Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Weekly Roundup

Well, it's been a while since I've done one of these! Not so much  weekly round-up, you might say, as this week's photos cover at least the last month.

Life has been sunnier of late, with the weather brightening up, seeing more of friends and family, getting fit and eating well.
 I've been going to bootcamp a couple of times week with my best friend, which we're both really enjoying doing out in the sunshine, and I've also been making time for things like yoga and Body Balance to keep things that little bit more Zen. I'm  bit of a worrier at heart, so I really have to make time in my life for relaxation and make the effort to stick to it.

We've also managed to have the first of the year's barbecues, with two in a row last weekend. The first was round at my friend's house, and it was great to get everyone together for a catch-up and a cheeky cider or two, The second was put on by my parents, who had just returned from a Caribbean holiday and were wanting to hold onto the last moments before going back to work.

Other than that, it's been very much about working, Sunday carveries and trying out lots of lovely new products. I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of the recent Space NK goodie bags, so it's going to take me while to work through that little lot! I've already discovered a fair few gems though, so keep an eye out for those.

This week, I got tickets to see both Kasabian and the Pixies over the next few months, so really looking forward to both of those! It's been a while since I last saw some decent live music, and I can't wait to go along and have a dance.

 As for today, we were meant to be going to a music festival, but it's been overcast and raining up until now, so after dropping a certain someone off at work, I treated myself to breakfast before heading home to do a bit of blog photography and prep some posts. As I'm writing this, the sun has begun to pour through my living room window, and the clouds have passed to reveal a beautiful blue sky, so I think it's time to get my wellies on and head on down to the event. It's actually a weekender, but we've only got tickets today, and the good stuff won't be kicking off for another hour or so.

Bit of a short one today, I'm afraid, but watch this space for plenty of posts coming up over the next week. They are all scheduled and ready to go, which is a situation I haven't had time to get myself into for some while - it feels pretty good, I tell thee.

Hope everyone has a lovely bank holiday weekend - fingers crossed this isn't the last we'll see of the sun!


Friday, May 23, 2014

The Weekly Selection

Hi everyone, hope you've all had a fabulous weekend and have been enjoying all this sunshine we've been having. I definitely have, squeezing two barbecues, a boat trip and plenty of sunbathing into the past couple of days, and I'll be posting some photos shortly. For now,  it's that time of the week again, so here are my weekly favourites.

I love a good facial spritz at the best of times, but in the summer months, all the more so, and I find myself readily spraying away at every given opportunity. The Body Shop Vitamin C Face Spritz is my number one wake-me-up weapon at the moment, with a zingy citrus scent to refresh and invigorate. It gives my skin a boost, but it also targets my senses - definitely an added bonus, and an all-round winner.

I love a nice radiance-boosting mask in the springtime, and I really feel that my skin benefits from a bi-weekly boost in the form of the Apivita Face Mask with Pomegranate, which I reviewed earlier this week. It's one of those unexpected winners, where it doesn't seem to be anything special, but on giving it a try it is pleasantly surprising. If you're interested in knowing more, then I'll let you go and read my post on it.

Also on my hit list this week have been two absolute treats from Benefit. If  I remember rightly, the They're Real Mascara featured in my last favourites post - but hey, I'm breaking all the rules, and it's in here again. Personally, I see now problem with repeat appearances in these sorts of things, as it only serves to prove that they really are well loved. I'd rather that than choose something I wasn't all that enthralled with just to fill the space - that wouldn't be honest, and it wouldn't get any of us anywhere.
Anyway, as I would have mentioned previously, this is a mascara I was reluctant to try - or should I say, buy -  as I wasn't willing to believe that any mascara could warrant an £18-odd price tag. However, I was forced to eat my words on receiving this as part of a birthday present, because actually it is pretty wonderful, and I'm keeping a tight hold.

Last up is Benefit Gimme Brow - another item included in my Benefit birthday bundle of goodies. I love brow products, and never go a day without reaching for a gel, powder or wax to give mine some sort of shape. Thanks to the dreaded over-plucking as a teenager (thanks, sis), they are now a bit on the..well, wonky side, so although they are fairly thick and full, they can always do with a bit of extra help.
Gimme Brow is a two in one product, as it serves as a setting gel but is also tinted. I use this to shape and fill my brows all in one go, but I do still reach for a powder to fill in the tails as I find it easier to get a precise finish.

Those are my lot for this week, but already I can feel some more products making their way up in my mental favourites list, so expect lots of enthusiasm over the next few weeks!

What have been your favourite products lately?


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Review: Apivita Face Mask with Pomegranate

                                                       Apivita Face Mask with Pomegranate
Face masks are undoubtedly one of my favourite little indulgences. There's nothing quite like kicking back on a Sunday evening for a good old relax, and whether my skin is feeling dry, dehydrated, oily or dull, there's usually something on hand that can help.
One of my most recent finds is the Apivita Face Mask with Pomegranate, which aims to rejuvenate the skin, replenishing radiance, as well as offering powerful anti-oxidant protection and a decent hit of moisture.
With 89% natural ingredients, including a green tea infusion to enhance the mask's anti-oxidant action, it was always going to go down well with me. It's  creamy and  lotion-like in consistency - not as thick as you would probably expect a mask to be. With a subtle fruity fragrance, it's pleasant to use, and is applied generously before being left for ten minutes.
I must admit, I was rather surprised by the results after using this product for the first time. Something about fairly liquid masks that don't dry tends to make me assume that they can't be all that powerful, but in this case, I was proved pleasantly wrong. The mask left my skin looking fresh and clean, with a genuinely radiant glow.
I now use the mask a couple of times a week - generally when I'm looking a bit dull or dehydrated - and it does a great job of pepping things up and giving me a bit of a pick-me-up.
This was my first foray into the world of Apivita, and I'll definitely be back for more.
The Apivita Face Mask with Pomegranate is available at £13 from Marks & Spencer.

Have you tried anything else from Apivita? If so, what would you recommend?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Weekly Selection

Some weeks, I struggle to find a brand new selection of products that have made their way into my daily routine, as often I find that I am using the same things, bar one or two. But others, I have an absolute plethora of goodies I can't wait to share, and it depends largely on how much I've been beauty shopping of late, or in this case, whether I've recently had a birthday! This year, I was lucky enough to receive lots of beauty-related gifts in honour of the big day - a huge bundle of Benefit treats from the hubby, some long-coveted Space NK products from my mum, and a cheeky couple of items I treated myself to with some money I was kindly gifted by my grandfather.

This is one of those weeks where I feel genuinely excited about all of the products I've selected for this post, and I'm sure it's not difficult to see why.

I recently found myself in need of a new foundation, and during my birthday shopping trip I happened upon a Laura Mercier counter. The Silk Creme foundation (£34) has been on my to-try list since the year dot, but with there being a severe lack of counters in my city I've always had to keep it on the backburner until the opportunity arose. Yes, I know I could have bought it online, but when it comes to foundations I'm simply not willing to take the risk and play a guessing game with the shades. So, this time, I made a beeline for the lovely lady on the counter and she was happy to match me up. I went for the shade Beige Ivory, which turned out to be absolutely perfect ( none of the usual scenario where it looks great in store, but horrifically orange / Casper white once you get out into natural light). This foundation leaves me looking flawless and glowing with health, and is everything I had hoped it would be. Well worth the wait, I'd say, and I'm really pleased with my purchase.

The Benefit They're Real mascara (£19.50) is another product I had long put off trying, albeit for different reasons. I simply couldn't bring myself to fork out so much money for a mascara, especially when I was perfectly happy with my L'oreal Volume Million Lashes at half the price.  But when I cracked open a vintage tin packed with Benefit goodies on my birthday, I was more than happy to find this inside. Nevertheless, I wasn't convinced it would live up to the hype, and I must admit, I was wrong. This lengthens, separates and volumises all in one go, and never before have I tried a mascara that so fantastically defines my lower lashes. Suffice to say, I'm an absolute convert, and I'm dreading the day I reach the end of my tube as I know I'll be opening my purse.

Next are two products I had been dying to get my hands on for an absolute age, but every time I ventured onto the Space NK website I'd leave feeling sorry for myself, unable to bring myself to part with so many pennies for what is essentially a facial powder and a liquid lipstick. Luckily, birthdays are the perfect opportunity to be treated, and when someone else is kind enough to do so then it's only the excitement left to deal with.

The By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Powder (£42) has been the ultimate dream, but at over £40 for the pot, it's not a decision to be taken lightly when there are so many other powders on the market. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this one earned me all the compliments I had imagined it might - not because I am fabulous, but because the product itself makes my skin look glowing and flawless. I dust this on over the top of my makeup for nights out, and it really finishes the look, leaving me feeling polished and ready to go.

Last up, it's the Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick (£23), in the vibrant shade Riviera. A bright and punchy, very orange toned red, you apply with the doe foot applicator and leave to dry for a few seconds. This one stays put really well compared to some liquid lipsticks I've tried - Rimmel Apocalips, anyone?( I have, however, recently come across one with even more impressive staying power, which I'll be blogging about soon.) Riviera is an absolutely stunning shade and is perfect for summer. It doesn't leave my lips feeling dry or hydrated, and adds a gorgeous statement to the most pared down of makeup looks.

So all in all, a fabulous week of products. I absolutely adore all four of these, and they are bound to remain staples for a long time. 

Which products have you been loving this week? Have you splashed out on any real treats, and if so, did they live up to the hype?


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Review: Raw Gaia Skincare

I've talked at length in the past about how much I believe in using good quality skincare with lots of natural, nutritious ingredients, and nothing has changed much on that score. That isn't to say that I go 100% natural 100% of the time. But where possible, I do like to go for organic and natural products in order to really nourish my skin, without bombarding it with harsh chemicals and the like.

Recently, I stumbled across Raw Gaia, and couldn't wait to treat myself to an evening pamper with their 
Raw Chocolate Face Pack* and Cold Pressed Organic Rosehip Oil*. The products are raw, vegan, cruelty free and fair trade, and made up of 100% natural ingredients.

The Raw Chocolate Face Pack smells absolutely divine, and if I didn't know any better I'd believe I was smothering my face in nothing but chocolatey goodness. Actually, the product is packed with lots of other lovely, natural skin treats, including red clay, turmeric and Amla fruit powder.  Red clay is a powerhouse of iron oxides, brightening skin and renewing cells. Turmeric is probably something you've got in your kitchen cupboard, and is packed with anti oxidants to fend off aging free radicals and even out skin tone. Amla - also known as Indian gooseberry - also offers a whole host of benefits, from clearer skin to a brighter complexion. It all sounded pretty good to me, and I knew I would enjoy putting it to the test.

The mask comes in powder form, and to use, must be mixed with warm water to form a paste. I popped a teaspoon into a bowl and stirred in a few drops at a time to ensure that the consistency was thick enough, before applying liberally and leaving for ten minutes. To be honest, it can be quite a messy process, so it's important to make sure you've got the right tools to hand rather that hashing together a mixture in the lid, which I must admit, is what I did the first time! The face pack quickly dries to a reddish-brown mask, and though you can definitely tell it's there, it doesn't feel heavy or prevent you from moving your facial muscles, as some do!

After rinsing with warm water and patting skin dry with a towel, skin feels soft, nourished and comfortable.


Like the face pack, the Cold Pressed Rosehip Oil comes in frosted glass packaging , and this time, it's a bottle. Personally, I would have preferred a pipette applicator in order to make it easier to dispense the right amount, as in its absence there is a risk of spilling excess product, which would inevitably go to waste.

Rosehip oil is a fantastic source of vitamins, anti-oxidants and essential fatty acids that play a vital role in the regeneration and health of skin cells. With the ability to actively reverse damage caused by sun exposure and environmental stress, it's something I've been meaning to try for some while now, as if you've been following my posts for some while then you'll know that I went through months of skin issues last year. I've always been really lucky in that department, with barely a spot to contend with even as a teenager. But last year, out of nowhere, I started suffering from quite bad breakouts, which lasted for some months, and although my skin is now back to normal, I can still see a few little marks that have been left behind when I haven't got any makeup on.

A couple of drops of this patted into the skin sink in easily without leaving a greasy, and leaves skin feeling super soft in the morning. I'll be reporting back on this one further down the line, as I am going to be keeping an eye on how well it works in terms of skintone. But as yet, I'm really enjoying using both the products and would definitely recommend Raw Gaia to anyone who is into natural skincare - and especially those of you who are trying to cut chemical nasties from your routines.

Do you use much natural skincare? If so, I'd love to know your favourite products, as I'm always on the lookout for new things to try.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mini Review: Nature's Extracts Indulgent Fig and Orange Oil Bath & Body Range

                         Nature's Extracts Indulgent Fig & Orange Oil Bath & Body Range                               

I present to you, the most incredible smelling bath and body range I have stumbled across in quite some while. And by quite some while, I might possibly mean ever.

I happened upon the Nature's Extracts Indulgent Fig & Orange Oil collection when hunting for tree presents in  the Marks & Spencer beauty section back at Christmas time, and couldn't resist sneaking a few of them into my shopping basket along with the gifts I'd chosen for everybody else. The fragrance is really  juicy, with just the right balance of zinginess and sweetness, and the products themselves are wonderful too.
The handcream is a snip at just £1, and I always keep one in my handbag or on my desk at work for a bit of a pick-me-up whenever my hands are feeling dry or tired. I must admit, I often pop some on just for the sake of it, as I enjoy the fragrance that much.
The Moisturising Body Butter is thick and luxurious, a dense cream that leaves the skin feeling soft as can be. An absolute dream to apply after my daily shower, and just the right scent for spring.
The only slight qualm I have is with the Shower Gel - but not because there's anything wrong with it. Personally, I much prefer shower creams to gels, as I find that they leave my skin feeling more comfortable after use, so I'd like to have this option in the range. However, the gel smells equally as incredible as the other products and combining the three is an absolute joy. 

All the Nature's Extract products are extremely purse friendly - ranging from £1 - £2.50, with the exception of the Body Butter, which comes in at £5. There are also a selection of other fragrances to choose from if fig and orange aren't your cup of tea - try Peach & Almond, Lemon Verbena, Coconut and Aloe Vera, to name but a few.

Have you tried the Nature's Extract range before? If so, what is your favourite find?


Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Sunday Pamper Session

Sundays are a day for relaxing, recharging, and most importantly, a bit of pampering to get you ready for the coming week.
If you'll excuse the quality of this photo (I'm currently camera-less and having to make do with my Ipad), this week I'm sharing all of the products I'm using to treat myself a little bit.

We recently moved house, and when we arrived, there was a problem with the water pressure that meant filling the bath was impossible. Thankfully, that has just been rectified, so tonight is bubble bath night!
I pop the taps on, and let the hot water fill up about halfway before adding a dash of Radox Stress Relief Bubble Bath. This stuff is seriously bubbly, and with the calming fragrance of rosemary and eucalyptus, it's perfect for a pre-bedtime bath.

While the bath is running, I usually apply a dollop of Charles Worthington Intense Rescue Melting Balm to dry hair, leaving it to work its magic for around twenty minutes. It's quite thick and waxy in consistency, but when rubbed between the palms it becomes more of an oil. It's great for dry or damaged hair, as it's highly nourishing, leaving locks soft and shiny. You do need to take extra care when rinsing it out though, as not doing it properly will result in a bit of an unsightly oil slick. I rinse mine with my Aussie Aussome Volume Shampoo, and I'm ready to go.

Once in the bath, I apply Bumble & Bumble Quenching Masque to my hair, and pin it up out of the way. It's a thick, creamy conditioner which really adds life to hair, replenishing any lost moisture and making hair all the more manageable.  I wouldn't usually go for two hair treatments, but as this is a weekly treat, I like to go the whole hog and keep all bases covered.

Tonight, I'm trying out the Raw Gaia Raw Chocolate Face Pack*, a lovely, 100% natural mask made from (you've guessed it) raw organic chocolate, red clay and turmeric, as well as some other skin-friendly goodies. It comes in powder form, so before my bath I mixed a teaspoon with warm water in a bowl to form a thick paste. Now it's time to spread it on to ready-cleansed skin - it dries quite quickly, and absolutely smells good enough to eat. It's a great choice for detoxing the skin, leaving it soft and comfortable, and over time it also offers healing benefits such as the evening out of skin tone.
I leave it for ten minutes, then wash off, also rinsing the conditioning mask out of my hair.

I'm going for a double whammy this evening, so next up it's time to pop on a radiance mask. I've gone for the Apivita Pomegranate Face Mask. Once again, I pop some on and relax for ten minutes while it gets to work.

I'm not one for reading in the bath, as much as I'd love to, I always end up getting the pages wet. I wouldn't dare read anything on my Ipad either, for fear of dropping it, so instead, I pop it onto a stand and catch up on some of my favourite Youtube channels while I enjoy my soak. 

Time to rinse off my face mask once again, and once that's done, I'm generally ready to get out. I'm a bit of a fidget, and can't stay put for too long, so off I go, slathering on some Elemis Skin Nourishing Milk Bath* as I go. I've spoken about this one before - I like to use bubbles and bath bombs when actually in the tub, which doesn't leave an awful lot of room for milks. But luckily, this one doubles up as an absolutely mind-blowing moisturiser, so I always pop some on for insanely soft skin whenever I have a bath.

At this point, I wrap my hair in a towel and get into some warm, cosy pyjamas, and mix a couple of drops of Raw Gaia Cold Pressed Rosehip Oil* with some of  the Body Shop's Vitamin E Overnight Serum-in-Oil and press into the skin. These are both really, really nourishing, and my skin feels incredible the following morning. Rosehip oil is great for fading any old scarring, and the Vitamin E leaves skin feeling plump with health.

That's pretty much it - now, I might sit on the sofa for a while under a cosy blanket, grab a cup of chamomile and catch up on my Bloglovin' feed, or go on Twitter for a while until it's time for bed! Not very rock and roll, I know, but on a Sunday night, it's exactly what I need.

Do you have a pamper session on a Sunday evening?
If so, which products do you usually go for?


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Instagramming Paris

A couple of weeks ago, we went and spent a long weekend in Paris. 
Thought I had been to France several times before, I had never visited Paris, so needless to say I was pretty excited about the whole thing.

One of the things I really love about living where we do is that it's such a short hop to various places in Europe, this one being one of the closest. We arrived on a wednesday afternoon, and as we weren't exactly sure of our bearings or how best to get to our hotel we took a bus to L'Arc de Triomph, choosing to go the rest of the way on foot. It ended up being considerably further than it looked on the map, and needless to say, my platform boots turned out not to have been the best choice for walking around. But luckily, it was warm and sunny, so we enjoyed the stroll and taking in the local vibe as we made our way there. We must have been looking lost at a couple of points, because friendly locals went out of their way to stop and help us, doing their best to point us in the right direction. 
When we finally found the hotel, which was in Wagram, close to Montmartre, we dropped off our suitcase, did a quick change and then headed out to have a glass of wine outside one of the traditionally styled "bistrots" we had seen along the way.

We spent the remainder of the afternoon wandering around and stopping off for a drink here and there, before once again popping back to the hotel to get ready for the evening. 
We got the tube to Montmartre and made the steep climb to the top of the hill to see the breathtaking Sacre Coeur (as seen in the third photo). It was an exhausting climb, and by the mid-point we were both exhausted and gasping for a drink. Luckily for us, there happened to be an Irish pub halfway up, so we stopped off for a while to warm up before braving the remaining steps.
The Sacre Coeur itself was stunning, inside as well as out. Sadly, we weren't able to take any photos while in there, but suffice to say, it was well worth the climb. The view from the top is fantastic too - you can see right across the city.

On the way back down again, it soon became apparent that I had a bit of a problem, as my knee gave way and refused to help me to the bottom! I must have done it in going up there in the first place, but by the time we got back down we were both in a world of pain (I think helping me resulted in a bit of an injury for him, too!). After a bit of a run in with some guys selling friendship bracelets at the bottom (let's just say they were extremely persistent, deliberately separated us and then got aggressive when we didn't want to buy their creations - quite scary, actually!), we hobbled to the tube and headed back to Wagram. We had been intending to stay for longer, but after all that had happened we were exhausted and ready to chill. We found a busy little bistro close to where we were staying, and as we were starving, decided to treat ourselves to dinner and wine. I had a salmon risotto, while he went for the classic steak with peppercorn sauce, all washed down with a bottlle of Chardonnay. It's funny how close people sit at these sorts of places, endless glasses of wine and constant cigarettes in hand. 

After our wine, we decided to call it a night and get in a good night's sleep before the real sight seeing began the next day - but I'll save that one for another post.

The photos I'm posting here were just a few of my favourite  Instagrams from the trip, and actually, none of them were from the first day - I haven't had a chance to get the ones from my camera all edited and uploaded yet, but I'll be sharing some over the next week or so along with posts on days 2, 3 and 4.

Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend so far.

Have you been to Paris? If so, what were your favourite bits?


Friday, May 2, 2014

The Weekly Selection

This one has been sitting in my drafts since the last time I blogged, and I thought I had might as well let it see the light of day, in spite of being a couple of weeks old. The only reason it wasn't posted earlier was because, as you may have noticed, I haven't posted everything. We've been on the move again, and unfortunately that meant that once again, I was without the luxury of internet - at least, on anything other than my phone, and personally, I find blogging solely through an iphone little short of a nightmare. The uploading of photos and the adding of links both become unnecessarily difficult, and I wanted to wait until I was all set up again, as I strongly dislike the feeling of not being able to do things properly.
Luckily, all of the products in today's post are still very much up there with my favourites - particularly the Revlon lipstick in Cherries in the Snow. I can honestly say that I have finally found my perfect shade of red - it suits me down to the ground, and has barely been off my lips since I picked it up a few weeks ago. A true cherry red, it's bright but wearable, and truly flattering. It's love.
I'm a die hard fan of Topshop's cream blushes, and with spring well and truly in the air, I've been only too happy to dig them out. Morning Dew is a new addition to my collection, and I couldn't be happier - it gives a subtle, dewy, peachy glow, and really wakes up my complexion.
I have often wished I could apply a perfect line of winged liner, and while I'm still a long way from perfecting the classic winged look, the L'oreal Blackbuster Superliner is the closest I've ever been. With a chunky felt-tip style nib, it's really easy to apply, and doesn't smudge or fade to grey like lots of similar formulations do. A definite winner for makeup on the go.
Last but not least, the Balance Me Radiance Oil* has been making something of a reappearance in my routine. A couple of drops, patted gently into the skin after my evening toner, leave me with a healthy glow come morning time, and have helped me through the seasonal transition no end.

In the background, you might have spotted my current favourite candle - Diptyque Noisetier. It's by far my favourite candle for spring. If you want to hear more of my thoughts on it then I'll be posting a review next week.

Now, time to enjoy the bank holiday weekend - my plans consist of a long hot bath (the water pressure is finally back to normal so I can actually fill the tub!) and catching up on some of my favourite blogs this evening. Tomorrow is breakfast, Body Balance and drinks with friends, and if the weather permits, a trip to the seaside on Sunday :) As for Monday, I think I'll wait and see.

Hope everyone has a lovely few days off work.

Which products have you been loving this week?

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