Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Love Me Beauty Box | August Contents

 Love Me Beauty box | £10 per month* plus p+p | website

I was 'kid-in-a-sweet-shop' levels of excited for my LoveMeBeauty box this month.  Ok - I admit I probably say this every month and I sound like a bit of a broken record but this month i really was excited. Every product on the menu was just my cup of tea and I spent quite some time choosing which menu to opt for - spoilt for choice! In the end, I was swayed by the shade of the lip-liner and the full-sized beauty oil and opted for Menu 3.  This month, LoveMeBeauty featured 4 full sized products and I'm in love with every single one of them. I always seem to find something in each box that I really do like but this month really did hit the nail on the head for me - from the choice on offer to the quality of the products inside - there's not a single thing I wouldn't use this month. Without further ado, I'll introduce you to this month's beauty goodies...

Marsk Mineral Eye Shadow in 'Lucky Penny' | £14.49
I must admit, I'm not one for loose powder shadows as I'm a clumsy little elf to say the least, but the shade won me over instantly (there was a choice of 3 and this one was the clear winner in my books!) 'Lucky Penny' lives up to its name - a beautiful, shimmery brown/copper colour which is both amazingly pigmented and easily blendable.  The product is 100% natural, mineral based and cruelty free, and can be applied wet or dry.  I haven't tried applying with a wet brush yet but applied dry, the shadow is really soft and provides instant colour pay off.

Oriflame | Swedish Spa Beauty Wonder Oil | £8.45
I love a good oil.  I swear by my beloved Shu Uemura hair oil so receiving this multi-purpose one in this month's box was a nice addition for me.  It can be used as a body moisturiser or massage oil, pre-shampoo treatment for dry hair, or even used in the bath to add a dash of moisture.  I like this one as it isn't too heavy and I can't wait to try it as a pre-shampoo treatment on the ends of my hair. I also love a good pampering sesh so I'll be keeping this on my bathroom shelf. Containing coconut oil, vitamin E, sweet almond oil and tonic ginger oil - it really is a dreamy blend!

Mirabella | Lip Luster Liner in 'Shy' | £10.50
Lip liners have become my go-to just recently.  Generally, I find them much more long-wearing and easier to carry around on the go so I was really chuffed to see this one from Mirabella in this month's box.  This shade swayed me towards Menu 3 due to it's pinky-brown hue - just the sort of colour I prefer! It's really creamy and soft to apply and doesn't drag the lips like other liners I've previously tried. It's a great option for those who like the 'my lips but better' look and it's a gorgeous every day shade that I know I will get tonnes of wear from. It's slightly more sheer so provides a natural, plumped effect and contains Aloe Vera to keep lips soft and application comfortable.  Despite its glossier finish, it's quite long-wearing and is really versatile - it can be worn on its own or as a base for further lip colour.

A la Carte | Smudge-Proof Eyebrow Definier in Blonde | £23
I tried Soap & Glorys 'Archery' pen a while back and loved it so I was really happy to see this product this month - it's rekindled my love for an eyebrow felt tip! It's seriously easy to apply and the flexible, precision tip means it's a complete doddle to mimic hairs and add natural looking volume to your brows.  Personally, I really like the shade - it's a little too light for me however it acts as a really nice base - I've been using it to fill in my brows first and then I'll pop some darker powder towards the arch to give that 'faded' effect. It's incredibly long lasting and I've really been enjoying it of a morning. I really want to see how long it actually lasts before it dries up though - that will be the big test for me and I shall reserve proper judgement until then!

Swatches L-R: Marsk 'Lucky Penny' / Ala Carte Brow Definer 'Blonde' / Mirabella 'Shy'

Overall, a fabulous selection from LoveMeBeauty this month - one of my favourites to date. There's nothing in there that I wouldn't use and I've really been enjoying using every single one of them. The products in the August box total £56.44 altogether - seriously impressive considering the price of the box is £10 per month plus p+p. You can read up more about the concept and find out more about LoveMeBeauty over on their website here.

Which product was your favourite this month?

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Mac 'Show Orchid' Lipstick

You know those products you have on your wish list for yonks yet never get round to actually purchasing? Mac's 'Show Orchid' is one of those products for me. It's been a long time coming.  When I first discovered the joys of Mac around 4 or 5 years ago (a pivotal moment in a beauty obsessive's life I'm sure you'll all agree), I spied this bright, fuschia beauty on the interwebs and fell head over heels in love. Instantly. No swatch required. Just the description and the stock photo was enough for me to know I simply had to have it in my life. So when I found out that it was 'Pro' product, and therefore rather difficult to get your mitts on, I put it to the back of my mind and resigned myself to finding a decent high street dupe.  Skip forward a few years - Mac have very kindly made their Pro products much easier to purchase and my ever so lovely best buddy decided to treat me to it for my 24th birthday. What a good egg she is. 

'Show Orchid' is a eye-poppingly bright blue-toned pink with a hint of a glimmer and a gorgeous amplified finish. Everything your fuschia-lipstick dreams are made of! It's not for the faint hearted as it really is quite a statement pink to wear, but it looks absolutely amazing on.  The blue undertones make your tegs look a shade or two whiter and the amplified, slightly glossy finish gives your lips that 'plump' look in an instant.  Not only this, but if you're still boasting the remains of a summer holiday tan it does a fantastic job of emphasising it - it's definitely one to pick up if you're jetting away somewhere sunny.  I don't actually wear a lot of bright pinks now that I'm slightly older - I find muted browns, plums and classic reds suit me much better but 'Show Orchid' is a little nod to my younger self - who doesn't love a slick of barbie pink now and again?! It's fun, it's quirky and it's a perfect summery statement shade that I'm sure I will get tonnes of use out of (despite the fact that autumn is quickly creeping around the corner...)  It's one of those colours that instantly brightens your complexion and brings focus to your face. Needless to say, my love for it is still going strong even after all these years of lusting  - they say you never forget your first love right? (I'm guessing the same is true for Mac lipsticks...) I've never quite forgotten about it and I'm so chuffed to finally own it - #TrueLove right there! I feel as if my Mac lipstick collection is somewhat complete now that I have this beauty sitting in my drawer. I mean, just look at it... Look at itttttt.

Muchos gracias to my lovely friend for treating me to one of my most coveted products ever. You're a good'un, bird! I just need to book another holiday as an excuse to get some proper wear out of it now that summer is coming to a close (any excuse to jet away!) Also, before I tottle off, I thought I'd mention that I'm planning on compiling an updated Mac lipstick collection post now that I feel as if it's complete (saying this, can you ever have too many Mac lipsticks? I doubt it...) - keep your eyes peeled! Mac's 'Show Orchid' retails for £15.50 and is available on the Mac website here.

Do you own any of the Mac pro shades? Which one is your fave? Can you remember the first Mac lipstick you ever fell in love with!?

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Benefit 'They're Real' | Push-Up Liner and Remover

I might be a beauty blogger but I'll be the first to admit that I'm absolutely bloomin' useless when it comes to eyeliner. Let's face it, it's the devil of the makeup world isn't it? Many a time I've found myself rushing to be somewhere on time simply because I had a bit of a kerfuffle getting my 'flicks' even.  Yes. I hold my hands up.  To all of my dear friends who I know read this blog, it's never the bus that's to blame for my shoddy time-keeping despite what I might tell you - i think it's time to come clean... It's not the number 44. It's the eyeliner.  So when Benefit released their 'Push-Up' Liner as part of the 'They're Real' family, said to help make applying gel-liner a little bit more of a doddle, I was interested to give it a whirl...

Firstly, I love the concept.  As someone who has never dabbled in gel liner before, (I favour the more simple option of a pencil or felt-tip styled product) I thought it was a spiffing idea to combine the long-lasting quality of a gel liner and the convenience of a pen into one - essentially making application quicker, easier and much less of a faff.  You simply twist the bottom of the pen and you're good to go.  However, don't expect this to solve all of your eyeliner woes. It won't.  It has taken me a good few tries in order to nail the application of this stuff - it can be quite tricky at first to know how much to twist the pen, how much pressure to apply and exactly which angle to hold it at in order to get it right.  On the occasions where I have got it right, the effect has been great.  The pigmentation is amazing - the strong, matte black is long-lasting and has that lovely 'vintage' quality to it that compliments the 'cat flick' look. It stays put all day, and I haven't noticed any smudging or transferring onto the lids whatsoever.  You do have to be fairly quick to apply this - I've noticed it dries quite quickly so it's definitely a product for those of you who are already rather nifty with the eyeliner. The 'They're Real' remover is a great product to have in my bathroom cabinet.  As a fan of the 'They're Real' mascara (featured on my blog here and here) , which can be notoriously difficult to remove, it's handy to have and it does do the job very well. It doesn't feel greasy or heavy and removes all traces of makeup without having to scrub away for ages.

Overall, I wouldn't say I'm blown away at the moment.  At £18.50*, the Push-Up Liner isn't cheap and as someone who never really goes beyond a simple flick here and there, I can achieve my desired look with cheaper options on the market and I think I personally favour a liquid liner or 'felt tip' style.  If you love gel liner, are really are big on creating flicks and dramatic eyeliner looks, and want something that's going to stay put and resist fading, it's well worth looking in to - I won't deny it's incredible pigmentation and staying power! I just think, at the moment, it might be a little too hit and miss for me to use on a daily basis.  If you're going to buy anything from the They're Real range, I'd go for the mascara. It's honestly one of the best ones I've ever used (considering I usually hate splashing out on mascaras this is saying something!). 'Push Up' is indeed a fabulous product, and yet again Benefit have hit the nail on the head with the idea and concept, but for the time being, I think I'll stick to my trusty felt-tips! Watch this space though, I'm persevering with it... You can read up more about it and the rest of the range on the website here.

Have you tried anything from the 'They're Real' range?

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Claudia Louch | Skincare Products

When it comes to skin care, I'm all in favour of simplicity.  I have sensitive skin in the sense that if I use anything too fragranced or fussy, I'll get pesky little breakouts that are extremely tough to budge.  For this reason, I don't tend to experiment with my skincare routine too much - I stick to what I know and I avoid switching it up too often.  Whilst I don't usually tend to delve in to skincare too much, I was attracted to the Claudia Louch brand after having a read up on the website about the internationally-renowned Harley Street Clinic and product range. With a focus on skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema, acne and a variety of allergies (to name a few), Claudia Louch has a natural approach to skin care which results in gentle, healing products said to help treat and care for those with sensitive skin and all sorts of skin complaints.

Hydrating Mango Face Cream | £61.50* | Link //&// Chamomile Face Wash | £37.40* | Link

I've been using a combination of the 'Hydrating Mango Face Cream*' and the 'Chamomile Facial Wash*' for a while now. Both products are unbelievably gentle and soothing to the skin - and have very little fragrance. The Hydrating Mango Face Cream  is luxuriously packaged in a sleek, glass-effect tube with delicate silver pump.  I expected it to have quite a strong, fruity scent to it due to the 'mango' ingredients but it actually has very little fragrance to it at all - I personally like this factor as I feel it is much more gentle on my skin.  The consistency is fairly thick, but not so heavy that it doesn't leave an oily or tacky residue - it's the perfect 'in-between' moisturiser for me. It feels so soothing to apply - especially on the drier areas of my face - my skin feels instantly nourished and calmed. Once it's sank in, my skin is left feeling super soft and smooth, and stays hydrated throughout the day.  Usually, I get some dryness around my cheeks creeping back through the day but when I've used this, I've noticed that my skin feels nourished and 'plumped' hours after I've applied my makeup in the morning and my foundation stays looking smoother for longer.  The Chamomile Face Wash feels equally luxurious to use. The subtle, spa-like scent and calming effect coupled with the clear, gel-like consistency really help to soothe and nourish the skin. It didn't leave my skin feeling dry or tight afterwards and left my skin feeling suitably quenched. I definitely noticed my skin felt much more hydrated and healthy when I used these two products together and any dry areas were considerably reduced.

Although I've had a positive experience with these products, the downside for me is the price. Although I'm not opposed to spending a fair whack on skincare when I need to, I can't say I noticed huge benefits for my skin. I liked the hydrating properties and the fact my skin looked really healthy and glowy when I'd used them for a while - it definitely felt much more calm and looked more plump and radiant, but I didn't see any big differences and i've had similar results with cheaper products in the past. There's no denying the moisturiser is a good one, but for £60+, it's pushing it for me.  I reckon these would be well worth looking in to if you suffer with redness, irritation or various skin complaints as they certainly deliver in the gentle/soothing stakes (also, the hydrating properties will be fab for someone with dry skin), but for someone with fairly normal skin who suffers with a bit of sensitivity and the odd breakout, I think these products are more of a 'treat' instead of a necessity.

Have you heard of Claudia Louch products?  What's your opinion on high-end skincare?

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Anna Sui | Lip & Eye Palettes

Ok. Let's just take a moment to appreciate the design of these Anna Sui palettes for a second, shall we? As a blogger, I often get sucked in by pretty packaging and quirky adornments but these beauties take it to a whole new level - I defy anybody to stash them away in a makeup drawer - they've taken pride of place on top of dressing table since I got them. It might have been love at first sight but let me tell you, the whirlwind affair doesn't stop at the aesthetics...ohhh no, it's all about what's inside that counts too, right? One contains a variety of pigmented, glossy lip colours complete with everything from barely there nudes to vampy reds and the second offers a beautiful array of shimmery shadows which happen to be perfect for the upcoming Autumn/Winter season.  After using them for the past few weeks, they've become my new obsession. Here's why...

Anna Sui | Lip Palette | £28.00 £14.00* | Link
If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know that I have a particular weakness for pretty lipsticks and testing and trying different shades.  Lip palettes always seem to tempt me but I've never owned any simply because I never really saw myself getting enough use out of one.  I always throw my lipstick into my handbag for the day but the thought of carting around a palette always made me a little dubious as to whether or not they were actually worth the hassle.  It really was love at first swatch with this one though.  Each shade is amazingly pigmented and so creamy to apply.  I love the glossy finish that each shade has - they almost have that 'lip laquer' effect once applied which i absolutely love.  They don't have names so bare with me and my wordy explanations of which shade is which here - but personally, one of my favourites has to be the middle shade on the top row.  I adore a brown-toned nude and this one is simply stunning - the hint of gloss really makes it pop and it looks so beautiful on a day to day basis.  It reminds me of a glossy, slightly lighter and more wearable version of Mac's Velvet Teddy.  I've also worn a couple of the coral/red shades recently - the lighter coral on the top row (second from the right) and the middle shade on the bottom row are perfect for this time of year - the orangey tones set off (whats left of) my holiday tan and look so bright and vibrant - which again, is amplified with the glossy, laquer-like finish.  I cant wait to start wearing the darker reds in the palette (how beautiful is the vampy burgundy shade?!) nearer to Autumn/Winter. 

I can't say I'm 100% converted to palettes yet but it is undoubtedly a gorgeous one to own and I'm so happy to have it in my collection. I've actually popped it into my bag along with the lip brush on a daily basis and it's not been too much of a faff because it doesn't weigh much at all (just bare in mind it's cardboard packaging so I'd be careful what's in there with it!) Luckily, the shades are fairly long lasting due to the pigmentation and despite the creamy, moisturising finish, tend to last around the two-three hour mark and the darker shades wear off to a nice, even stain/hint of colour. Another thing which I love about the palette is the delicate fragrance - for those of you who hate scented products you might not be too much of a fan, but I love the floral/sweet scent. I've been trying to put my finger on it for a while and I think I've cracked it - it smells very similar to Turkish delight - yummy! Overall, a fabulous addition to my collection and my first ever lip palette (can you believe it?!).  I've been loving it! I'm not denying that my classic lippies are much more practical but it's been really nice to experiment with these ones the past few weeks - I love the fact that it contains such a fab mix of shades suitable for every season and occasion as it makes it much more versatile. I cannot wait to delve into the darker shades now that we're coming towards the end of summer!

Anna Sui | Eye Palette | £28.00 £14.00* | Link
The second palette contains a selection of beautiful eye shadows.  Personally, I think these are the perfect mix for the upcoming autumn/winter months and I can't wait to start using the purples and striking khaki shade - they're still fairly neutral but not so 'in your face' that you wouldn't be able to use them on a daily basis.  I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with these shadows. Each one is really soft and creamy and all of these swatches were created with just a single swipe - a jolly good sign of a decent eyeshadow I'm sure you'll all agree. The only one which isn't too great is the second from the left on the top row. Sadly, this is one of the shades I'd usually get a lot of use out of as I love my understated neutrals, but I just can't seem to get it to swatch like the rest and it doesn't seem to show up too well on my skin - at best, it will probably work as a subtle highlight shade.  So far, my favourites have to be the intense copper shade (how beautiful!?) and the deep, antique gold - they've worked so well with my skin tone at the moment and I've created some beautiful daytime looks with the two - they look lovely blended together with a matte brown blended into the crease of the eye. I'm so excited to start experimenting more with colour - I've recently tried the khaki and purple shades and have to say they looked lovely on - a nice pop of colour without being too bright. The glittery black is also a nice addition - slightly more gritty and with a little more fall out than the rest but undoubtedly perfect for smokey eyes and nights out!

Again, like the lip palette, a very versatile and pleasing mix of shades for both day and night.  It's definitely more suitable for autumn/winter but there's some lovely neutrals in there I'll be using all year round (the copper colour sets off a tan like nothing else!) I've seen swatches of this palette on other blogs and I've read mixed reviews - I'm not sure if I've got a good'un but the only shade I've had problems with seems to be the lighter nude one - for me, the darker shades in the palette seem to be much more easy to blend and are much softer so do bare this in mind. Also, it has the same scent as the lip palette - it's fairly strong so if you do have sensitive peepers, it's worth noting!

Both palettes usually retail for £28.00 - but they're currently on offer for £14.00* each over on the Escentual website - you can find the lip palette here, and the eyeshadow palette here. Although I think the original price of £28 is a little steep, snapping the two up for the price of one is a smashing deal and they're well worth the money for the pigmentation, formula and eye-catching packaging.  I know the eye shadows have been a little hit/miss for some folk so if you're going to grab one, I'd say go for the lip palette - it makes a fabulous addition to any lipstick collection and it contains a lovely mix of nudes, pinks, corals and reds. If you're in need of ideas for birthday gifts for any beauty obsessed pals you might have, trust me here when I say you cannot go wrong with these (I'd have been over the moon if anyone had wrapped these up for me!) The packaging completely makes them - they're so unique and pretty. 

Have you tried these palettes or anything else from Anna Sui? Let me know your thoughts!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Foxy Hair | Clip-In Extensions

Foxy Hair Extensions | #18/22 | £84.95* | Link

When I took my first steps into the world of blogging around 3 years ago, I remember hearing about Foxy hair and their range of extensions.  They've always been highly recommended - I've heard lots of good things over the years about the company and I know a couple of girls who've ordered their extensions from Foxy and have been suitably impressed. That's why I jumped at the chance to give them a whirl just recently! I must admit I do love my clip ins. I've never had any bonded extensions as I like the fact that I can have a play around and take them in and out whenever I please - the versatility and the fact they're fairly low maintenance is a massive plus point for me.  Due to having long hair to begin with, I tend to use extensions for volume as opposed to length. Having a set of clip-in pieces works well for me as I can pick and choose how I want my hair to look - I've tried my fair share of them over the past few years! Here's what I thought of my Foxy hair set...

Shade and Colour Range:
The colour I decided to go for is #18/22 - 'Medium Ash Blonde/Golden Blonde Mix.  My hair is always a toughie to match so this is one of the most important things for me when looking for a good hair company - I like a wide range of shades to choose from as 'standard' bleached blonde shades don't work for me. I don't have highlights put through my hair anymore and I tend to let it do it's own thing - so my shade of blonde is a big mix of light brown, warm honey blonde and ashy tones.  I have to be careful I don't go too light, as my hair is much darker underneath and when I'm not careful, it can be easy to give the game away! In the past, I've been known to order two shades - but after a few messages to the Foxy team, I settled on 18/22.  My hair isn't particularly ashy but i often find that extensions can be far too warm for my hair. This mix is perfect as it has a certain honey tone to it, but also has ashy bits running through which give it a nice neutral balance.  It's slightly too light for the bottom lengths of my hair but I never expect a perfect match anymore - and once they're all clipped in, the difference is minimal and hardly noticeable at all. Foxy do a good range of shades including mixed brown/blonde and ombre. You can find their colours here.

Hair Quality, Thickness and Options:
Foxy hair is made from high quality Remy hair - something I always like to look for when choosing extensions as I think it makes such a big difference to the overall appearance, quality and the actual length of time they last for before needing to replace them. The full head set which I have contains 120g of hair - pretty much what you can expect from most standard full-head sets of extensions. Upon opening the pack, I noticed the hair was glossy, smooth and soft to the touch - I've since styled mine and I have to say they've stayed very glossy and smooth.  Admittedly, they aren't the thickest set of extensions I've owned - the ends aren't as 'full' as some of my other extensions but I always trim a small amount off to give more 'body' anyway (little tip for you there if you want to make your extensions appear thicker!). This being said, for a regular full set of extensions, they're much better quality than other packs I've spent money on in the past - I've noticed minimal shedding and the ends still look lovely and smooth - no frazzled bits to be seen! If you're after something with more body then it's worth opting for a quad weft or their 'Delxue Full Head Set' which contains 160g of hair.  Personally, although I do like some of my other sets with thicker wefts, I often find slightly thinner ones like this much more practical as there's less chance of the clips/wefts showing through your own hair and they often look more natural (I don't have thin hair but it's also not the thickest so the less bulk, the better for me!).  It's all about how I feel on a certain day - sometimes, I'll often just wear a couple of pieces (again, my hair is long so I can get away with this) and I find the standard full head set more than enough for me. It all depends what sort of look you're going for - if you're a hair extension novice, a full-head set like Foxy's would be a great place to start.  You can see on the pictures above just how much hair you get - it's pretty impressive to say how bulk-free the wefts are.

The Clips and Pieces:
As with most full-head sets, there are 8 pieces to a pack. I often will just clip in the 3 or 2 clip pieces if I'm in a rush and it gives me more than enough body and volume.  I also find the 1 clip pieces so handy for hiding shorter layers around the front of my hair.  The clips are easy to apply - they're a little bigger than some of the other extensions I've tried but it doesn't really matter. They hold really well and are comfortable to wear.

As you can see, they're slightly lighter than the bottom layers of my hair but they seem to merge in really well and they match the top layers perfectly.  I personally like the fact that some of my lighter brown tones show through and I guess it helps that my hair is virtually the same length anyway. If it were shorter, I'd probably have to order a slightly darker colour for underneath but I didn't think it necessary (i don't like my hair being all one colour!)  They don't give huge amounts of volume, so if that's what you're after you're probably better off with a quad weft or thicker set, but for everyday wear this is the sort of look I like to go for.  I'm really not the type who likes to spend ages gripping in bits of hair of a morning!

Overall, I'd recommend Foxy hair if you want to give hair extensions a try and want to be assured of good quality and a good range of shades.  They don't offer the widest range of length or weft choices but they keep it simple and straight forward - perfect if you're new to extensions and just want to see how you get on with a standard full-head set and don't want to faff around with triple wefted or quad weft pieces along with all the bells and whistles! If it's a lot of volume and thickness you're after, it might be worth looking into the quad wefts or deluxe sets - as this standard set offers more of an 'everyday' look and not a huge amount of volume (in my opinion). If, like me, you sometimes struggle to find shades to match, it's well worth looking at their colour chart and range of mixed shades.  They aren't the cheapest at £84.95* - this was the only thing I was slightly unsure of considering you can find similar sets on the market for slightly cheaper containing more grams of hair. I do think the price point is slightly high but I guess it's competitively priced for the overall quality of hair. You can find the Foxy hair extensions range on their website here.

Have you tried Foxy hair in the past? What were your thoughts?

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Urban Decay | 'De-Slick' Makeup Setting Spray

Urban Decay | De Slick Setting Spray | Travel Size - £9.00 |

When I realised I was jetting away on holiday early last month, it's fair to say I was in a state of mild panic (I jest...of course I was rather excited to say the least but it did mean a dash around the shops and a quick re-evaluation of my current summer wardobe). After all, for any beauty obsessive, packing a suitcase is more than just gathering a selection of SPFs and throwing in a few pretty dresses and trusty Primark flip-flops - it means re-thinking your entire makeup routine.  As well as a shift in foundation shades and the ever so tough task of condensing your rather sizable lipstick collection, all of a sudden you begin to think of the practicalities.  Makeup and a humid climate doesn't exactly equal the easiest combination and a perfectly applied face of makeup can go from 'smokey eye' to 'i look like I've just been walloped in the eye' rather quickly.  I took this as my excuse to finally purchase one of Urban Decay's Setting Sprays.  

Firstly, I'll say that I don't have the oiliest skin in the world - in fact, it can be quite dry at times and I don't struggle an awful lot with shine. However, when I'm on holiday or during the summer months in the UK, i do struggle to keep my makeup firmly in place and I often get home and find that it's basically evaporated from my face.  Never a good look. When I found the 'travel' sizes of Urban Decay's Setting Sprays online for £9.00 on a last minute internet shopping spree (got to love those last-minute panic buys!)  - I knew I had to give one a go.   I settled on 'De-Slick' over the 'All Nighter' version. To be honest, I couldn't really see a great deal of difference between the two and both received equally rave reviews.  I thought that 'De-Slick' might work better in warmer climates as it promised to keep skin looking matte and shine-free, whilst helping to control oil and keep makeup looking freshly applied.  As I was going away on holiday, anything that promised to reduce pesky 'flashback' shine in photographs was a winner for me.  Did it do the job though?

I have to say - i did notice a difference when I used this.  I put it through some tough tests, that's for sure! Before I went to Crete, I used this in London for a week where I was needing to keep my makeup in place from 7 in the morning until 10 at night some days.  It was also a bloomin' hot week and I spent the majority of it inside a huge exhibition centre (admitedly with the help of some rather breezy air-con but it was still a makeup nightmare!) It did a smashing job, I'll give it that.  I wouldn't say it looked freshly applied all day but it definitely helped to keep it in place and I didn't have to touch up my concealer as much. I was particularly impressed at how well it kept my foundation from smudging or disappearing from my face and when I went to top-up mid-way through the day, I found that my 'problem areas' (my chin and nose area) were still virtually in tact and there was minimal movement/fading.  In Crete, it kept my foundation in place without the need for over-powdering and I definitely think it helped to reduce shine in photographs. I didn't feel as much of a 'hot mess' - put it that way! I will point out that I always prime my skin before makeup and I always use a dusting of light powder - I used the setting spray as a finishing touch and didn't substitute it for my usual powder and primer. The travel size was just perfect and even though it's had a fair bit of use, I still have plenty left. It was the perfect suitcase companion.

Overall, it was a fabulous buy. I'll definitely be taking it away on holiday with me again and I've been enjoying using it through the warmer weather.  Don't expect miracles from it - but it definitely does do what it claims to do and I noticed a good bit of difference in the longevity of my makeup.  It's not cheap, and I'm still unsure if I'd actually buy the full version - I haven't tried any cheaper alternatives on the market so I'm undecided as to whether or not the price-tag is completely justified. However, this being said, I'd definitely consider buying another bottle next summer - it came in so handy on my recent holiday and I was suitably impressed at how well it performed.  You can't find the travel sizes everywhere, so if you fancy giving the smaller bottle a go before you part with the cash for the full-size, you can buy the £9.00 version from Debenhams website here and also on Feel Unique here.

Have you tried Urban Decay's setting sprays?

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Summer Coolers | Arran Aromatics

Arran Aromatics have to be one of my favourite brands when it comes to skin solutions and body care. Their Lavender and Tea Tree Facial Wash made it into my 'Top 13 of 2013' (post here) and I found a new body-pampering fave in their 'Velvet Isle' Shea Butter not long ago (post here).  I've since placed more orders on their website and am always intrigued by their product range - if you're after something a little bit different from the lotions and potions you find on the high-street, they're well worth looking into. They also do some fabulous gift-y bits and I often have a little nosey on their website to see what's new (I must recommend their Island Spa and Velvet Isle ranges - I love them!) Just recently, I've been trying out a selection of their products all said to help soothe, calm and cool - perfect for the summer season. They've been welcome additions to my routine of late - the warmer weather and a rather sunny holiday in Crete has left my skin crying out for some pampering. Here's what I thought of the selection...

Aloe Vera Energising Body Gel | £8.50* | Link
This is the first product I tried when I returned home from my holiday.  Although I didn't burn at all, it's fair to say my skin was feeling a little parched and in need of some love.  Although I always pile on the aftersun (I'm a sun-care obsessive!), I like to look for generic lotions and gels which contain Aloe Vera during the summer as I find them much more soothing to the skin. It's the only time of year when I actually start looking for lighter lotions instead of thick body butters (as much as I love my pamper sessions!) I actually took to placing this gel in the fridge and applying after I'd been outside or tottling around town for the day (great if you've caught the sun and need a quick cool down!).  The witch hazel and aloe vera really does help to soothe and calm any redness, and the cooling, fresh scent adds to the sensation.  I really liked the gel consistency and the fact it doesn't leave my skin feeling tacky or greasy whilst still providing some nourishment. It sinks in so quickly and leaves behind a really subtle, fresh scent. I actually find it quite addictive and - little tip for you here - I sometimes keep it by my bed on warmer nights as it's great for an instant refresh if you're feeling a bit stuffy! It's just a nice, refreshing end to the day and it's definitely earnt itself a space in my fridge for the rest of summer!

Mint and Coriander Skin Smoother with Apricot Seeds | £4.50* | Link
I have to admit, this is one product I haven't used too much since I received it.  At first, I thought it was a generic body exfoliant as it doesn't mention on the label that it's actually for your feet!  I already have a body exfoliant on the go, so I figured I'd save it - however, when preparing this post and discovering it's intended purpose, I thought I'd actually give it a whirl and give my tootsies a treat. After shimmying around in flip-flops for 2 weeks, they needed a little bit of TLC!  It's much more harsh than your average body bar, that's for sure! It left my skin feeling smooth and revitalised, and the exfoliating seeds worked a treat. I found the mint fragrance really quite refreshing and the shape of the bar meant that it was easy to work with.

Peppermint & Lavender Foot Rub | £7.50* | Link
Oohhh this has to be my favourite product of the bunch. The consistency is what instantly sold it to me. It almost has a mousse-like quality to it whilst still remaining moisturising and soothing to apply. It definitely does seem to melt into the skin and that's exactly why I like it - it doesn't feel heavy or greasy and it's quick and easy to apply. Honestly, I love it.  It contains essential oils so it has great nourishing properties, and the peppermint and lavender scent helps to cool, soothe and comfort. It instantly cools the skin and you can feel it working as soon as you rub it in. I'd have loved something like this when I worked in the shop all day! If you work a job where you're on the go all the time and often come home feeling rather achey and 'flop on the sofa' tired - this is the perfect end-of-the-day treat.

Green Tea Eye Gel | £3.50* | Link
This is another one of my favourites.  I've previously tried one of Arran Aromatics Eye Gels (featured in this post) so I was really excited to give their Green Tea version a go.  As a lover of Green Tea (I know, I'm probably in the minority who actually enjoy knocking it back), I knew I'd love this.  I adore the scent of it - it definitely has a herbal sort of hint to it and I find it so incredibly refreshing.  Again, like the Aloe Vera gel, I've taken to popping this in the fridge and it's a very welcome treat for when my eyes are feeling a little bit tired.  It says to help reduce puffiness and fine lines, whilst extracts of Green Tea, Witch Hazel and powerful anti-oxidants help to soothe and revitalise the delicate skin around the eyes. For £3.50, these eye gels are really lovely.  They're definitely not the most moisturising - however, I love to use them for a 'refresh' and I always feel much more awake once i've popped some on. Great for summer.

Have you tried anything from Arran Aromatics before? If so, leave me your recommendations!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Life Lately | 'What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?'

OOoo hold on to yer hats...Beth's getting motivational.  If you follow me on Twitter, or if you actually manage to get to the end of some of my blog ramblings (massive pat on the back to you there if you read through all of my dribble and live to tell the tale), then you might know that I'm currently going through a little 'stage' in my life. Everything seems to be changing rather quickly, opportunities I never thought I'd have are suddenly popping up left, right and centre and when I look back at how my life was 3 years ago, it's easy to feel quite overwhelmed. Anyone who knows me personally will know I'm the biggest home-bird ever. I like routine. I like to know what's going to happen and what's around the corner. I like to have my friends and family around me and I like familiarity...  I will hold my hands up and admit that I hate change. As someone who also has always suffered from panic attacks now and again (since the age of 5), it's no surprise that I have a tendency to stick to what I know. I'm quite a confident little person, really... I'm ambitious, bubbly and I enjoy seeing how far I can push myself so it's always seemed to me that my fear of change and unfamiliarity is a bit of an annoying hurdle I often find myself having to overcome. Sometimes I hate the fact that I'm so set in my ways and so homebird-ish for the simple fact it holds me back.  However, after one heck of a lot of thinking and actually taking steps to change this for good, my mind-set has completely shifted in the space of a few months.  I've totally started to embrace the idea that 'the world is my oyster'...I've accepted challenges and opportunities that I probably wouldn't have thought twice about in the past, all because I've been asking myself one question, 'What would you do if you weren't afraid?'

When it comes to making decisions, I'm often guilty of feeling drawn towards the path I feel more comfortable with as opposed to the one that's a little more adventurous. I envy those that can just grab the steering wheel and do a complete life 'u-turn' without so much of a check in their rear-view mirror!  But the past few months, I've forced myself to avoid the easy options. When one of my tutors suggested I look for jobs in the US, I almost spat my 50p-vending-machine tea in her face. After realising that she wasn't at all joking, and the more she spoke to me about why it would suit me, I started to think 'why the hell not?!'  I'd instantly written it off in my mind for the simple fact it didn't fit within my comfort zone and that's when I started to make some changes. It was the last little step in my university journey - to realise that I actually had potential to go beyond what I'd always imagined and what I'd already achieved. I'd always pictured myself finding a job within a few miles of home, settling in to my own place a few minutes from where I'd grown up and I struggled to genuinely consider other options.  After realising that the only things holding me back were fear and doubt, I started to branch out and open my eyes to what the future really could be.  If you're currently nodding along thinking 'that sounds like me' - then hopefully this post might become a little stepping stone towards changing your mind-set too.

Fear and doubt are pesky little things, aren't they? I'm guilty of thinking 'I can't do that because...' or 'What if this happens and it all goes wrong?' or 'What if things don't turn out the way I want them to?' (typical worrier asking 'what if' all the time!) I've really been trying to change my thought process with this sort of thing. As soon as the doubt creeps in, I try and shut it up with other thoughts...such as 'but it might turn out this way...' or 'so what if I fail?'. Because SO WHAT!? Even if you do completely mess up or fail at something, it's all experience to learn from. You just have to look at it in the right way - you'll know what you can maybe do differently for next time, or you'll know that something definitely isn't for you. As someone who's a bit of a perfectionist, I know exactly how it feels to be scared to fail at something... I almost feel as if I'm undoing all the good work I've done so far and I thrive off success but as the old saying goes... 'You'll never know if you never try'. You need to make mistakes and do things you don't want to do in order to grow as a person and I've been doing all of this without realising for the past 5 or 6 years of my life - i just needed to apply it to bigger things.  Of course, I'm not suggesting you simply jump right in to making a big life change or important decision without so much as a 'YOLO' (yep - I went there...) - that would be a little silly. I just think it's important not to over-think and rule something out simply because the thought of it scares you.  The moment I over-think things is the moment I'll back out so I'm trying to make sure I don't give myself chance to do so - and it's working. I'm being a little more laidback about things and making a concious effort not to over-analyse.   I actually came across a really good quote the other day. I can't for the life of me find it now but it went something along the lines of this: It's always best to think 'I can't believe I did that' instead of 'I wish I'd done that'. 

Throughout my time in work and at uni, I've realised that visualising the way you want things to be works wonders.  A positive mind-set is key to success.  I could write a whole separate post on this technique but it's something I've been doing for years and it has never failed me so far.  For example, there was a really important presentation for a live-brief I'd been doing at uni and I really wanted to win the pitch (call me competitive but I knew i wouldn't sleep that night if I didn't...)  I imagined exactly how I wanted the pitch to go - how I'd walk in, how I'd introduce myself, what I'd say, how I'd say it, and even how they'd react. I even imagined the 'Q&A' sesh afterwards and came up with a few quirky little answers to questions I didn't even know I'd get asked - and went in there with all of this fresh in my mind.  I ended up winning the pitch, bagging myself an internship and I've treated presentations and interviews this way ever since.  I truly believe that visualising something going well effects the outcome - again, another quote, 'Whether you think you can or you can't - you're absolutely right'.  I've taken this way of thinking and applied it to bigger things in my life.  Instead of thinking that I'd be an emotional wreck if I moved away from my home town and that I wouldn't be happy somewhere completely new, I've been imagining myself doing all of these new, scary things and succeeding at doing them. I've thought about what car I might buy next, who I might meet, what my office might look like, how I'd decorate the lounge when I move... you get the idea! I've tried to get myself excited about possible big changes instead of focusing on what might go wrong.  The only thing that's been holding me back is those silly little thoughts that I wouldn't be able to cope. That's the thing about thoughts - you get so used to having them that you begin to genuinely believe what they're telling you. It takes a bit of time and a few baby-steps to turn it around, but it's possible to get there.  Of course, I'm not saying that because I've visualised it all going swimmingly well that absolutely nothing will go wrong or that I'll 100% love it if I end up moving - but positive thinking is the first step to doing things outside of your comfort zone and it gives you the boost you need to actually give things a go. Again, back to the title of this post - you have to ask yourself 'what would I do if I weren't afraid?'

So it's all well and good saying that you're going to attempt to change things, but actually changing things is another story.  Personally, for me, it's all about keeping an open mind in order to spread my wings and find the job that I feel is right for me.  This post isn't me announcing that I'm hopping on a jet plane to the other side of the world  - so please don't ridicule me if I don't end up moving miles away ;) I might end up staying close to home if it's for the right job. My ultimate goal has always been to be happy, healthy, and living the life I've been imagining since I quit my job and started Uni 3 years ago. Whether that means staying where I am or moving away half way across the world to achieve this - Who knows - that's the beauty of it.  I don't know what's going to happen but for once in my life I'm actually considering other options, seeking things further afield and lifting that barrier I've always had in my head - that's exactly what I wanted to achieve when I started this whole process. I was approached by a company in Switzerland a few weeks back and immediately applied - whereas before, I'd have written it straight off without a second thought, I actually went for it.  I still don't know where I am in the application process but simply just applying was a step in the right direction for me. I've spoken to companies dotted around the UK... some in Europe... I even made steps to connect with a few over in the US.  I finally feel as if I've addressed that last little niggle that's been holding me back for years and after a lot of self-motivation and a bit of a reality-check, I'm excited to see what the future holds. I have no idea what's going to happen, and that's fine with me. It's good to feel a little bit 'thrown in at the deep end' at times, right?

Phew. Have you recovered from all the motivational cliches and cringe-worthy quotes being thrown at you yet?! I guess this post has been more of a 'diary' entry for me - I have no idea where on earth I was going with it but I just wanted to let you in on what's been happening in my life - it's also something I can look back at in years to come and remember this weird, awkward stage of my life by.  I like to think that if any of you can relate to this in any way that you'll take something from it - even if it's just something as simple as applying for a job you'd convinced yourself you weren't good enough to apply for...or accepting a university place you were scared to take... even something as silly as asking that stud-muffin with the nice stubble who you happen to work with out for a beverage or approaching your boss about something you've been worried about...publishing that blog post you've been umming and arring about sharing for months. I guess what I'm trying to say is that this can apply to anything in life - relationships, life goals, interviews, exams, blogging...the list is endless. Throw caution to the wind once in a while, ask yourself what you'd do if fear wasn't an issue and do it - you might just surprise yourself. If not, well, I hope you enjoyed my little ramble and at least had a good ol' giggle at how bloomin' reflective one person can be! And with that, I'm off to pin some more motivational life quotes on Pinterest... (if you fancy following me and share in my quote-obsession, feel free to hop on over to my profile here)

Lots of Love x