Monday, 31 December 2012

Goodbye 2012

Christmas has past and the magic of the festive period is nearly over, which makes me really sad as it is my favourite time of the year. I can't believe 2012 is over in a couple of hours but to be honest I'll be glad to welcome in a new year. This year has had some amazing highs but also some incredibly low points but I've learnt a lot and am ready for a fresh start with a positive outlook for the year ahead.

To start this new year on a positive note, lets concentrate on the things I'm grateful for this month:

* Matt
* My grandparents and spending more time with them
* A warm house and eating copious amounts of food
* Being spoilt over Christmas
* Log fires and the smell of the Christmas tree
* Time to read for luxury, not just towards my degree
* Long lie-ins
* Feeling relaxed and content for the first time in a long while
* Spending more time with Matt's friends and family

This New Years Matt and I are spending it down in Exeter at a house party, what are you doing to bring in the New Year? And what do you wish to achieve in 2013? xxx

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Review: No7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Water

After seeing loads of rave reviews on various cleansing waters, I thought I would ditch the face wipes (which are a beauty sin to use anyway) and try them out. I chose this one to try first as I had a £5 off voucher from Boots so it was only £4 for me. I like the pump action of the bottle, however it really isn't travel friendly as although the pump is meant to lock, if it is tipped slightly I found that the bottle leaks quite a lot.

When I bought it I wasn't aware that you can't use it for eye make up as well so that was a disappointment as well as I don't want to have to add an extra product into my routine. The liquid smells a bit like simple face wipes and was gentle and cooling to apply - it is hypo-allergenic so also suitable for sensitive skin. However, I found that even with barely any make up on I had to use a lot of liquid and cotton pads to take it off and even then this product sort of pushed the product around my face rather than taking it completely off. Luckily, I like to double cleanse, so the use of face wipes and waters for me are to take away the excess of my make up and then I follow up with a thorough cleanse using Liz Earle's cleanse and polish. I wouldn't recommend using this by itself as it didn't take off my make up effectively and after use instead of leaving my face refreshed it felt like it had an oily film over it. I also havn't noticed any difference towards oil production or the tightening of pores either.

Overall this product really disappointed me and wasn't the best start into the world of water cleansers. I wouldn't recommend this product as it had a lot of cons for me and not a lot of pros - the only good thing was the pump action.

Have you tried this product before? What cleansing waters would you suggest? xxx
Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Lifestyle: Harry Potter Tour

A few weeks ago, Matt took me on a surprise trip to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Tour (what a lovely boyfriend I have!) I really like Harry Potter although I'm not as obsessed as other people (I'm looking at you Matt), but I still enjoyed myself so much. I think it is a great trip for all ages and there is so many aspects to it you can spend hours there and really get your moneys worth, which is what we did! 

One of the best aspects of the tour was that you are given a time slot so it is never overcrowded and don't have to queue too long to get into the tour. I won't give too much away in case you would like to experience it yourself, but there are different stages to the tour which keep it interesting: firstly, a cinema experience, then into the great hall and a look at all the sets and props with insights to various aspects of the production etc, then outside sets with a chance to taste some butterbeer, onto prosthetics and special effects, diagon alley, a massive model of hogwarts they used for outside scenes and finally a look into olivander's wand shop. 

The tour reminded me a little of Cadbury world due to the different sections and the many chances for photos! There was so much to look at and enjoy, with my favourite parts being diagon alley, trying some butterbeer (nothing how I thought it would be - see pic above!) and having a look at the inside sets. The gift shop is also AMAZING, there is soooo much choice although it is obviously quite pricey! I really regret not getting a time turner key ring and chocolate frog, but we got a packet of Bertie Bott's Every Flavour Beans (Matt got sick flavour 3 times in a row haha) a big mug for me and a chocolate wand to share.

It was such a lovely afternoon out and something different for us to do together. I really recommend it for all ages and I would even go again! There were loads more pictures but I didn't want to give too much away as you all need to go and experience it for yourselves.

Have you been to this tour? xxx
Monday, 24 December 2012

*** Merry Christmas!! ***

Many of you probably won't read this until boxing day or a few days after as you will all be eating copious amounts, unwrapping presents and generally having a lovely time with your family and friends. However, I wanted to wish you all a very merry Christmas and hope you all have a wonderful time with your loved ones. I hope you have all been sprinkled with festive magic are all well and truly into the Christmas spirit!

My favourite things about Christmas are the songs we play every year while opening presents, ridiculous amounts of food, family time, the smell of the Christmas tree, twinkly lights and cold winter nights snuggled up watching a Christmas film. What are your traditions at this time of year?

Raise your glasses of champers/bucks fizz/mulled wine/hot chocolate - heres to Christmas 2012! xxx
Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Review: Boots Vitamin E Eye Cream

After finishing up Clinique's All About Eyes ages ago, I never got round to purchasing another eye cream. That was until a few weeks ago when my skin became really dehydrated due to the colder weather and I went on a mission to find some products to solve this (see that post here). In particular, my under eye area was very dehydrated leaving my concealer looking cakey and dry.

I don't really know much when it comes down to eye creams so I wanted to start on a low budget to ease myself into them. All I knew was it needed to be hydrated and if it combated dark circles that would be a plus. I spotted this in Boots and as it was super cheap, enriched with vitamin e and claimed to reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness within 4 weeks I snapped it up.

Over 4 weeks later after using this morning and night, I've come to the conclusion its nice but that's about it. Nothing amazingly good or terribly bad, but to be honest for such a good price I didn't expect miracles anyway. I like the packaging as it is a squeezy tube with a thin funnel which allows ease of use and ensures you don't get too much product at a time. I also like that it has an SPF15 in the formula for the day time and I can vouch for it's claims to moisturise as it has definitely helped with the cakey problem. In terms of the dark circles however, I havn't seen any difference to be honest. I would have at least expected a little bit of change but I suppose you can't have everything (at least not for this price). I luckily don't suffer from puffiness around my eyes so can't really comment on that but it has been gentle enough to not aggravate them. The quality for money is great as you get a lot of product and it is also the perfect size for travel.

All in all, this is a standard eye cream for a very good price. If you are looking for something simple without anything too specific to combat this is a great option. I definitley don't regret buying it as it has helped to moisturise that area but in future I'm looking to purchase Benefit's It's potent! or the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair for eyes (I professed my love for the serum here) for more specific issues.

Have you tried any products from this range? What eye creams do you like best? xxx
Monday, 17 December 2012

Review: Boots Botanics Organic Rosewater Toning Spritz

After sampling the tea tree and rose toners from Lush, I decided I really liked the concept of spritz toners but the Lush ones were just not for me (I'm still a massive fan of the brand though!) On my hunt for the perfect toner I came across this from the Botanics range in Boots. I've never tried anything this from before, but it is 100% Organic, formulated without parabens and was also a spritz so thought I would give it a go.

The bottle is quite tall yet sleek and is unfussy, which reflects the nature of the product. The actual product does smell strongly of a true rose scent, so if you aren't a fan then this may not be the best toner for you. I enjoy the smell though and find it refreshing when I use it morning and evening. I like to spray some onto a cotton pad and wipe my face to remove any make up residue, then I spritz a few pumps onto my face, leaving it refreshed and cool. I also really like the spritz on this bottle as unlike the Lush toners, the pump delivers a really fine mist that refreshes your face without making it really wet. The pump allows me to use it over the top of make up if I've put on a bit too much powder, similar to how you would use MAC Fix+.

The only downside to this product is that the second largest ingredient is alcohol denat. However, if I hadn't have read the ingredients I wouldn't have necessarily known their was alcohol in it as I haven't found it stripping at all, in fact it is rather gentle.

I've really enjoyed using this toner and would definitely repurchase. Have you tried anything from the Botanics range? I've got my eye on their facial oil to try next! xxx
Friday, 14 December 2012

NOTD: Barry M | Berry Ice Cream |

This may not be a typical colour for this time of year, but if you are getting bored of the berries and darker shades, this is a lovely choice. It would look great with a tan in the summer, but I'm not one to stick with the conventional seasonal colours all the time and so wear it all year round. A glossy lilac, this varnish is lovely by itself but can be jazzed up with glitter layered over it too. To achieve an opaque finish, I layered 2-3 applications as it is such a light shade. I'm a big fan of Barry M polishes as they perform really well for being such a bargain price.

It is available from the Barry M website or most drugstores - however, it is useful to note that I think the name has changed from when I purchased it and is now called 'Ice cream purple' (I prefer the previous name). I also like the look of 'Peach Melba' and 'Raspberry'.

What Barry M shades do you like best? xxx
Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Review: Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation

I seem to be on a bit of a role with Estée Lauder recently. Having previously owned nothing from the brand, in the last few months I acquired Advanced Night Repair and then this foundation. Both things are pretty pricey for a student budget but so far Estée Lauder has not disappointed me and definitely lives up to my expectations as a premium brand.

On my first trip to Bicester Village a month or so ago, I picked up a MAC MSF and this foundation in the shade 'IC1 Shell' (although I think it's now called Cool Bone) from The Cosmetics Company Store, which turned out to be a perfect colour match for my pale skin. This particular foundation had been on my wishlist for a while even though it is full coverage, as it is nice to have a range of bases in your stash for different occasions. Upon looking at reviews, I've seen nothing but positive things and I'm going to have to jump on the positive band wagon and warn you now that this is going to be a rave review!

The packaging is made of heavy glass which oozes luxury, although may not be best for travel (I've kept the box for this). The only gripe I have with this is that there is no pump dispenser so getting the right amount of product can sometimes be a bit tricky, although it isn't the end of the world for me. The formula is quite thick but also nice and fluid so easily blended into the skin. For this I use a small amount of product and my buffing brush and really work it in seamlessly for fuller coverage, or with a stippling brush or blend perfection for more of a medium coverage. I've seen others mention they find it difficult to blend as it dries quickly but I've had no problem with this. I find this gives a lovely satin finish to the skin, and if blended in well it doesn't look cakey or obvious at all, instead it leaves your skin looking perfected. I also like that it doesn't oxidise and so stays the same colour all day.

I was surprised that it was so natural looking considering it is a matte, full coverage foundation and although I like to pump some Hocus Focus to inject some radiance, this isn't always necessary and just somewhat a habit now. The time this foundation lasts is amazing and I can be safe in the knowledge it will last for around 6 hours before needing to touch up with powder, if at all. It is oil and fragrance free so great for oily skinned girls like me, who want fuller coverage for a special occasion, need their base to last a long day or just prefer that kind of finish. Even though it is expensive, I only need to use a little for my whole face so think this will last me a really long time and is cost effective. It's also useful to note you can buy Double Wear in a light version or maximum cover.

I really recommend this for oily/combination skins who want a medium-full coverage foundation. It has great staying power, helps with oil control and didn't break me out. As long as you take the time to blend it in well this will leave a lovely satin finish without looking cakey. A great purchase and new holy grail for me.

Have you tried this before? What else would you suggest from Estée Lauder? xxx
Thursday, 6 December 2012

November Favourites

This post is quite late as we are nearly a week into December, however I had a few things I wanted to share this month that I've really enjoyed. These type of posts are one of my favourite to read, so wanted to pop my two cents up on the internet too.

Origins Drink Up Intensive: In a recent empties, I finished a sample of the normal Drink Up mask which I really enjoyed using. Considering my skin has been so dehydrated recently I decided to pick up a full size of the intensive version to give me that extra boost. It's worked wonders, smells divine and a little goes a long way. I'll be sure to post a proper review soon.

The Body Shop Spiced Pumpkin shower gel: I picked this up on a whim when I walked past the shop and saw they were having a sale. I bought this for half price at £2 along with 'Fuzzy peach' and am really enjoying using it. It's not the usual kind of shower gel I would go for as it isn't moisturising but the sweet yet spicy scent is perfect for this time of year.

Boots Botanics Rosewater Toning Spritz: After finishing up my Lush toner I wanted to try something new as I wasn't completely wowed by it. I picked this up after seeing a recommendation of it (can't remember which blogger, sorry!) and am so pleased I did. It has a strong rose scent which I enjoy and anything with rose water seems to agree with and aid my skin. I also really like the nozzle on it as it delivers a fine mist, which the Lush toner didn't. A full review of this is to come.

Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish: I know I've already waxed lyrical about this, but after finishing my bottle of it I tried out a new cleanser as I like to keep my options open. However I missed this, picked up another bottle and fell in love again. I think I will always have to have this in stock as it is definitely a holy grail item for me. It takes off makeup with ease, smoothes and softens my skin and has really helped with my dehydration issues too. Read my full review here.

MAC MSF in Lightscapade: A full review was recently put up on this product here, but I couldn't not mention it in my favourites. I've used it pretty much every day and think it is just so pretty both in the pan and on my face! It is finely milled, easily blended and very buildable - you can use it for a subtle shimmer or layer it on for more definition. It's so lovely and perfect for any occasion.

Tea variations: I've always loved a good cup of tea but recently I've branched into new flavours. I'm particularly enjoying Earl Grey at the moment (from Aldi) along with cinnamon tea (Holland and Barrat) with half a teaspoon of honey, which is great for this time of year. The latter choice was influenced by Sammi :)

Essie Carry On: Featured on a recent NOTD, this is a perfect shade for autumn/winter. It goes with loads of outfits, and complements the berry tones I've been enjoying wearing on my lips. I don't own anything else like it and think its a great addition to my nail varnish collection.

OPI 'I Lily Love You' (R) and 'Be A Dahlia Won't You' (L): Firstly, how cute are the names of OPI polishes?! I received this last christmas as a gift from my sister in a set of 3 and they are just so me. If I was a nail polish I would definitley be a combination of the two. They are beautiful on their own but this month I've been loving layering the glitter over the top of the hot pink as they really compliment each other. I'm sure there will be a NOTD post dedicated to them soon.

Do you like any of these products? What were in your favourites for November? xxx
Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Take 3: Lush Bath Bombs

You may notice that one of the bath treats in today's post was featured in a recent wishlist of mine... I gave in and treated myself to it when I came home for reading week, and also to two more (naughty me)! I bought Sunnyside Bubblebar, Spacegirl bath bomb and Party Popper bath bomb. I enjoyed using all of these - bath products are definitely my favourite thing from Lush.

Sunnyside: This was my absolute favourite of them all. It filled my bathroom with a citrusy scent and made the water soft and moisturising. It was the most relaxing and decadant - I couldn't capture it on camera but the water had ribbons of gold running through it and looked so pretty! You can see the residue of the gold water left on the bath, so that is a downside that you need to clean it all away afterwards. The bubbles you can see in the picture were made with just half a bar, so although it is on more of the pricier side of the bars and bombs you can get multiple uses out of it. I would save this for when I need a pick me up and think it will make a lovely Christmas gift. 

Party Popper: One of the most fun bath bombs that Lush has to offer, this is a great novelty. It wasn't the most relaxing, but made bath time a bit more interesting! Inside the duo-coloured cone is popping candy and confetti flakes which you can wash yourself with after the bomb has completely dissolved. That all sounds rather cool, however, I didn't have much popping in mine and I wasn't a fan of the flakes (see bottom picture) as they smelt horrible to me, were a weird consistency and there wasn't enough to really wash yourself with. It did however have a nice general smell (tangerine oil) and turned the water pink which were plus points. I wouldn't rush out to re-purchase this like the Sunnyside bar but I would recommend you to try it out just for the novelty.

Space Girl: This is a classic bomb which is a favourite of many a beauty blogger. It's a really cute purple planet shaped bomb with a sprinkling of glitter. This one apparently has popping candy in it too but I didn't hear anything and only know this after looking it up on the website! It has a lovely softening effect on the water and turns it a bright purple, which again was difficult to pick up on camera. Space girl features grapefruit oil but to me it smelled just like parma violet sweets which I used to have when I was younger. This is one of the more affordable bombs and I would definitely repurchase as an affordable bath time treat - I can see why it is a classic.

Overall, I really enjoyed these bath bombs from Lush and would urge you to pick up a few to test and discover your favourites. They have a wide range of choice and make a natural treat - great for pampering yourself or others. They have some great Christmas choices out too at the moment so I would snap them up quickly if I was you! I have my eye on Cinders, Father Christmas, Golden Wonder and Magic Wand!

Have you tried any bath products from Lush? What would you recommend for me to try next? xxx

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