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Sunday 29 June 2014

June Love Me Beauty Box

Love Me Beauty Box | £10.00 plus p+p* | Link
My monthly dose of beauty goodness from LoveMeBeauty has been a very welcome visitor through my letterbox the past few months, that's for sure.  Aside from snapping my postman's hands off, I've been battling on through my final few weeks of uni and it's fair to say I've rather enjoyed receiving a little selection of beauty treats every few weeks to keep me going.  I won't go off on one but I got my results back the other week (if you follow me on Twitter you might already know)... I'm superly-duperly happy to say I'll be graduating with a FIRST! eep! I was so excited my results paper now has a little smudge of lipstick on it where I'd half-kissed it with relief..oops! Anyway, life rambles aside, I have to say I really struggled to choose a menu this month - every single box was filled with stuff I fancied getting my mitts on and I spent ages trying to decide. I finally settled on Menu 2, although I have to say I half wish I'd opted for the one with the lipstick in it as after seeing other blogger's posts on it, the shade was just my cup of tea. I let one product in the box sway me but sadly, my little gamble didn't pay off. This being said, I'm still rather chuffed with my goodies despite my slightly mixed reaction this month.  If you want to find out more, read on...

NYX | Nail Polish in 'Compulsive' | RRP £3
So i thought I'd better kick things off with the product that swayed me.  This month, Love Me Beauty provided 3 different selections of nail polishes from Nyx - a brand I've tried and loved so much in the past.  Since I'm going away on holiday, I was instantly drawn to the 'Exotic' shade selection and really liked the look of the beautiful turquoise blue shade of the three - the thought of it on my nails with a golden tan was enough to persuade me to opt for this menu.  Sadly, my little gamble didn't pay off so I was a little disappointed to receive a dark, wintery shade - 'Compulsive' (not at all a fault of the box or the product - just my overly positive wishful thinking!).  However, I have to say I'm really impressed with the Nyx packaging - I've seen a few bloggers say it's very 'Deborah Lippman-esque' and I have to agree. It feels weighty, looks luxurious and feels expensive to say the RRP of these polishes is just £3!  Although it's not my most preferred colour in the world and I might end up saving it for Autumn/Winter - I'll still be sure to give it a go and see how it works for me - maybe it will prove me wrong and the purple/black iridescent pearl effect will actually help set off a tan? I'll reserve judgement for now but it was a nice addition to the box nonetheless - I'm never one to say no to a nail polish!

Urban Veda | Daily Purifying Facial Wash | RRP £7 | Sample Size
This sample sized face wash was a nice addition to the box this month. I'm off to London tomorrow and I've been stocking up on miniature products to pack into my wash bag.  This will be going with me as it's just the perfect excuse to give it a try! It's down to Love Me Beauty that I discovered one of my most loved skincare products - Arran Aromatics Lavender & Tea Tree Face Wash - so I'm always happy to see similar things pop up from time to time. You never know what holy grail products you might uncover!  This little offering from Urban Veda is said to mattify the skin, refine pores and clear toxins whilst helping to clear the complexion.  Although I don't have oily skin, I'm sure I'll get on well with this - I'll be taking lots of photographs so anything that helps towards banishing shine or excess oil is very much welcome! 

Beauty UK | High Brow Kit | RRP £3.99
I was really excited about this product! I'm a big fan of brow products and I'm always on the lookout for new things to try.  This one from BeautyUK seems like a cheaper alternative to palettes such as the HDBrows kit or Benefit 'Browzings' - it's even cheaper than Sleek's offering.  Although the shades aren't as pigmented (don't expect it to be an amazing dupe!) - it's still a nice little palette for £3.99 so you can't grumble. I actually find the two darker shades in the palette to be quite good - they're the 2 most pigmented of the bunch and I have to say, none of them feel overly powdery and they all transfer really nicely. If I was on the lookout for a budget eyebrow product with change from a fiver I'd definitely give this a swatch in store. I've gone off using powders on my brows just recently so I'm going to use these shades as eyeshadows or pop it in my handbag simply for eyebrow 'touch-ups'.  The addition of the wax is also handy for on the go.  I'm really pleased with this product - I know a few bloggers felt slightly indifferent about the eyeshadow palette but it seems as if this Brow Kit offers a little more in the pigment department and it has to be my favourite addition to the box this month! 

Montagne Jeunesse | Hot Spring Sauna Face Mask | RRP £1
Ohhh this takes me back... Hands up who else used to bulk-buy these bad-boys for girly sleepovers back in the day!?  I'm a little unsure about the warming effect of this mask as I usually prefer a cooling sensation or just a general cleansing one, however, I'm going to take it in my suitcase with me and have a pamper-sesh half way through my holiday! I tend to wash my hair and sit out on the balcony in my fluffy dressing gown whilst I soak up the last of the late afternoon sun with a magazine and a glass of cider (classy bird) - this seems like just the ticket for a mid-holiday treat (can you tell I'm daydreaming about my holiday lots just recently?!) This mask is said to open pores and remove impurities for a deep cleanse - definitely useful to say I'll be slathering on the SPF every day!

Model Co | Eye Define Pencil in 'Black' | RRP £9
I have far too many eyeliners but I'm always up for trying more. I like my pencils to offer intense pigmentation coupled with staying power - a combination that's actually rather difficult to find!  I haven't tried this yet but I'm looking forward to seeing how it works for me - it's said to provide intense, long-lasting colour whilst being smooth and creamy to apply.  It has a sharpener in the lid which I always find handy to have for on the go.  Seems jolly good to me - I'll have to give it a whirl soon!

So overall, this month's box is a mixed bag for me.  It's not been my favourite so far but I'm definitely a fan of the eyebrow kit and I'm excited to try the facial wash on my travels next week.  In fact, there's nothing I actually dislike in this box and I'm sure I'll use them all - there's just nothing that stood out to me this month.   This being said, the selection on offer this month was one of the best I've seen so far and like I mentioned above, I really did struggle to choose! Love Me Beauty really do hit the nail on the head when it comes to monthly subscription boxes - they even offer the option to 'skip' a month if you're not overly fussed! To find out what else is on offer this month or to find out more about the concept, head on over to their website here.

What are your thoughts on this month's box?

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Getting Bikini-Ready | Soap & Glory's 'The Firminator' Review

I don't usually buy into the whole 'apply this cream and you'll soon have a bottom to rival the likes of Kim K' claims on products, however, there's something about Soap & Glory's 'The Firminator' that intrigued me.  Maybe it was the shiny packaging, maybe it was the quirky name... or maybe it was just because Soap & Glory were on a 3 for 2 offer and I needed one more product in my basket - either way - I didn't really expect much from it but I have to say - I've been pleasantly surprised. So much so I had no issues with going out to buy my second tube of the stuff and didn't think twice about parting with the £12.00 - which, lets face it, isn't the cheapest of firming creams on the market to say you can pick up budget ones for much less than a fiver (saying that, it's not the most expensive either so one cannot grumble).  So what exactly does it do? 'The Firminator' (see what you did there, S&G...) claims to visually smooth and rejuvenate the skin around the upper thighs whilst firming and toning any lumps and bumps - generally having a tightening effect on the area.  It works best if you apply twice a day, smoothing it from the inner knees up towards the tops of the thighs - you know the score. 

I have to say I've been applying it pretty religiously and after about a few weeks, I noticed a difference. Now then, I'll admit straight away that it's probably not entirely down to this cream that I've clocked a change. If you follow me on Twitter you'll know I've been on a bit of a toning mission the past few months and have been working mainly on my legs/bum - I've been doing the typical squats, leg lifts and lunges thing since the beginning of April/mid-March so it would be fair to say I cannot claim my results have been entirely down to using this - but I really do believe it's helped along the way.  If ever I've had a day where I just haven't felt like doing any exercise (i try and give myself one rest day a week anyway), I'll apply some of this and it feels as if it's doing some good. It does say on the tube that you'll be more likely to notice the combined results of your efforts if you eat healthily and take up regular exercise whilst applying the cream daily (which I guess is kind of obvious) - and I'd say it's helped to smooth out the appearance of my skin considerably.  In fact, I did the 'changing room' test the other day and for once I really did notice a difference (if ever you want to see results of your hard work then get in a changing room - it will either make you or break you ;)) Again, please bare in mind I have been doing regular exercise but I think combining it with this cream has without a doubt helped to reach my goal quicker - the exercise lifts and tones the area whilst the cream has visibly smoothed the skin and helped to get rid/prevent any lumps and bumps.  Obviously, don't expect miracles - it's not going to act as a replacement for regular workouts but what it will do is give you that extra little boost along the way.

The cream has a gel-like consistency and feels cooling when applied to the skin.  It smells undoubtedly very minty (it contains peppermint and citrus toning oils) and this only adds to the cooling effect - I wouldn't say it feels tightening but it does feel a little tingly. Sometimes, I'll apply it before I do my workout as I believe it helps (of course, I might just be imagining this but it's worth a shot, right?)  It sinks in really quickly which is a bonus for in the mornings when you need to apply and go - it doesn't leave a greasy film like some creams I've tried in the past.  I apply quite a generous amount both in the morning and at night, taking time to massage it upwards - once it's sank in properly it really does leave your skin feeling smooth to the touch.  Overall, I'd really recommend this if you're after a cellulite busting formula or something to help generally tighten and firm your thigh area.  I've actually read a few reviews on the Boots website and a lot of people seem to be in agreement with me that this cream makes a difference to the overall appearance of the skin (interestingly, it seems to have better reviews than their similar product 'Sit Tight').  Like I said, I'm usually very sceptical about these gels and formulas and I wouldn't have written this post if I didn't believe it's genuinely helped me.  For £12.00, it's actually pretty reasonable and one tube lasted me a good few weeks - It's extremely rare I'll ever repurchase a cream like this so it speaks volumes as to how much I've grown to love this stuff. If you're willing to be quite disciplined with it and apply it religiously morning and night (if I'd been more 'slapdash' with it I don't think I'd have noticed a difference) then I reckon you'll notice results.  Combine it with a bit of exercise and a dose of patience and I guarantee you'll be laughing all the way to the beach... Kim K? Eat your heart out!  You can find 'The Firminator' on the Boots website here.

Have you tried Soap & Glory's 'The Firminator'? Have you managed to find a firming cream that actually works?

Sunday 22 June 2014

Beauty Buys | Summer Holiday Haul!

There's nothing like getting a holiday booked is there? Not only does it instantly make you feel much more chipper but it's enough to cause any sane woman to go crazy amongst the 'summer beauty' aisles of Boots.  Which is exactly what I did as soon as I knew. All of sudden, you realise just how much stuff you haven't got. And when you're a beauty blogger - let me tell you we ain't just talking the basics of sun cream and a tub of aftersun. Oh no. We're talking the right shades of concealer, the right lip colour, the right powder to keep our makeup in place on those warm, balmy evenings and the right combination of hair products to keep summertime frizz to a minimum (anyone else have the same issue as Monica from Friends as soon as they step off the plane? *for those of you who get this reference - gold star for you >*) Anyway, rambling aside, I thought it would be the perfect excuse to shove together a holiday-themed haul. If any of you are jetting away soon, it might give you a few ideas. If not - well, I hope you enjoy having a nosey at what's been thrown into my shopping basket of late anyway...

Mark Hill | Va Va Voom Mousse (travel size) 
Me and this mousse get on like a house on fire. Honestly, if you skip through the past 3 years of my blog you'll probably see it pop up a fair few times - I've never really used any other (true love right there). It's thick enough to make a difference with volume but its light enough not to weigh it down - it also never seems to turn my hair into straw.  I'm sure it's not the best mousse ever, but for me, it works and I always make a beeline straight for it whenever I need a new one.  It's hard to track down the travel sizes as they always seem to be sold out - so I actually grabbed two! One for my holiday and one for a trip to London next week. I cannot be without it.

Scwarzkopft | Got2B Beach Matt Texturising Salt Spray
This was actually on offer and I got it for less than £2! To be honest, Im not sure if I'll be able to take it away with me as I'm usually bang on my weight limit (typical over-packer) - I could probably do with a smaller size but either way, I really wanted to try a salt spray again.  I used a Tony & Guy one last year and i found it came in so handy over the summer months - I can't wait to see what this one is like as I've always got on well with Got2B products! Bargain!

Garnier | Ambre Solaire Tan Maintainer
If you buy one thing this summer - make it this! I've been recommending this product on my blog for about 3 years now - I go through countless tubes of the stuff every year and I'm yet to find anything quite as good (If you don't like the hint of fake tan element then I'd recommend Lancaster Tan Maximiser - my other must-have!).  People always ask how I maintain my tan after a holiday and it definitely has something to do with this. If you want to find out why I love it so much I speak about it in a favourites post here. I also give it a mention in my 'tan maintaining tips' post here.  It's around £8 in Boots but I found it on offer in Tesco for 2 for £8 - so shop around!

Soap & Glory | Flake Away (travel size)
I always exfoliate before I go away so that my natural tan will last longer. I bought my favourite Soap & Glory scrub in miniature form to pop in my suitcase. I usually use it as soon as I get there just to give myself maximum tanning possibilities (is that sad? ahaha)  If you've never tried this scrub you honestly don't know what you're missing.  It makes the chore of exfoliating seem a breeze! And a very sweet smelling one at that!

The Balm | 'Bahama Mama' Bronzer
Now then.  You can only imagine my disappointment when I realised my beloved Nars 'Laguna' is almost completely gone right before I go away on holiday.  Sods law, isn't it? The thought of purchasing another made me wince a little - so, in true blogger style, I took this as my chance to try something new.  I spent ages looking online and settled on this one from 'The Balm' - I've always quite fancied trying some of their stuff and the packging really caught my eye. As well as being rather eye-catching, it's also really neat and compact and fits perfectly in the palm of my hand - something I always try and look for when I'm taking products on holiday with me as I aim to cram in as much as physically possible. It's actually slightly darker than Nars Laguna - which to be honest is perfect for me as I really do tan quite a bit on holiday! I'm planning on doing a full post on this soon along with a Nars comparison so keep your eyes peeled for that!

Bourjois | Bronzing BB Cream
I wanted to try this ever since I used Bourjois' Bronzing Primer last year (review of that here). When I'm on holiday I usually don't wear a scrap of makeup in the day as I find it so uncomfortable, but I thought this might be quite nice if I go on a day-trip somewhere and want to give my skin some coverage without completely masking it.  I'm not opening it until I'm there so I shall let you know my thoughts as soon as I'm home but I'm predicting that it might just become a summer staple... We shall see!

Urban Decay | 'De Slick' Makeup Setting Spray (travel size)
I've wanted to try one of these sprays for aaaages now! I finally caved and bought the travel size - perfect for popping in your suitcase. This one is said to help combat shine, absorb oil, keep your skin looking matte and your makeup in place all night.  When I'm abroad I always struggle to keep my makeup looking flawless in the evenings and I don't even have oily skin! I've been road testing this the past few days and I have to say I've noticed such a difference.  I went to powder my face half-way through the day and realised I actually didn't need to - which is saying something to say how muggy it's been just recently! I shall be doing a full review of this when i'm home - i already have high hopes for it.

Estee Lauder | Double Wear Concealer
OK. So I didn't actually buy this for the sake of my holiday but it's my holy grail concealer and I simply cannot live without it.  It covers blemishes, dark circles and pigmentation with ease and it lasts all day without fail. Even if you do top up through the day its so creamy that it never goes cakey - I adore it.

Elf | Complete Coverage Concealer Palette
I just realised I didn't photograph this separately but you can spy it in the collective image at the top.  This is a re-purchase for me and for less than a fiver, this kit really is the bees knees. What I love about it is the fact it has 4 different shades - there's 2 shades with peachy undertones (perfect for under eye circles which is my main area of concern) and 2 which lean more yellow which work for general sprucing up and blemishes.  I actually ran this palette down to the pan last time I bought one so it just goes to show how much I love it. It doesn't last all day but it's perfect for a quick fix and the colours are very creamy and very well pigmented. Because my skin is going to get darker in the sun, it's handy to have the slightly darker shades in there as well. I have a post on it here so you can see the colours in more detail. 

Mac | Lip Pencil in 'Spice'
After my beloved Estee Lauder Lip Pencil in 'Spice' ran out - I set out on a mission to find something similar.  I stumbled upon this Mac pencil with the same name and it was love at first swatch.  This is incredibly long lasting and is the perfect browny-nude - very 90s chic so it isn't for everyone but I find it works really well with my skintone.  I find it a fabulous, long lasting alternative to lipstick and it's much more versatile.  When I go away, I always pack far too many lipsticks so I'm thinking of picking up a few more of these as they're much more makeup bag friendly.  If you're not a fan of the finish then gloss on the top looks a-ma-zing! (for the record... Benefit's 'Hoola' lipgloss looks stunning with this - together they've become my new dream team!)

Barry M | Eye Liner in 'Kingfisher'
What is this?! COLOUR?! On the eyes?!?! Was I feeling alright?! I never wear colour on my eyes so to say this is pushing it for me is an understatement. Blame Pinterest. I saw someone use a colour like this on their bottom lash line and I instantly wanted to give it a go. Personally, I think with a tan and a smudge of peachy-gold eyeshadow on the upper lid I might be able to pull it off. If i don't, it was only £3 anyway but it's such a beautiful colour - just look at it, looook atttt ittttt...

So there we have it.  My latest beauty buys. It's fair to say I feel as if I need a break away this year - 11 nights of relaxation and time to ponder over the next chapter of my life whilst digging my toes into the sand in Crete seems like just the ticket right now. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know I live for holidays and trips away so I really do love this time of year! I'm also planning on grabbing a late deal on a few days away in Marbella with my best friend but I'm not sure my savings account can take it... Who knows though, I might just have a 'YOLO' moment ;) We haven't been away together since we were 19 (I'm now almost 24) so some quality best-friend time in the sun is waaaay overdue!

What are you holiday 'must haves'? Have you tried any of these products before or is there any that you'd like to hear more about? Let me know!

Thursday 19 June 2014

Summer Scent | Yves Rocher 'Moment De Bonheur'

Yves Rocher | Moment De Bonheur L'eau | £38.00* | Link

As soon as the warmer weather rolls around, I tend to ditch the heavier perfumes and opt for something lighter, brighter and altogether more summery.  My newest addition to my perfume collection is this little beauty from Yves Rocher - 'Moment de Bonheur L'eau' (definitely a tricky one to roll off the tongue if anyone asks what it is you're wearing...I'm sure my accent doesn't do it justice whatsoever). If you're a bit of a summer-y perfume collector like myself, then you'll know exactly what I mean when I say this one falls under the same umbrella as Mac's 'Turquatic' or DKNY's famous 'apple' perfumes - perfect sunshine-y scents.  Yves Rocher's offering is a gorgeous, light fragrance with slight woody undertones - it's one of those 'clean' fragrances that instantly make you feel refreshed and awake. It definitely has a hint of fruity-ness to it but it's very sophisticated and not overly sweet.  Personally, I've grown quite addicted to it and I find myself spraying it even if I'm staying home for the day simply because I love it so much.What I like about it is that it isn't too 'young' - sometimes, summer scents can be a little too sweet for me but this one suits my tastes perfectly well - it has a sort of botanical hint to it that makes it a little bit different from what you'd usually expect.

The bottle reflects the scent - very simple, understated and fresh.  It's a lovely size to pop into your handbag too and I've been carrying it around with me for the past couple of weeks. Like a lot of summer perfumes, this one doesn't stick around for too long so I do find I have to top-up quite a bit throughout the day - but even once the zingy top notes have worn off you're left with a subtle summery scent (admittedly, I'm a bit of a perfume over-applier anyway...I'd probably bathe in the stuff if I could...) I've already decided that it's going to be the perfume I'm taking on holiday with me this year - it's much more of a daytime fragrance but I personally quite like the idea of wearing it out in the evening - plus, when I come home, I know it's going to remind me of sunny days, beach walks and balmy, Mediterranean evenings - isn't it funny how certain scents take you back to memories in an instant?! I'd certainly class this as a Duty Free treat - it's well worth having a spritz if you spy it in the airport before you jet away.  Overall, I'd say this will be a fabulous contender if you're looking for this year's summer scent or a new perfume to pop into your suitcase. You can find Yves Rocher perfumes and other products on the website here.

What's your favourite summer perfume?

Sunday 15 June 2014

New Bourjois Releases | Nail Treats

Magic Nail Polish Remover Hands & Feet |  £5.99* | Link
When it comes to painting my nails, it's fair to say I'm pretty high maintenance.  My talons have really grown just recently and because of this, my strive for perfection has somewhat intensified.  I paint my nails up to 3 times a week - maybe I'm a little bit of an obsessive perfectionist (or maybe I just have far too much time on my hands) but at sign of first chip, I'll take it all off and start again. One thing I hate, however, is removing the stuff. I'm the type of girl who will prefer to sit there and meticulously pick it all off bit by bit through an entire episode of TOWIE (not good for your nails - i might add!) rather than grab a bottle of remover and a cotton pad and simply scrub it off - to me, that's just added effort. This, my friends, is why Bourjois' Magic Hands and Feet Polish remover has become one of my new must-haves - it's the lazy girl's solution for all of your polish removing needs.  I must admit, I never bought into their original one and I always bypassed the blogger hype, but after using this the past few weeks, I can honestly say it deserves the praise it gets.  The new version is even better though - as well as the sponge within the tub for your fingernails, this one has a foam applicator concealed in the lid so that it can be used for the toes too - perfect for the upcoming warmer weather (don't tell porkies - I'm betting a fair few of you attempted to dip your toes in the original version, no?) As far as the 1 second claim goes, it's more of a 5-10 second thing - but even so, much snappier than faffing around with cotton pads and bottles of remover.  I've used this for weeks now and the sponges haven't dried up at all - I'll definitely be taking it on holiday with me as it will be perfect for touch-ups and re-applying polish mid-way through. It's really lightweight so it's great for travel, and it also doesn't smell ridiculously offensive like some of the nail polish remover pads you can buy (i hate the smell of those...yuck). It's non-greasy, quick, easy and fool-proof and never again shall you spill half a bottle of remover on your bathroom floor... (surely this can't just be me?) Oo - it's also worth mentioning that it's acetone free and the formula is enriched with almond oil and pro-vitamin B5 - much kinder for your talons!

Instant Dry Nail Drops | £5.99* | Link

Whenever I paint my nails I can't be without a fast-drying top coat (Seche Vite and Sally Hansen are 2 of my faves).  I paint them so much that simply wafting them around for a good half an hour isn't an option and I could honestly never go back to using a standard top coat.  This is why Bourjois' Instant Nail Dry Drops intrigued me - sometimes, I've been known to paint a nail and rush out of the door 20 seconds later - I'm all for reducing drying time!  I've never used drops before, but I used to go for pedicures a couple of years back and the girls always used to use these to dry the polish quickly between coats. I have to say these work very well - just one drop on each nail and you're pretty much good to go in a swish of a puppy dog's tail. I've found that I still use a topcoat for extra gloss afterwards but if you aren't too fussed about an extra glossy finish then there's no real need to use one. One thing I will say is that I expected it to feel cooling on the nails (if you use Sally Hansen or Seche Vite you'll know exactly what I mean here) but it doesn't feel at all like that - you can't really feel it working, which made me a little nervous about doing the 'tap' test at first but you soon get used to it. I also find i have to wash off the excess afterwards as the formula can linger a little. Nevertheless, it's a really good bottle to have in your stash if you're a speedy nail painter like myself! It's also enriched with cuticle nourishing ingredients - so if you're growing your nails or like to be mindful of what products you're using on them, this is a great option.

So Laque Glossy Nudes Polish in 'Peace & Mauve' | £5.99* | Link
This little beauty has fast become one of my favourite nail polish shades to wear and I've had so many compliments on it recently.  'Peace and Mauve' from Bourjois' Glossy Nudes collection is a gorgeous pale lilac colour with a slight grey-ish/white tone.  It's really quite unlike anything else in my stash and it's a little more subdued and classy than other lilacs I've tried in the past.   I find i have to apply 3 coats to get an opaque finish but the finish is really smooth and glossy (I still use a topcoat afterwards to really seal it in). I've also found it resists chipping quite well - I got through 3 days at uni without any chips or peeling (which is really good for me as i usually chip my polish the day after! Clumsy elf!) One thing I will say is that brushes tend to make or break a polish for me - this one really impressed me as it's the perfect size for coating the nail with ease and it's really neat and tidy - no awkward flyaway bits! The nail wheel above really doesn't do this justice and I wish so much that I'd managed to snap a photograph of it on my nails - with a bit of a tan, trust me, it looks amazing!  This is the first Bourjois polish I've ever used (*gasp*) and I will definitely be buying more in the future - they're a little more pricey than other high-street brands but for the quality - you certainly cannot grumble. 

Have you tried any of these nail treats? Did any of them float your boat?!

Thursday 12 June 2014

My New 'Go-To' Bronzer | Benefit's 'Hoola'

Benefit | Hoola Bronzer | £23.50* | Link

Hold the phone.  I think I may have found my new favourite bronzer.  Big claims there, I know, but Benefit's 'Hoola' has become my new 'can't live without' item in my makeup drawer and let me tell you it was love at first sweep.  Bronzer is without a doubt one of my summer must-haves - I never feel quite complete without a dusting of it here and there and I always find my skin looks much healthier as soon as I've applied it. Let's delve straight in then, shall we? Firstly, I LOVE the colour of the powder.  It has just the right amount of warmth without being at all orangey - it looks so natural - in fact, I'll throw it out there, Hoola is probably the most natural looking bronzer I've ever tried.  It's completely matte - so there's no shimmer or un-natural sheen added to the skin. When dusted on top of your foundation it blends into the skin effortlessly whilst adding a gorgeous, sunkissed glow.  Which brings me on to my next point...It's almost impossible to apply too much because it's so easily blended. Even though Hoola is very pigemented, it really does smooth out with ease. It looks like skin and doesn't have that typical powdery finish.  I even love the little brush that comes in the package.  I'll admit that I usually hate miniature brushes that come packaged with products and I often end up taking them out and never using them - however, Hoola's brush is so soft and is the perfect size if you're a contouring nutter like myself.  The fact I actually use the brush only adds to the product's appeal for me - it makes for the perfect travel companion and I have no doubts that this will be jetting away with me on holiday in July - it will certainly save me some space in my brush roll!  The packaging is also very lightweight and fairly strudy to say that it's cardboard - I have no worries about popping this in my suitcase.

To apply, I simply apply my foundation as normal and pop some powder on top to set, before sweeping the little brush across the pan and tapping off any excess.  I'll then place the brush directly where my natural contour line is (if you aren't sure where - the trusty 'fish-face' trick should do it) Because the brush is so neat and compact it really does fit perfectly in that area - and the gentle, soft bristles help to prevent picking up too much product.  I sweep a line downwards and use gentle upwards sweeping motions to blend the line out (which is incredibly easy due to how blendable the powder is - if you're scared of looking too chiselled then Hoola is certainly worth a shot!) It instantly makes my natural cheekbones stand out without looking like I've tried to fake it - honestly, I just can't get over just how natural it looks.  Maybe it's just the shade that works perfectly with my skin tone - I'm not sure - but I'm intrigued to know if other girls find the exact same thing as I've been seriously wow'ed!  To complete the look, I apply a little bit across the top of my forehead and along the jawline before using whatever is left on the brush to dust over the bridge of my nose and chin to give that much desired sunkissed effect.  Sometimes, I'll brush a little on the sides of my nose if I'm going for a more defined look.  I do all of this using the brush that comes in the box as it seems to work so well for me, but I've also used my Real Techniques Blush Brush if I'm going for a more subtle, all over coverage.

Overall, I think it's fair to say that Hoola is a winner for me.  I wasn't expecting to love it half as much as I did. I genuinely thought it would just be a standard bronzer and it's the reason why I've never caved into it in the past, but it really is so much more than that.  It's so versatile because it works when used as an all over bronzer or as a contour - usually, I use two different bronzers depending on what I'm going for but this one ticks all the boxes. The shade has just the right amount of warmth to awaken the complexion but it definitely has a touch of grey/cool brown to it that stops it from looking orange - it still provides that 'just stepped off a plane look' but the lack of orange means it works well for sculpting. If you're more of a shimmer fan, then Hoola might not be for you, but if you like a matte finish, a good bit of pigment and a more defined look then it's well worth having a swatch in store. The packaging is also perfect if you're after something to pop in your handbag or if you're travelling because it's so lightweight - another plus point for me.  Of course, I've only had this a short while so I'm not sure how well the cardboard will fair if it takes a bit of a battering - but if you're mindful of it, I really can't see it being a problem and it's much sturdier than you might think.  For £23.50, it isn't the cheapest of bronzers on the market but it's one that I'll definitely purchase again and I'd say it's well worth it's price tag. It's won so many awards and it's easy to see why.  I've had a read through of the reviews on the website and so many girls hold the same opinion as me.  Have a read for yourselves and have a nosey at the Hoola bronzer on the Benefit website here.

Have you tried Benefit's Hoola? Did you love it as much as me?

Sunday 8 June 2014

Life Rambles | Finishing Uni, Ends of Eras & Blogging

Oh hello there. I think it's time to address the elephant in the room. I haven't blogged in nearly 2 weeks. I'm aware that some of you are probably sitting there rolling your eyeballs and muttering 'fsssh...who cares?' but in all honesty, I haven't gone a week without blogging since I first starting typing away my life on Bird's Words 3 years ago and to me - it's felt like a long time to be out of the loop. When you've been blogging a while, and when you've always had some sort of 'routine' with your uploading schedule, 10 days or so without even thinking about uploading a post or taking a single photograph feels rather strange. Top that off with the fact I've had to seriously drop my amount of blogging time the past few months and it really has felt like massive step back from my little hobby - but it's one that I realise I needed. I've had a lot on my plate these past few months - and although blogging is indeed an amazing escape if you've been feeling a little less than chipper, i also think it can be quite refreshing to just take your mind off it now and again. I shall say now that I have no idea where on earth I'm going with this post - it's not at all planned and it's more of a spur of the moment ramble (typical Beth) - but I guess I just wanted to keep you all up to date with why I've been so hit and miss with the ol' blogging regime of late.

I think it's fair to say I'm at a crucial stage of my life right now.  I've officially finished my degree course and aside from dotting a few i's and crossing a few t's, I'm pretty much done and dusted and am preparing myself for a shed load of job interviews and some serious job searching (wish me luck...) It doesn't seem like 5 minutes ago I was typing about my decision to make a change and go to uni after being unhappy in my old job for quite some time. Although uni has been stressful at times, it is without a doubt the best decision I ever made and it has completely changed me as a person. I've always been very ambitious - and when I realised that my old path in life offered me nothing in terms of job satisfaction or room to carve any form of career, I decided to make the jump. I started Bird's Words at the start of my little journey and it's really nice to look back on my old posts and realise how much my life has changed in the space of 3 years.  You don't really think about it at the time, but whenever you hit that 'publish' button, you're almost creating an online diary without even trying. I've gone through some cruddy things the past couple of years - and at times I've even had people suggest that I quit uni and restart again once I've got myself back on track. Well, I certainly stuck two fingers up to that! I realised just quite how strong I can be - and I found that pouring myself completely into my work actually helped me through a lot.

So, whilst I'm currently a complete busy bee trying to set things up for my next step in life, I'm also trying to enjoy the last little dregs of student life and I'm making the most of an end of an era. Saying this, I've realised I'm completely useless when it comes to 'ends of eras'.  Seriously, I turn into an emotional wreck. Some people deal with change amazingly well but I find it rather difficult - I get attached to people and places very easily and I often feel sad about leaving things behind rather than thinking about what fabulous new experiences lie ahead of me. I get quite overwhelmed when I have no idea what's going to happen next (i hate uncertainty) and I also find myself getting sentimental over silly, insignificant things.  I kid you not, I shed a tear when I served my last customer at my old job - who even does that?! I remember thinking 'this is the last time I'm ever going to sit and have a cup of tea in the tea room', 'this is the last time I'm ever going to open the till', 'this is the last time I'm ever going to turn the lights out in the stockroom'.... It legit felt like the last episode of Friends when I handed in my locker key for the last time, let me tell you! How ridiculous?! Surely it's not just me who gets like this when something comes to an end? (no? just me then...) I'm currently going through the same motions now as I pack away my things but i'm determined to grasp every last little ounce of enjoyment out of it because it's something I'm never going to get back again. I'm not a complete emotional numpty though - I'm also excited about finally finding myself a job that I can (hopefully) say that I love and I'm planning on saving the pennies so that I can actually manage to afford a little place of my own (and maybe a nice new car to go with it but let's not get ahead of ourselves...) Who knows, I'm even setting my job searching further afield (despite being the biggest home bird ever) as I quite like the idea of starting afresh. Wipe the slate clean, as they say! 

Before I became a student, I used to think 'how hard can it be' - but I can honestly say it's one of the most challenging things I've ever done yet also one of the most rewarding. I find out the results of my degree on the 17th of this month and that date cannot come quick enough for me.  When I first started my final year, I set myself a little mission to achieve a 'first'. It began as a fleeting thought but gradually, I became quite obsessed with it (I needed something to focus on what with things going on behind the scenes so it became almost like an escape for me) - I've been working like a complete trooper for the past few months. I've had people say 'why are you so bothered? you'll find a job anyway...' but if you're like me, you'll understand.  If you say you're going to do something - you do it. And you do it well.  I'm so excited to finally find out what I've managed to achieve - the thought that I've invested so much time and work in my own future is a feeling that I cannot describe and when it's something you never thought you'd do (I never planned to go to uni), that feeling is even more exaggerated. So - fear not, I'll be back to my beauty blogging ways shortly and I'm certainly not quitting Bird's Words-ing (a few of you have emailed me after noticing - I never knew I was so predictable with my posts!)  I just want to thank you all for being so supportive the past few months - there's a few of you that really have kept me going and although i haven't been as 'full on' on the blogging front, I've still been reading all of your comments and trying my utmost to be as sociable as possible (a challenge in itself - those of you in uni will know how easy it is to become some sort of hermit...) I do apologise for this somewhat boring post - I know that not everyone wants to read about people's lives and not everyone is as nosey as me, but be reassured that I have a heap of products ready and waiting to be written about - in fact, my 'to be photographed' pile is getting ridiculously high - I look like I'm trying to build an escape route in my bedroom... I'm also planning on doing some holiday/summery related posts over the next few months so keep your eyes peeled for those! All that's left to say really is stick with me - there's no way I'm going to drift away from the blogging community no matter how hectic life gets.

Is anyone else like me when it comes to the 'end of an era'? If any of you have also just finished university - I wish you all the best :)