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Sunday 30 March 2014

Lauren's Way | Darker than Dark 'Glam Tan' Spray

Lauren's Way | Darker than Dark Spray Tan | £19.95* | Link

Summer creeping around the corner can only mean one thing. Yes ladies - it's time to start waving goodbye to the trusty opaque tights and hello to weeks and weeks of  regimented hair removal - waheey!  If the thought of getting your less than summer-ready pins out makes you shudder in your fluffy slippers, a layer or two of the ol' fake tan never fails to perk them up in a jiffy.  Just recently, I've been testing out this offering from Lauren's Way.  I've always been intrigued by the range - I'm forever reading fabulous reviews and comments on Twitter about just how great it is and the fact I'm a self-confessed TOWIE fan only added to my excitement.  As soon as I tried it, I loved it.  In fact, I'm going to throw it out there - I reckon I've found my new favourite fake tan.  It featured in my monthly favourites a couple of weeks ago (you can have a read here) so it just goes to show how much I love it as I thought it needed it's very own post. 

Firstly, I have to say I'm slightly surprised at just how quickly I warmed to using a spray.  I've always been very much a mousse-y kinda girl with the odd lotion thrown in here and there - St Tropez and Xen Tan have to be the only 2 fake tans I've ever really liked. However, Lauren's Way is SO easy to use the guide colour means that it's really easy to see where you've been - and it isn't messy or hard to apply in the slightest. You can either spray directly onto the skin and blend with a mitt, or apply onto the mitt beforehand and then buff into the skin - either way works equally well and it's really easy to achieve a smooth, even colour.  I'm completely and utterly sold on the spray version and I would 100% repurchase the spray again - I find it's actually much less effort than a lotion or a mousse - and it dries almost instantly.  It's also really quick to apply as there's no real 'massaging in' routine that's needed like there is with a mousse or lotion - you literally just spray, buff in and go.  I can easily do my entire body in 10 minutes.

Just one coat is enough to give a deep, even tan. The colour is quite dark - but it's not orangey in slightest. It gives the same colour to my skin that I'd achieve if I'd been in the sun for a few days - very olive toned and natural.  One of the main selling points for me though, is the fact that this tan doesn't seem to smell like typical fake tans to me (which is what puts me off doing it as I can't stand smelling like a digestive!).  It has a very light, fresh scent when you first apply it, but once it's on you can hardly smell it whatsoever. Perfect! It also seems to last much longer than other tans on me - I find I don't have to 'top up' half as much - and I'm always happy with the colour it gives after just one application (finally, a tan I don't have to layer up!) I would have posted a 'before and after' photograph - but to be honest, I've been wearing this tan non-stop since I got it so I haven't had pale skin in a good few weeks now. Hopefully, you get the jist of the application from the photos above.  Overall, I have to say I love Lauren's Way - and as soon as I run out of this bottle I'm going to be ordering another pretty swiftly! It really is as good as everyone says...

Have you tried Lauren's Way?

Sunday 23 March 2014

Love Me Beauty Box | March

LoveMeBeauty Box | £10 plus £2.95 p+p | Link

This month's LoveMeBeauty box is a good'un, let me tell you! I was super excited to see The Vintage Cosmetics Company popping up on the menus for March - I've always wanted to try their lashes after grabbing some of their makeup brushes a few months ago so it's fair to say that this month's offering was rather enticing to say the least! Also, as soon as I saw Nip & Fab's 'Eye Fix' featured on one of the menus - I was sold - I'm all for a good under-eye product, me! Anyway, let's get to it, shall we? Here's what I unwrapped in this month's box...

The Vintage Cosmetic Company | False Lashes in 'Gracie' | RRP £6
I love a good lengthening pair of false lashes.  I often find overly-dramatic ones weigh my eyes down and can actually make my eyes look smaller, so I always opt for lighter, more natural ones like this. These 'Gracie' lashes are right up my street - I love the shape of them and I cannot wait to give them a whirl.

Quintessentially English | Bath Salts in 'English Rose' (sample size) | RRP £4.25
I don't think I could ever contemplate getting in a bath without some form of 'smelly' in there somewhere, surely that's not just me?! I've never really tried bath salts so I'll certainly look forward to tipping these into the tub next time I fancy a relax sesh.  They're made with dead sea salt and essential oils, so they're meant to provide subtle exfoliating qualities as well as a dose of moisture.  The only thing I'm not entirely sold on is the scent - I'm not a florals girl whatsoever and I received the scent 'English Rose'. I'll still use them nonetheless and they aren't overly strong so I might surprise myself and end up loving the rose scent. I've read other reviews of this month's box and there seems to be a lovely variety in scents available - I'm still rather excited to crack this little packet open!

Deep Steep | Moisture Stick in 'Lavender Chamomile' (Full Size) | RRP £3.60
I was quite intrigued by this product this month - I've never heard of Deep Steep but the concept of a moisture stick really tickled my fancy.  One of the reasons I opted for 'Menu 1' was because of the Lavender and Chamomile scent of this one - if you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know that I absolutely LOVE lavender scented stuff. I find it so relaxing and I often pop some oil on my pulse points before bed as I find it sends me off to sleep much quicker.  I've been using this stick non stop since I received it.  Honestly, it's SO good for moisture on the go! No faffing around with tubes or tubs - you simply just twist up and apply to the specific area.  I seem to have irritable skin at the minute (I'm pointing the blame at the time of year!) so this has been an absolute god-send and it has to be my favourite product in this month's box.

BlanX | White Shock Toothpaste (sample size) | RRP £7.50 (not pictured individually)
Firstly, let me just apologise for not individually photographing every product this month (i know, bad blogger alert or what?!) Of all these glorious, sunny days we've been having just recently, I chose the dullest, greyest, most rainy-est day of the bunch to take this batch. If you're a fellow blogger, I'm sure you'll feel my pain here... Anyway, moans and grumbles about the weather aside (typical UK blogger!), I was surprised to see BlanX featured in this month's box.  I'm still unsure how I feel about this one - I'm not sure I can get overly excited about receiving toothpaste.  Although this one does have whitening properties and I'll probably get use out of it, it's not something I'd usually buy... I'm definitely going to give it a try though. Who doesn't want whiter tegs?!

Murad | Sheer Lustre Day Moisturiser (7.5 sample size) | RRP £64 (not pictured individually)
WHOA!? £64 for the full size?! I am going to use this sample size like gold dust! This daily moisturiser is said to help restore a youthful, dewy glow to the skin and help towards maintaining a healthy complexion.  It deeply hydates whilst protecting against UV rays, at the same time as minimising lines.  Sounds jolly good to me.  I shall have to see what I reckon to this next time I need to break in to a new moisturiser...

Nip+Fab | CC Eye Fix in 'Light' (full size) | RRP £6
 Eeeek. This product has made me a happy chappy this month.  Admittedly, I haven't actually used this yet so I shall have to save the review for a later date, but I'm so excited to get testing it out! It's essentially an eye cream and lightweight concealer in one, and refreshes and brightens the under eye area. The light diffusing pigments lift the appearance of the eyes and bright light to the under-eyes, and the beeswax it contains helps to protect and care for delicate skin.  To apply, you simply twist the bottom of the tube and apply to the face.  The peachy pink undertones to the concealer will definitely help to counteract those pesky dark circles! It's very, very lightweight though, so on those days where the dark circles really are packing a punch, I might still require a little bit of the heavy-duty stuff - but I can't wait to test it out! It looks so promising!

Overall, this month's box has been a winner for me! The Deep Steep moisture stick and the Vintage Cosmetics Company lashes have to top the mark for me - and I'm jolly well chuffed to have the Nip+Fab Eye Cream in my possession! LoveMeBeauty box is really good value for money and every month I always end up finding something new to love.  For £10 (plus p+p) you get a choice of menus each month and each box is worth at least £35 - I've known some to be worth upwards of £50/60 and the variety of brands and products each month keeps things fresh and interesting!  You can have a nosey at the brands and concept behind the box over on the LoveMeBeauty website here.

Are you subscribed to Love Me Beauty? Which menu did you opt for this month?

Friday 21 March 2014

A Selection of Bourjois Goodies...

Bourjois really are pulling out all the stops just recently with lots of new releases - it's no surprise that many of their products are being propelled swiftly into the blogger limelight! I'm particularly fond of their range of lip products and you can often find me having a good ol' swatch sesh at their stand - so I was really chuffed to have the chance to try out a few of their liners and, of course, the ever famous CC Cream! It's received one heck of a lot of praise amonst the blogger community just recently, hasn't it?  As the warmer weather seems to be creeping around the corner (albeit extremely slowly), it's good timing for this little tube to arrive on my doorstep.  I'm all for a dewy, light coverage as soon as the lighter nights start drawing in...So what did I reckon to this bunch of lovely Bourjois goodies? I shall get cracking with the nitty-gritty... 

123 Perfect CC Cream | £9.99* | Link
This clever little colour correcting base is filled with a selection of pigments in order to counteract dreaded dark circles, redness and dark spots. Been out on the tiles one too many times over the weekend? Fear not, this CC cream makes you look fresh, dewy and awake in a flash.  I'm all for a light coverage as soon as spring/summer rolls around, and although I must admit I'm not quite ready to put down my trusty bottle of Nars Sheer Glow yet, this CC cream has been my answer for those days where you just want a little bit of coverage but don't want to go all out with the foundation. It's so lightweight and blendable, and actually has a pretty good amount of coverage to say it's a CC cream - it counteracts any redness with ease, covers any blemishes or dark spots and even does a jolly good job at knocking out those pesky dark circles (and by heck - have I got a lot of those just recently!).  In the past, I've often found BB/CC Creams can lean much too pink or orange for me - but this little beauty matches my Simpson-esque yellow-toned skin perfectly! Hooray! It's almost undetectable and it doesn't look like I'm wearing anything at all - I love it!  If you do suffer with a little bit of redness (I don't tend to get a great deal of it so I can't vouch too much for this aspect) I can imagine it would be a great option to try due to the pigments it contains and the fact it leans a little more yellow.  Oh, and to top it all off, it also smells really nice and fresh - just what you want from a lighter coverage base.  The CC Cream comes in 4 shades, however, it's worth swatching in store - I have the shade 'Light Beige' and it seems to match my skin perfectly as it has more of a yellow undertone. Overall, I have to say I am very much in the rave camp when it comes to this product...Pat on the back, Bourjois. You have suitably impressed me.

Liner Feutre in 'Moka' and 'Violine' | £6.99* | Link
When it comes to liquid liner, I'm very much stuck in the 'black and nothing but black' rut - I know, call me boring - but I just stick to what I know.  However, these coloured options have certainly shook things up a little of late.  I've discovered I'm actually rather partial to a pop of subtle colour across the upper lash line now and again, who would have thought?! I love the purple because it really sets off the green tones in my eyes, and the brown version puts a neutral twist on my usual liquid-liner.   It's good to mix things up sometimes, right? I love the shape of these liners - they're very much my cup of tea and are so easy to get a good 'weight of line' going on. The felt-tip style works in their favour and they're super easy to apply and last pretty well too.  Yep. These are right up my street. 

Mega Liner | £7.49* | Link
Ok. I'm still a little undecided about this one.  I love the colour - the intense black shade really does crank up the definition and the staying power really is unbelievable. Honestly, could I get this swatch off my arm? No. No I couldn't get this swatch off my arm. It was the same story for my eyes - this stuff stays put - and it doesn't fade easily either. So if intense, long lasting black-ness is what you're searching for, this is well worth looking into.  However, I just can't seem to get on with the shape of the nib.  I very much prefer a tapered, felt-tip styled tip and if you have a tendancy to be a little cack-handed (even slightly) - you might find this will drive you up the wall. It's easy to achieve a variety of weights of line and it's quite good for getting a good flick going on - but it might take a bit of getting used to. If you're the type to think 'aint nobody got time for that' when it comes to fiddly things, then you might prefer the Liner Feutres featured above (much easier to get on with in my opinion!)

Beauty'full Volume Dark Kohl Mascara | £7.99* | Link
I'm extremely, extremely fussy with mascaras.  I can only think of 2 I actually love and repurchase on a regular basis - to say I'm a blogger and therefore try a great deal of different mascara offerings, that's saying something isn't it? It takes a lot to impress me. I must admit I do like the wand - the hourglass-typed shape really works at getting all of those piddly little lashes coated and it's quite good at getting into the inner corners of the eyes. I'm a big fan of Benefit's They're Real and one of the selling points of that one for me is the little 'spines' (is there a technical word for those things?!) at the tip of the wand - this one is quite similar in that aspect.  I also like the 'fullness' it provides my lashes with and it does give an intense black look.  I do like this mascara, but I'm not head over heels in love as yet. However, I always prefer mascaras once they're dried up ever so slightly, so I shall reserve judgement until then. It has good potential.

Overall, a fab selection of products from Bourjois and I wasn't disappointed with any of them. Personally, the CC Cream has to be my favourite of the bunch - it really is as good as everyone says (believe me I tried to fault it - I can't - shucks!) The 2 coloured liners are also really lovely - I like the fact they aren't too bright or 'in your face' - they provide a subtle pop of colour that's very wearable for daytime wear (even for a colour-phobe like me!) 

Have you tried any of these Bourjois products? What did you reckon?

Sunday 16 March 2014

Sleek 'Hero' Products

When it comes to drugstore brands, Sleek have to be one of my all time favourites. I'm particularly fond of their collection of blushes and face palettes and their Brow Kit was one of the first eyebrow products I ever fell in love with.  I always find their products to be incredibly pigmented and really good in terms of quality and wear-time.   Without jibbering on any further, I shall jump straight in and talk you through some of Sleek's 'Hero' products...

Sleek Eyebrow Kit in 'Light' | £8.49* | Link
I make no exaggerations when I say that this kit completely transformed my eyebrow routine.  Honestly, before I discovered this duo, my brows weren't exactly what you'd call 'top notch' - in fact, I look back at photographs and wonder what the flippin'eck I was thinking!  I have to spend quite some time filling in my brows of a morning because they're so light in colour (blame the blonde barnet!) so having a powder and a coloured wax in one palette is very handy for those mornings when I need to get up and go.  I actually find the 'Dark' kit works fine on my brows as well depending on the level of definition I fancy - sometimes I'll sweep a bit of the darker shade into the arch but overall, the 'Light' version seems to look most natural on me.  I simply sweep a bit of the powder through them, making sure that I'm creating definition into the arch, and then brush a little of the wax on to help set them in place.  If you've been after Benefit's 'Brow Zings', then Sleek's version is more or less an exact dupe aside from the fact the wax is a little softer.  Well worth the money!

Sleek Face Form Palette in 'Light' | £9.99* | Link
Ohhh my love for this product runs deep, let me tell you! It's been featured on my blog a fair few times in the past so I won't say too much about it as you can read my full review here.  It's essentially one of my favourite palettes for all my contouring, highlighting and blusher-ing needs! The blush shade in the palette is an amazing dupe for Nars' infamous 'Orgasm' blusher and looks amazing throughout the summer months.  I always end up taking this one away on holiday with me - it's got everything you can possibly need all in one place - and if you're a contouring fan like me, then it's well worth getting your mitts on.

Sleek 'Blush by 3' in Pink Lemonade | £9.99* | Link
I've really been getting into my pinks just recently. I know, shocking right? I've actually given corals and oranges a temporary heave-ho for the time being! This palette is simply stunning. It contains 2 powder blushes on either side and has a cream version in the middle for those days where you fancy a bit of something more dewy.  This palette has to be one of my new favourites and I shall certainly be picking up another shade of their 'Blush by 3' palettes in the near future - they're well worth the money! Each blush is incredibly pigmented, really easy to blend and the addition of the cream blush makes it perfect for travelling as you have the choice of 3 different shades, of varying consistencys.   The cream blush is such a lovely addition to the palette - I've only ever tried Sleek's Powder Blushes but their cream ones are just the ticket - really creamy, moisturising and dewy and pigmented but blendable.  Everything my cream blush dreams are made of...

Have you tried any of these Sleek products? What's your favourite blush by them? I'd love to add a new one to my collection!

Thursday 13 March 2014

Mac's 'Viva Glam Rihanna' Lipstick

Mac Viva Glam Rihanna Lipstick | £15.00 | Link

Ok, Ok. I hold my hands up and admit I'm a complete lipstick addict - they have to be my ultimate weakness. Let's face it - I really didn't need yet another red in my stash but Rihanna's new offering for Mac's Viva Glam collection caught my attention in an instant.  I'm not sure whether it was the sleek, matte red bullet, the classic cherry red tone or the simple fact that Rihanna created it (do you need any other reason?!) - but I needed it in my life. I have to say, it's unlike any other red that I have in my collection and I'm so glad I gave in to temptation and impulse-purchased this little beauty (woops...). It's quite unique really - it looks completely different on everybody. Seriously, google it.  I was completely baffled when I went searching for reviews - it really does completely transform depending on your skin tone and colouring.  On some, it looks like a beautiful classic cool-toned red, and on others it appears like a pop of bright cherry red.  Either way,  it's stunning - although I can imagine this red isn't going to be loved by all...

Viva Glam Rihanna is a frost finish Mac lipstick (cue lots of people grimacing in disappointment - Mac's frost finish lipsticks are well known to be less than favourable!), however, do not let that put you off! One of my favourite ever Mac lipsticks has to be 'Costa Chic' - the frost finish actually compliments the colour and gives it much more dimension on the lips.  I find Viva Glam Rihanna to be very similar - the fact that it's such a pigmented, strong colour means it actually works very well with the frosted finish and it actually isn't overly 'frosty' whatsoever.  The frost finish does not effect the colour pay off and it gives the colour more of a sheen as opposed to a dated, 'wishy-washy' sort of look. The pigmentation is spot on - it's a very strong red that doesn't need building up - what you see is what you get.  It can settle into fine lines slightly but it's nothing a bit of balm won't fix and I don't find it to be overly drying.   The shade is described on the Mac website as a 'Frosty Blue-Red', and I have to agree with this.  It definitely does lean towards the cooler end of the spectrum. However, it has a certain brightness to it that makes it quite unique - I hate to use the word 'pop' (i shudder at such cliche words...) but really, that's the only way I can describe it - a pop of statement red. On me, it appears like a bright, cherry-ish red with a blue-ish undertone to it, but I've seen this on other people and it appears much more warm and bright.  The frost finish actually makes this lipstick for me - it gives that added bit of dimension and helps the lips to appear fuller - I personally find it works in it's favour and it actually looks very flattering. It's essentially a classic red with a little bit of a twist.  

Part of me can't help but wish it had arrived in stores before Christmas as it would have been perfect! But you can never go wrong with a slick of red lipstick any time of year can you? The limited edition packaging is also a lovely little novelty! Of course, bare in mind that this shade won't be for everyone, and it's worth swatching in store before you buy - I admit I didn't exactly need this shade (I find it quite similar to 'Mac Red' but with added dimension) however, it's one that I know I will get use out of and I really like the slight shimmer it has to it. Viva Glam Rihanna retails for £15.00 and as with all lipsticks from the Viva Glam range, the full RRP (minus VAT) from the sale goes towards helping people across the globe effected by HIV/AIDS - so rest assured your mid-week lipstick treat is going to a good cause!  I have to say, this is the first time I've ever been tempted by the matching lipglass.  From what I've seen on other blogs, the two look absolutely amazing when paired together but sadly, me and Mac lip glosses don't exactly get on like a house on fire... (if you're a lip gloss fan - it might be just your cup of tea, though!). You can find Viva Glam Rihanna on Mac's website here.

Have you tried Mac's Viva Glam Rihanna? What did you reckon?

Sunday 9 March 2014

Monthly Favourites | February

You know when you have one of those months where you seem to switch up everything in your usual routine and find a tonne of new products to get your mitts into? Well, February was one of those months for me.  I fell in love with yet another contouring product, discovered that I actually do suit pink blush and I found an amazing alternative to endless root-backcombing. Waheyy! Sounds like a jolly good month, I hear you say? Without further ado, I shall get cracking with my February favourites. Grab a brew - there's a few ;)

Mac Lipstick in 'Fanfare'
I've finally found my perfect 'every day' pink lip. The kind that isn't so nude it looks barely there or washed out, but just vibrant enough to make an impression - Mac's 'Fanfare' really is such a stunner.  I wrote a full post on this beauty earlier in the week (you can have a read of that here) and I really cannot live without this in my handbag at the moment.  It brightens up my complexion in a flash and is so super creamy and pigmented.  It seems to work really well against my skin tone.

Nars Blush in 'Deep Throat'
I don't usually reach for pink blushes.  I tend to opt for corals, peaches and oranges purely because I feel safer with them and I often think my skin tone works best with a warmer flush of colour. However, this month, I've fallen head over heels for Nars' 'Deep Throat' - a beautiful pink with slight coral undertones (which is why I think it works so well for me).  It's so warming and brightening on the complexion and is super buildable and easy to blend.  I adore it. I wrote a full post on this blush earlier in the month (you can find it here) so if you fancy reading more on my thoughts, head on over!

Illamasqua Sculpting Duo
Oh look! Another contouring product is featured on Beth's blog... I have written a full post on this product here, so I won't go into this one too much - but I think I may have found my new favourite contour powder.  The highlighting shade is simply stunning - honestly, I can't even begin to explain how much I love it.  Just the lightest touch of a brush is all you need and it brings light to the face without going all 'disco ball, jazz hands and glitter' - perfect! The contour shade leans ever so slightly grey - making it the perfect companion for scultping out those cheekbones.  Slightly pricey - but worth every penny if you're a contouring addict like me.

Lauren's Way Glam Tan - Darker than Dark Spray*
I must admit, I wasn't expecting to love this half as much as I do.  But I'm addicted! I'm planning on doing a full post on this soon so I won't say too much - but it really is such an amazing fake tan and I can see why it receives so much hype on Twitter! I usually opt for mousses or gel-like consistencies when it comes to my fake tan, but I reckon Lauren's Way has converted me to a spray.  I simply spray a few pumps onto a mitt, or onto my skin depending on where I'm tanning, and blend away.  It's easy to see where you've been and it's so easy to blend - honestly, it's fool proof! No streaky business here! What I love about it though is the fact it doesn't smell whatsoever. Seriously?! Has anyone else tried this and been super impressed at the lack of biscuit aroma?! Blow me down with a feather - I'm amazed! I usually put off fake tanning purely because I can't stand smelling like a digestive for an entire night/day - but I could quite happily let this develop for the 8 hours without getting a whiff of fake tan whatsoever.  The colour is also really natural - it's quite dark, but it's very olive toned and doesn't look false at all. Hats off to you Lauren - your fake tan really is as good as everyone says.

Benefit Gimme Brow*
Again, I've already written a full review of these earlier in the month (link).  They received a rave review from me and I'm still loving them just as much.  They've completely altered my brow routine and for someone who's brows lack in the volume department, they're a god send.  I love the fact they're so buildable and provide such natural results. My eyebrows have never looked so defined! They really do stay put all day as well.

Lord & Berry Smudge Proof Liner in 'Smoke'*

Why wear black when you can go grey?! I've discovered a love for grey liner this month - it provides definition to the eyes without looking too smokey or heavy for day time.  I usually find black can look a little heavy and has a tendency to smudge on me - but Lord & Berry's 'Smoke' pencil stays put all day without fail and gives my eyes that much desired definition without looking too 'OTT'.  I received this in one of my Love Me Beauty boxes (post here) and was impressed with it from the start - the texture is quite waxy but it's very easy to apply and it lasts amazingly well.

Loreal '#TXT' Volume Supersizing Spray
Again, another product I wasn't expecting miracles from but I was pleasantly surprised. This stuff is seriously good! It beats any volume powder I've tried by a mile.  It smells beautiful and fresh too.  Just a quick spritz of this through roots/mid-lengths of my hair and a quick 'fluff' about,  and I'm left with  a seriously voluminous barnet in a jiffy.   It doesn't last amazingly well, however, it's perfect when you need a bit of a boost and it puts some much needed 'oomph' back in when your hair has lost it's mojo.  I take this everywhere with me now. I couldn't live without it. . I've had this can for a few weeks now too - so you definitely get your money's worth. 

Sanctuary Skin Comforting Body Butter
I know body butters aren't the most exciting product to speak about but I reckon I've found a new favourite.  I adore the texture of this one - it's so moisturising and blends and sinks into the skin like an absolute dream. It smells really pretty - like almonds, milk and powdery-freshness (fab explanation there, Beth...) I'm going to dash out and repurchase another tub as soon as this one runs out - I really recommend trying this if you're after a richly moisturising body butter.  It leaves the skin feeling so baby soft and smooth.

Organic Surge 2 Minute Moisture Mask*
I have a lot to thank this hair mask for, I really do.  It is so easy to use and works a treat on thirst-deprived hair.  It leaves my hair feeling silky, smooth and easier to manage and gets rid of any frizz.  I was actually sent this a while back (you can read my review here) and I will 100% be grabbing myself another tub now that I've finished this one. 

Have you tried and loved any of these products as much as me?

Friday 7 March 2014

University - To Go or Not To Go | Tips & Advice

Image | found via Pinterest [edited]

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll be aware that I sometimes go off on one and throw a bit of a random non-beauty post into the mix. This, my friends, is one of those posts.  Spur of the moment n' all that.  I really wanted to put my two pennies worth into the whole 'uni vs not going to uni' thing - it's a discussion I've had many a time and I've seen the positives and negatives of both sides of the coin.  I'll be coming at this from more of a 'creative subject' angle (I study Graphic Design) so this post probably won't be relevant to everybody - but I'm sure there will be little hints and bitesize chunks of advice you can take away from this and apply to any subject. Of couse, nobody's situation is the same and so my experience might not be relatable in the slightest - either way, I hope there's some form of helpful hint in here you can take away if you're coming up to making the whole 'shall i/shan't i' decision...

Is uni right for me? Some people know exactly what they want to do in life straight from the get go. Good on them, eh? Sadly, I wasn't one of these people. I was always a good all-rounder at school and I always worked hard but I never really knew what I wanted to go into for a career. I'd always been creative ever since I first picked up a colouring crayon but I was never one to kid myself.  I knew I wasn't going to be able to sit in a merry little studio all day, painting pretty pictures and drinking cups of tea whilst nibbling away at a pack of McVities HobNobs from 9-5 (I know for a fact other creative people have had this daydream when at school...) When I finished college (where, suprise suprise, I took Fine Art...), I was the only person out of my whole course who wasn't progressing to university.  When everyone else was putting together portfolios, I was sorting out a new contract at work and ordering a new work shirt. I felt as if I'd gone as far as I could go, I'd had my fun and it was time to move on from the happy little bubble called education.  I was just being realistic - after all, I'm sure if you're similar to me that you've often sat there and wondered how the flippin'eck you make a career out of simply being good at creative stuff? I didn't want to go to uni, study for 4 years and come away with a bar job and one heck of a lot of debt in my hands. I knew for a fact uni wasn't right for me at the time. And when I look back now I'm so glad I didn't go as soon as the end of college rolled round.

Yes, I missed out on the whole 'going out' scene because whenever my friends were out on the tiles I was, quite frankly, too bloody tired to do anything aside from scramble into a hoodie and pyjamas after I'd finished my shift.  I grew apart from a lot of my friends simply because I was working all the time and they got fed up of asking me to go out and I noticed over time that I'd developed a completely new outlook on life compared to them. Not going to uni allowed me to grow so much as a person over the next 3 years and it was the best decision I ever made.  I think you know deep down whether or not you want to go to uni - 'gut instinct' is a very powerful thing.  Luckily, my family have never ever forced me into believing I need a degree to get anywhere in life so I never had conflicting opinions from them.  I guess my only advice to you would be to just do what feels right for at the time.  Don't give in to tutors trying to encourage you to apply for uni (and my goodness did I get a lot of that...), don't give in to friends trying to persuade you to follow a similar path to them and just think about what is best for you. If, like me, you aren't sure whether the subject you're taking will provide you with decent career options, it's maybe time to have a little think about whether or not all that time and money is worth it. There is nothing wrong with plodding along in a job for a while.  You can always apply later down the line when you've had time to re-consider your options. On the other hand, it could turn out to be one of the best things you ever did but I think my main piece of advice is not to get caught up in the 'going to uni hype'. Seriously take some time to consider pros and cons and think about what you're actually going to do once you get that degree (sadly, all those cheap Jagerbombs and amazing nights out you don't remember add up to sod all once reality rolls around...)

Choosing a subject. Don't take a subject for the sake of it - it's a lot of work (despite what your first year might fool you into believing!) and you'll be spending a lot of late nights working on deadlines and all the boring bits inbetween. If you're umming and arring over a subject, then maybe you aren't completely ready to go to uni just yet.  At the same time, I can't really talk... I applied to uni on a complete whim at the age of 21. I'd been unhappy at work for over a year (it's only when I look back i realise how deeply unhappy and unfulfilled I really was), and one day I just completely cracked.  I'd had enough of customers speaking to me like I was a few sandwiches short of a picnic and I wanted out. Straight away.  I was completely done with sales and retail and I'd began to realise it was nothing more than a short term option for me. After having a particularly heated 'discussion' with an irate customer I came home, grabbed the phone and asked for a prospectus from the two nearest universities to me and that was that.  I saw 'Graphic Design' and knew I had to apply.  I'd always had it in the back of mind from being at school - I'd just never considered it properly before now.  It was the perfect choice - it was creative, it was something I could make a career from and it was something I knew I'd enjoy learning about. Choose something that not only you enjoy doing and something you'll be engaged with, but something that you know you can make a future from. Listen to your instincts and don't opt for something 'just because'.

Choosing a uni. This is the next biggie isn't it? For me, I wasn't bothered about the whole going out every night and getting hammered 'life experience' aspect - I just wanted a new focus in life and a new career option so I knew for a fact I didn't want to go to a 'big' uni where I knew there would be emphasis placed on getting as drunk as you possily can every single weekend of your life. I didn't want to move from home as I wanted to keep my job part-time and earn at the same time as studying. This narrowed it down straight away and it was an easy choice to make.  My course is actually done at a college - but it's validated and split between the uni in my area.  Don't throw out the option of a smaller uni or HE course at a college simply because they might not look as good on paper. If, like me, you really don't want to be going out every night of your life and spending all your dollar on alcohol (i'm aware I'm probably in the minority here ;)) - it's worth considering. I also know for a fact I wouldn't have gotten half the opportunites i've had from going to a smaller uni than I would have done going to one of the 'biggies'.  The experience is much more personal and I have a lot to thank my tutor for as he's gotten to know me personally and none of us are 'just a number'.  I managed to secure a work placement within my first year - something I probably wouldn't have done if I'd gone to a bigger uni.  At the same time though, you have to consider the facilities might be better at a more well-known uni.  Again, you just have to weigh up the pros and the cons for what you want to gain out of it.

Funding. The big worry everyone must have, surely? I know I certainly did! I never considered uni until I was 21, so to be honest, I didn't know how it all worked and I was completely clueless when it came to student loans and grants and whatnot.  After earning a decent(ish) full-time wage for quite some time, this was the element that nearly killed off going to uni for me.  I spent many an evening in Costa working out how I was going to survive on a student loan, spreadsheet in hand. Now, I'm aware I sound over-dramatic here - I'm lucky enough to be able to live at home so it was never the fact that I might not have a roof over my head or food to eat.  BUT, if you've spent some time working your arse off, you'll know what I mean when I say you become accustomed to a certain amount of money each month! Of course, my disposable income at this time was so unrealistic (totally took that for granted) but I felt so scared when I looked at the difference in what I'd have to live off each month compared to what I was used to.  I look back now and think I was being absolutely effing ridiculous, but there's no doubt that funding yourself is a massive factor in going to uni.   However, when you actually look into how it all works, it really isn't as scary as you think and you learn to live within your means. Funding has gone up since I applied, but don't let that put you off.  When you think about it in the long-term then it's all relative and paying it back isn't as scary as you might believe.  A student loan is the best loan you will ever have.  Don't be scared to invest a little in your future!  There are also lots of places you can go to for advice when it comes to funding - make sure you ask about extra little helpers such as bursaries or anything else you might be entitled to depending on your situation.  Spend some time reading up on it all and do your research. The more you look into it, the more do-able you might find it becomes. Also, apply as early as you can.  The process isn't fun in the slightest and filling in those forms isn't a quick job!

Part-Time Jobs. Which brings me onto my next point. To work, or not to work.  Personally, I preferred to work - it was like my little safety net to my 'old' life!  I worked Saturdays and Sundays right up until the start of my second year when I dropped it down to one day a week.  It's always good to earn a little bit of extra cash if you can - stretch the loan even further and have more in the bank to treat youself (believe me, you'll feel the need to treat youself after every assignment...)  It's also good to work whilst you're at uni to maintain some sort of connection with the world outside of your happy little 'education' bubble.  It keeps the mind focused (and when you have a bad day at the office it can only propel you on to work harder towards your future new job prospects, right?!)  However, PRIORITISE. Yes, it's nice to have extra money coming in but as soon as it's having a knock on effect - consider re-jigging things.  I ended up quitting my part-time job in my second year (my course is only 3 years) as it was all getting too much to balance.  I'm lucky that I was able to do this as I have no idea how I would manage a job in my final year.  I know some people that do and I take my hats off to them.  Another important point to make is to make sure you keep in check with your bank accounts.  Believe me, I know the overwhelming fear of clicking onto your online banking when it's been a while since your last loan installment but try not to let it get to that stage.  Luckily, I'd been saving all the time I was working so I've always had my 'rainy day' fund should I ever need it and it's made student loans and managing money so much easier for me. Make sure you put some money aside if you're working - it lessens the blow slightly if you feel as if you have to leave your employment due to course commitments as you'll have some money to go on should you ever make a little slip up when it comes to your finances.

So there we have it - a few tips and advice for choosing whether or not to go to uni and little things to consider once you've decided.  Don't let anyone tell you that getting a degree is the be all and end all - because it's not.  I know many people who have made a success of themselves without one and I have no doubt I would have found another path if I hadn't decided to go to uni. It was just the right decision for me to make at the time and it's since proven to be one of the best ones I ever made - but if I'd done it any earlier I can tell you I wouldn't be typing the same thing now. Sometimes the best decisions are those that aren't planned in the slightest. Don't be afraid to step outside the comfort zone of your 'perfect plan' and just do whatever feels right at the time.  I have no regrets that I decided to go into the world of work before I went to uni at all - and I don't feel as if I 'missed out' in any way shape or form.  But i guess this all depends on what type of person you are. I think the main thing is not to get hung up on the 'hype' and not to obsess over the decisions you make - it doesn't matter if you get something slightly wrong or feel as if you've been following the wrong path for a while - just go with the flow and almost always, things turn out just the way they were meant to be. And with that, I shall be off before I reel off any more Pinterest-y sayings or gushy 'whatever will be will be' quotes...

Have you written a similar post? Let me know!

Wednesday 5 March 2014

Mac's 'Fanfare' Lipstick

Mac Lipstick in 'Fanfare' | £15.00 | Link

It was a while ago when I added Mac's 'Fanfare' lipstick to my ever-growing hoard of lipsticks.  I must admit, I wasn't instantly blown away by it once I'd got it home and it was squirrelled away in my lipstick drawer amongst all of my other pinks and corals. When I swatched it in store, there was something I really loved about it, but when I popped some on at home - it just didn't click with me. You win some, you lose some after all! However, just recently, I decided to give it another whirl.  There's something about the yellow, 'seashell-pink' tones to the shade that really draw me to it and I remembered just how much I loved it in the shop. I'm not sure what it is - whether it's because I've switched up my eye-makeup slightly of late or the fact my skin tone is a little paler now that we've been through the depths of winter - I'm not entirely sure - but all of a sudden, I've discovered my love for the shade! 

Fanfare isn't one of those hyped up Mac shades you hear lots about on blogs.  It's very much an unsung hero amongst the bunch! It's a Cremesheen formula - so it's very creamy and easy to apply.  The pigmentation is really good too - often, I find Cremesheens can differ with their consistency and colour pay-off, but Fanfare seems to get it spot on the mark and it's pretty impressive when it comes to wear time.  I have a few natural lines in my lips so I have to be careful when it comes to certain formulas making my lips look dry - but this one glosses over with ease and plumps up the lips in an instant. It's very much one of those 'my lips but better' shades and I find the warm undertones in it work very well with my skin tone.  I've been wearing my Urban Decay Naked3 palette to death the past few weeks, and this colour really compliments the eye makeup looks I've been going for - it's the perfect finishing touch.

Overall, I'm so glad I added 'Fanfare' to my collection.  I can't wait to give it a whirl in the summer when I have a bit of colour to my face as I can imagine the coral-y undertones will look stunning! It's the perfect shade for the upcoming Spring and I really do adore it. It isn't a nude so it won't wash you out, but it also isn't one of those false, overly bright pinks - it's just a lovely in-between and it's one of those shades that seems to awaken your complexion in a flash.  It's very pretty and natural - the perfect pink in my opinion!

Have you tried Mac's Fanfare?

Monday 3 March 2014

Hair Loss & Lack of Growth | Advice & Tips

I've learnt a great deal about hair the past year or so. I guess you could say that hair has always been my 'thing' - I've always considered myself to be fairly in the know when it comes to looking after it and styling it and aside from a few dye mishaps in my late teens, I've always taken good care of it.  I'm not entirely sure if this post will be of any use to any of you, but it seemed silly not to write about the problems I've encountered and how I've gotten over them if it might help one of you lovely bunch. Often, we focus so much on taking care of our hair on the outside but rarely stop to think what might be effecting it on the inside.  Without going into too much detail, I've not had the best of times regarding my health the past year.  Around February-time of 2013, I began to notice my hair falling out much more than it should.  I've always had long, thick hair and I hardly ever get a lot of fall out when I wash it or when I'm combing through it on a day to day basis - so alarm bells started to ring when I was literally pulling out clumps of it on a daily basis.  For the first couple of weeks, I thought it was just a phase.  But when it carried on, gradually getting worse and worse I knew there was something wrong.  The texture of it also completely changed.  Where I used to have hair that was soft, shiny and in good condition, it became straw-like, difficult to manage and it looked completely dull and lifeless.  It had also thinned considerably and for the first time in my life I really did begin to hate my hair.  I didn't dare to comb it because I could literally feel the strands coming out when I did, and washing it became such a dreaded experience. 

This went on for months, and it's only recently that my hair has got back to how it used to be.  I even went to see my GP about the hair loss because I was so distressed over it, and I was made to feel as if I'd wasted their time. It's shocking how doctors don't seem to think much of issues like this - but I knew something was wrong with me and I was quite persistent in my mission to get to the bottom of it.  Throughout these few months, I've discovered so many things about hair loss and lack of growth that I never really paid attention to before. If you're struggling with hair loss or lack of growth/condition, then hopefully this post might uncover some reasoning behind it all...

The Contraceptive Pill
When I first began to suffer with hair loss, I wrote a post all about how I thought my hair loss was linked to coming off a certain contraceptive pill (you can read that here, if you're interested!) I've since been proven right and it's actually one of the major factors linked to why I lost so much hair (even though the doctor shrugged it off and said it wasn't).  The pill I was on was quite a strong one - and I was actually told by a doctor to come off it straight away as I'd been on it for far longer than I should have been.  If you've recently stopped taking the pill, or alternatively if you've just started taking a new one, you might notice some hair loss. If you think your pill is contributing to your hair loss, then there are certain brands you can switch to that are said to help - it really is worth discussing with your GP. Don't suffer for the sake of the inconvenience of switching. In my case, it really was severe and the hair loss kicked in about a month after stopping. I've since found out ways to counteract it - but don't underestimate the power of that little pill. I'll never be so complacent about it again.

Iron Levels
Another factor which contributed for me was my iron levels.  I've never had problems with it before but I noticed I was beginning to feel unusually tired and fatigued all the time (to the point where I'd be awake an hour and feel the need for a full night's sleep again) and I was finding it difficult to concentrate at university. As well as this, I was always out of breath, I began having chest pains and my heart beat was unusually quick. After a few blood tests, it was discovered the my iron levels were extremely low.  There was no explanation as to why - but I was prescribed iron pills to take.  DON'T take those little buggers without hearing from your GP that you need to first.  Trust me, they aren't nice. But if you notice any of the above symptoms with your hair loss then it's worth asking for a blood test and getting some advice.   I noticed the hair loss subsided after about 2 months of taking them along with the other symptoms I'd had - it didn't stop the hair loss completely, but it helped no end.

Stress or a traumatic event.
It's amazing what stress can do to you.  I've always been a worrier anyway so I didn't really think much of it but a bit of stress can contribute massively towards the condition of your hair and how it's growing.  I went through a traumatic event at the end of December 2012, and a couple of months later, the hair loss began.  If you've suffered a traumatic event or been through extreme stress, then it's said that hair loss can occur around 2 months after the event (in my case, it fitted in perfectly with the February timing!) The hair goes into 'shock' and more hairs on your head reach the later 'telogen' phase before they should - meaning that they fall out quicker than usual and a lot of them fall out at once (can you tell I've researched this considerably?!).  On the other hand, if you've just been feeling a bit edgy, it's worth looking into ways of managing stress and trying to limit it as best you can - it really does make a difference.  We can clearly see the effects of stress on our skin, so there's no reason why it's not going to effect your hair (and even your nails) as well.

It's worth taking a multi-vitamin to ensure you're getting all the goodness you need on the inside. I've been to see a specialist and had blood tests regarding certain things not relating to the hair loss, however, when looking through the results, the doctor discovered I had virtually no B12. As a young whippersnapper (haha) I should have amazing stores and levels of the stuff.  B12 is a major factor in keeping your hair and nails healthy (amongst lots of other health benefits but we're talking hair here!). It's also linked to depression and anxiety.  I've always suffered from panic attacks and extreme bouts of worrying so it makes me wonder whether or not I've always been a bit low on it. Worth taking note of! Also, living in the UK, it's understandable that a lot of us Brits are low on the ol' Vitamin D. We see the sun for all of 2 weeks a year.  Again, I was unusually low on it. Both these vitamins can contribute to healthy hair growth, so it's worth looking into getting a multi-vit containing them.  Alternatively, it's worth asking for a blood test if you're worried.  I take high doses of them daily now (only because I've been advised to by a professional) but it's worth baring in mind that you may be lacking in something as simple as a dose of Vitamin D!

General Care and Products
Of course, taking care of your hair should be part of your daily routine.  For a lot of people, lack of growth or bad condition is down to something as simple as the time of year or the products they're using.  A little bit of hair loss is normal and can be due to something as simple as the time of the month (oh how fun it is being female, eh?!) My hair has grown so much since I started using hair oils - my favourite has to be the Shu Uemura 'Essence Absolue' (post here - it saved my hair throughout those few months) or Moroccan oil. I apply these every time I wash my hair and split ends and dry, brittle locks have become much less common.  Also, make sure you choose a conditioner that's right for your hair at the current moment in time.  Through winter, I need a lot of moisture in my hair so I use one by Loreal which is meant for dry hair (works a charm!) and I also use a hair mask once a week (Organic Surge do a good'un!). Switch them up every so often so your hair doesn't become accustomed to a certain brand and don't over-wash. Also, get yourself a Tangle Teezer! It saves you pulling and tugging on the hair when it's been washed and it will save you a few strands when you comb through it - trust me! I couldn't live without mine now...

A year on, and my hair is now virtually back to how it was.  The thickness is coming back and I no longer feel reduced to tears at the sight of the clumps of hair in my hands every time I go in the shower! It wasn't a very nice few months to get through, believe me! Doctors really don't understand how hair loss and changes can effect people, and I had to do a lot of research and guess-work myself.  There were no clear answers and I still don't have any real explanation as to why it happened aside from it was a combination of everything mentioned above (although the main culprit seems to be the contraceptive pill).  Of course, this post isn't meant to advise you on pills or medication to neck! That's not why I decided to share it. Please please pleaaaaase consult your doctor before you feel the need to look into supplements or vitamins and make sure you actually need them (trust me, the side effects of some can be pretty nasty!). But when I was suffering with it all I really struggled to find any real answers from actual people and I felt completely at my wits end.  The main bit of advice I have for you is to be patient, remain postitive and take it one step at a time.  Be persistent if you do decide to visit a GP - and if you know something isn't normal for you then it's worth having a little think about stress levels and what might be a contributing factor for you personally. Just be in tune with your hair - find out which products work for you and do your research. Just because one thing works for one person, doesn't mean it will work for another.

Have you ever had the same problems as me? What did you find worked best for you?