Saturday, 30 November 2013

November on my mind



As the name of the blog suggest I really have been doing makeup by candlelight this month. Truth be told, I have candles all year around but there's something very special about early dark mornings and evenings all snuggled up in front of the fireplace with a hot chocolate. For me November is usually a bit of a non month - it just adds another 30 days until it's time for Christmas, but this year it's been different and very busy. We started the month with celebrating Him Indoors' birthday and talk about the pressure being on, since Him Indoors had organised so many wonderful things for me in October, but we had a great relaxing day and an excellent meal at the end of it as well.

In fact it seems like a lot of November has been focused on food - a week or so ago we attended a sushi making course, which was super fun. Our instructor was a Japanese chef who gave us some background history about sushi - which buy the way doesn't mean raw fish, it means vinegared rice, and also taught us about different kinds of sushi and the regional differences in Japan. Since we are massive sushi lovers it was really interesting to learn a bit more about the traditional way of eating it and making it, and I now completely understand why it takes years to become a proper sushi chef. In our case I think we were fast tracked, since it only took about 2 hrs before we started making sushi: thin tuna rolls (Maki), thick rolls (Futomaki) and inside out California rolls, and at the end of the course we actually had some decent looking pieces with us home for a late night snack. We had so much fun and are now obsessing about coming up with new creative sushi fillings e.g. pear, walnut and blue cheese, or how about a British classic - a chip, brown sauce and some cheese? Naaaaah, I think I'll stick with the more traditional.

I've also started all the preparations for Christmas; the house has been decorated, all we need is a Christmas tree (real of course), I'm all set to celebrate first of advent tomorrow in a traditional Swedish way, I've made lists of Christmas presents to buy, decided on what food we're going to eat and what I need to buy. My Christmas leggings with penguins and reindeer are all laid out with my Christmas socks and jumper (can you tell that I REALLY LOVE Christmas) and overall I feel quite well prepared as we go into December and I can't wait to open no 1 of my Ciaté mini nail polish calendar tomorrow morning. So bring it on December - I'm ready for you!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Autumn makeup bag

A couple of months ago I did a post on what was in my Summer's makeup bag and since I've really tried to be more seasonal this year - changing up shades and products much more than I usually do, I thought I would show you the products I've been using the most since the beginning of October and even though there are some new additions, you will probably also recognise a few products that have been reviewed separately.

Let's start with the products I've been using for my foundation and the first one is the YSL Youth Liberator Serum Foundation (£37) in shade B30 Beige. It's a medium to full coverage foundation that has built in anti-aging ingredients to help regeneration of the skin cells. I know I have raved about this in a few other posts and I'm sorry for repeating myself but since it is the foundation I use every day now, it had to be in here. It has a wonderful texture that's easy to blend into your skin, and despite giving fuller coverage it feels light and natural on the skin. The finish has a lovely radiant glow and it's very long lasting without any transfer or smudging. It's a luxury item, but as you know for me it's important to get the foundation right and it's definitely the best foundation I've ever used.

The foundation does give fuller coverage but I still like to use a light concealer as well, and my go-to product is Rimmel's Wake Me Up Concealer(£5.49). The concealer gives great seamless coverage that brightens and illuminates, and it's light enough to work really well under the eyes as well. Just like the foundation it's long lasting and when I use both setting spray and powder I find that I don't need to do any corrections at all until early evening - brilliant for such an affordable product.

Before setting with powder, I'll spray a couple of spritzes of a makeup setting spray and about a month ago I swapped my Urban Decay De-Slick spray for the All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray (£9). The De-slick spray worked well for me, it's just that I don't really have a big issue with oil control and since I'm more into long lasting products, it made sense to try this one too - and I'm so pleased that I did. It's a lovely fine spray without any scent at all that lowers the temperature of the makeup so that it stays in place longer. The spray feels very cooling and refreshing on the skin and even though I still haven't found a setting spray that lasts more than 8 hrs, it does help to keep everything where it should be, minimising any smudging, especially if you also apply a little after you've completely finished your makeup.
I'm a bit late to the party when if comes to Soap & Glory products in general, and it's not until this year that I've tried quite a few from the body care range. Since I was so impressed with the products I've also picked up a few makeup items. The first one is the Soap & Glory One Heck of a Blot (£12) which I got after my Rimmel Stay Matte Powder broke when I was traveling. I was a huge fan of the Rimmel powder and never really thought I would change allegiance to another brand, but having tried One Heck of a Blot there's no going back! It's a lovely, super light translucent mattifying powder that controls any excess oil or shininess, and it leaves the skin looking and feeling ultra soft and matte without any build up. I'll dab a little of it over my nose and cheeks after I've used the Urban Day setting spray and I find that my look will last at least 5-6 hrs before first signs of shininess appear.

When it comes to my eye makeup I've still kept it quite straight forward as usual, but I've swapped my golden, peachy shades for a more muted look. A great example of that is the Bourjois Little Round Pot Eyeshadow in 54 Marron Glace(£6.99). It's a lovely chocolate brown with a tiny bit of shimmer that I've really enjoyed wearing during the day, just applying a light wash all across the lid and then eyeliner. I think it's difficult to find an eyeliner with just the right consistency, but I've been happy with the Rimmel Scandaleyes Thick & Thin Liner (£5.49) in black and since it has a slant to the tip it's easy to use to create either a heavy winged liner, or something a little bit more subtle. The eyeliner is waterproof and long lasting and applies easily without any tugging on the lid. Since I have used this for quite a while now, it is unfortunately beginning to get much drier though and it's more difficult to use for precision application, so I'll probably need to pick up a new one in a few weeks.

The other shade I have used non stop is the Maybelline Colour Tattoo in Metallic Pomegranate (£4.99). To be honest I picked this up already in August but it was just sitting in my make up bag staring it me saying: "When are you going to use me?", since I wasn't confident in the shade and what it would look like on. As soon as I saw that gorgeous rich, shimmery deep vibrant cranberry red shade I knew I just had to have it, but I was struggling a bit with figuring out what to do with it. The formula is creamy, easy to apply, has great staying power without creasing and the red shade is so much easier to wear than you might think. I use this dabbed very lightly all over the lid, or in combination with a taupe color to add shape and depth to the outer part of the lid. I was worried the shade might make my eyes look sore or smaller, but it's absolutely stunning and it brings out my eyes - a great choice for autumn.

On to my most worn mascara, and it's the lovely butterfly effect False Lash Flutter from L'Oréal (£10.99). The mascara lengthens the lashes, volumises and flares the lashes outward with the help of the double winged butterfly brush. It takes a few attempts to figure out how to best work with the brush, and for me I actually apply the mascara from the outer corner and inwards to get a nice coverage of the outer lashes. The effect is beautiful - you'll have looooong silky lashes with an intense color and a lovely angled effect that opens up the eye.   
Left to right (In natural light):
Bourjois Eyeshadow - 54 Marron Glace
Maybelline 24 Hrs Colour Tattoo - Metallic Pomegranate
Left and top to bottom (In artificial light):
HD Brow Blusher - Shade 2
Bourjois Eyeshadow - 54 Marron Glace
Maybelline 24 Hrs Colour Tattoo - Metallic Pomegranate
Soap & Glory Sexy Motherpucker Lip Gloss - Raplumzel
 
Left and top to bottom (In natural light):
HD Brow Blusher - Shade 2
Bourjois Eyeshadow - 54 Marron Glace
Maybelline 24 Hrs Colour Tattoo - Metallic Pomegranate
Soap & Glory Sexy Motherpucker Lip Gloss - Raplumzel

I've also swapped my Collection eye brow pencil to a Rimmel Professional Eye Brow Pencil (£2.99) in Blonde. It does the trick, but I like my eye brow pencils to be soft and easy to work with, so that it doesn't feel as if you're drawing your eyebrows on, and unfortunately the pencil is quite hard and not waxy enough for me, which makes it more difficult to get two sisters. I won't be buying this pencil again and next time I think I might even brave the world of eye brow kits and use a shadow instead. 

For some color on my cheeks I've also swapped my usual coral shade for a softer, dusty pink (Shade 2) from HD Brow Blusher (£17.95) which I actually got in one of the better Glossyboxes. The blusher has a lovely fine texture and is highly pigmented - you only need to dab your brush in the blusher to get incredible pay off. I learned that the hard way, and clown cheeks are never a good look! The muted shade is perfect for the berry shade of colors I've been using lately together with a fairly pale skin, and it gives just the right amount of everyday glamour.

If you read my Chubbimania post, you'll know that I've been all about the chubby sticks this season and out of the new shades I've bought lately, my most loved one is the Soap & Glory Sexy Mother Pucker Gloss Stick (£8) in Raplumzel. It has a lovely subtle vanilla candy scent and it has that wonderful super moisturising formula with quite strong pigmentation that gives such a beautiful creamy finish that lasts a long time and wears well. The gloss stick is enriched with a plumping complex of collagen pre-peptides that gives an instant plumping effect, but without that tingling feeling (they call it the Buzz-free formula, how cute is that...). The shade Raplumzel is a soft wonderful dark raspberry shade, and it's been perfect for me to follow the berry trend but without it being too vampy.

This is the first time I've updated my make up with completely new shades to make it seasonal, and I've actually really enjoyed it. In December I'll make some more smaller changes e.g. I'll be wearing a lot more red lip products - predictable I know, but Christmas is coming after all and I'm already looking forward to introducing new shades again in the Spring time.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

A girl's second best friend - Dry Shampoo

If diamonds are a girl's best friend than the dry shampoo comes a very close second. I don't know of many girls who've never tried a dry shampoo, and it seem their popularity is growing by the day with every self respecting hair care brand releasing their version of the product and we've even seen the first dry conditioners hit the stands in Boots and Superdrug. I'm not at all surprised since there must be others out there, who like me are dependent on dry shampoos since I try to limit the washes to about twice a week, and dry shampoo is indispensable for those in between days.

The point of dry shampoos is very simple - to remove excess oil and shininess, to refresh your hair and an added bonus is that they always add a bit of texture. It was actually my mother who introduced me to dry shampoo a besquillion years ago, when I was still in school and even though the formula then wasn't as good as they are these days I was hooked straight away. Dry shampoos have been around for more than 50 years and come in either a spray or powder format, but I definitely prefer sprays since they are so easy to use and you can carry a mini sized one with you in your handbag for on the go touch ups. Some of the negative things you hear about the most when it comes to dry shampoos is that it creates build up on the hair and it makes it white and dusty. I can understand both those points, but I find that if you hold the spray about 15 - 20 cms away from the roots, you'll get a more even application and it won't feel gritty and built up. It's also important to leave the product to sit on your hair for a few mins before your brush it out or heat style it so that it gets a proper chance to absorb oils and mattify without creating a powdery look. I usually apply the dry shampoo, massage it into the roots and then go put my makeup on, leaving it on for about 15 mins before I brush it out, and I never get that powder feel. Mind you I do have blonde hair, but if you still feel you get a white powder there are dry shampoos with a hint of color that work really well for red and darker hair.

There are so many dry shampoos to choose from at the moment and some of them in my humble opinion come at a completely inflated price (above £25) for what is basically an oil absorbing powder spray. I don't shy away from splurging but I would never pay that considering I use them up faster than you can say Dry Scham..... yep - gone! I still wanted to do a comparison between the more reasonably priced dry shampoos to see if there's really any difference between them so here's a selection from the High Street in ascending order of price.

First up is the product that for me is the Original and in a way the mother of all dry shampoos - Batiste, and I have chosen the scent Monochrome (1.99). What I love most about Batiste is how they keep reinventing themselves by introducing new scents to keep it fresh and interesting and there are about 15 differently scented Batiste products on the market at the moment - what an amazing range. The bottle is fun in its monochrome look and it makes me think of the swinging 60s. Batiste gives great body and texture to the hair at the same time as it refreshes it and Monochrome is a lovely scent - the mix of slight pepper and lovely soft and creamy orange soda is very feminine and modern.

Next up is a fairly new addition to the dry shampoo shelves and it's the Dove Style+Care (£3.06), which works exactly the same way as Batiste and it also gives wonderful body and texture to the hair. The only different I noticed was that it feels less powdery in it's texture than the other dry shampoos I've tried and there's less fall out as well when you apply it. The bottle looks slightly bigger than Batiste but it's actually exactly the same volume. At the moment it only comes in one scent - it's a beautiful light, airy and fruity scent, I only wish that it smelled a little stronger on the hair because it really is so lovely.

The first alternative to Batiste that I remember seeing on the High Street a year or so ago, was the TRESemme dry shampoo and now they have released an improved formula with their Radiance Dry Shampoo (£5.25). The new version is translucent, which means that it doesn't leave that white powdery residue that can be so annoying and it's also been enriched to bring out radiance rather than dull down the shine which can also happen if you've applied too much dry shampoo. It's works very well as a dry shampoo, however on my hair I don't really notice any improved radiance which is a little disappointing since it's one of its main selling points. The scent is the traditional TRESemme scent that you'll find in the heat protectant spray and all the other products, which I usually quite like but in the dry shampoo I find it a little too perfumed and strong for my liking. 

Finally we have the Toni & Guy Cleanse Dry Shampoo (£7.19), which is the most expensive out of the products, but it also does contain a bit more - 250ml. This is a clear spray, and just like the TRESemme dry shampoo it won't leave any white powder on your hair. It makes your hair feel genuinely clean and fresh and I could probably go a whole week without washing my hair if I used this. It has a wonderful crisp and clean scent of green apples that stays on your hair and I tend to use a little bit more than I actually need, just to get more of the scent.

To be perfectly honest there's not a lot of difference between the products in terms of performance - they are all easy to use and make your hair feel refreshed, textured and clean. The biggest difference is that the dry shampoos from TRESemme and Toni & Guy are clear sprays, so if you've been annoyed about white powder on your roots or you have darker hair, then these products are definitely for you and you'll also get less of a fall out when you brush it out. The other big difference between them all is scent, but for me both the scent and the white powder is a question of personal taste and it's wonderful that there are so many to choose from.

They are all great dry shampoos and the only one that I probably won't repurchase again is the TRESemme, simply because it didn't give the radiance that it promised and I also didn't take to the scent. If I had to pick one as a favourite, it would be the Dove Refresh + Care, mainly because of the amazing fruity scent, although I must emphasize that Batiste and Toni & Guy are in very close competition and I would highly recommend any of them for lovely smelling, fresh 2,3,4,5 or 6 day hair.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

November favourites

It's the end of the month and I'm already soooo excited about December being here, and all the boxes with Christmas stuff are lined up and I'm ready to start decorating this weekend but before we get completely immersed in Christmas, it's time to have a look at what I've used all the time and LOVED in November.

Let's start with the BaByliss Pro Perfect Curl (£149.99) which I reviewed in a previous article. It's a completely new approach to hair curling. Instead of the hair around a wand or barrel, you clamp  the curler around a section of your hair and voilà, it's automatically sucked up into a ceramic curl chamber, and when you release it a couple of seconds later, you have a gorgeous and perfect curl. It's so easy to get the hang of, it's gentle on the hair and leaves less frizz than when I use a curling wand. It takes me about 25 mins to do all of my hair, using quite thin sections and the curls last for abut 4 days - obviously depending on how much you brush the curls out and if you secure them with some hair spray. I've used it every week since I got it - it's amazing and I have a feeling it'll be on many ladies' Christmas wishlist this year.

To secure the curls I've been using quite a lot of the Fudge Urban Iced Raspberry & Vanilla Hair Spray (£4.99). It's a spray that will hold the curls up to 24 hrs and despite being strong hold it doesn't make your hair crispy and hard. A couple of short bursts of spray will keep your curls in place and it adds a nice shine. The best bit though is definitely the scent, it's so fresh and crisp and fruity that I almost tend to add a little bit more than necessary just to get my locks to smell lovely.
I don't know about you, but it's so cold in the mornings and evenings now that I've got my mittens out to keep my paws nice and warm, and to protect them from getting dry. I also take out the loveliest richest hand creams I've got and this month I've been using Caudalie Hand & Nail Cream in Feuille de Cassis (£6) religiously. It's rich with softening and nourishing products like avocado and shea butter and the hands feel luxuriously soft. The cream also works great to soften up the cuticles and to give them a nice little treat and you could even apply quite a thick layer of the cream, put your hands in plastic bags, wrap them in warm towels and leave them for 10 mins - the cream will just soak into the skin and cuticles. This is very subtly scented with black currant which gives a feeling of great warmth and earthiness - perfect for winter.

Every morning I use a lip scrub to prep my lips for the day ahead and I can't be without the lip scrubs from Lush to help keeping my lips conditioned and smooth. Unfortunately my absolute favourite - Bubblegum, broke on the bathroom floor so I had to start using the Christmas special - Santa's Lip Scrub (£5.50) a little earlier than I had planned. It has a lovely Christmasy red color that doesn't stain your lips and it smells gorgeous with a strong scent of ginger and spice that smells exactly like Coca Cola - yep.... Coca Cola! I follow that with my Gatineau Defi Lift 3D Perfect Design Revolumising Lip Care (£29.52 for 2) to hydrate the lips and also to plump them a bit before applying the lip product of the day. The lip balm has a silky glossy non sticky consistency that you can use both as a primer, a lip gloss or a lip contour mask because of its firming effects. The plumping effect is immediate and noticeable and will last for a few hrs before you need to re-apply it - pure luxury for the lips.

The past month I've completely embraced just using two very seasonal perfumes, which is highly unusual for me. As a lighter scent and body spray I've been wearing the Bath & Body Works Fine Fragrance Mist in Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin that I've mentioned earlier. It's a stunning light, spicy and fresh scent of apple, ginger, cinnamon, pumpkin, vanilla and rum - very comforting and warm. If you like foodie scents you'll definitely love this and I have already decided that I'm going to repurchase it next year - talk about planning ahead... I've worn Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin either on its own or layered it with the DKNY Energizing Fall EdT (£32.95). This is another warm and interesting mix of scents that create a warm, spicy and fruity scent by mixing citrus fruits like mandarin and lemon, delicate white flowers like jasmine and magnolia, musk, vetiver and cardamom. It's fresh, but not forgettable, warm but not over powering and fruity with lots of substance and I've loved wearing it this month.

My skin has been a bit temperamental the last month and I've had a few blemishes, both hormonal and as a result of trying new products. As annoying as it is, at least you can get rid of them and minimise them quickly if you use the Origins Super Spot Remover (£14). It's a clear gel that calms down any redness, heals and eliminates excess oil and you dab it on the spot a few times a day. It works ultra fast and already the day after, you won't notice the spot as much. The gel comes in a tiny little bottle, but since you only need very little, it will last a good few months before you need to buy another one. It's my go to product to get rid of pesky little blemishes, but if you use it a lot you might notice that it dries out the skin where the gel has been applied, so you'll need to follow up with a good moisturiser.

That's that for this month's favourites - which products have you loved this month?

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Silver edition

As we move into the party season it's a great time to indulge in over the top sparkly and glamorous outfits but for a more subtle on trend look, you've got the lovely metallic shades to play with and my metal of choice is silver. Silver is a cool shade that to me is sleek, contemporary and graceful and it always gives a very deluxe and stylish impression, and you only need to use silver as an accent to add elegance to any outfit or look. Today I'll show you some of my favourite silver products and perhaps some of them will inspire you for the festive season ahead.

The first product is going to be invaluable for my hair during the festive period to try and limit heat styling at least a little bit - it's John Frieda's 3-Day Straight Spray (£6.99). This spray acts both as a heat protectant and as a help for straightened hair to stay nice and sleek for up to 3 days, using keratin protein. The spray is very light so it doesn't weigh down the hair and it doesn't make the hair feel sticky or as if it's covered by a thin film, like some products do and it has a lovely, fresh scent to it. I usually spray on about 12-15 pumps of it straight after a shower since I find that it also works well as a detangler, and when my hair has dried - either naturally or using a blow dryer I straighten my hair. When I've used this, I notice that my hair looks very shiny and healthy and even though it's perfectly straight it has a heavy thick feeling to it, that gives the hair a lovely movement. On me the effect lasts for almost 3 days, if I don't use any hairbands or put my hair into a scrunchy, and you can easily go over the hair again with a straightener without having to apply more of the spray
At this time of year I love to add a little sparkle to my makeup when we go out in the evening or to a party, and if you're not brave enough to wear a glitter eye shadow you can still get a glitter fix with the help of  sparkly eyeliners. I picked up a gel based eyeliner packed with glitter in Body Shop last year, and I like to dot a little of it over a black eyeliner or even wear it on it's own. It adds a lovely dimension and depth to the mascara. I haven't found this eyeliner on the Body Shop site, however you can find lots of very affordable liners in different colored glitters on the High Street by e.g. Collection 2000.

For more color intensity and less shimmer, I would recommend the Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Liner (£3.99) which comes in several lovely shades, and silver is perfect to create a truly metallic look. It's a wonderful smooth formula that glides on with minimum effort and there's no pulling or tugging on the eyelid at all. The color is so easy to blend or to layer with other shades for an interesting look and I like to add this as an unexpected finish to neutral shade. Since it is waterproof and very long lasting it also works really well to wear on the lower waterline.

The last eye product in this glimmering selection is the L'Oréal Colour Appeal Eye shadow (£5.99) in shade 150 Real Silver. The packaging is a bit plasticky and flimsy and it doesn't make a very good first impression - looking at it you wouldn't believe that in fact the formula is one of the best ones I've ever tried. It's incredibly silky, smooth and fine, almost to the degree that it feels like a cream in it's consistency. You only need to barely touch it with your brush and you get a good dusting of the very highly pigmented shade, more than enough to cover the whole lid. Personally I prefer to only use a light wash of this over the lid, however it is easily built up and you can create a very dramatic and strong look. Even though the texture is so fine and light it doesn't cause any fall out and it sits nicely on the lid all through the day. If you're tempted to try this but aren't keen on the metallic look, there are several other lovely shades to choose from.  
From left to right:
Body Shop Glitter Eyeliner
Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Liner - 010 Silver 
L'Oréal Eyeshadow - 150 Real Silver

As you know I love nail polish and for me one of the best high street brands is definitely Barry M because of their brilliant range of shades, effects, great formula and price. One range of products I particularly love is the magnetic polishes. When I first saw them about a year ago it was love at first sight and I quickly bought all the shades I could find. The formula is more or less the same as the normal Barry M in terms of wear, ease of use etc, but the main different is that it contains powder that creates a pattern when it's put under a magnet. There are several different shades and patterns to choose from and it's very easy to create. Make sure that you shake the bottle well before you apply the first coat. After that I would recommend that you work on one finger at a time, so as soon as you have applied the 2nd coat on a nail, you hold the magnet that's built into the top of the lid over the nail for a few seconds and you will see a pattern appear straight away - it's fascinating! The shade in the photo is Multi Sparkle (£4.99) which is a lovely glittery silver, and the effect creates a beautiful contrast between the light silver and the steel gray. I always apply a high shine top coat over this to create a mirror like finish and I think the effect is more eye catching that way. I absolutely ADORE the finish and I can't stop looking at my nails every time I wear it. Other brands have also picked up on the magnetic effect and although this isn't a new look anymore, I still love it as much as I did a year ago.

Barry M Magnetic - Multi Sparkle in artificial light
Barry M Magnetic - Multi Sparkle in natural light

The last item in this shiny silver edition is a perfume that means more to me than I can describe - it's Amouage's Reflection EdP (£175). Amouage is a very exclusive perfume house from Oman recognised for their rare and exquisite perfumes and I discovered their stunning scents when I was on my honeymoon, and I was fortunate to visit their factory. Before I talk about the scent, we have to take a minute to admire the stunning bottle. All perfumes from Amouage have the same shaped bottle, and what differs is the color and finish of them. This one is so beautiful with it's reflecting mirror shine and it deserves to take pride of place on a dressing table. The scent is an amazing soft and spring like blend of delicate crisp white flowers - magnolia, jasmine, water violet and freesia, and sensual white musk, golden amber and spicy woods. 
Reflection is a very unique fresh scent and despite being so rich with white flowers it's light, cool and has a water character to it that reminds me of cucumber and watermelon. Wearing it makes me feel so harmonious and peaceful - it's simply magnificent. I know that it's a ridiculously expensive perfume, but the memories and feelings so closely linked to it for me are priceless, which is why Reflection will always be part of my perfume collection.

Silver is so much more wearable than you might think, and by just adding a few touches to your look, you'll feel as glamorous as an actress on the silver screen. 

Monday, 25 November 2013

Manic.Monday: Hands of an art lover

If there's a brand you can count on to come up with great innovative concepts for nail polishes it's Nails Inc  and at the moment they have a lot of new and fun textures and looks, just in time for the party season. A collection that has really caught my eye is Modern Art (£12), which is a limited edition of shades inspired by abstract art that has a very urban edge to it. The nail polishes are made up from millions (at least that that's what it seems like) of miniscule particles in different sizes and colors that are so densely packed that you can't even see the clear base that holds them all together. The collection has 4 different eye catching looks, all named after famous art locations in London: 
 Cromwell Road - Green, black and gold 
Bankside - Red, gold and black
 St. Martin's Place - Peach, black and gold
Millbank - blue, black and gold 
 
The formula itself is very easy to work with and because it's jam packed with these little particles, you will automatically get an even coverage of across the nail. You can wear just one coat for a more subtle look, however these polishes deserve to be shown off and they look their very best when you've got a solid, opaque finish. That means that you need to apply at least 2 coats of the polish, but since it dries very quickly it won't take you long to do. The look turns out best if you wait a minute after the first coat, not necessarily to just let it dry, but so that it really sets on you nails and then apply the second one. As with most other textured polishes you shouldn't apply a top coat with this one - it won't ruin the effect but it won't give that textured, layered, grainy look that is the intention.

Because it's so tactile and textured you might think that it's impractical and won't wear very well, but on me it lasts about 4 days which is pretty standard. I would recommend that you stick with 2 coats however, because if you apply too thickly it's more sensitive to chipping, which will also take off the entire coverage in one go. Speaking of taking off things - unlike shimmer or glitter polishes this is easy to remove since the finish is quite thick, even using dip and twist removers, so no need to take out the strongest, nastiest acetone you can find.
Cromwell Road
Bankside
St. Martin's Place
Millbank

This will not be to everyone's liking, but I love this gritty, textured, "industrial" look and wearing black, leather or monochrome outfits really makes the nails stand out. The whimsical mix of primary and bright colors create a very contemporary and expressionist look, and it is a bit like wearing a Jackson Pollock painting on your nails. What do you think - are you an art lover too?

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Kiehls eye treatment with avocado

In my personal and extremely humble opinion, one of the skin care products you should start using as early as possible is an eye cream. If just one night of not having had enough sleep leaves noticeable dark rings under the eyes - imagine what years of a hectic lifestyle, the weather and just having a good old laugh could do. Daily moisturisers and serums are wonderful in all their glory, but since the skin under the eyes is thinner and doesn't have any oil glands to help keep the area supple, it's more sensitive and as it dehydrates it's easier for fine lines and wrinkles to appear. That's why it's great to use eye creams, which usually are quite rich and creamy - exactly what the under eye area needs. Since life is all about having a good time and making the most of every hour of every day, I'm always on the hunt for a good eye cream that will help keeping those nasty wrinkles at bay as long as possible, and my latest love is the famous Creamy Eye Treatment from Kiehls (£33). 
I've mentioned before that I love a cream that feels as if it's actually doing something on the skin and this cream is amazing. The plastic packaging is very unassuming and has a quaint old fashioned apothecary feel to it with the description on the front. It has a very subtle, fresh and clean scent and the the vanilla colored formula is wonderfully rich, heavy and indulgent. It contains avocado oil, beta-carotene and shea butter which help to restore natural moisture and suppleness, protect the skin against sun, pollution and other external factors and they improve the look and feel of dry skin. I use a tiny tiny bit of this every morning and evening before putting on my moisturiser and it feels so hydrating and nourishing on the skin. Despite containing such oily ingredients, you won't feel any oiliness on the skin - the cream absorbs quickly leaving no tackiness or greasiness at all, and you can apply under eye makeup straight away.

I make up my mind about a skin cream depending on how my skin feels mid afternoon. If my skin is as hydrated as it was after my morning routine, we're on to a winner and for eye creams I also check for crepeness that can come after under eye concealers, powder etc. When I've used this cream the eye area feels protected, nourished, bright and soft - and this lasts even after having cleansed my face in the evening. I've also used this as a masque for the eye area, applying a slightly thicker layer of it (you still only need very little of it) and then let it absorb for the next 15 mins, wiping away any excess. This cream is so lovely to use and I couldn't wish for a better protector for the eye area to see me through the winter. 

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Chubbymania

Since Clinique launched the original chubby stick, we now have chubbys for eyes as well as cheeks and lips, and every self respecting brand has joined in and come up with their own version of it. Initially I wasn't actually that keen on the format, but that was before I had tried any of them, and now I'm completely bitten, smitten and can't get enough of them. When the time came for me to update my lip colors for this season there were so many new releases of the lip chubby that I ended of with quite a selection of shades from different brands.  

Let's start with the product that really ignited this passion for the lip chubby for me, the Bourjois Colour Boost Lip Crayon (£7.99). I've mentioned the Bourjois Lip Crayons and how much I love them soooo many times before so I'll try not to go on too much about these, but they have an amazingly moisturising formula that feels so light and lovely to wear. Regardless of which color you get (and I know since I have the entire range now), the finish is smooth, highly pigmented and glossy without being sticky and it's very long lasting and in the evening the lips feel nourished and soft. I bought both of the new shades for the season and the first one is Prune - a dark plummy purple red. This is much darker than I would usually wear, and I was a bit sceptical to start with, but it actually works really well with a fairly bare eye for a "Russian princess in the winter" kind of look and it's not too vampy or gothic either. The second Bourjois shade is in Rouge, which is a creamy, smooth rich venetian red that is very glamorous and I like to wear this with neutral brown eye makeup for a vibrant statement lip. A beautiful shade for the Christmas season!
 
From left to right (Indoors in artificial light):
Bourjois Colour Boost - Prune
17 Lip Crayon - Heartbreaker
Bourjois Colour Boost - Rouge
Rimmel Colour Rush Balm - Not an illusion
 Isadora Twist Up Lipstick - Sugar Crush
From left to right (Indoors in natural light):
Bourjois Colour Boost - Prune
17 Lip Crayon - Heartbreaker
Bourjois Colour Boost - Rouge
Rimmel Colour Rush Balm - Not an illusion
 Isadora Twist Up Lipstick - Sugar Crush

Next up is a 17 Lip Crayon (£4.99) in the shade Heartbreaker. I bought this because the description made it seem very similar to the Bourjois Lip crayon, and I was curious to compare the two. This is also very moisturising, it feels lovely on the lips and it gives a lovely natural shine. The main difference is that the 17 Lip Crayon isn't as pigmented as the Bourjois ones, so you need to apply quite a lot to get a good coverage. Another thing that set them apart is that the 17 product doesn't wear or fade very well, and while the Bourjois fades evenly this one leaves more of a patchy look after a few hrs of wear and tear. Saying that though, the shades in the range are lovely e.g. Heartbreaker is a beautiful muted burgundy red that looks gorgeous on, and since it's not strongly pigmented the finish is much more wearable and subtle than it looks in the crayon. I really like the shade and would definitely recommend the 17 Lip Crayon as a purse friendly option.

Another chubby newbie (at least for me) is the Rimmel Colour Rush Balm and I have the admit that the reason I got this was because of this gorgeous shade called Not an illusion. Rimmel have an amazing range of high quality lip products so I'm not at all surprised that they also have a wonderful lip chubby. It hydrates the lips, is barely noticeable on the lips, has long lasting wear and the pigmentation is great. This shade is a nice warm dusky rose shade that is so wearable and works with most looks and outfits.

The last chubby today in my growing collection is one I reviewed previously at the start of November - the Isadora Twist Up Gloss Stick. Similarly to the others the formula is very moisturising and plumping, however it doesn't have the same great coverage as some of the others, although it wears well and it gives a lovely natural and glossy finish. The shade Sugar Crush is completely different from the others in that it's a much more delicate, and I guess in a way, summery shade. It's a warm, sheer and slightly shimmery salmon pink with a slight blue undertone that looks lovely with a heavy, smokey eye. 

All of these products are wonderfully moisturising and long lasting, and most of them have great pigmentation to create a lovely satin look and as you can see you can see there's a wide range of shades available. Clinique may be the original chubby stick, but as there are so many great quality budget friendly options available, there's no need to splurge unless you really want to.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Smokey Rose Eyes

I love to play and experiment with different colors in my eye makeup to create different looks. I'm definitely not an expert in any way, which is why I really like to try a ready made palette of shades intended to compliment each other to create a specific look. The latest one I've tried is the L'Oréal Color Riche Eyeshadow Palette (£7.99) which has 4 perfectly matched shades to create a smokey look and it comes with an easy to understand little illustration at the back of the package on how to use each shade. This handy little quad comes in several colors so you can create either a more traditional smokey eye using greys or browns, or you can go for a more colorful look using greens or blues. Since berry shades are all the rave at the moment I got the palette called Eau de Rose, which is a lovely pink and mauve range for a warmer and softer smokey eye look.
All of the eye shadows have a subtle shimmer to them, and the pigmentation varies a little bit not only because of the shimmer but also since most of the shades are supposed to be fairly subtle. The consistency is dry and holds the pigmentation together very well, so you won't risk too much fall out when you apply the darkest shade. Although when doing a heavy eye it's always a good idea to either leave foundation until the end so you don't need to correct too much, or to have lots of loose powder under the eye to catch any loose particles.

The shade in the top left corner is a lovely pale pastel pink intended as a highlighter on the brow bone and in the inner corner of your eye, and it gives a beautiful lift to the finished look. The second shade from the left is a wonderful cool baby pink that goes all across the lid to form the base of the look. The contour the eye a little bit, intensifying the outer half or corner of the eyelid, you use the next color - a subtle dusky pale puce that adds a lovely depth to the look and could also be used in the crease. Finally we have an intense dark raspberry to be used as the smoke over the base of the lashes, both over and under the eye, as you like.
 
Indoors in natural light
 Indoors in artificial light
 Outdoors in sunlight

The combination creates a lovely, feminine and soft look, and you can of course emphasize whichever color you like, but I love to add a little bit extra of the base shade and the smokey dark raspberry, since these pinks and berries completely bring out blue eyes. I've really liked this alternative smokey eye, that you can easily wear in the day time as well, and to finish the look I've worn a matte browny pink lip to balance off the shimmer and berries of the eye. These palettes are so much fun to experiment with, the pigmentation is great and fairly long lasting and I'll definitely pick up another one from this range. Have you tried this quad - and what do you think about doing a smokey eye with other colors than browns and grays?

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Rimmel's Rose Libertine

I know it was only a few days ago that I did this week's Manic.Monday, but I was so disappointed in the results of the Barry M Christmas Edition in Tinseltown that I quickly needed another one to cheer me up and I turned to a polish that I knew would do just that - it's the Rimmel 60 Seconds Nail Polish, which is another amazing formula on the high street that costs next to nothing (£3.69).

This polish is all about getting ready quickly so all you need is one stroke, one coat and one minute for it to dry and you're all done. There are quite a lot of polishes that promise that at the moment, so does it really work? Well, first of all the 60 Seconds polishes come in a slightly smaller bottle than many others (8ml instead of the usual 10 ml) which makes it niftier to carry with you in your makeup bag for on the go application. I really like that that it's smaller because if like me you're a polishaholic and have never in your life actually finished a nail polish before it turns gloopy and impossible to work with, the smaller volume means that I might actually have a reasonable shot at finishing one. 
Secondly it comes with a wonderful wide brush that covers most of your nail and you get just enough polish for great coverage in just one stroke. Thirdly, the consistency is just right - not too thick so that the brush leaves any streaks and not too thin, so that the shade is impacted which means that in one coat you do get a lovely opaque high gloss finish. Another time saver of course it that with the lovely finish you don't need to use a top coat, unless of course you want to. In the photo I'm only wearing one coat and no top coat, but if you decide to apply two coats you'll find that the color deepens slightly and you get even more of a wonderful glossy look. Last but not least, the polish does indeed dry very quickly without any bubbles or defects, so for me the 60 Seconds approach definitely works and it'll last for about 4 days. If you haven't already tried this little beauty from Rimmel, I would highly recommend it and especially this gorgeous shade.

Since I've been testing some makeup in pink, mauve and berry shades I thought that instead of going vampy with the nails I would keep the look softly feminine and instead wear one of my most loved pink shades - Rose Libertine. It's an absolutely stunning warm slightly coral pink that is so dainty and pretty on the nails.
It might not be the obvious choice for this season filled with darker, heavier shades but I love the tenderness and softness of it. If you want something a little more daring, then Rimmel offers more than 50 different shades in this excellent formula - how on earth is a girl to choose just one? Just as well that both Boots and Superdrug have a 3 for 2 offer on at the moment, so go on and treat yourself to some new exciting shades.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

S(e)oul Food from November's Kitchen Nomad

It's food time again! Last month we went to Mexico for some lovely spicy dishes, courtesy of the amazing products from Kitchen Nomad and this month we're going in the opposite direction to the Land of the Morning Calm - Korea. Korean cuisine is very natural and healthy and largely based on rice, vegetables and meat but of course the main ingredients vary between different regions. Traditionally a basic meal is a bowl of rice and a bowl of soup per person, and then there are lots of different side dishes that are shared between everyone. You may have heard the old saying that "you first eat with your eyes", i.e. that the whole eating experience is influenced not only by the taste but also by how good the food looks, and an interesting fact is that in Korean cuisine the balance of colors is considered very important. It's not just to make it look pretty though, it's also linked to the theory of the Yin and Yang and the five elements that represent different materials, emotions, body organs and flavors and the ideal state is a balance between them all. So let's see what was in the box to prepare a well balanced delicious meal.
Ingredients
Sesame oil - lovely golden nutty tasting oil used for cooking or as a dressing
Soy sauce
Ginseng drink
 
Ingredients
Korean chilli powder - smokey, fruity sweet hot chilli
Kimchi - traditional Korean side dish of fermented cabbage and other vegetables with garlic, ginger and other spice
Dried shiitake mushrooms
Sesame seed
Sweet potato noodles - traditional Korean noodles for Japchae (stir fried noodles) 


What are we going to make with all of these fabulous ingredients?
Starter:
Sauteed eggplant -  eggplant with chilli, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds

Mains:
Sweet potato noodles - noodles with garlic, shiitake mushrooms, soy sauce, sesame oil, onion, beef
Seasoned Tofu - stir fried tofu with sesame oil and sesame seeds, garlic, onions, chilli and soy sauce 
Skewered beef - grilled beef marinated in garlic, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil

Since I don't eat meat I'll swap the meat for either mushrooms or prawns and all we need now is a big bowl of rice, some kimchi and the ginseng drink and we're sorted for a traditional Korean meal.
I'm so excited about this month's ingredients since the only Korean food I have tried previously is Kimchi, and I'll do my very best to cook up an interesting, balanced feast of flavors, scents and the all important colors. What do you think about this month's ingredients and recipes? 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Be my honey

When I was a little girl, every morning my dad would insist that I ate a teaspoon of honey saying that it would be good for my immune system and it would keep me healthy and strong. At the time I didn't particularly care about that bit, I was more interested in getting a yummy sweetie after having finished my breakfast - no wonder I was bouncing off to school every morning on a sugar rush from the natural sweetness. But in addition to keeping me happy and energetic as I left for school my dad actually had a very valid point, since honey contains antiseptic and antibacterial properties and has been found useful to fight off infections. Honey is also a well known natural ingredient for nourishing, soothing, rejuvenating and hydrating skin and hair so today I thought I would show some of my favourite honeypots.
 
Up until a few weeks ago I hadn't used anything from Herbal Essences for a very long time. Their shampoos have always smelled amazing, but completely stripped my hair of hydration and turned it into a tangled nightmare of a mop. Having read some great reviews of the Bee Strong range, I thought I would risk it and see if the Herbal Essences products had improved so I got the shampoo, conditioner and the mask. The Bee Strong Shampoo (£3.89) is specially formulated for dry and damaged hair and it contains extracts of honey and apricot to repair the individual hair strands as well as strengthen them. The shampoo works ups a generous lather that gives a great deep cleanse, but without leaving the hair in a tangled mess and compared to the Herbal Essences shampoos I've used previously, it feels wonderfully hydrating and nourishing. The Bee Strong Conditioner (£3.89) contains the same strengthening ingredients as the shampoo but also has a serum to add extra moisture, and the richness of it makes the hair feeling super soft and cared for. If I haven't used the conditioner after the shampoo, I've applied a generous amount of the Bee Strong Mask (£4.19) which is a strong and intensive mask that feels quite heavy on the hair. It's a really lovely mask and it leaves your hair feeling very luxurious, nourished and detangled - as if you were using a much more high end deep repair mask, so it's incredible value for money. All the hair products have a nice and creamy golden consistency but to my surprise neither of them really smell of sweet honey at all, instead the scent is much more of a fresh tropical scent of warm mango, papaya and delicious apricot. I love this new formula from Herbal Essences and they have certainly redeemed themselves a lot in my book and I might even consider trying some of their other shampoos too. I may not look as fabulous as Nicole Scherzinger, but my hair certainly likes the Bee Strong range, and so do I

A few days ago I did a post on a wonderful plumping lip balm from Gatineau which admittedly is a little bit too expensive to use more than as a prep in the morning and a treatment in the evening, so in between I'm using an old classic, Burt's Bees Honey Lip Balm (£2.99) which I slap on a good few times every day. It's made from 100% natural ingredients and in addition to honey also contains beeswax, shea butter, cocoa butter and lanolin. It's a fuss free, cheap and cheerful product that you can afford to be generous with and there's nothing like it to keep your lips soft or to heal chapped lips. Burt's Bees also do tinted lip balms, but since I like to use this under a lip stick or lip gloss, this sweet honey balm is just right for me.

For a long luscious bath you need a Lush product, and when you're skin is feeling a little angry or sensitive, the Honey Bee Bath Bomb (£3.25) is just wonderfully soothing. It's a gentle and almost therapeutic bath bomb with honey (obviously!), rhassoul mud and aloe vera. The rhassoul mud softens the skin, scrubs away dead skin cells and helps to rebalance the oil production and tightens the pores, while the aloe vera and honey adds plenty of moisture. The bath bomb isn't as colorful and pretty to look at as many of the other Lush products, but it turns the water into a lovely warm yellow color and it's gentle enough for even the most delicate of skins. To me it doesn't smell anything like honey or even particularly sweet, and instead it's a nice and refreshing scent of very faint orange, bergamot, and gardenia which together form a very light floral that has a subtle sweetness to it.

Having indulged in a lovely relaxing bath, your skin will need a little treat in form of a rich and moisturising body butter and the Body Shop Honeymania is absolutely wonderful. It's very similar to most of the Body Shop body butters with it's smooth and almost "fatty" consistency that melts into the skin as it's heated up between your hands when you massage it in, and it really soaks the skin with hydration that lasts almost all day making the skin feeling very silky and soft. As with the hair care products, I was surprised that this doesn't smell particularly of honey. It's a harmonious scent that does have a noticeable rich and sharp sweetness to it, but it's of a floral kind and it reminds me a little of the Moringa scent as it's quite strong in a slightly artificial way, and if you're not keen on florals - you might give it a miss.

All of the products I have mentioned are pampering and indulgent to use, although most of them haven't really smelt that much of honey. But what they have lacked in terms of honey scent, the L'Occitane Immortelle Eau de Parfum makes up for with exuberance. This wonderful EdP comes in a beautiful but plain heavy glass bottle which has a very exclusive feel about it, that makes me think of bespoke perfumiers where the scent does all the talking, not the packaging. When Him Indoors bought this for me, it was a horrible cold and blustery day and when I tried this on it took me to a sunny, scorching Mediterranean filled with aromatic scents and I was completely bowled over. It's a very warm and luxurious scent that blends essential oils from rich honey like immortelle, powdery rose, deep animalistic musk and sweet iris - all vibrant and strong scents in themselves. This is not a fragrance for the faint-hearted or for anyone who wants to blend in and there is nothing girly, light or playful about it. It's a very womanly, intriguing, sensual and fascinating scent that creates an air of warm golden nectar - it's definitely a statement and I absolutely LOVE it.
I have been waxing lyrically (ha, ha - see what I did there...) about these wonderful honey products, but for good reason. Honey is the ultimate all in one beauty product - it hydrates, soothes, nourishes and smells wonderful and is definitely worth getting now that winter is coming to help keep your skin soft and smooth. But Behive and don't spend too much ... sorry - I blame it on the sugar rush from the honey I just had...

Monday, 18 November 2013

Manic.Monday: Barry M Limited X-mas Edition - Tinseltown

In my latest gianormous autumn haul from Boots there were of course a few nail polishes. I was doing so well, not having picked up a single nail polish until the magpie in me caught eye of something - a wonderfully glittery, glitzy, shimmery limited edition shade from Barry M, and then it was just downhill from there. Ah well, it happens to the best of us... The polish that was the ruin of me was the shade Tinseltown (£3.99) which contains a firework of colors; glorious Christmas red, bright vibrant blue, dazzling cerise and there are even some speckles of emerald green.

I think it's well known by now that I'm a big fan of Barry M nail polishes - the formula is great, the range of shades excellent, wear is super and all of this between £3.99 - 5.99! Tinseltown is a clear base with these colorful little particles fairly densely scattered through it, and the style reminds me a lot about the Nails Inc Feathers formula. The thing about polishes of this kind is that the look is random and every application will give a slightly different result. That's absolutely fine, but even though the spread of the glitter on the nail is uneven I still want the glitter over the entire nail, and not just on the side or the tip etc and for me this is the biggest challenge with this polish. The brush is of the same width as the standard polishes which means that it doesn't spread the glitter very well and you have to carefully move the glitters around to space them more evenly.

I've experimented with using Tinseltown on it's own and also as a top coat to different base shades - red, white and green, after all it is a Christmas edition nail polish. Since the polish is fairly rich with the particles you do get quite a lot on your nail in one coat as you can see in the photo below and since it dries very quickly you can easily apply as many coats as you wish and then add a top coat. To get a complete and super dense coverage of the glitter on your nail using no other shade, I think you would need at least 3 or 4 coats which might make it more sensitive to chipping. I usually find that when I wear more than 3 coats it only takes a small dent or pull, and all of the polish comes off in one big flake.
From left to right:
One coat
Two coats (and a half to adjust the spread of the glitter)
One coat on red base coat
One coat on white base coat
One coat on green base coat

I'm sad to say that I'm not very impressed with the results. The formula is good, it's easy-ish to apply but you really have to take care with the coverage, it dries quickly and the colors are beautiful, but I just don't like the look. It could be that I've combined it with the wrong base shades, but if it's a Christmas edition, it's not unreasonable to expect it to work with traditional Christmas colors too, or maybe that's just me... I'm also not sure about using this on it's own since it seems like there are a lot of black particles in the polish too - more than I expected, which darken the look quite a lot. Who would have thought that I would be disappointed with a Barry M nail polish, but I'll keep on trying with different base shades - maybe a pink or blue, until I find something that works, and if you have any great ideas, please let me know what color you would use as a base shade for this glitter coat. 

Sunday, 17 November 2013

L'Oreal Ever Riche Hair Mask

About a month ago I mentioned in my Operation Rapunzel post that I'm really focused on my hair at the moment. It's funny because I've had long hair as long as I can remember and my routine has always been very basic, low maintenance with as few products as possible. Now I use all sorts of products to help my hair grow, and to hydrate, nourish and protect it. I've always been good with using conditioner, but now I'm also taking to do some form of treatment once or twice a week. I know that the condition of your hair, nails and skin is really the result of a healthy and balanced protein rich diet, but there's nothing wrong with trying to lend a helping hand with some great products as well.

A product that has found it's way into my weekly treatments is the L'Oréal Hair Expertise Ever Riche Mask (£6.99) which is intended for dry and very dry hair and it contains botanical oils from camelina, grape seed and apricot, which are all well known for their protective benefits. Camelina acts like an anti-oxidant for hair by protecting the hair follicles from damage, grape seed helps to protect against loss of moisture and apricot helps to make the hair soft and shiny and even helps it grow - if you are to believe the research.
The mask is ultra-thick, almost like a whipped body butter and it has a delicious tropical coconut scent to it, which also lingers on your hair for a good few hrs. You apply it to the ends of the hair, leave it on for 5 -10 mins, perhaps with a hot towel wrapped around it to soak in as much nutrients as possible before you rinse out, and you should feel a difference almost straight away. It feels as if the hair has been infused with the protectants and it feels very silky, has a glossy shine and it's easy to detangle. I've used the mask twice a week for the past month while I've been enjoying a nice long bath, and it feels as if it's really made a difference to the quality. Despite a lot of heat styling with my new found love, BaByliss Perfect Curl, I haven't noticed any brittleness or broken hairs and in general my hair feels very smooth, strong and healthy. I've tried several of the L'Oréal shampoos and conditioner before, and they've been Ok - quite average I would say, but the Ever Riche mask is in a class of its own. I'm so impressed by it that I will definitely get the shampoo and conditioner as well, and fingers crossed using all three together will add even more nourishment and hydration in the pursuit of long luscious locks.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

November empties

If I may say so myself I have been SOOO good this month, finishing up quite a lot of products. It's not that I don't like the stuff that I already have and want to get rid of it, it's just that I like to try new things more and I can't try those things until I've finished others.... oh dear - it's tough being a beauty junkie.

The first items I've been good to finish are a Shower gel, Body Lotion and a Body Mist from Bath & Body Works' Secret Wonderland range. I've mentioned before that I really like the shower gels and body lotions because they feel so luxurious and gentle on your skin, and since they contain vitamin E and shea butter they also make the skin very smooth and moisturised. Secret Wonderland is a juicy sweet and fruity scent of different sun kissed berries - strawberries, raspberries and goji berries rounded with subtle gardenia, jasmine, creamy vanilla and lovely warm musk. It's a very whimsical and romantic fragrance that makes you think of late summer. I've really enjoyed wearing it and I will definitely get it again when I get the chance.

I love to use serums as part of my skin care routine and this month I finished up Estée Lauder's Perfectionist serum. It's a silky and intense anti-wrinkle repair serum with a slightly lilac tint, that you can use both during the day or evening. Because of it's firming qualities and since it firms up the skin almost immediately I've mainly used a tiny bit under my moisturiser during the day. It's made my skin look really relaxed and plump, and since I'm all about plumping and nourishing when it comes to skin care this has been wonderful to use, and I would highly recommend it to anyone with tendencies towards dehydrated skin for an extra boost in the morning or in the evening before going out.
I also finished up another product to nourish and restore the skin after the time I spent in the sun this summer - Origins Starting Over. This moisturiser is packed with mimosa which is great at stimulating the creation of collagen and protein in the skin cells to keep the skin toned and protected. It has a lovely light consistency, that makes the skin feel supple nourished and refreshed, and the amazing scent of fresh and zesty citrus fruits makes this cream a pleasure to use. Even though Starting Over builds up the skin, for me personally it doesn't give the amount of hydration my skin craves during the autumn and winter, so despite being so lovely I won't be repurchasing this until next Spring.

A few months ago I bought the Revlon Lash Potion Mascara after having read some good reviews of it and to start with I was quite happy with it. The formula was dry already from the start, but I thought that the large brush with triple-grooves gave a good coverage, the lashes looked noticeably thicker, longer and separated. I also found that the mascara lasted well and didn't cause any smudging, so all my first impressions weren't bad. However even though the brush gave good coverage I found that it was a little stiff to work with, and as time went on and the consistency got really gloopy and clumpy it got very difficult to get an even coverage. I know that the consistency of mascaras change throughout their lifetime, but this changed too much for me. What started as a promising mascara, unfortunately ended as a bit of a disappointment and I wont be getting this particular one again.

As the days are getting darker and I'm getting more and more into cozy evenings in front of the TV-with hot chocolate mood I have really sped up my "consumption" of candles. I go through them at lightening speed, which is why I have three empty ones this month. I'll start with some from my favourite candle makers Lily-Flame. By now I must have bought and used about 15 different candles from Lily-Flame and they've never disappointed me. They have a super range of scents with everything from floral to citrus, from fresh clean and natural to foodie inspired and they burn really well. I've mentioned before that this year I'm doing something I've never done before - I'm changing the scents that I wear and  surround me with, to fit the season. With Halloween coming up I can't think of anything more appropriate than a candle called Spook which has adorable little bats on the tin. It's a mix of fudge and toffee apples, which sounds really yummy but unfortunately this candle didn't work for me at all. The scent of the fudge and the toffee was far too buttery, and it completely overtook any crisp freshness from the apples which would have balanced it out - ultimately, for me the scent is almost sickly sweet. But to end on a positive note, the second candle from Lily-Flame amongst the empties is the wonderful Mellow Figs & Garden Mint. It's a mix of mellow earthy fig and crisp cool mint that creates a very welcoming piquant and fresh scent - gorgeous, and I look forward to getting it again! 

The last product in this months empties is a Yankee Candle in Black Cherry. It's a great mix of the sweet and sour from cherries that makes a lovely rich and delicious scent - it smells exactly like real cherries taste. When I got this candle it smelt so strongly before it had even been lit, that you could get months and months scent out of it even without burning it. If like me you like cherries, this is a must have candle and you won't find anything else like it.

Well, that's that for this month, and by the end of this week I'll have the first two empties for December's batch - I really AM doing well and my reward is that I can finally start using some of the products that I have been saving for months!