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Sunday 29 March 2015

Finding a Job After University // Tips & Advice

Image: Source // Edited 

There's no doubt that finishing uni is both an exciting and rewarding time - but it's also a worrying one.  I always knew it was going to be the beginning of a tough few weeks or months of job-hunting for me but I don't think I was quite prepared for just how much it would take it out of me on an emotional level.  I'm sure we've all had a little moan and a grumble about our jobs from time to time, but honestly - when you're out of work and struggling to find anything to even apply for let alone bagging yourself an interview, you really do realise just how much having a job effects your emotional wellbeing.  I don't think I'll ever take it for granted quite so much again - in the space of a few weeks I was plagued with self-doubt and sounds dramatic but if you've been there, i'm sure you'll know the feeling. It's so unbelievably frustrating. 

I know it's probably the wrong time to publish this post but if you've graduated earlier last year and are still struggling, hopefully this might help somewhat. Getting my foot on the career ladder was most certainly one of the most stressful things I've ever had to do but I persevered and got there in the end.  I definitely made a few mistakes along the way - i'm by no means i'm saying I regret them because things have turned out exactly how I wanted them to - but I thought it might be of some use to share my experiences and exactly what I learnt along the way. I know it might seem easy to reel off a tonne of tips and advice now that I'm settled in a job, but after trying to help a fellow graduate of mine find a job recently I've spent quite a bit of time reflecting on my own journey and what worked for me... Here's a few things to remember if you're struggling to find work after finishing your degree.

1. Remember that nothing happens in an instant.
Did you know that on average it takes a graduate up to 9 months to get a job in their chosen field?  My tutors warned me it could take this long but I think I just assumed it would be a lot quicker than it was and I simply waved it off thinking 'surely it can't be that hard?'. Well - it is. Reality hit me like a brick in the face as soon as I left and all in all, it took me 5 months to get my foot on the ladder. Admittedly, I could have accepted something much earlier than this but I was a bit of a dare-devil and waited for something perfect to come up. Risky move - but just bare in mind that a job offer is not going to fall into your lap the moment you get that degree.  

2. Strike whilst the iron is hot...
Yes it's slightly daunting and nobody relishes the thought of job-hunting, but to give yourself the best chance possible it's best to start as soon as you can and bite the bullet.  The more you wait around the harder it's going to be - both in terms of your own motivation and also in what employers will think should you ever start applying for jobs in your field. I graduated in July and began job hunting straight after a holiday in August - I had a couple of weeks off to relax and then got straight on the case.  

3. Use social media to your advantage.
I actually got my job via LinkedIn. So many people ignore it and it's such a wasted opportunity if you do.  I made sure i kept it updated on a regular basis and I searched their job pages weekly. My advice is to keep your profile as open as possible - have it set so other professionals can see you when you've viewed theirs.  I got lucky with this - I had prepared a list of companies I'd like to work for and began looking through LinkedIn to find relevant contact names and numbers/emails etc.  A few days later, I had a message from one of the profiles I'd viewed and it turns out they were starting to think about looking for a new graphic designer.  Less than a week later I was sat in the interview and I got offered the job the next day. This was all because I'd done a bit of research, been a little bit nosey and got myself noticed by the relevant person. You never know what's going to happen so get on it and start networking.  I also used Twitter & Facebook to promote myself and my work (i set up professional pages and never used my personal one) - a lot of companies will sometimes turn to social media before they start spending time and money advertising to fill a position.

4. Take every opportunity that comes your way.
Follow up every email or offer of an interview you get - even if you don't feel as if you're too fussed about the job. Apply for placements, apply for temporary work and if you're a fellow creative like me, consider searching for freelance projects to keep you going.  I was kept busy for a good couple of months through placements and freelance work and I'm so glad that I did this - it really did round off my CV and it's attractive to employers if they can see you've kept yourself in the loop whilst you're out of full-time work. 

5. Try and stay positive.
It's hard - and believe me I know how much you seriously want to throttle any person that tells you to 'just stay positive' but it really is true. Do whatever it takes to keep your spirits up - for me, it meant spending one heck of a lot of time around my friends (thanks Fran - I know you'll read this) - I'm not saying I didn't have any teary moments (believe me, there were many of those...) but try not to wallow in the frustration. Every day is a new day and try not to take it too personally if you do get knocked back.  Allow yourself to have a few down days but never let the feeling of disappointment stop you from continuing to try - it also goes without saying but don't go into interviews with a defeatist attitude either.  Postive thoughts - always.

6. Trust your gut instinct but don't be too fussy
I was maybe a little too fussy. Some would say this was my biggest downfall and I most certainly got a few gasps when I told folk I'd turned down job offers - but all in all, I'm glad I stuck to my guns - it was just a risky move to make. I turned down a few opportunities but by doing so, I came out much better off for it - I got an amazing freelance opportunity and ended up getting the job I really wanted for the sake of an extra 3 months or so.  That being said, 3 months is a long time when you're unemployed and there were many times I wished I'd just taken opportunities when they came.  My advice would be to weigh up the pros and cons properly - you've spent 3 or 4 years working towards this and at the end of the day, you need to feel comfortable and happy with whatever it is you decide to do -  you don't want to spend all that time studying and end up in a job you simply don't enjoy but be aware that you might have to take something you're not entirely in love with to begin with. Which brings me on to my next point...

7. Know that your 'dream job' probably doesn't even exist
Oh but wouldn't it be lovely if it did?  I spent far too much time dreaming of my 'perfect' job and was wayyy to narrow in my search in the beginning.  I actually changed my mind about what my 'dream' job would be during my search after going to different interviews, completing placements and discovering more about the industry - so keep in mind that what you think is the right thing for you, might turn out not to be. Widen your search, keep an open mind and don't focus on 'the perfect job'... more often than not, it just doesn't exist and you're only narrowing your own chances by being too focused on having everything 'just so'.

8. Make the job-hunt into a job itself...
I got up early every week day and spent time searching job sites, newspapers and LinkedIn - making notes, crafting CVs and making check lists/plans. I rarely had a day where I did absolutely nothing and I made sure I treated the job-hunt seriously. My career path of choice is notoriously difficult to get into and there were weeks and weeks where there was next to nothing to apply for - but get into a routine, stay ahead and you'll find you uncover a few things to keep you going.  I signed up to all the job sites and agencies there was and I constantly updated my CV and professional networking sites.

9. Tailor your CV and covering letter for each job.
I have an entire folder full of different versions of CV's on my laptop - I always tweaked it for each company. Really study what they're looking for in the job advertisement and take time to research what sort of company they are and what sort of 'personality' or approach to work they have.  I changed certain key words and played up certain skills or attributes for each one.  This also goes for your covering letter.  I made myself a batch of about 4 or 5 templates and edited whichever one I thought was most suitable - I don't think I ever sent out the same covering letter or introductory email twice.   It's easy to forget just how many people are applying for the same job that you're applying for.  The moment you slip into the habit of churning out CVs and covering letters without really putting much thought or 'heart' into it at all is when you're going to lose out.  

10.  The importance of placements...
I'm not sure if this is the same for everybody but in my field of work - having a number of placements on your CV proves to be so valuable and mine provided me with some amazing opportunities such as further paid work.  I built a number of them up over 3 years but if you're struggling to find full-time work, now is a great time to apply for internships and fill some of the gaps in your CV. I'd done a number of internships and placements at creative companies before I finished uni, and not only did this make getting my job a lot easier, but I also had a very good insight into how these companies go about employing staff and I picked up a tonne of good tips and tricks.  Having a few placements under your belt is always good so ask around.

11. Contact companies even if they aren't hiring & get on people's radar...
Like i said, the company I work for weren't advertising for a new designer when I stumbled upon the job - I just got lucky and viewed their profile on the day they were starting to consider hiring a new member of staff.  Ring people, email people, take a few chances and use your initiative.  If you send, say, 50 emails out to companies you might like to work for - even if they aren't advertising - you never know your luck do you? At best, they'll have your name and CV on file should they start looking for someone new in the near future - and your initiative and confidence to introduce yourself will stand you in jolly good stead.   At the end of the day it's the law of averages.  Apply for more jobs, and your chances of getting one are going to be higher. I actually scheduled a meeting with a company who weren't even hiring just to introduce myself and get on their radar.  You never know where things are going to lead.

12. Include your blog on your CV.
OK - so this won't be relevant to everybody but I did find that having my blog helped me to stand out against other graduates when applying for jobs and it certainly helped me get my current one. Bare in mind I'm in the creative industry so things like photography, web layout and branding, as well as 'creative' writing, social media communications, PR and general hobbies are often of an interest to companies within this field. On the whole, it just shows you can be dedicated to something and that you use your spare time creatively and positively (and don't spend the entire time down t' pub...) If you're serious about your blog and it's a personal success for you, don't hide it! It won't get you the job but it will certainly help you to stand out against the competition. 

13. It's not what you know it's who you know
Oh how true this is.  I got a good bit of help/advice from my university tutor and I've kept in touch with them since graduating - it's always good to stay in contact with people who've helped you along the way. If something comes up and they get to know about it - they might give you a heads up. Past graduates are also good to keep in touch with - I stayed good friends with a couple of people who had graduated a year or so before I did and I often dropped them an email or text for some advice on things.

So there we have it, just a few little tips and advice for when it comes to finding work after you finish your degree - I'm aware that some of these points are probably more relevant to my field of work but I'm pretty sure it's a similar story for most.  Trust me when I say I know exactly how you're feeling if you're still struggling to find work but I promise that you'll get there in the end if you persevere... Please don't give up. Just know that the situation you're in will not be forever. Things have a habit of working themselves out...

Have you got any tips for finding a job after finishing university? How long did it take you to find work after you finished your degree?

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Beauty Haul | Mac, Zoeva, Stila & Pixi

It's been ages since I posted a beauty haul over on the bloggles.  I must admit I've been quite controlled with the ol' purse strings over the past few months even though I'm waaayy overdue a little splurge, but I still seem to have accumulated a few bits and bobs (I'm a beauty addict after all).  On a recent weekend away in Liverpool/Chester, me and the boy ended up having a mooch around the Cheshire Oaks shopping outlet.  I'm not sure if any of you have ever been (really recommend!) but I was very much a fat kid in a sweet shop around the beauty store they have there.  They had lots of discounted beauty goodies including the likes of Mac, Bobbi Brown and Smashbox to name a few - and I have to say I really did have to restrain myself.  I think i deserve a pat on the back as I only walked away with a couple of Mac bits but let's just say - if I hadn't have had a little inward chat with myself about my bank balance, the results could have been disastrous! Anyway, here's some of the newest additions to my makeup stash this month...

Mac // Pro Powder Blush Pan in "Taupe' // Link
I'm swiftly running out of my beloved Illamasqua Contour palette and have been after a similar shade of blush for a while now.  I saw Mac's Taupe and knew it would be the perfect replacement. Again, I picked this up cheaper than the £15.00 it costs normally so it was a complete bargain!  It's a gorgeous contour colour which is just perfect for carving out those cheekbones and I know I'll get a tonne of use from it.

Mac // Eyeshadow in 'Woodwinked' // Link
Why on earth I haven't owned this shade before now I will never know - but Woodwinked is such a cult beauty blogger favourite and I'm chuffed to bits to finally have it in my collection.  I bought this to create a brown smokey eye look with on a recent evening out in Liverpool and it's so perfect. It's a lovely antique gold sort of shade which brings so much definition to the eye area.

Mac // Pro Longwear Paint Pot in 'Groundwork' // Link
I got this for £10 instead of the usual £15.50 at Cheshire Oaks.  I have to say it's never really been a main item on my wish list but after a quick swatch, I knew I had to have it in my life.  It's a gorgeous neutral beige/taupe colour with just a hint of sheen and is the perfect shade for everyday wear.  I've used this non-stop since I got it and I can just tell I'm going to get a tonne of wear from it.  It's so versatile too as it can be worn completely on its own or as a base for a smokey eye or to keep powder shadows locked in place for longer - which is exactly why I love the Mac paint pots, they're so long-lasting!  It's great to use on days I'm at work as it's so quick and easy to apply - I don't even need a brush as all it takes is a quick smudge/blend motion across the eyelid and I'm sorted for the whole day. Love it!

Zoeva // Luxe Petit Crease Brush // Link
I've had my eye on this brush for ages now.  It's perfect for creating precise definition in the crease of the eye and it blends eyeshadow like a dream.  It's so soft and easy to use.  The Zoeva brushes have received quite a lot of praise for a while now and I can totally see why - I really can't wait to purchase a set of them! I love the fact that each individual brush you buy comes in a little pouch too - so handy if you're taking them away with you on holiday.

Stila Smudge Sticks in 'Stringray' & 'Lionfish' // Link
After my smudge stick in 'Damsel' finally died a death, I set about finding a replacement as I simply cannot live without it.  It's more or less impossible to find the shade in the UK unless you purchase the 'In the Light' palette which is how i discovered it in the first place.  'Lionfish' seemed the closest match - a lovely dark brown with a hint of gold sheen running through it.  Usually I prefer a matte finish to my liners but to be honest, you can hardly see the shimmer in it once applied so it works really well for me and I'm totally in love with it.  I also picked up 'Stringray' - the matte black shade - as I'm partial to a black liner when I'm going for the smokey eye look.  I really do love the Stila smudge sticks - if you're after an eyeliner which doesn't fade, bleed or make you resemble a panda at the end of a long day then I really recommend giving them a whirl.

Pixi // Endless Silky Eye Pen in 'Black Cocoa'  // Link
Like i said previously, I've been on the hunt for a replacement for Stila's Smudge Stick in 'Damsel'. Pixi is by far the closest match I've found - it's a beautiful deep brown/black shade.  I love shades like these for the daytime as it's just slightly less harsh than black and seems to work better with my skin tone.  It's the first time I've tried these Pixi liners and I have to say I'm completely hooked! They're so incredibly soft and smooth to apply - super pigmented and really long-lasting.  They resist smudging really well too.  Worth every penny - I'll definitely repurchase.

Swatches L-R //  Mac Groundwork // Mac Taupe Blush // Mac Woodwinked  // Stila 'Lionfish' // Stila 'Stingray' // Pixi 'Black Cocoa'

So there we have it - just a few little treats I've picked up this month. The best purchase by far has to be Mac's 'Groundwork' - it's one of those products that doesn't look much in the pan but once you have it, you question how you ever lived without it! 

Have you tried and loved any of these products?

Sunday 22 March 2015

Topshop Makeup at Feel Unique | A Few New Favourites...

I've always been fond of Topshop Makeup.  I reckon part of it is down to their quirky, monochrome packaging (such a design geek) but I've definitely found a few gems since they launched their cosmetics a few years back now - I really do think they hit the nail on the head when it comes to affordable, unique and on-trend makeup.  They're constantly updating their range and whenever I'm in town I always pop in to have a little nosey as to what's new.  However, as I no longer work in the town centre, I don't get as many chances to pop in for a browse.  This is why I was a very very happy bunny to discover that the Topshop Makeup range is now stocked on FeelUnique - as I don't get as many chances to shop in town anymore, it's very handy for me to be able to stock up my beauty bits online! I was lucky enough to get my mitts on some of their new additions just recently and I have to say, I've found a couple of new favourites... Without further ado, I'll give you the low-down on some of the latest Toppyshoppy offerings...

Topshop Beauty | The Concealer Palette | £12.00* | Link
I love concealer palettes like this.  I find them very handy to pop into my handbag or to take away with me thanks to the variety of shades all in one place, but I rarely find one that ticks all my boxes - good quality packaging, a creamy consistency with a good bit of staying power and a good mix of shades for different purposes.  I've tried my fair share (Soap & Glory, Elf and Makeup Altier Paris to name a few) but Topshop's version has to be my favourite - hands down. The palette contains 3 shades of creamy concealers as well as a handy setting powder and mirror all contained in a nicely designed, slim case.  The concealers are all super creamy and provide such good coverage.  The middle shade is absolutely perfect for covering dark circles of a morning - the peachy undertone helps to cancel out dull tones and the thick yet smooth consistency means that it stays put on the skin, instantly covering imperfections and blending into the skin with ease.  I sometimes find that thicker concealers can be too cakey and slightly drying but Topshop really have got the texture just right.  My main concern has always been dark circles and this palette really does blow the others i've tried out of the water in that respect.   I think they work best applied with fingers and dabbed onto the skin - the warmth from your fingertips helps to blend out the product and makes for a more seamless application. My only quibble is that I seemed to have hit pan rather quickly - but then again I may have been over-applying at the beginning whist I was getting used to the consistency. Overall though - if you're after a good quality concealer palette which will help camouflage dark circles, discolouration and imperfections then I really do recommend this. I'll definitely be grabbing another one of these!

Topshop Beauty | Cheek Jelly in 'Sibling' | £7.00* | Link
The concept of a cheek jelly really intrigued me as it's something I've never really used before.  I do love a cream blush but this product just offers something a little different - it's like a stain but in a more subtle, sheer and blendable form akin to that of a lip stain in a pot.  I have the shade 'Sibling', and although it looks rather terrifying in the pot, it's much more wearable when swatched.  I've tried this on a couple of occasions now and I'm not sure I'm entirely sold on it just yet.  I'm not sure whether or not it's just the shade that doesn't quite work for me but I much prefer a standard cream blush.  I've actually started using it as a lip stain just patted on throughout the day for a 'just bitten' look - I can't deny the fact that it's a fun and versatile product but I think i'll take a little more convincing with this one.  I can see these being a winner through summer when I want something very lightweight and sheer to wear on hot days so for now I shall reserve judgement...

Topshop Beauty | Lip Polish in 'Gallery' | £8.00* | Link
I absolutely adore this colour.  I feel as if I've got to start weening myself off the vampy reds now that spring is coming around the corner, but I refuse to put them down just yet.  Especially now that this little beauty has landed in my collection! 'Gallery' is a beautiful deep burgundy shade with a gothic edge. Topshop's lip products have always impressed me anyway but I really have enjoyed their 'lip polish' formula.  It has a buildable, slightly glossy finish which provides amazing pigmentation along with a gel-like texture that simply glides onto the lips.  It feels so moisturising and smooth to apply.  Once swatched, the colour isn't as dark as it appears in the bullet but oh-my-goodness - it's gorgeous! Its like a slightly glossier, less full-on version of my beloved Mac Dark Side lipstick. You do need to use a lip liner with it as the colour can bleed slightly through the day, but once the colour is on it's so long lasting and even if I don't top up through the day, it's still visible after I've finished work.  I have to say this has been another winning discovery for me and I really can't wait to stock up on some summery shades.

Swatches L-R | Concealer Shades - Palette | Cheeky Jelly 'Sibling' | Lip Polish 'Gallery'

Overall, a fab selection of products from the Topshop range.  I reckon I'll be stocking up on some more bits as soon as pay-day rolls around - I'm dying to try some of their highlighters and a few of their lip crayons so keep your eyes peeled for some more things popping up on my blog very soon! Do leave me your recommendations as I really do seem to have fallen back in love with the brand just recently.   You can find a wide range of Topshop Makeup on

What's your favourite product from the Topshop Makeup range? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Bourjois Colour Boost Lip Crayons | New Spring Shades

I'm a big fan of lip crayons.  They're perfect to throw into your handbag for on the go and I often have one sitting on my desk at work as they're so easy and fuss-free to use - no mirror required.  Personally, I prefer ones that have a slight glossy finish or moisturising quality to them as opposed to a matte, fully opaque coverage, but finding one with a good bit of lasting power as well as a consistency that is comfortable on the lips can often prove a bit of a challenge. I was so excited to try Bourjois' new additions to their 'Colour Boost' range - I'd never actually tried any of their crayons despite them being largely raved about last summer and it was about time I found out what all the hype was about. Promising 10 hour hydration as well as radiant, glossy colour and a 'bare lip' sensation, these crayons sounded like they'd be just my cup of tea...

Firstly, the three new shades are just perfect for the time of year as we're transitioning into Spring/Summer - 'Proudly Naked', a subtle, neutral pink/nude, 'Sweet Macchiato' a warm berry/rosewood sort of colour and 'Pinking of it' - a bright, fresh fuchsia.  My favourite has to be 'Sweet Macchiato' - it's a stunning brick red/berry shade which gives a nod to a statement lip without being too over the top.  I've been after a colour like this for absolutely ages - it's been my go-to shade for work just recently and it definitely has that on-trend '90s' vibe going on due to the slight brown undertone it has. It makes a nice alternative to your average berry reds.  'Proudly Naked' is also a winner for me - it reminds me of Mac's 'Creme Cup' and is so easy to wear. It's the perfect everyday shade.  

The colour is surprisingly long lasting despite the glossy finish. I drink copious amounts of tea at my desk and the colour is still left on my lips even after a couple of mugs throughout the morning - it appears as more of a stain as opposed to a full on glossy look after a couple of hours but the colour really does stick around.   I really like the fact that these crayons don't compromise on colour pay-off despite their more moisturising formula.

Swatches L-R // 07 - Proudly Naked // 08 - Sweet Macchiato // 09 - Pinking of it

Overall, I have to say I've been completely sold on these Bourjois crayons.  I can really see why these beauties received so much praise when they were first released. I haven't got the foggiest why on earth I didn't try them sooner and I really can't wait to grab 'Peach on the Beach' (one of last year's shades) in time for Summer. I'm so chuffed that Bourjois have added more shades to the range this season - 'Proudly Naked' and 'Sweet Macchiato' are perfect additions for neutrals fans like myself. The Colour Boost Crayons retail at £7.99* each and are available in 9 different shades.  You can find them online here.

What are your favourite lip crayons?

Sunday 15 March 2015

Monthly Favourites | February

Crikey - it feels like forever since I've put together a monthly favourites post and I'm even slightly late on the bandwagon with this one...but better late than never, as they say! Although I've been away from blogging for a little while, I've still been your typical blogger testing and trying everything within reach - you can take the girl away from the blog, but you certainly can't take the blogger out of the girl! I've been in my new job about 2 months now and I've definitely seen a bit of a change in the ol' routine.  My focus has mainly been on getting out of the door as quick as possible of a morning so I've been reaching for products which are quick and easy to use.  February saw me fall in love with a couple of past favourites and, as usual, I seem to have gone a little bit blush mad! Here's what I've been loving the past month...

Mac Blush in 'Harmony' // Full Post // £18.00 // Link
I forgot how much I adore this blush! A cult beauty blogger fave, this colour enhances the cheekbones and helps to sculpt the face in just a quick sweep.  Although I'm a big contouring fan, I just haven't got the time of a morning to concentrate on it but this blush makes it so quick and easy to achieve a naturally sculpted look in an instant.  I dust the colour onto my cheekbones and up towards my temples and it instantly makes my face look more defined.  The matte finish is perfect as it gives a smooth, natural look, and the muted rose tones it has to it means that it provides a slight touch of warmth to the face too.  It's somewhat like a hybrid of a blush, bronzer and contour all in one and it's a must-have in my makeup collection. I swear by it! It also featured in my Autumn blush post here.

Nyx Cream Blush in 'Natural' // £5.50 // Link
Ever since I used Benefit's 'Majorette' blush, I've become quite addicted to cream formulas. I love this Nyx offering because it's very creamy and gives the skin a gorgeous, dewy glow.  The pink colour is really flattering at this time of year and awakens dull skin - something I've really been struggling with just recently as I've been burning the candle at both ends! It does have a slightly sticky consistency but it works so well and is super easy to blend - I've taken to using it with a stippling brush, applying it over my foundation before setting with powder.  It really does last through the day and what's more - I've even taken to dabbing a little bit onto my lips to finish off the look.  

Benefit Blush in 'Rockateur' // Full Post // £23.50* // Link
I've already spoken about this blush in quite some depth on my blog - I have a full review and it also featured in my Autumn Blush feature here.  I've been layering this on top of the Nyx cream blush in order to get a longer-lasting colour and the two work so well together.  It brightens up the face thanks to the subtle shimmer and instantly makes you appear much more fresh faced and healthy. I'd class it as a seashell pink sort of shade - it's a beauty!

Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow in 'Toast' // £17.50 // Link
A new favourite of mine, this eyeshadow is perfect for using in the crease or for blending out darker shadows.  It provides the perfect base for a smokey eye and is also the perfect daytime colour when worn on it's own. I'll often wear this for work blended through the crease with a touch of highlight in the inner corner and I'm sorted for the day. It brings a touch of warmth to the eye area and also looks beautiful when blended into a mid-brown shade - it's so versatile.  I have a full review coming soon so I won't say too much, but i really do love this shadow - Bobbi Brown has really impressed me with this one! 

Ted Baker Makeup Bag // Similar Here
This baby pink and a rose gold Ted Baker Makeup Bag has been a firm favourite of mine the past couple of months.  I adore Ted Baker goodies and I was lucky enough to be gifted this for Christmas after spying it in House of Fraser.  As I've been away from home quite a bit recently, it's come in so handy for keeping my essentials all together.  It's big enough to contain everything I'll need but small enough that it doesn't take over my handbag or suitcase. It's so easy to wipe clean if I get any mucky finger prints over it and it still looks as good as new despite the fact I've used it so much.  The rose gold bow is so adorable and I love the milky pink shade - its so girly and it's always a nice one to pull out of your handbag when you're in need of a touch-up.

Benefit // Lolli Tint // Full Review // £24.50* // Link
I'm constantly on the lookout for products which will last me throughout my day at work without the need for touch-ups.  Lolli-tint has become quite the 'go to' the past couple of months.  It's a gorgeous lilac-pink shade which looks a bit scary when swatched but sheers out to a gorgeous petal-pink flush. I've been using it with a stippling brush and applying it onto my cheeks, but I've mostly been enjoying it as a lip stain.  It really does last all day and any touch-ups I need are always very minimal. I'm really wanting to get 'Lolli Balm' to go alongside it as I do find my lips can get a bit dry when I've applied this, but it's such a good layering product if you want to apply a gloss or lipstick on top.  

Barry M Nail Paint in 'Red-Black' // £2.99 // Link
Yes, we might be well on our way to spring but I'm still addicted to vampy shades when it comes to nails at the moment. I've had so many compliments on this shade just recently - it's a gorgeous deep burgundy. You can't go far wrong with Barry M nail paints in my opinion! 

Oriflame // E-Collagen Eye Cream // £10.95 // Link
I received this product in a beauty box quite some time ago and I've really enjoyed using it.  It's targeted towards wrinkles and smoothing out the eye area - not something I would have opted for had I chosen it myself but I heard that starting out in your 20's is the way forward?! I just find it really moisturising and refreshing to apply thanks to the cooling roller-ball application and it's so nice to apply of a morning.  It gives my under-eyes a dose of moisture at the same time as helping me to feel more awake and bright-eyed.  Dark circles have always been the main issue for me and although i haven't noticed a great deal of difference just yet, it certainly does help to awaken the eye area of a morning as well as prepping my skin nicely for a touch of makeup.  It's so gentle and soothing and it's one of the nicest eye creams I've tried so far.

Swatches L-R // Benefit 'Rockateur' // Nyx 'Natural' // Mac 'Harmony' // Bobbi Brown 'Toast' // Benefit 'Lolli Tint'

Have you tried and loved any of these products featured too? 

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Bobbi Brown | Brightening Finishing Powder

When I first heard of Bobbi Brown's Brightening Finishing Powder, I was intrigued to say the least. It sounded like my perfect product - I much prefer a subtle, healthy glow as opposed to an obvious highlight, so a product that promises an natural, all-over brightening effect quite tickled my fancy.  Said to instantly illuminate the skin with a healthy looking glow, this powder is infused with a skin brightening blend of Mulberry and Grape extracts to keep skin fresh and smooth looking.  It won the award for 'Best Finishing Powder' in the Elle UK Beauty awards in 2012 and has been highly rated and reviewed online.  It's safe to say I couldn't wait to get my mitts on this beauty...  

Firstly, I have to say that there's no doubt that Bobbi Brown gets packaging spot on the mark - I fell instantly in love.  In a sleek, mirrored compact encased in a luxurious, black pouch and white box, the finishing powder is really quite something.  The product itself feels luxurious and weighty, and the mirrored finish is so pretty. The powder itself is simply stunning in the pan - containing a mix of 6 different shades which, when blended all together, work towards brightening and correcting the tone of the skin.  I have the shade 'Brightening Nudes', which consists of a mix of lilac, brown and neutral shades perfect for pale to medium skin tones. 

The powder is finely milled and super soft to the touch, making it amazingly blendable and smooth to apply - there's no denying it's an amazing powder when it comes to texture -    your skin is left feeling baby soft after a couple of sweeps. One thing I noticed when it came to application was the shimmery finish the product has.  As much as I do like a slight sheen, I was slightly worried about whether or not this product would be far to glittery for me. As a powder that can be used all over the face, you'd expect something with a light sheen as opposed to a full-on glittery appearance.  I reserved my judgement at first, thinking that once I'd swept the top layer off, the underneath wouldn't be quite so full-on in the glitter stakes...

The colour itself is very subtle and pretty - it gives a soft-focus sort of finish to the face and provides a natural 'lit from within' effect. But (and I'm afraid there is a but) I find the glitter ruins it for me. I really wish it didn't contain as much as I think the pigments in the powder give a nice finish on their own - I personally don't think the extra shimmer is needed. I simply couldn't get away with this product in natural daylight as I find it a little too obvious for my liking - in bright lighting, you can see the individual flecks of shimmer on the skin.   There's no denying that the lilac/mauve hues work really well on my skin tone and they do give a nice finish to the skin, but if I wanted an obvious highlight or a bit of shimmer, I'd have been better off opting for one of the infamous Shimmer Bricks.

I just didn't expect it to contain as many flecks of shimmer for a product that's supposed to be used all over the face and I know i'd have loved it more had it not contained so much. Believe me, I really, really wanted to fall head over heels in love with this but I'm still trying to fathom it out.  It sort of works as a highlighter along the tops of the cheekbones but as an all-over brightening powder, it just doesn't quite hit the mark for me. It's such a shame as I think the concept is fantastic and it's something I really would have gotten so much use out of as I have nothing like this in my collection.  I've since read a few reviews and it does seem that a lot of people love this product - so maybe I just need to apply it in a different way? Is there some sort of knack to this?! I reckon I'll persevere with it as there's no doubt it's a beautiful product, but for now - I'm not sure it's for me.

The swatches above show each individual shade along with the combined effect on the far right. It's nice that you're able to use each shade individually which makes the product slightly more versatile - the pale pearl-white shade would make a nice little highlighter and I'm drawn to the lovely pink colour in the pan too. Overall, although there's no denying this is an absolutely stunning product, I'm not sure that it's going to become a firm favourite of mine.  Like I said, I'm going to keep trying with it - I think it might be a nice one to dust over the decolletage area when I have a bit of a tan going on!  I have to say I think I would have gotten along much better with the 'Porcelain Pearl' version (seen here) - which contains a mix of colour correcting tones to combat dullness and, from a little bit of googling, seems to contain less shimmer.   For £40.00*, it's well worth doing your research before you invest - I can see it being very hit and miss.  You can buy Bobbi Brown makeup from here, where you'll find the range of Brightening Powders in a number of different shades. 

Have you tried the Bobbi Brown Brightening Powder? What did you think?

Sunday 8 March 2015

Cocoa Brown 1 Hour Tan & 'Lovely Legs' Bronze Spray

We've all been there.  You find yourself invited to a spontaneous night out or event and mild panic sets in when you realise that you haven't fake tanned.  No instagram filter is going to disguise your milky pins and you have less than 24 hours to sort it out.  It's happened to me many a time let me tell you - which is why I always like to have some form of 'quick fix' tan always at the ready in my bathroom cabinet.  As much as I love being bronzed, I really do hate the whole process of fake tanning and if there's anything I can do to shorten it, I will.  When a great number of fake tans take up to 8 hours to develop, it really can become a bit of a chore and there's been many a time I've found myself planning my day around it before a night out which is ever so slightly ridiculous!  The only time I really have to fake tan is after work - so something super quick, easy and fuss-free is a must for me - as well as a product which offers the same colour pay off as any normal fake tan would.  Enter Cocoa Brown's One Hour Tan... a product which promises beautifully bronzed and radiant skin in just one hour.  

Cocoa Brown | 1 Hour Tan | £6.99* | Link  This product has gained cult beauty status since it was launched as well as winning a number of industry awards - I've read so many good reviews and features and really couldn't wait to try it.  I hold my hands up and admit I was very sceptical to begin with - there's no way a one-hour fake tan could offer me the same results as an 8-hour developer, could it? I have to say I was so impressed when I first tried this tan.  Not only does it give such a natural, bronzed glow to the skin, it applies so smoothly and evenly - it's effortless.  The mousse is really creamy and feels luxurious and almost moisturising to apply, giving a flawless finish from head to toe. The scent is really unique too - there's no whiff of fake tan whatsoever thanks to the delicate floral hint.  Once applied, the mousse sinks in really nicely and doesn't leave a sticky residue, meaning you aren't stood around like a lemon for ages whilst you wait for your tan to dry.   After an hour or so, the tan washes off to reveal a lovely, natural glow - not a hint orange in sight - it gives that natural 'caramel' sort of colour which is so flattering on the skin.  It's not the darkest colour I've ever achieved but it's such an amazing 'quick fix' and does exactly what I want it to do. I find it to be quite buildable too - so I'll often apply it two nights in a row mid-week and I'm sorted ready for the weekend.  It's also a nice product to use if you want to 'top up' a tan you already have. 

Cocoa Brown | Lovely Legs Spray | £7.99* | Link  I've only really dabbled in leg makeup sprays once or twice in the past so products like this are fairly new to me.  Although I don't think they're a necessity, i do think they make a fabulous addition to your evening out routine or simply used as an alternative to standard 'instant' tans.  If you've ever tried Sally Hansen's Airbrush Legs then this is very similar.  The spray is quite scary when you first apply it as the colour comes out quite strong, but once it's buffed in with a mitt it provides a smooth, even finish with an additional bit of coverage to help smooth and perfect the skin's appearance.  I had a small mark that just wouldn't budge on my lower leg for a while (shaving incident - I'm sure you'll all relate...) I used this spray on a couple of occasions and it helped to smooth out the skin-tone on my legs, covering the mark whilst adding a slight bronzed glow.  It's not something I'd use all of the time but it's definitely a nice product to have in my stash - it comes in very handy for special occasions when you'll be taking a lot of photographs as it gives such a perfected look to the skin.  I'm off for a weekend away with the boy soon and this is most certainly going to go in my suitcase. Used sparingly, it looks really natural and deepens the tan you already have.  Paler skins might find it slightly muddy and difficult to work with, but if you've already applied your tan (or if you're a lucky so and so and are sporting a natural one) then it's a nice product to finish off with before a night on the tiles.

Overall, I've been really impressed with Cocoa Brown.  For less than a tenner, the one-hour tan really is worth having. If, like me, you struggle to find the time to tan it's so super quick to apply after a day at work - all you need to do is hop in the shower before bed and you're sorted - hardly any effort needed!  You can find Cocoa Brown range in Superdrug stores here.

Have you tried any Cocoa Brown products? What did you reckon?  

Monday 2 March 2015

Barbara Daly Velvet Touch Bronzer | A New Contouring Favourite

Oh hello there! Long time no see. I know everybody rolls their eyes when a blogger apologises for being away for a while but I simply had to address the elephant in the room - because let's face it - it's a big'un! I haven't blogged in over a month now - which, considering i haven't gone as much as a week without it since I began a few years back, is quite a big deal for me (it feels like even longer since my January posts were scheduled since Christmas) I just wasn't feeling entirely chipper about blogging in general and I needed some time away from the interwebs (in all honesty, i still don't feel quite up to spending as much time on Twitter so on a little side note, I do apologise if my feed is in a bit of a 'tumbleweed' state for a while)  I also started my new job right at the beginning of January which was a big shake up to the ol' routine - it's going very well and I really do love it, but I must admit I totally underestimated just quite how much it would impact me - a new job is a big thing isn't it? It's taken me a few weeks to settle in and generally just feel a bit more relaxed with my new little venture in life.  Couple this with the fact I've recently met a very nice young man (i think somebody needs to re-assess this post) I just felt that I owed it to myself to have some time away to enjoy life without the pressure of keeping up my blogging schedule.  It's amazing how much your life can change within a matter of weeks. I can honestly say I really do feel the happiest I have done in quite some time and with that, I think it's finally time I got my blogger hat back on.  It's been getting rather dusty... 

I thought I'd kick things off with one of my new found favourites - Barbara Daly's Velvet Touch Bronzer in 'Natural Bronze'.  If you've been reading my blog for a while then you'll know I'm a complete contouring junkie.  I always enjoy experimenting with sculpting products and when I caught a glimpse of this shade, I knew I had to have it in my collection.  The shade 'Natural Bronze' leans quite cool - with a slight reddish/brick hue and a subtle greyish undertone.  I've recently hit pan on my beloved Benefit 'Hoola' and I have to say, this makes for a fab replacement and I've been reaching for it every day since I bought it.  It sculpts the face amazingly well without dulling the complexion thanks to the slight touch of warmth.  It really does carve out the shape of the cheekbones and gives incredible dimension to the face.  

The Velvet Touch bronzer definitely lives up to its name - it's so incredibly easy to blend and so soft to the touch (honestly, I was amazed at how creamy and smooth the texture is) - even the slightest tap of a brush picks up so much pigment.  I enjoy using it with a small, soft bristled tapered contouring brush (the RT Contour Brush also works very well with it) - I apply starting at the top of the cheekbones before blending inwards along my natural contour line towards the centre of the face - taking care not to be too heavy handed (you do have to be careful not to pick up too much product).  I also dust a little around the sides of my forehead and along my jawline - it creates an instant naturally-sculpted look.  The texture of the powder really is perfect - it gives a beautifully soft, airbrushed finish to the skin.

The packaging is quite large - although it's a good one for travelling with as it contains a large mirror as well as a small, flat brush contained underneath the pan.  Usually, I don't like using the brushes that come in compacts as I find them a bit naff, but this one is perfectly shaped and actually comes in quite handy for on the go.  

Overall, this is an amazing bronzer to have in your collection and I'm so glad I stumbled upon it.  It's incredibly versatile as it's great for contouring/sculpting but also works well as an all over bronzer (i can imagine it will be amazing in summer!)  Because the pan is so large it would also work well for dusting over the d├ęcolletage as it's easy enough to pick up enough product.  Shade wise - this could look muddy on some skin tones and because it's so pigmented, you do have to be quite careful, but personally - i love it! The pigmentation is incredible and the buttery texture blends like a dream. For the price, it's better than some high-end bronzers I've tried in the past and totally worth every penny.   Sadly, I can't find a link online but you can find Barbara Daly products in Tesco stores - priced at £6.00. Bargainous! 

Have you tried any Barbara Daly products? I'd love some more recommendations!