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Monday 30 September 2013

Monthly Advertisers | September

Hiddely-ho fellow birds! Um...Where did September go? It seems like yesterday I was swanning around in summer dresses and sandals and now I'm trying to refrain from reaching for my trusty fleece-lined opaque tights! The end of another month can only mean one thing - new bloggy reads!  It's that time again that I introduce you to the lovely bunch that have been sitting in my sidebar the past 4 weeks - my reading list is certainly bursting at the seams now! There's some fabulous blogs to discover this month and without further ado, I shall pass you over to these lovely lot....

Isabelle | HelloIssyxo | *September Exclusive Advertiser*
Links | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

I started helloissyxo in 2011 alongside my degree to find a little place to waffle about beauty.  It does get a little dull for everyone around me when I keep whipping a mascara wand out my bag and convincing people to buy it.  Writing about it on the web seemed like the best way to discuss the pros and cons of beauty products with likeminded people whilst keeping my real life ultra cool appearance up (totally true...). I've branched out into hair, skincare and fashion reviews to add a bit of variety too.

I love everything about blogging - taking and editing photos, writing, researching and of course trying out things I love all the time to bring you guys the best possible reviews.

I read all my comments, tweets and messages so feel free to click on any of the links you like and we can talk about exactly which mascara is best and help one another rationalise buying too much stuff on an almost daily basis! Xo

Amy | Little Tip Off
Links | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram - @littletipoff

Hi everyone! I'm Amy from the nail art blog Little Tip Off, and I'm very excited to be advertising here at Bird's Words.  My blog is still a baby in the big world of blogging, but it's fast becoming a really important part of my life.  Little Tip Off allows me to combine my three main passions - art, fashion and writing - and involves lots of original, hand painted designs, as well as product reviews and tutorials.  Whether you're a nail art veteran or just starting out,  why not stop by? From delicate details to multicoloured patterns, animal designs to sweetie-inspired manicures, there's something for everyone at Little Tip Off. Come on over and hi! :) x

Becki | Bows, Beauty & Becki Blog | Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram

Hello Lovelies, I'm Becki and I have a beauty blog called Bow's, Beauty & Becki.  I mainly do beauty themed posts but I also like to add some fashion posts and share my thoughts.  You can expect to read TAG'S, product reviews, hauls, OOTD's and Whats on my face posts as well as my general ramblings.

I've been blogging on Bow's, Beauty and Becki for over a year and I am looking forward to my wee blog growing, I love blogging and I like to put time and effort into my posts so that they are the best they can be.  I would love for you to go over and check out my blog, you may just like it!
Liza | Glambeautys

Hi my name is Liza and I blog over at glambeautys.  I write about beauty fashion and my baby boy so if you want a bit of glam in your life come on over! I've just started up my own youtube channel and would love you to check that out and suscribe if you enjoy, I'd love some requests too! I hope you enjoy my blog dolls, stay glam!

So there we have it! I do hope you've managed to add to your reading lists this month - I certainly have! Pop on over to my sidebar and say hello and do let me know if you've found yourself a new favourite (don't forget there's even more blogs to be found in my sidebar that haven't been featured here so don't miss out!) If you'd like to be featured here next month then you can view my advertising packages here. 

Which blogs have you been loving this month? :) 

Sunday 29 September 2013

A New Favourite | Shu Uemura 'Art of Hair' Essence Absolue Oil (plus 20% off!)

Shu Uemura 'Art of Hair' | Essence Absolue Hair Oil - £39.50* [link]

I swear by hair oil. I've used it religiously ever since I tried my first one quite some time ago now and I've become somewhat of an addict.  My hair drawer has it's very own little oil section and I reach for one every single time I wash my hair without fail.  I really do believe that using them so often for so long has resulted in me having longer, more healthy looking hair, and I'm never satisfied with the condition of my hair when blow dryed unless I've applied one of my oils.  I simply can't live without them in my hair routine.  So, I thought I'd introduce you to my new favourite - Shu Uemura's 'Essence Absolue' - a nourishing, protective oil that leaves your hair feeling silky soft to the touch.  Grab your glow sticks... I feel a product rave coming on ;)...

Made with camellia oil, the product provides intense moisture without weighing the hair down.   The consistency is surprisingly fairly runny; at first I was unsure whether or not it would be enough for my hair (it's long and fairly thick) - but just 1-2 pumps is more than enough and I still cannot get over how incredibly lightweight it is without compromising on the moisture factor.  The oil also provides UV protection as well as the intense nourishment - fruity bonus!  I use it straight after I've showered, before I blow dry my hair, making sure to coat the mid-lengths to the ends.  When my hair is almost dry, I'll pop another half a pump or so through the very ends just for an extra boost of moisture.  That's what so great about this oil and what makes it a favourite for me personally - you can easily use it on wet or dry hair without leaving your hair feeling greasy or weighed down.  I even use this in the daytime for a little boost if my hair is looking a bit frazzled - it's such a good pick me up and it's perfect for a little spruce up in between washes and for taming frizz or softening up any brittle ends.  It also says that it can be used as a pre-shampoo or overnight treatment.  I haven't used it as a pre-shampoo treatment yet, but am planning on doing so very soon once the colder weather takes hold and my hair starts to get a bit dull. I love how versatile the oil is - it's something I've struggled to find with other oils - they can be a little too heavy to use on dry, styled hair - but with this one I have no problem either way.

It's also worth mentioning how amazing Essence Absolue smells.  It's just divine.  I can still smell it on my hair the day after - a little whiff of luxury every time you swish your hair about. Lovely.   Of course, Essence Absolue isn't the cheapest of hair oils on the market. At £39.50 it's definitely on the higher end of the scale. But having tried all kinds of oils, both cheaper drugstore versions and popular high-end offerings, I can safely say this is one that I will be without a doubt repurchasing - despite the price. It's all I've been using on my hair since it arrived on my doorstep and it ticks every single box for me.  I actually can't fault a single thing about it - they've even nailed the packaging! The handy pump system is much less messy (and clumsy-person proof) that the typical bottles of oils you get and it's easy to control how much comes out.  When you're spending up to this amount on a product - you don't want to waste a single drop!  

Fancy trying some for yourself? The lovely folk over at MySalonLooks have given me a discount code for my fabulous readers for 20% off all Shu Uemera products on the website (excluding duos).  All you need to do is enter the code 'BIRD20' at the checkout! The code will expire 2 weeks from today, so you have plenty of time to choose something lovely!

You can find the Essence Absolue oil on MySalonLooks here, or have a nosey at the other Shu Uemura products on offer here.

Do you like the sound of this hair oil? What Shu Uemera products have you tried and loved?

Thursday 26 September 2013

The Perfect Autumn Coral | Deborah Milano Natural Blush in 'Spicy'

Deborah Milano | Natural Blush in '04 - Spicy' | £6.90* | Link

I'm partial to a peach blush or two, me.  I find that I suit warmer peach and coral tones much more easily than cooler pinks, even throughout winter.  My new go-to blush is this little beauty from Deborah Milano and it's been the perfect addition to my collection.   I've previously had the chance to try one of their Moisture Shine lipsticks (review here), so was really looking forward to trying their 'Natural Blush' in Shade 04 - 'Spicy'.  I would describe the colour as a mid-toned dusky peach with a slight orangey pink tone throughout. The photographs pick it up to be slightly brighter than it is due to the lighting - but the swatch is a little more true to colour.  I'm a big fan of Illamasqua's 'Lover' blush, but I sometimes find that it can be a little too bright for my autumn/winter skin, and the orange tones in it bring out any dark circles I might have - this is why I've been loving 'Spicy' just recently.  It's a little more forgiving on paler skin, isn't as bright and looks that little bit more natural due to it's slightly pink undertone. Really flattering and the perfect compliment to any makeup look.

What I love about the blush is how soft and smooth it is - it blends out effortlessly and gives the skin a lovely gentle flush of colour.  The subtle contours of the product in the pan make it easier to pick up on a fluffy blush brush, and even the tiniest amount transfers as a lovely, even colour on the cheeks.  It looks fabulous with a subtle highlight and contour, and finishes off my every day makeup perfectly.  The blush contains a tiny bit of sheen - as you can see in the close up shots - but it doesn't transfer much onto the skin - giving it a satin/almost matte finish that looks lovely and natural - not a hint of 'glitterball' in there whatsoever!  My perfect kind of coral blush.

Deborah Milano say that their 'Natural Blush' is enriched with precious gem dust and contains minerals that are good for the skin (including Mother of Pearl, Coral, Amber and Jade to name a few) whilst being suitable for even the most sensitive of skin types (that's me!).  It really has become my go-to blush and can imagine I'll be wearing this well into autumn/winter - it's not so bright that it belongs solely in your summer makeup bag but gives your skin a warming pop of colour that brightens the complexion and looks flawless in finish. A very good little all-rounder that will be perfect for all seasons, in my opinion! The compact does come with a little tiny brush - it's always a nice touch for on-the-go but personally I find it blends better with a bigger, fluffy blush brush (the Real Techniques one works extremely well with it!).  For £6.90, it easily beats some of my drugstore favourites and the quality and wear time are up there with the best.  Totally worth the price tag and I won't be hesitating to pick up another shade in the near future!

You can find the Natural Blushes on the Deborah Milano website here

What shade have you got your eye on? Do you like the sound of these blushes?

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Love Me Beauty Box (Beauteco Re-Brand) | September

Love Me Beauty (formerly Beateco) Subscription Beauty Box | £10 plus P+P monthly*

Fear Not. I'm not flooding your bloggy feeds with another beauty box.  'Love Me Beauty' is the new and re-branded 'Beauteco Box' (you can find my first post on their box here if you fancy jogging your memory) - same box, same concept, same lovely contents - just a little switch of names.  This month's menu choices seemed to be more targeted towards skin care and body - which makes a nice little switch up from the previous boxes. I've heard mixed reviews about beauty boxes in the past, and one of the main things that always made me a little 'iffy' about them was the fact that people were disappointed with the lack of variety; where similar products would arrive each month.  All of these monthly boxes so far have impressed me - each one being slightly different in content - and of course, the menu concept means that you receive products you actually want to try.  What I love about this beauty box is the generosity of the 'sample' sizes - 4 out of the 5 products this month are superly-duperly full sized products! So what's in my box this month?

Nip & Fab | Dry Leg Fix (full size) | RRP £10.25
Matriskin | Collagen Serum (7.5ml) | RRP £24.00
Murad | Osmolyte Tonic (full size) | RRP £10.00
Anatomicals | No Old Bags Allowed (full size) | RRP £3.25
Essential Care | Lip Silk (full size) | RRP £5.50
Out of the lot, I was really excited to receive the Essential Care Lip Silk (Full Size RRP £.5.50) - I love a good lip balm, and am trying so hard this year to keep my lips in tip top condition throughout the winter months.  I liked the sound of the ingredients (shea butter, orange and coconut oil anyone?! Yes please!) and although it doesn't have much of a scent, I really like it so far. Another product I really like on first impressions is the Murad Osmolyte Tonic.  It's a spray mist that gently moisturises and plumps, as well as containing added nutrients for your skin. It's a great little handbag sized product and I really enjoy using it in the mornings when I don't want a full on moisturiser (my skin isn't dry at all currently). I haven't really tried the other items enough to provide you with any snippets of reviews just yet (although the Nip & Fab Dry Leg Fix is looking a promising one!) - but I'll be sure to let you know if I find myself a little gem in there!  I've discovered a collection of new favourites thanks to this box (Neal & Wolf Deep Conditioner, Art Deco cosmetics and some Lord & Berry lip shades to name a select few) so I have high hopes that I'll manage to find something I love this month!

What do you think of the Love Me Beauty Box concept? Which product do you like the look of this month?

Sunday 22 September 2013

Autumn Berry Lips | Collection DeLuxe Lipstick in 'Prohibition'

Collection DeLuxe Lipstick | 'Prohibition' | £3.99 (link)

Ok.  I was all set for typing a really autumnal themed post this evening (hence the atmospheric blog photos complete with twinkly lights...oof!) but this morning, I have been sat in the garden getting a little bit of sunshine before the cold, frosty mornings really do take hold. I kid you not, it's been like the last little dose of summer this morning. I realise I can't stay in denial any longer - summer has well and truly gone after all, and as soon as the nights start drawing in, the autumn/winter make up comes out to play.  I won't lie - I'm not the biggest fan of winter. I like the cosy nights, baggy jumpers and the whole build up to Christmas but after the festivities are done and dusted I've had enough.  I'm a sunshine lover through and through (not the greatest if you live in the UK...) But one thing that I do look forward is the whole 'dark nails, dark lips' thing.  Autumn/Winter is the perfect opportunity to really go wild with darker shades and experiment with statement colours.  So, I introduce to you my first 'autumn makeup purchase' of the season - Collection's DeLuxe Lipstick in 'Prohibition' - a deep, vampy red.

The photographs pick it up to be slightly more pink toned than it is - it's a gorgeous berry shade with a little hint of purple/pink running through it - but once on the lips it transfers as a stunning deep red/plum sort of colour.  I was really intrigued by the new 'DeLuxe' collection - as soon as I swatched them I was sold. The formula is really creamy and glides on so smoothly and effortlessly, leaving a slight sheen that is ever so forgiving if you suffer with dry lips.  I really love how pigmented it is - one or two swipes and you're good to go.  You do need a lip liner with a shade like this though, especially due to the creamier consistency - I personally haven't had a problem with it slipping or bleeding just yet but I can imagine one wrong move and your beautiful berry lips will go from 'vampy' to Count Dracula within a few seconds. I must admit I've always found Collection's lipsticks to be of really good quality, and their pigment and formulas always seem to work well for me - which is great for the purse friendly price tag of just £3.99. Yep, that's right. Change from a fiver. You can't go wrong.

I can really see this shade being my 'go to' berry lip for the next few months.  It's not dissimilar to the infamous Kate Moss '107' (you can have a nosey at my post on that here if you're interested) - it's slightly lighter, slightly less daunting and not as 'full on'.  If you were a fan of '107' last year but found it difficult to wear, then it's worth looking into this shade.  It's in the same sort of shade range but a little more appropriate for daytime wear and not as dark.   You can find the DeLuxe shade range here on the Boots website. I really do hope they bring out more! I'm hoping to get my hands on a few more shades next time I'm passing on by...

Have you tried Collection's 'DeLuxe' range? Which shade is your current favourite?

Thursday 19 September 2013

Enrapture Totem Styler | My Wavy Hair

Enrapture Totem Styler | £59.99* (Currently on offer for £39.99 at Boots - Link)

One of the most common questions to hit my inbox or comment box revolves around how I style my hair.  Although it's almost always wavy or curled in some way, my hair is actually pretty straight naturally and I've tried all kinds of hot tools and products over the years trying to achieve my desired look.  I love having wavy hair - it's so versatile and doesn't take a great deal of time to achieve once you've got the hang of it. If you wash your hair every other day like me, then it's a good way of keeping it from looking lifeless between washes - you'll often find that once slept on, second-day waves actually require no styling at all - great for when you need to get to work sharpish!  The Enrapture Totem styler is my new addition to my styling tools collection.  It's definitely not your average curling iron - in fact,  it's much more swish... Let me explain why!

The Enrapture Totem styler allows you to fully control the curls you create - from soft, beachy waves to perfected ringlets. Gone are the days where you need to hoard a vast array of different contraptions for different styles -  the Totem Styler allows you to create all kinds of looks with ease.  The wand allows you to control the amount of heat emitted by the barrel at different 'points' using a simple numbered dial - meaning that you can control whether or not you want a tighter curl at the root, or a looser, more voluminous look from root to tip.  For the look shown above, I used the setting '1-2-2', meaning that the curl would be looser at the root, and more defined towards the mid-lengths and bottom layers of my hair.  This is the look I usually opt for - I'm not a big fan of full-on ringlets and like it to look as natural as possible.  I've since played around with the settings a little more, and I find that a '2-2-2' setting (an even, medium heat) creates a similar look but with more definition around the top sections of hair - these 2 settings have become my 'go-to' for creating my hairstyle. A quick spritz of hairspray and I'm good to go.

Since using the Totem Styler, I have noticed a big difference in the way my hair looks after styling.  The titanium plated barrel prevents snagging and help keep your hair smooth and frizz-free.  My hair always feels sleek afterwards and the curls are always beautifully defined, without any frizzy, coarse bits that other wands can tend to leave if you aren't careful.  The Enrapture Heated Rollers are actually another one of my favourite hair tools to use (you can read my review here if you're interested!) and I've found that they provide a similar look and feel to the hair - Enrapture products really do give a perfected finish that I haven't found with other hair tools - they leave your curls looking sleek and soft and perfectly natural rather than over styled. 

I really do love the Totem Styler and I adore Enrapture as a brand.  I still think my  trusty heated rollers have the edge sliiiightly, but I often use the two tools together - touching up little bits with the Totem once I've volumised using the rollers.  Together they have become my little dream team for wavy hair and I honestly couldn't live without them.  They give such a unique look that I haven't been able to achieve with other tools.  Are they worth the money? Absolutely, yes. If I woke up tomorrow and found that they had tottled off somewhere I'd repurchase them without a second thought. Even if you're a beginner when it comes to styling, each product comes with it's own instruction booklet with step-by-step instructions of how to create different looks (they also have videos on the website - so handy!).  Although I was sent the Totem to review, I loved the brand even before I got my mitts on it.  My Heated Rollers were actually a Christmas gift from my mum, and I loved them straight from the first use - my experience with Enrapture has been excellent and if you're looking for a new styling tool, I'd really recommend you take a look at what they have to offer.  They take a little more practice than other tools (it took me a couple of trys before I managed to get a hang of the Totem properly!) but once you've got the 'knack', you'll never go back ;)

You can find the Enrapture website here.
Or take a peek on Boots website (they're on offer for £39.99!)

Fancy having a look at how my hair looks when I've used the rollers? Have a read of my post here!

Have you tried the Totem Styler? How do you like to style your waves?

Monday 16 September 2013

Stargazer Cosmetics | A Coral Obsession

Above: Wearing lipstick in shade '124' and Blusher in '8'

Well. First let me just apologise for that ridiculously posey photo there (oo - we've got a duckface up in here!).  Moving on swiftly... Stargazer is a brand that I've been familiar with in the past - they were around a good couple of years before I started getting into makeup and I always remember them as being one of the first cosmetic brands I ever delved into as a young'un.  When I was contacted to see if I wanted to give a few of their products a try, I was really intrigued to see what they were all about and whether or not my 23 year old self would enjoy experimenting with them just as much as I did in my school days.  What I will say about Stargazer, is that they're quite 'out there' - if you're looking for striking brights or an unusual colour of an kind at a fraction of the high end price, then they're the brand for you.  That being said, they offer a little something for everyone - even a run of the mill neutral obsessive like myself. When discussing the products, I explained to them how much of an obsession I had for anything coral - I thought it was really nice that they sent me over a little selection tailored for my own personal preferences. Let's kick off the reviewing sesh...

Stargazer Powder Blusher | Shade 8 | £3.50*

Firstly, let me just say this blusher is amazing for £3.50.  The pigmentation is the selling point for me - it's incredible.  You only need a quick tap of a brush to get an intense pop of colour which is easily blendable.  The colour is a beautiful orange shade - not for the faint hearted but one that looks beautiful with a bit of a tan.  I'm determined to make it work once my skin tone turns a little paler, but we shall see! Consistency wise, it's quite soft and I don't find it to be chalky at all.  This one is a little winner for me - even the shade selection is impressive (link). 

Stargazer Lipsticks | Shades '124' and '206' | £3.50*

I actually like these more than I thought I would.  I will get the negatives out of the way first and just say I'm not a massive fan of the packaging - if you're not careful when you're replacing the lid you're in tremendous danger of chopping the top off, and it's also quite plastic-y.  Not a massive problem for me as I don't expect gold encrusted tubing for £3.50, but it's worth mentioning for those who are specific about their packaging preferences! The lipstick also has that 'cometic' smell - doesn't put me off but again, preference.  It's easy to overlook these things once you've applied them, and for the simple fact that they aren't your 'everyday' kind of shades.  They're extremely well pigmented and the shape of the lipstick itself makes it really easy to get an even line around the edge of the lips.  They provide a satin/matte sort of finish once on, but don't feel overly drying.  As for longevity, they stay put very well - wearing off to a stain.  The colours are simply stunning and I'm a big fan of the lighter shade (worn in the photographs above) - it reminds me of a slightly more orange version of Mac's 'Costa Chic'.  Again, I'm really tempted to grab a couple of these in more winter-y shades... they're great for a purse friendly lipstick treat if you're a fan of intense colour.

Stargazer Nail Polish | Shade '205' | £2.00*

Stargazer Nail Polishes actually happen to be an old favourite of mine.  I have a little stash of them in my nail polish box and have always adored them. £2 is pretty damn cheap for a nail polish these days, and the quality is really good - I've always found them to resist chipping rather well.  The shade '205' is a gorgeous pearlescent coral/pink - I adore it! I've worn it countless times since I received it and it's become a firm favourite.  Again, it does look stunning with a tan but now I'm a little paler it still looks really pretty.  Usually, with pearlescent finishes, it takes a good number of coats to get the desired effect - as you can see on the nail wheel above, it only took me 2 coats to pretty much get the colour shown in the bottle - a 3rd coat finishes it off nicely but I wouldn't say it's needed.  This has to be my favourite of the bunch - simply because of how much I've loved them in the past.  I think some of the colours they offer are really unique and they're worth every penny.

And there we have it.  Although these products are undoubtedly tailored towards more of a summery makeup 'wardrobe', there's no reason why I won't be wearing these colours throughout the year - the blush especially (i wear coral blushes all year round despite the less than colourful weather...)  I know summer is a little bit of a distant memory for the majority of us now, but my coral/obsession doesn't go away with the sunshine let me tell you! I wasn't expecting to like the lipsticks, but I did - in fact, I loved everything I tried and I'm so glad I've been re-introduced to Stargazer.  For the price, they're very good and if you're a fan of brights, bold colours and statement shades then they're worth having a look at.  They even have some crazy colours for the more daring and 'out there' amongst you (blue lipstick anyone? - I don't think I could quite pull that one off but if you're ever in the market for a blue lippie to embrace your inner smurf - you know where to go...) You can have a look at the Stargazer website here - I have my eye on a few of the deep red lipsticks and neutral blushers...

Have you ever tried Stargazer? Which product tickles your fancy?

Friday 13 September 2013

New John Frieda Products | Tried and Tested!

John Frieda is undoubtedly one of, if not my favourite hair care brand on the market.  I religiously use their 'Blonde' range and I always feel at a bit of a loss if I don't have my trusty 'Volume' shampoo at hand! Whenever people ask me about my hair care routine, I guarantee there's always a John Frieda product or two in there - it's fair to say that my bathroom cabinet houses my very own little JF army!   So, when I had the chance to try some of the new offerings from John Frieda, I was rather chuffed to say the least.  What I love about John Frieda is that there's always something new - the ranges are tailored perfectly for different hair colours and types and the products are almost always of amazing quality and all at a competitive, high street price.  I've been trying these products now for a good few weeks and thought I'd give you my two pennies worth; have they managed to make it into my 'John Frieda Army' or are they just a fleeting member of the 'Not so Sure' crew...? Let us find out, shall we?!

John Frieda | Full Repair | Deep Conditioner 'Hydrate and Rescue' | £6.99*

The John Frieda 'Full Repair' range often finds it's way into my shower! I love the conditioner and often use it if my hair is feeling a little in need of a moisture boost - so I was really intrigued to try the Deep Conditioning version.  This bottle promises to 'restore softness and shine' whilst deeply nourishing the hair strands and repairing the look and feel of any damage.  I found this to work really well on my hair - it left it feeling smooth and silky and easy to comb through and style, and left it looking in good condition with a good bit of shine. Having long hair means that my ends can sometimes lack a little bit of life but this perks it up no end.  It says to leave it on for 2-5 minutes so I always leave it on for as long as I can - the longer you leave it the more beneficial it will be. It's by no means the greatest deep conditioner on the market, and if your hair is considerably dry I'd recommend using this in-between a thicker treatment - but it is without a doubt a very good little deep conditioner that I will definitely repurchase.

John Frieda | Full Repair |  Flyaway Tamer Smoothing Wand | £10.99*

Ok. I'll be honest. Out of everything I thought this would be the one I wasn't going to be too fussed about.  I was intrigued by the wand concept but was unsure if it was going to be more of a gimmick and do nothing more than stir up memories of my 11 year old self getting creative with the blue hair mascara (don't lie, you went there too).  I was wrong.  I actually really like this one! I can only describe it as a serum in handy little tube, that you simply smooth on using the mascara-like wand. It distributes an even amount of product and instantly tames any fly aways.  I get one heck of a load of 'wispy' bits so this has been a little gem of a product for me! It's so simple, and is the perfect handbag friend due to it's size and easy to use concept - no sticky serum hands on the go! It's perfect for going to uni or work, or for events where you might get a little bit of frizz going on (I'll definitely be taking it to my graduation - there's no way that I'm having any 'bird's-nest-barnet' in my photographs!)  The only downside is that it can get a little straw-like if you overdo it.  It's easy to go a bit heavy handed on it (I did simply because I liked the motion of mascara-wanding my hair...) so it's worth using a very light hand and using quick, gentle 'wispy' motions rather than full on combing!

John Frieda | Frizz Ease | Dream Curls Enhancing Oil | £9.99*

This one still holds the 'undecided' status with me.  I have naturally straight hair that I curl or wave using hot tools or rollers - so straight away I wasn't so sure this would work for me what with it being tailored towards naturally curly hair.  However, I gave it a good go.  I noticed it feels more like a cross between a serum and an oil rather than a pure oil - it didn't provide the moisture I usually want from a hair oil.  However, it did seem to work well at defining the curls I went on to style and didn't seem to weigh them down at all - which is great.  I do think it does it's job - I just wasn't blown away by it.  I've taken to using it now as a finishing oil to smooth on once I've styled my hair rather than before - or I mix a drop or two in with my usual oil to give it a bit of 'oomph' which seems to work better for me.  I like it, don't get me wrong, I just don't love it.  Maybe it would work better for people who do have naturally curly hair as I can imagine it would provide a good bit of definition and tame any frizz. 

So, yet again, John Frieda doesn't disappoint! I love that they're always bringing out new things, and for me they still hold a special place in my bathroom cupboard. You can have a nosey at their products on the John Frieda website here, or have a gander at Boot's website - they often have 3 for 2 offers on which is when I tend to replenish my stash - so keep your eyes peeled!

Have you tried any of these products from John Frieda? Have you got a favourite JF product?

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Mac's 'Harmony' Blush | Quick, Simple Contouring

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I am just a little obsessed with contouring and the whole 'sculpted' look.  I feel somewhat un-finished without a quick sweep of highlighting powder and a touch of bronzing powder along my cheekbones.  However, contouring every single day can be a bit of a faff - especially when you need to get out of the house pretty sharpishly! I really wanted something that made defining the cheekbones quick and easy for those days where you don't want to spend a great deal of time doing your make-up.  Mac's 'Harmony' blush is just the product I was looking for.  Although it may not look much in the pan, it's one of the most multi-functional, easy to use cheek products I've used and it makes creating a subtle contoured look simple, easy and quick to achieve.  I can only describe it as a mid-way between a bronzer and a blush - it definitely leans towards a bronzer, but the slight pink/red tones in it takes away any orangeness and provides it with a certain warmth that looks really natural when applied.  It is described on the Mac website as a 'muted rose-beige brown' and I would agree with that - it does have a certain 'hint' of rose in there - although it definitely is more toned down and extremely subtle.

All you need is a quick sweep and you're done in a swish (yes, I just said 'sweep' and 'swish' in the same sentence...couldn't resist!).  It instantly defines and gives a beautiful, natural effect without the need for any contouring techniques or time spent applying a variety of products and corresponding brushes - with 'Harmony', you can achieve that sculpted appearance quickly and easily with just one product and a blush brush.  The matte finish is perfect for sculpting the face as it doesn't contain any shimmers - it provides a smooth, natural look.  I simply use my Real Techniques blush brush to apply; gently sweeping it along the cheeks and blending out towards the hairline to create a soft, contoured look.  Instantly, it makes my cheekbones appear more defined and my cheeks appear a little brighter and healthier - it really is a sculpting powder and a blush rolled into one!  If I want a slightly more dramatic effect, I'll sometimes go in with my Real Techniques Contour brush and define a little more around the top of the cheekbones - but that's what so great about it - you're able to build up the colour lightly, to the level you're after.   I've even used a light dusting across my forehead and down the centre of the nose for a soft bronzed look.  It really is so easy to use.

If you're a little intimidated by bronzers or aren't too confident when it comes to contouring, I'd really recommend this little gem.  It looked wonderful with a tan over the summer, and looks even more striking now that my skin is paler - there is no doubt I will be using this throughout winter.  It's perfect for uni as it looks more natural for a daytime look, and it's so quick and easy to do.  It is very much one of those 'sweep and go' kind of products.  The soft, rosey-brown colour is also perfect for this time of year - it's understated, simple and will compliment almost any make-up look - the perfect finishing touch!  I didn't take a photograph of me wearing it specifically for this post, but if you're itching to get an idea of what it looks like when worn, then I used it for this little FOTD in this recent post.  Also, whilst we are on the subject of contouring, I  have a simple tutorial here if you're after some ideas, and I've written about another one of my all-time favourite sculpting products here. 

Have you tried Mac's Harmony? What is your favourite go-to blush right now?

Sunday 8 September 2013

Not Another Maybelline Baby Lips...

Oh yes. I went there. I swore to myself that I would not become a member of 'The Maybelline Baby Lips crew'. But I did. I also swore that I wouldn't post about it. But I have.  For a good while now, us Brits have been deprived of such a cult Maybelline product and have been left twiddling our thumbs wondering if and when the infamous Baby Lips would ever arrive in the UK. And so you can imagine the excitement when finally, after all that time, we could finally get our mitts on our very own without having to book a flight half-way across the world. BIG yays. Sounds silly really. After all, it is just a lip balm. There's plenty of other lip balms in the world to satisfy our lip balm-y needs, but Baby Lips just has that 'got to have it' appeal. Maybe it's the endearing plastic packaging that half-reminds us of our 'tweenager' days, maybe it's the promise of deliciously fruity flavours, or maybe it's just because it's one of the most hyped up lip balms I've yet to come across. Either way, we all dashed to our nearest Maybelline stands in the blink of an eye.  I'm aware that the bloggosphere is simply flooded with reviews and whatnot - but I thought I'd add my two pennies worth anyway...

After a great deal of decision making, I finally settled on 'Peach Kiss'.  Anything 'peachy' is a winner in my books. The colour pay off isn't amazing - but neither did I expect it to be.  It shows up better on my arm than it does on the lips - in fact, there would be no point in trying to take a photo of it in action, as the shade does nothing more than maybe smooth out my natural lip colour slightly.  I do like a lip balm to be more or less colourless anyway as I often apply lipstick over the top. If you like a bit more colour pay off for your money then it's worth opting for 'Cherry Me' or some of the more pink-y shades.  As for the actual moisturising properties - yeah, it's quite good.  Better than some lip balms I've tried. It doesn't have that 'waxy' feel that a lot of balms tend to have. It's definitely a lot more smooth and it feels nice to apply.  I half imagined it to wear off as soon as I'd popped some on, but it doesn't. It stays on quite nicely and although it doesn't live up to the '8 Hour' claim, it stays put a lot better than some of my other balms. I love the fact it contains SPF20 - always a nice little addition! It definitely does 'quench' the lips when you apply it - and the amazing fruity smell just makes it even more addictive.

Overall, (dare I say it) I really like Maybelline's Baby Lips. I wouldn't go as far as to say it's the best lip balm ever, because it's not.  It's definitely not one I'd recommend if you were really suffering with dry lips, but it's a great everyday addition to your handbag and it's nice to apply before lipstick to prevent dry patches. It's not sticky, it doesn't 'sit' on the lips and it doesn't feel greasy or gloopy - pretty good for £2.99 - but don't expect miracles! Would I buy another one? Probably. But I reckon it's more the fun packaging and novelty factor rather than actual moisturising properties.   

There's no denying it's a fun, quirky little lip balm to own - and I half want to rush out and buy myself a pink fluffy pencilcase to store it in along with lots of glitter gel pens and miniature notebook keyrings... There's something about it that just reminds me of products I used to stuff in my pencilcase in my school days. Is that just me?...

Have you given in to Maybelline's Baby Lips yet? What's your favourite one?! Did you love it, or hate it?