix of sun protection at the same time as evening out my skin tone a little bit. It's a win-win really, and I've still managed to get some colour on my face even with it on. That's literally all I wear for day time, and for evenings, Caudalie has been serving me well - it doesn't contain SPF, which is key to avoiding that ghostly pale look in photos - not something you want when you're away in the sunshine and actually have a nice bit of colour for a change.
For a sweep of extra bronze, I've brought along my Maybelline Super Natural UV-Block powder in shade 3 (Honey). Despite it containing SPF30, I actually tend to use this in the evenings as I find it to be just the right shade for contouring. Thankfully, it doesn't seem to wash me out on camera, being placed on only strategic areas of my face.

Blush-wise, it had to be Nars Deep Throat for a pretty pop of colour in the evenings. Actually, I haven't found myself reaching for it as much as I'd expected, favouring my Mac Mineralize Skinfinish in Light Year for a lovely peachy, sunkissed look that fits right n with the seaside vibe. I did also bring along my trusty Soft and Gentle MSF, which I use on an almost daily basis at home, but again, I haven't found myself choosing it as often while I'm here
For eyes, I packed my MUA Undressed Palette, which is really all I need, being a neutrals lover. It also contains some really pretty gold and bronzey shades, which have been lovely for creating a pretty twist on a smokey eye. Although I forgot to include it in the photograph, I also brought along the Rimmel ScandalEyes Kohl Liner in Nude,  which has become a daily must since I bought it, and of course my beloved L'oreal Volume Million Lashes Mascara.
In terms of lips, I've been keeping it bright and bold with Topshop Infrared lipstick and Mac Vegas Volt. My Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Rendezvous has been my day-time lip colour of choice.
Last but not least, I threw in my Caudalie Eye and Lip Cream, Origins Gin Zing Eye Cream (not makeup, but hey, they're in here) and Benefit The POREfessional, which has been great for keeping oil at bay on my t-zone come the evening. And of course, I was always going to need my Eco Tools Brush Set to apply everything with. These are such beautifully soft brushes, and if you haven't tried them and are looking for some reasonably priced brushes which won't shed then I would highly recommend them.

That's it from me today - now it's time to go and pop these products on my face and head out for some delicious food, cocktails and dancing. I'm not sure I'll be able to sit down and post again before Sunday, but either way, there will be some holiday FOTDs and a post about my get-away coming up very soon.

Have a lovely weekend!


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Weekend Wishlist

Forgive me for not linking up each of the products as I usually would do this week, but I'm putting this post together in a bit of a rush. You may or may not be aware that I'm currently in Brazil, although not based by the sea, so today we decided to book a bit of a last minute adventure and are leaving for our road trip early in the morning. I'm so excited, as the place we are going to is my absolute favourite (expect pics and a write up on the trip soon), but the downside is that I haven't really had the chance to prepare any posts for the next few days! However, tomorrow I will be letting you have a little peek into what is coming with me in my travel makeup bag, and will try to post more while away. Saying that though, I do want to make the most of the sun, sea and sand, as opposed to sitting indoors in front of a computer screen, but we'll see what happens.
I'm feeling quite Spring-like this week, possibly due to all this sunshine I'm getting, so the clothes and accessories on my wishlist this week reflect that. The Bag is from Accessorize, the playsuit is Topshop and the shoes and shorts are Miss Selfridge . 
Of course, I had to have a little nose at what was new on Feel Unique, and found myself drawn to the This Works Clean Skin Bundle, Pairfum Soy Message Ginger and Lemongrass Candle, Trilogy Rosehip Oil and the Di Palomo Wild Fig and Grape Enriching Hand Cream. Why? Just because.

Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend!


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Video: Thoughts on Face Masks

As you probably all know by now, I do love a good face mask, and I'm certain I'm not alone on that score. 
So, I thought it was about time I had a little delve into my face mask collection and shared my thoughts on the contents, whether they be good, bad or a little bit of both.
If this is your first stumble across one of my videos then just to let you know that if you click in the bottom right hand corner, you can watch this one on Youtube itself, and there you will be able to find my channel, where I have already uploaded a selection of other videos related to Mirror on the Wall.

I hope you enjoy watching, and as ever, if you have any thoughts on any of the products mentioned, or any recommendations, then I would love to hear them.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Origins Make A Difference Moisture Makers Gift Set

Being something of an Origins fan, I was thrilled to receive the 'Moisture Makers' gift set as a Christmas present. If you're new to Origins, then these little kits are a great way to dip your toe in and give some products a try without committing  to the full-size versions, and they're equally handy if you're already hooked and just fancy giving something else a go.

The Moisture Makers Gift Set contains:

50ml Make a Difference Rejuvenating Cleansing Milk
50ml Make a Difference Rejuvenating Treatment Lotion
15ml Make a Difference Skin Rejuvenating Serum
50ml Make a Difference Plus Ultra-Rich Rejuvenating Cream

A quick heads up for you - I have always considered my skin to be pretty 'normal'.

The first thing I noticed upon cracking open the cleanser was the wonderful, fruity smell. If you like oranges, then this little set will be just your cup of tea, as upon further investigation I discovered that both the Treatment Lotion and the Skin Rejuvenating Serum share the same deliciously tangy aroma. The Ultra-Rich Rejuvenating Cream differs slightly on that score, with more of an earthy, yet still citrus-y scent.

The Rejuvenating Cleansing Milk is packed with organic olive oil and plant glycerin to instantly melt away make-up and other debris, while Rose of Jericho,Trehalose and Sea Haricots 'form a skin-pampering buffer'.
I like to massage the product into dry skin before removing with a warm muslin cloth to take away any leftover traces of dirt and grime. Being a cleansing milk, it's creamy but light in consistency, meaning I prefer to double cleanse just to be sure my skin is the cleanest it can be. I find that this leaves it feeling really lovely and soft, all ready to drink in the next product in the regime.

Next, you can apply the Skin Rejuvenating Treatment Lotion by applying some to a large cotton wool pad and sweeping it across your face and neck. The same combo of Rose of Jericho, trehalose and Sea Haricots  are designed to help skin rebound from any dehydration, while an Oceanic Flora helps improve the appearance of UV damage and environmental exposure.

I had always put off investing in a serum, unsure that they were really worth the money, so I was keen to give the Skin Rejuvenating Serum a go. You only need the tiniest amount, and it absorbs into the skin really quickly.
For anyone who is new to serums, the point is that they contain much smaller molecules than moisturisers, which are able to penetrate deeper into the skin, getting nutrients further down where they are needed the most.  Due to this, they can help to both combat and prevent a variety of skin complaints, where a moisturiser can only hydrate and seal in moisture.

Last but not least comes the Ultra Rich Rejuvenating Cream, thick in consistency and, as the name suggests, very rich. While all of these products are designed to be used both morning and night, I tend to slather this one on just before bed to give my skin a real treat, replacing it with another Origins moisturiser, the A Perfect World SPF25 Age Defence Moisturiser with White Tea. This is mostly down to the fact that I require SPF on a day to day basis, and not all of my foundations and tinted moisturisers can provide it.

While I was following the complete regime, I found that I wasn't noticing a huge difference in my skin, so I had a quick scan of the ingredients lists and noticed that the Rejuvenating Treatment does contain denatured alcohol. Alcohol is known to be quite drying, so I was surprised to find it in a product from this particular range, especially since the lotion itself is specifically recommended for dehydration.  After swapping to my Suti Peppermint Water Organic Facial Toner, I quickly noticed an improvement in the condition of my skin. I have been following this routine for over three weeks now, and it has actually been something of an eye-opener for me . Just because your skin is not covered with flaky, dry patches, it doesn't mean that it's not gasping for a drink. Mine now feels so wonderfully plump, soft and smooth that it's clear that it had been muddling through, feeling dehydrated and thirsty, for quite some time.

Unfortunately, this particular set was a Christmas offering, and is no longer available. However, you can find all of the full-size products online on the Origins and Boots websites as well as in-store and at any Origins counter. Do keep your eyes open though, as the Origins website often have deals on, ranging from limited edition gift sets to free samples with your orders.

Have you tried any of the Make a Difference range?
What are your favourite Origins products?


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Banish Tired, Puffy Eyes With EyeSlices

As you are very well aware, puffy eyes and dark circles are pretty much the bane of my life in the mornings. I have tried countless eye creams and gels, not to mention a vast array of natural remedies (cold teaspoons or teabags, anyone?), all of which I have found to be pretty ineffective or awkward to use. So, when a company called Calla Distribution very kindly sent me over some eyeSlices to try, I jumped at the chance.

I was sent two different varieties to have a go with: Legendary Eyes, which aim to combat puffiness and dark circles, and Happy Eyes, designed to keep itchiness caused by allergies at bay.

Eye Slices are oval-shaped gel discs which can be moulded into the eye contour and will adhere, thanks to their patented Cryogel technology meaning you can pop them on for a pick-me-up any time, anywhere. Each slice comes in a little resealable container, and can be re-used up to five times on each eye.
What's more, Eye Slices are natural and non-toxic, and have been tested and approved as a non-irritant. Plus, they are never tested on animals, which is always a winner in my book.

The slices feel instantly cooling when pressed into the eye contour, and it's a pleasure to sit back and relax for the recommended five minutes and let them work their magic. You can do one eye at a time if you prefer, which is handy if you're trying to cram in some last minute reading in the morning or eat your breakfast before rushing out the door.

So, do they work?

Well, I have to say, they do! The Legendary Eyes slices well and truly put paid to my under-eye puffiness, no mean feat considering everything else I've tried! The first time I removed one of these gems and looked in the mirror, I was - quite understandably - speechless at how firm and perky my under-eye area was. As for dark circles, I wouldn't say they completely disappeared, but the general appearance of my eyes was vastly improved, therefore making them less noticeable.
As for the Happy Eyes, I can report much the same thing. The slices were really soothing on irritated eyes (when my cat comes too close to my face it doesn't go down too well with me), and once again did a fantastic job at bringing down any swelling, puffiness and redness.
I wasn't able to take a photo of myself using the Eye Slices, but this one taken from should give you some idea of how they look.

Final thoughts? I love the fact that these are natural, portable and reusable, and find the fact that they actually adhere to the eye contour really handy, as it meant I could actually walk around with one on. However, the 'stickiness' didn't last as well beyond the second use, after which they are better used when you've got the chance to lie back and relax.
These do take a bit longer to use than your standard eye cream, but personally I think they are really worth putting aside those extra five minutes for - as I said, they actually do work, whereas the majority of eye creams don't seem to do much for me at all. Yes, you could just use teabags, but these are so much more convenient, and you don't have to worry about getting streaks of tea running down your face!

If you're looking for something to pep up your tired eyes in a hurry and have been so far unimpressed with eye creams and gels, then this one is for you!

For more information, visit:


Monday, January 14, 2013

Illamasqua Alter Ego Mystery Selection

As usual, despite having posted THIS video on what was inside my Ilamasqua Alter Ego Mystery Selection box, I thought it might be nice to do a post on the matter too. Maybe you didn't watch the video, or maybe you just fancy having a closer look at the products featured, but for anyone who is interested in what was inside this box of treats, read on.
When purchasing the gift set (I received mine as a Christmas present, but did drop some rather large hints about it), you are made aware that you will receive six full-size Illamasqua products, two of which are revealed on the box itself. Those two products are the best selling nail varnish shade Collide, which is a bright neon pink (much brighter than it looks in the image on the packaging), and the cult hit Liquid Metal in Electrum, which is essentially a cream pigment which can be used as an eyeshadow or highlighter. Illamasqua describe the shade as 'antique gold', which I think is pretty spot on.
Besides these two products, all you know is that inside the box, you will also find a lipstick, Intense lipgloss, powder blush and single powder eyeshadow, the shades of which are kept entirely under wraps.
So, which shades did I find inside mine, and what are my thoughts on them?

In my box, I received:

Powder Blush in Create
I would describe this as a sort of chestnut orangey-brown. Now, being very much a corals and peaches girl when it comes to blush, I couldn't immediately see myself going for this one. Really, it's more of a bronzer. I did have a go at contouring with this, which in hindsight was alittle ambitious as it's clearly too bold a shade for that. However, I have now found that a light dusting of this along my cheek bones can be quite flattering, and I think this will be a nice look when the warmer months roll round.

Powder Eyeshadow in Fame
This is a bright, highly pigmented emerald green. I have to admit, I'm not much of an eyeshadow wearer, much less when it comes to bright colours like this. I actually used to have an obsession with green eyeshadow in my late teens, but haven't worn it for years, and in fact I am only just getting back into wearing nude shades after some time going completely without. I am yet to give this shade a go, but perhaps it will encourage me back out of my comfort zone - however, I think this is definitely one for spring/summer, so might hold off on it until then.

Intense Lipgloss in Indulge
This is a shade that looks really quite scary in the tube, and while I love my pinks I feared that this one might be a bit too neon for me (it's pretty much the same colour as the Collide nail polish). I'm really not a fan of lipglosses and don't really wear them, much preferring lipsticks, but having given this one a go it does look quite pretty on the lips. It gives quite a subtle wash of colour, and is nowhere near as intense as it appears in the tube. However, it does of course have that sticky lipgloss consistency, which is not something I'm hugely keen on.

Lipstick in Flicker
Definitely the most disappointing item in the box. I was actually looking forward to finding out what shade the lipstick was more than anything else, so I was quite crest-fallen when I pulled off the lid. This is a sparkly golden-bronze number, and frankly something I'd just never, ever wear. I have tried it on my lips, and it's really not very flattering. Perhaps I could try using it as an eyeshadow or something, as it is quite dry in consistency as opposed to sticky, as some lipsticks can be.

All in all, I thought the contents of my selection box was ok, but unfortunately there was nothing in it that I can say I absolutely loved. This was actually my first foray into the world of Illamasqua, and I was expecting some bright shades. I think it could have been a lot worse, as I know that some people who had reviewed the box on the Debenhams website had got bright blue eyeshadows and neon orange blushes, which wouldn't have been my cup of tea at all.

I will be reviewing each of these products individually in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes open for those if you like the look of anything you've seen.

If you fancy dipping your toes into a bit of Illamasqua then you can get your hands on this set exclusively from Debenhams for just £25.33 at the moment. Down from £38 in the sale, which I think was already quite reasonable considering what you get inside, I'd say that's pretty bargainous!

Hope everyone has had a pleasant start to the week.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Weekend Wishlist

Hello, I hope you're all having the most wonderful weekend so far. I know a lot of people are feeling the January Blues at the moment, with Christmas over and nothing to look forward to, but Spring is just around the corner and we can always live in hope that the UK might actually get some sun this year. There is always hope.

Not much has caught my eye when browsing the sales and new-in sections this week - a rarity, I know. Most of what I am eager to get my hands on went into a mid-week skincare wishlist post, so with that out the way there really wasn't much left. However, two things I have been dying to try are the Enrapture Extremity Heated Rollers (the Totem Styler was on my list last week, but I have since discovered something even better!) and the L'Occitane Almond Shower Oil
I have seen a couple of videos on Youtube, where people have done Enrapture tutorials, and wow - the rollers create what I can only describe as my perfect hair style. Big, bouncy curls and oodles of volume - and they look so easy to use, too. 
I've heard one or two people mention the shower oil this week, and it just sounds like such a lovely, luxurious treat. Shower products are not something I usually splurge on, as there are plenty of lower-end shower gels and suchlike that do a fantastic job and smell amazing. However, having heard about this, I am very tempted to buck the trend.
Continuing with the L'Occitane theme, Jennie from Sailboat (which, I might add, is a fantastic blog and well deserves a read) talked about the Angelica Instant Hydration Mask in her round-up of her favourite skin, hair and body products of 2012 (here), and ever since I have been keen to pop in and pick it up. Jennie even goes so far as to say that it's the best mask she's ever tried, which is certainly a bold statement, and makes it impossible not to be intrigued.
Other than that, there are just a couple of bits from Topshop that I thought were quite nice, their Ohh La La lipstick included. It's a bit of a change from the deep, dark wintry shades everyone's been slicking on of late, and makes me think of the season ahead.

What's on your wishlist this week?


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tag! You're It.

It's been an absolute age since I last did a tag, so when I was declared 'it' by  the lovely Bobbi of  Beauty by Bobbi and Nuala from Make Up, Beauty, Shopping (click the blog names to go straight to their posts) I was happy to get answering some questions. As I was tagged by two people, and therefore set eleven questions by each, I decided to mix it up a bit and answer a few from each of them.
So, what are the rules?
1. Answer the 11 questions set
2. Set 11 questions for the people you tag
3. Mention the blog who tagged you.

My answers to Bobbi and Nuala's questions:

1. What are your new year's resolutions?
Well, I've made a few beauty-based ones, which I posted about HERE. But besides that, my goal for the year ahead is mainly just to make this a fantastic year. The last couple have been really tough, but there are lots of exciting things on the horizon for me, including moving home, finally getting our own house and going back to uni. I'm so excited at the prospect of having my friends and family nearby again, so really I just plan to make the most of that. None of this will be happening until the middle of the year though, so until then I have resolved to stay as positive as possible and try and see the best in the people and things around me.

2. What made you decide to start blogging?

You've heard this all before, but basically I moved a long way from home with my man and was very lonely. I was on my own a lot of the time, and I needed something to fill that hole. I've always loved writing, and have written about various things over the years, but when I discovered some beauty Youtubers and bloggers I became interested in their work, and before long had decided to channel my energies into a blog of my own. Not only has it been a lifeline for me, but it has also allowed me to do something productive with my free time, keep up my writing and learn new things, and has introduced me to a whole community of lovely, like-minded people.

3. If you could purchase anything, money no object, what would it be?
One of the things I love the most is travel, so I'd probably get round the world tickets for myself and the hubby, and then a nice house for us to live in when we got back, haha. Of course, if money really was no object then I'd like to see my family right too. The blogger in me also wants to throw in some Antipodes skincare, and a bit of Elemental Herbology while I'm at it.

4.  Makeup or skincare, and favourite brand?
I do like my makeup, but I'm definitely more of a skincare girl, which is odd considering a couple of years ago I didn't give a monkey's, and would rely solely on facewipes. Makes me shudder now! I think the reason I like skincare so much is that when I am using good quality products, packed with natural ingredients, I feel that I'm genuinely doing my skin a favour, whereas with makeup it's sort of the opposite.
I don't think I can choose just one favourite brand - I adore Ren, Origins and Liz Earle, and at the moment I'm a little bit obsessed with Antipodes and want to try basically everything they've ever made, even though I'm yet to crack open one of their products! I love organic skincare, or at least brands which use lots of natural ingredients and drop the nasties, so anything that fits in with that is bound to be my cup of tea.

5. Which makeup product do you wish was available in your country, but isn't?
For me it's more about the range of shades available that actual products. The USA always seem to get a much better selection, especially with things like the Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains, which I loved last year and still do now.

6. What's your dream job/career?
Beauty, fashion or travel journalist.

7. Favourite food?
I wouldn't say I have one specific favourite, but I adore Chinese (crispy duck pancakes or duck in plum sauce, vermicelli rice noodles, crispy seaweed, prawn toasts...I could go on.) Mexican, Japanese, Greek and Moroccan....I love trying different foods from around the world and am a really open-minded eater, apart from when it comes to offal - I do not do innards. In terms of more traditional UK foods, I absolutely love a good roast dinner on a Sunday, and can't get enough of cheddar cheese and cream teas.

8. What products(s) would you like to try this year?
Elemental Herbology and Nude skincare, the Urban Decay Naked Skin BB cream,  Nuxe Reve de Miel Lip Balm...I'm not sure what else off the top of my head, but there are lots of things!

9. What is your favourite skincare item and why?
Currently, I'd say the Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask and the Ren Phyto-Dynamic Instant Lifting Gel. It's a one-minute mask that smells like lemons and has the consistency of marmalade, and leaves my skin unbelievably baby soft and smooth after use. I also love the Glycolactic Radiance Mask, but then who doesn't!?

10. How long does it take you to get ready in the mornings?
It depends - if I'm washing my hair and not particularly pressed for time then it can be anywhere between an hour to an hour and a half. If I don't have to wash my hair and I'm in a hurry then I can be ready in about half an hour.

11. How old were you when your first got into makeup?
I remember wearing black eyeliner and white eyeshadow aged about thirteen...too cool for school. I didn't start wearing foundation until I was at least sixteen, and had never wanted to, but one day I was going out and just looked so washed out and dull that my mum let me use some of her Clinique Superbalanced. Of course, once you've seen the difference it makes, it's tempting to start using it, so I then began slapping some on whenever I was going out. I didn't start wearing it daily until I was about eighteen. To be honest though, I've always been the sort of girl who would just buy what I needed as and when, and would stick with trusted products. It's only since I started blogging that I've found myself wanting to try out absolutely everything (well...nearly), as it's opened my eyes to new brands and products I wouldn't have considered before.

The 11 questions I'm setting:
1. What  are your morning and evening skincare routines?
2. What's your favourite skincar product and why?
3. Name three products you just couldn't live without.
4. What do you enjoy doing besides blogging?
5. What are your ambitions in life?
6. What do you hope 2013 will bring?
7. What's on your wishlist at the moment?
8. What is your favourite high-street shop?
10. What nail polish are you wearing at present?
11. What do you do for a living?

People I'm tagging:

Alice from Bright Town Girl
Nicole from Rambling Beauty
Laurzie from A Scottish Lass
Gem from Gem Seren
Sal from Petite Sal
Aqueela from Diary of a Makeup Geek
Hollie from H0lliedays

Please do pop over and have a little look at all the blogs mentioned in this post, as they are all fantastic reads, and all written by very lovely ladies.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Video: Illamasqua Alter Ego Gift Set, Revealed

Once again, another delightful thumbnail for you for today's video. I can't believe you have to wait until you have had a bout a zillion views or something just to be able to choose a decent one!
Anyway, onto the matter at hand. I was lucky enough to receive an Illamasqua Alter Ego gift set for Christmas, and while I was trying to decide whether or not to get one beforehand, I found that there was very limited information available on what other people had got inside theirs. So, I thought it might be nice to show you what was in mine, so you can make up your mind if you're thinking about picking one up for yourself in the sales, or if you just simply fancy a nose!
I will be doing a full blog post on this soon, but for now, here is a sneak peak.
Hope you enjoy it, and please like and subscribe to my channel if you do as I am currently uploading videos at least once a week, sometimes more.
Hope you're having a great week!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Talking Skincare

When it comes to beauty, skincare is defnitely what appeals to me the most, and of late I've been finding myself lusting after so many amazing products that I just have to get them out of my system and share them with you. Yes, I know I said on Saturday that I wasn't hankering after much, but that was because all of these fantastic-sounding creations have already featured on a wishlist of mine somewhere along the way, but I have never got them all together  and showcased them like this.
What I love about skincare, and what I think it holds over makeup, is that as long as you use products containing good, natural ingredients that will feed and nourish your skin, you are essentially doing yourself a great service by doing so. Your skin will visibly thank you when you provide it with the moisture it needs, or when you give it a good buffing to reveal a new, radiant you. If you are a regular reader then you'll know that organic, natural and naturally derived skincare are what really float my boat, and this little collection is comprised of precisely that. All of these products contain some wonderful natural ingredients, from fruit enzymes and  manuka honey  to essential oils, and while they might not all fit into the organic category, I know that they have some very positive benefits to offer my skin.
You may have noticed that there is quite a selection of products here from Antipodes skincare. This is a brand I have been itching to try for many months now, a lust which began with the Juliet cleanser and grew from there. This is a brand which boasts a wide range of certified organic products (100% natural ingredients, 70-95% of which must be certified organic), and those which are not quite on this level still come pretty close. I can't wait to try the Aura Manuka Honey Mask, Grapeseed Butter Cleanser, Organic Avocado Oil & Rosehip Divine Face Oil, and the Avocado Pear Nourishing Night Cream. Avocado oil offers superior restorative qualities, boosting collagen production, while manuka honey soothes and moisturises the skin. These products sound almost good enough to eat, don't they?
Suti is a brand I have already fallen in love with, their Peppermint Water Organic Facial Toner being a staple in my daily skincare routine. I can't wait to try more from them, and the Rejuvenate Face Oil is up there at the top of my list. Packed with Evening Primrose Oil, Sandalwood and Frankincense to heal, repair and promote skin cell growth, this also boasts a wonderful blend of zesty tangerine and Neroli to help alleviate stress. I love a good, relaxing facial treat, and something else which falls into this category is the Elemental Herbology Moisture Replenish Starter Kit. This little set of goodies is comprised of a nourishing facial cleansing balm and moisturiser, as well as a weekly mask and exfoliator to restore optimum hydration and nourish the skin to within an inch of its life. Ingredients include botanics, apple serum, papaya and orange peel.
Also on my list are the Ren Resurfacing AHA concentrate (something I've put off trying for a while now despite my love for the brand, as I just wasn't sure it was something I needed), Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate (containing a blend of 100% pure plant oils to soften and rebalance the skin overnight) and the Eve Lom Morning Time Cleanser
Last but not least come two cult products. First up is the Nuxe Reve de Miel Lip Balm, fast becoming a cult product and full to bursting with delicious ingredients like honey, shea butter and grapefruit essence. Never have I ever found a  balm that has made the slightest bit of difference to the condition of my lips, but I have really high hopes for this one after all I've heard. And then, of course, there's the Emma Hardie Natural Lift Moringa Cleansing Balm. I think that by now it's reputation definitely precedes it!

I hope you enjoyed having a delve into the depths of my virtual skincare shopping bag. If you would like to find out more about anything then I have linked all of the products underneath the image at the top.
Have you tried any of these?
What's top of your list at the moment?


Monday, January 7, 2013

Products That Didn't Float My Boat #1: Organix Moroccan Argan Oil Intense Moisturising Treatment

When I first had my hair ombred, as I'm sure you've heard me mention before by now, the ends became really dry, brittle and unruly. When I went on a bit of a haircare spree, this was one of the products I popped into my bag in the hope that it would restore the lustre to my wayward locks, leaving me with a silky, smooth, hydrated mane.
Sadly, it wasn't to be. The first time I used this mask, I excused it's performance, explaining it away with the fact that my hair was in such terrible condition that it had a mammoth job to do, and that it couldn't possible repair the damage all in one go. So, I decided to give it a second chance.

A little bit about the product before I go into my experiences.
Containing Argan oil, which is present in many a best-selling hair product at the moment, this mask aims to 'penetrate the hair shaft, restoring shine and softness, while strengthening and creating soft, seductive, silky perfection', as proclaimed on the packaging.

Now, I hate to be so negative, but for me, the most important thing when writing a review is to be honest. I don't wish to denounce Organix as a brand, and I actually enjoy using their Nourishing Coconut Milk leave-in conditioner on a daily basis (review coming up shortly). But this mask really didn't do anything for me, and sadly, it left my hair in a sorrier state than it had been beforehand. My hair felt coarse and dry, but the real killer was that it left my hair in a huge matted mess. I had never seen my hair in such a condition before, and it took me a good couple of hours to untangle the mess, even having to cut bits out where it was beyond help. I actually saw a similar such review of this product on Makeupalley, and I remember thinking at the time how ridiculously negative and dramatic some people could be. It's only having used it that I am able to understand where they were coming from.
 However, as with all products, what doesn't work for one person sometimes proves to be an absolute gem for another, and vice versa, and I did see plenty of positive reviews on this, too. I'm really not sure why my hair didn't get along with it, so I'd love to know if any of you have tried it, and if so what your thoughts were. I'd be really interested to hear if you've had a positive experience with it.

Final rating:   I feel bad, but given my experience I really couldn't give this one many points. I do like the packaging and branding though, so for that this scores a 2/10.

Hope you're all having a great start to the week.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Top Six Winter Lip Products

You may have seen me talking about my top six Winter products in this Youtube video, but as is often the case, I thought I would do a write-up on them for you as well, as I know that videos are not for everyone. Perhaps you don't have the time to watch them, or perhaps you catch up with blog posts on the go and don't have a chance. Or maybe they just aren't your thing. But as blogging has always been my primary means of sharing the products I love (and those I don't!) with you, I thought it would be nice to have a bit of a ramble about them on here, and perhaps say some more sensible things than when I am under the pressure of the webcam! Ha.

Now personally, I love a good, bright lip, so I have been like a moth to a flame when it comes to all the beautiful berries and reds floating around the beauty world this Winter. But equally, I have been enjoying a couple of more pared-down shades for those days where I just want something low maintenance, that I won't have to worry about smudging or fading awkwardly throughout the day in the same way that I would with something bolder (scroll down for more pictures and swatches).
In terms of those brights, my favourite of all has probably been my Mac Lip Pencil in Cherry (review here). I originally bought this with the intent of wearing it underneath a red lipstick, but found that it gave such a beautifully precise, matte lip on it's own that I soon took to going solo. It has a highly pigmented formula and glides on with ease, so there is no dragging or pulling, and it does last pretty well (although as I've mentioned before, nothing stays put for long on my lips).
I've also found myself digging out two Revlon Lip Butters which had been in hibernation for the past couple of months. Cherry Tart is a bright red shade, but the formula is really sheer and moisturising, so you can go for a more subtle look as well as layering it up if you fancy going a bit bolder. Raspberry Pie is a gorgeous vibrant berry shade, and is more pigmented than any of the others I've tried, so it does require a little bit more care and attention on application. Both leave my lips with a slight glossy sheen, and though they don't last long I find them fairly easy to reapply throughout the day, even in a hurry.
I couldn't bring myself to leave all my fuchsias behind in the warmer months, so I have been contnuing to turn to my L'oreal Color Riche Serum in Radiant Rose. Again, this is a fairly moisturising formula, and is fairly pigmented so only requires one coat. I love bright pinks, and this one is a really pretty, wearable shade. It also contains hyaluronic acid, which helps to plump up the lips, and it applies really evenly. I did post about this a fair old while back, so if you fancy having a little look at that then you can find it here.

In the Winter, I don't find there are thatmany nude lipsticks that flatter my skintone, so instead I prefer to go for slightly more muted versions of my favourite brights. My newest favourite in that category is Mac Amplified Creme Lipstick in Craving, described by Mac themselves as 'a burst of plum', but to me more of a dusky, plummy pink. This has become my daily go-to lipstick, as it's such a pretty, wearable shade, and suits me whether I am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed or wanting to hide away.
Last but not least comes my beloved Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Honey. If you watched my video on my Top Ten Hero Products of 2012 (here), or read my Best of 2012 posts (here), you will know how much I have enjoyed using this product, in various shades, and Honey is just the best 'my lips but better' shade I have ever come across. These chunky little crayons are just so convenient for slinging in my handbag and reapplying on the go, and don't even require a mirror. This is such a natural shade and is just what I need for those days where I don't really feel up to anything more high maintenance but still want to look fairly polished and give my lips a wash of healthy colour.

(L-R: L'oreal Color Riche Serum in Radiant Rose, Revlon Lip Butters in Raspberry Pie and Cherry Tart, Mac Lipstick in Craving, Revlon JBK Balm Stain in Honey, Mac Lip Pencil in Cherry).

So there you have it - those are the lip products that I haven't been able to leave home without over the past couple of months. Have you tried any of these? If not, what are your favourite Winter Lip products (aside from lip balms)?


Weekend Wishlist

Christmas has been and gone, and the January sales are still going strong, but with all the shopping and Christmas list-writing that's filled my time over the past few months - and I never thought I'd say this - I'm pretty much all wishlisted out. So over-zealous was I through the months of November and December that I am almost completely sure that everything I am currently lusting after has been covered and covered again, and for the first time, I actually struggled to put today's post together. It's not that I got everything on those lists, either. I just find that popping them in a blog post and obsessing over them for a while helps me to get over them - well, some of the time. But of course, as ever, there are a couple of items I have been reading up on and am now keen to try, and a couple more that caught my eye during an online browsing session. Note, I was only browsing in the first place for the good of this post, and it's apparent that I'm feeling uncharacteristically restrained from the rather sparse-looking collage above.
The only thing that's  really tempting me at the moment are the Enrapture Encode Totem Styler. I used to curl my hair every day, and have always preferred my bonce with a nice bit of bounce. I have been through styler after styler, and have never really found one that could create the desired effect, so when my ancient curling tongs ceased to function last year, I was unsure what to replace them with. Upon further investigation, I discovered that the sort of thing I was looking for would set me back rather a tidy sum, which is why you have been seeing me with straight hair in most of my videos and blog posts! I have had my heart set on this one for months, but somehow managed to suffer a mental block around Christmas time and failed to drop Santa any hints. With it being January, it's not likely that I'll be forking out £75 for this any time soon, but the more I see and hear about it, the more I find myself itching to get my hands on it!
I am also keen to try some Elemis skincare, and love the sound of this Herbal Lavender Repair Mask.  As well as lavender, it contains natural antiseptics rosemary and thyme to synergistically rebalance and purify the skin,  and sounds like the perfect weekly detox mask to use alongside my all-time favourite, Origins Clear Improvement.
And of course, no wishlist would be complete without some clothing and accessories thrown into the mix. This gorgeous studded bag from Accessorize is the perfect size for work, and it looks pretty damn good too. Add to that a cutwork shirt and some paisley print shorts and I'd have the perfect combination - I'm not sure  if I'd wear the waist belt with this outfit or with something else, but either way it doesn't matter because none of it is really going to be coming home with me. Last but not least, I couldn't cast aside these gorgeous fringed ombre hotpants, which just scream festival season and send me into a daydream of the upcoming season.
Hope you're all enjoying your Saturday and have had a good start to the new year.


Friday, January 4, 2013

Video: December Favourites

Hello lovelies, what with all the excitement surrounding the end of the year, and trying to compile my favourites of 2012, I didn't quite get round to doing my December Favourites video. I tried out so many lovely new products last month, especially when it comes to makeup, and I really wanted to share with you despite us now being a few days into January, so I hope you enjoy having a little look at what I've been loving!
If you weren't already aware, I'm fairly new to Youtube, and I'm still learning when it comes to things like lighting, so please bear with me on that one. If you do like this video then why not hit the subscribe button or give me a thumbs up? I would never beg or insist that you watch my videos - that's entirely up to you -  but I always love getting a bit of feedback and reading your comments, as it's good to know what the general consensus is.
On that note, I will leave you to have a little watch if you wish, and I hope you all have a lovely weekend!


Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask

With this being my favourite face mask, and having raved about it in both my October Favourites and Current Skincare Routine videos on Youtube, as well as my Top Ten Hero Products of 2012 video, I was sure that I'd already written a rave review on here to share this little treat with you. But when asked about this mask during the bbloggers chat on Twitter this Wednesday, I went in search of the link, only to find that I'd made a huge faux pas and not given this gem the write up it deserved.
So, in light of that, I thought it was probably time to rectify the situation and share my thoughts.

A bit of background on Origins as a brand.
Their products are formulated with cerified natural and organic ingredients, as well as 100% natural essential oils, and without parabens, phthalates, mineral oils and other nasties. They also manufacture using a combination of renewable resources, wind energy and earth-friendly practices.
If you're a regular reader then you'll know that I'm a huge fan of natural and naturally derived skincare, which is one of the reasons I love this brand as much as I do.

The Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask is a detoxing mask designed to give your pores a good, deep-down clean, removing all the dirt and debris deposited by environmental pollutants that leave the skin looking less than its best. Containing the active ingredient charcoal, which acts like a magnet to draw out  pore-cloggers, this mask also packs white clay to absorb pollutants, and lecithin, which will help to dissolve any impurities.

Having felt quite let down by many a face mask in the past, repeatedly feeling that they hadn't lived up to their claims, I was keen to give this one a go and see if it could impress.

Well, it certainly did that.

The product itself is thick in consistency, and comes in a transparent plastic tube, making it easy to squeeze out the amount you want. It is unscented, meaning it smells like most clay masks - in my opinion, not the most pleasant of aromas, but I'm glad to know that I'm putting something fairly natural on my skin as opposed to something packed full of additives.  In order to get the best results, Origins advise that you steam the skin before use, opening the pores and making them more receptive to the active ingredients. You can do this by either popping a towel over your head and standing over a bowl of boiling water, or simply by laying a hot wash cloth over your skin for a while beforehand. I must admit, I do prefer the former method, as I find that it yields far more impressive results.
Next, you pop a thick layer of the mask onto the skin, avoiding the eye area, as always. The product takes about ten minutes to dry, hardening a great deal in the process - so much so that I struggle to move my facial muscles at all with it on. Personally, I rather like that, as I feel that it's really getting to work on my skin.
To remove, soak a wash cloth in hot water and lay it over your face, allowing it to soak up the charcoal mask. This will require repeating a fair few times, but is the best way to remove the product as it will have left your skin feeling quite sensitive, meaning scrubbing it off is not advisable. I do usually use a clean cloth to remove any remaining residue in the end, before popping on some toner and moisturiser to finish.

The results of this mask are quite incredible compared to anything else I've used, leaving pores I didn't even know were blocked suddenly looking clean as a whistle. I love the look and feel of soft, smooth, purified skin it leaves me with, and it has fast become a weekly staple in my skincare routine, helping  to keep any nasty toxins at bay and avoid blemishes and breakouts. Any excess oil is absorbed, and pores appear toned
The one thing this couldn't do for me was completely clear the stubborn blocked pores on my nose, which have been lurking around since time began, but is does make them vastly easier to remove manually (sorry, I know it's not the most pleasant of thoughts!). I usually do this after removing the mask, and before toning.

In all, this is a fabulous mask, and one I will buy again and again. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to give their skin a really good detox, or who is tired of disappointing clarifying masks.

Final rating:  9/10 


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Beauty Resolutions for 2013

Hello lovelies, how are you all? I hope you all had the most fantastic New Year's Eve, and that you're all as excited for the new year ahead as I am. This year, I've decided that alongside the standard resolutions I normally make, I'm going to try to keep to some beauty ones too. 
So, without further ado, they are:

1. Keep up the good work with my hair. I had neglected it for too long, assuming it was destined to be a little bit dull and dry on the ends forever, but after having it ombred I was forced to start taking better care of it. It  took a while, but I'm finally starting to see results, so I really want to keep up the decent haircare regime, which now consists not only of shampoo and conditioner, but also oils, leave-in conditioner, heat protection spray and anti-snap treatment on a regular basis.

2. I've already started on this one, but I want to be more adventurous with my eye makeup. I used to wear eyeshadow in the past, but haven't done for a couple of years unless I'm going out. However, lately I've been eager to create some nice neutral looks for day-time, and while it's never really been my forte, I am now armed with some great makeup brushes and a new neutrals palette (MUA Undressed), so there are new excuses.

3. I'm going to abandon my quest for the perfect under-eye cream. Why? Because I think I've been expecting too much. Nothing is going to completely get rid of dark circles, puffiness and fine lines, and it's time I just swallowed it and ended the vicious circle of spending money on things which will ultimately disappoint.

4. Start looking after my hands. I never use hand cream, because I've always assumed they picked up enough moisture from applying other types of moisturising products. Now it's time to invest in a proper hand cream and a good cuticle oil. If any of you can recommend me any good hand and nail care products then please do let me know in the comments below - I always love to try out your suggestions.

5. Try out a face oil. I suppose this is more an excuse to buy more skincare really! You know I love it.  But this is something I keep meaning to give a go, and haven't got round to yet, and I'm intrigued to see what it might have to offer me.

Have you made any beauty resolutions this year?

Please leave a comment, I read every last word and love hearing your views! It really brightens up my day.

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