31 May 2013

Amie Skincare Review

A picture of Amie Skincare

Over the past few weeks I have been trialing two products from Amie Skincare, a brand who previously I had only tried one product from. The Amie Spring Clean Cooling Clay Mask was a sample in one of my beauty boxes last summer and I instantly fell in love with it, always having a few sachets back up in my skincare cupboard when I want an intense mask with massive results. Having loved the mask so much I was really curious and excited to try the New Leaf Skin Exfoliating Polish and the Skin Shield Daily Moisturiser SPF15. Amie Skincare is a really purse friendly brand whose products I would say are best recommended for young, teenage skin. I am almost 25 and I have a pretty intensive skincare routine of strong, potent skincare products all designed to do something in particular and not many of my skincare products are orientated at younger skin. I'm more likely to opt towards an anti-aging product now than I am a product tailored for younger skin. That in mind, the Amie Skincare range is a range which both suits my skin, and doesn't quite suit my skin.

The Amie Skincare New Leaf Skin Exfoliating Polish first of all, looks so lovely. I am a big fan of the Amie Skincare product design. Professional, sleek all whilst still looking young, playful and inviting. At a really purse-friendly price of just £4.95, the Amie Skincare New Leaf Skin Exfoliating Polish (wowza long name...) is a moisturising exfoliating cream with a really quite creamy consistency. The exfoliating ingredients, ground bamboo and jojoba beads, are very finely ground so they are super soft in the polish. This is fab because it's a more gentle exfoliator which you could use on a more regular basis than harsher exfoliators as well as being gentle enough to be used on your neck and decolletage area. Although very gentle, I find this effective at really giving my pores a work out to remove any product, dead skin cells or impurities. It's not the kind of exfoliator which is going to leave your skin red, blotchy and sore. It's gentle, soothing and suitable for even the most sensitve of skins. It also has a lovely scent which of course is always a bonus with skincare products, with it's ingredients of mango and cocoa butters which work to soften and moisturise the skin whilst orange blossom and sweet almond tone and soften. This for me is a hit - it's a product I can use in between more intensive exfoliators meaning I take more care keeping my skin clean and smooth.  

The Amie Skin Shield Daily Moisturiser has a built in SPF15, so for those younger skins who want to be more conscious of products with SPF in them and need somewhere to start, this is a perfectly lovely moisturiser. For my skin this wasn't quite enough and I think I'll be sticking to my more high-end moisturisers for my face, but this has still had it's uses and it's a product I think I'm going to be repurchasing, too. As I have several tattoos it's important to look after them particularly in direct sunlight and whilst outdoors. A moisturiser like this with a built in SPF is perfect for me to use to protect my tattoos and I have adored using this on my decolletage, shoulders and arms on those rare British sunny days. For those of you who don't need a moisturiser as intensive as my regulars, this would make a perfectly lovely facial moisturiser. It's advertised for soft, hydrated skin so not the best formula for oily, combination or dry skin types. Like New Leaf, this is a super purse friendly product at just £5.95 for a 75ml tube, that is going to last you absolutely ages as usually moisurisers are around the 30ml-50ml size mark. With sunflower extract, kakadu plum and blueberry as well as vitamins A and E, this moisturiser works to be a daily hydrating lotion with broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protecting your skin from damage as well as the signs of aging whilst keeping your skin soft and hydrated. You can find out more about Amie Skincare, the products they offer and pick up these two particular products on the Amie Skincare website.

A picture of Amie Skincare

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*This post contains PR sample.

30 May 2013

May Top 5

A picture of my May Top 5

The first product I want to share with you is an eyeshadow quad I recently picked up from & Other Stories called Plush Earth. I've reviewed this recently in full so if you would like an in-depth review of the quad, quality and shades then you can check out my review which was May's Instead of a Beauty Box post. I've used this quad more than any other eyeshadows or palettes this May. I just really love the colour theme of the shades, how utterly buttery soft the shadows are but with no messy fall out. Lovely pigmentation which can be built up and manages to last all day long, need I go on? It's beautiful, I'm super impressed and I have adored using it this month. You can find the Plush Earth quad over on the & Other Stories website where it costs just £12. 

Another recent purchase of mine is the very much loved Sleek Rose Gold blush. This blush has been talked up for quite a while here in the blogosphere. Dubbed a dupe by many for the NARS Orgasm blush, this blush has impressed me just like all my other Sleek blushes. Before now the blushes I had from Sleek were more specific to Autumn/Winter such as my Pomegranate Sleek blush, or less easy to carry around with me like the two Blush by 3 Sleek palettes I own in Pumpkin and Lace. I decided to pick it up Rose Gold few weeks ago when I finally found it in stock in a Superdrug in Nottingham and there's no denying it, I am as in love with this beautiful blush as everyone else seems to be. A shimmer blush with a gorgeous golden peach shade, this is perfect for a pop of something special on your cheeks and at just £4.49 from Superdrug, you really can't go wrong with Sleek blushes. They are packed full of pigmentation, there's a gorgeous colour range and all feel beautiful on the skin blending easily with their dreamy soft formula so you can create a shade that's subtle to one with a bit more oomph. 

A picture of The Body Shop Honey Bronze Bronzing Powder

I think I have finally found a new holy grail bronzer. Surprisingly, it's job in comparison to my stash of bronzers is a little bit different. I was kindly sent The Body Shop Honey Bronze Bronzing Powder* to try out and having never tried much from The Body Shop makeup wise, I was unsure how I would find this little beauty. But that's exactly what it is, a beauty! Available in four shades; Light Matte, Fair Matte, Medium Matte and Dark Matte, each is a completely matte shade, hurrah! (Or am I the only one who gets excited for matte bronzers...) I've been using shades 03 Matte and 04 Matte. The shades I have could easily be used on paler beauties although I think anyone darker than my Mediterranean skin tone may struggle to get enough colour pay off from them. For me the Honey Bronze Bronzing Powders are just utterly perfect, they have a heavenly soft formula, not a massive amount of colour pay of but with pigmentation that can easily be built up. The reason I love these bronzers so much is because I can use them all over my face for a lovely bronzed look, without it being too much, too dark or leaving me with a dirty wash. I struggle to do this with my other bronzers as they are either shimmer finishes or just that touch too dark. Even better, I can also use these to contour because the colour can easily be built up. I'm impressed The Body Shop, I don't think I could ever be without this bronzer and I cannot recommend it enough. It's not the cheapest bronzer on the high street at £13 but like all powders, these babies are set to last a while! You can find them both in store and online at The Body Shop.

I seem to be developing a little bit of a crush on Chanel products and when recently browsing the Chanel counter in Debenhams whilst in Nottingham for the evening and I picked up this absolutely divine lip gloss. I mean really now, could this be anymore stereotypically girly? It's pink, it's glittery, it's a gloss. I hardly ever wear gloss! But lately I've been loving a gloss on top of lipstick, particularly my more matte shades, to bring out the colour even more, add a touch of something-something and also with matte lipsticks, to avoid that horrid dry feeling I am often left with after wearing matte shades. This was a bit of a pricey buy at £21 and I have been so careful with it. I still haven't used the actual doe foot applicator on my lips in fear of tainting it by staining it with lipstick, so instead I apply with a lip brush. But I just love the way it looks on top of lipsticks and it's most perfect partner in crime is my Illamasqua Immodest lipstick (expect a full review soon!) I have the shade 104 Astral and I am besotted, besotted, besotted. Plus, it looks gorgeous, right?

A picture of the Bobbi Brown Bronzer Brush

The final product I want to share with you for my May Top 5 is a makeup brush that I have spent months and months lusting after. The Bobbi Brown Bronzer Brush* is an award winning brush and it's so easy to see why. I have never found a brush, whether standard bronzer brush or a kabuki brush, which has worked as easily and as well for me when applying bronzer. Whether using this to apply a light bronze all over my face for a glowing complexion or used more strongly to contour, this brush is oh so heavenly, utterly perfect, can I marry it please? That's how much I adore this brush. It's dense, but with enough room for the bristles to move around easily. The handle is big, thick and sturdy which means no slipping or flying brushes during application. The only problem now is that I completely have the Bobbi Brown Brush Bug and all I want is to add every brush to my collection, and with their high-end and high quality price tag, that may take me quite some time... But this brush has impressed me so much, it is a brush which I would repurchase if necessary without a second thought (although good care of your brushes means they can last absolute years) even with it's £37.50 price tag. Another winning Bobbi Brown product for me, you can pick this up at Bobbi Brown counters in store or online at House of Fraser.

I think this is probably the first month of 2013 so far where I have actually been stupidly excited and a little bit giddy to share my Top 5 with you. Everything in my May Top 5 is a new addition to my makeup collection. This at least goes some way towards showing me that I am making good choices lately with my beauty buys. Some of these products have actually been revolutionary for me and become staples in my everyday makeup routine, really making me change application techniques to the ways I used to do my makeup before. A lot of that is also down to the two Bobbi Brown Makeup Lessons I have had. The first was a very natural, typically Bobbi makeup look and the second was more 'me' with a smokey eye and coral cheeks and lips. But both of these lessons have taught me better how to apply bronzer, the wonders of lipgloss and a few little application techniques too. All Bobbi Brown Makeup Lessons are completely complimentary with no fine print or 'you must make a purchase' pressure, so I really do recommend popping along to your local Bobbi Brown counter to book yourself in. They are marvellous.

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*This post contains PR sample.

29 May 2013

Double whammy OOTD

Last week I popped into Nottingham for a little YSL event in House of Fraser. The event was for the new Babydoll mascara, which looks fab and has certainly made it on to my wish list. But it might be there a while as it's a pricey £25... After the event, which was in the early evening, me and my friend Emily decided to relax on the Old Market Square in the center of Nottingham with a yummy Starbucks for a good old catch up. Whilst there I decided I would take the chance and ask Emily if she'd be so kind as to take some outfit of the day photos for me whilst I posed awkwardly, hoping for at least one decent shot. She happily obliged so I just had to get her in on the action too. 

New Look Biker Boots £34.99 | Primark Leggings £3 | H&M Tube Skirt £3.99 | New Look Top £8.99 | Zara Mini Shopper £22.99

As the weather was, for the first time in ages, gloriously sunny and warm I decided on a pretty casual and laid back outfit for the day. My usual Primark leggings and a H&M tube skirt, both in black teamed with my New Look Biker Boots. A pretty common choice for me. I know a lot of people dislike leggings but when you're moaning about see-through leggings and knickers on show, consider us more curvy girls who are wise enough to cover our bums with skirts but find leggings more comfortable than squeezing into jeans... and I definitely fit into that category! My top is some sort of animal print, but gosh no matter how hard I try I just can't work out what animal! Either way it's light, a little bit something-something without being such an over powering pattern that it clashes with my tattoos. And of course, my newest fashion accessory (OK, and obsession) my Zara bright, vivid orange mini shopper. 

Emily's outfit was also lovely and casual and it was so lovely to just sit on the square and relax. A lot of pieces Emily was wearing were star finds in the Tophsop and Schuh online sales. It's spurred me on to give the sales a proper go next time, as usually I just avoid them as I find the crowds and rushing that surrounds sales all a little bit uncomfortable. But I'm determined to pick up some gems in the next Topshop sale! I have a few plans with Emily over the coming weeks so I am hoping to get OOTD posts out of each of our days planned together. Let me know if you'd like to see more double whammy posts with outfits from both me and Emily! This was also just a couple of days after I decided to re-join Weight Watchers, so I think it's good to have some full body photos of me to compare as my weight loss journey continues.

Topshop Cropped Jeans £40 | Topshop White Tube Dress £5 in sale | Topshop Navy Sleeveless Top with Lace Detail £8 in sale | Tesco White Frilly Socks £4 pack of 5 | Glitter Vans £25

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28 May 2013

The Skincare Series - Masks

A picture of the best face masks

The Skincare Series is coming to a close and I have to admit, I find that a little bit sad. The Skincare Series has been a perfect opportunity each month for me to write a post about my favourite aspect of beauty, skincare, in detail. I've loved sharing each and every step - both necessary and added extras - of my skincare routine. Hopefully I've managed to point a few of you in the right direction of a perfect product for you, or at least shared a bit of useful information with you all on what products do what, why they are necessary and which products best suit which skin types. For those of you who are new to my blog, I have combination/oily skin. I very rarely get spots or blemishes and my skin is in pretty good condition for an almost 25 year old. My T-zone is my oiliest area, with my forehead also being quite dry and I have super rosy pink (OK, red) cheeks. This means I have to use skincare to control my oil, hydrate my skin to prevent drying, even out skin tone as well as all the rest. Skincare is my favourite part of beauty and as sad as it may sound - my morning and evening skincare routines are the favourite part of my day. 

Today I am going to be sharing with you something I absolutely adoring doing, and that's using face masks! Face masks have pretty much always been the aspect of skincare I have enjoyed the most. From my early teens where I was besotted by the Montagne Jeunesse sachet masks to my later teens where I opted for Lush fresh potted face masks. Now in my very-almost-mid-20's, I am reaching more for powerful, full of benefits and skin nourishing masks which leave my skin looking and feeling divine whilst also keeping my skin in as good condition as possible. 

A picture of the Balance Me Radiance Face Mask

I have only tried two face masks from REN, but both have really impressed me. The REN Invisible Pores Detox Mask is a clay based detoxifying mask whose mission is to reduce those pesky pores, pulling out impurities and dirt and making them appear more refined and smaller in size leaving the skin purified, smooth and taught. I like this mask but find it works best just on my T-zone where the problems with my pores are (particularly my nose) and then use a hydrating mask on the rest of my face. This along with other pore minimizing products really works to help me feel happier about my pores. Lavender is also one of it's star ingredients, so this mask has a very soothing, relaxing scent to it. Perfect. (£18, 50ml) The REN Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask is a pretty firm favourite of mine. It's one I had to work myself into liking, which you will know if you checked out my full review of this mask, but I really do adore it now. It just gives my skin a glow that I am yet to find with another mask. A potent bio active peel mask, this baby does everything you could want in a radiance product. It removes any old dead skin cells hanging around leaving a renewed and brighter complexion that looks healthier, plumper and more radiant. Even better still it helps to reduce the signs of aging and even gets to work on those pores and any congested areas. An absolute dream. (£30, 50ml)

A picture of Origins Out of Trouble Face Mask

More radiance boosting masks include the Balance Me* Radiance Face Mask and the Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask. The Balance Me Radiance Face Mask is new to my skincare cupboard after it was kindly donated to the NottsBBMeet goody bags. And boy is it an absolute beauty. A very thin consistency with a strong scent of Rosemary, one of it's essential scents along with Palma Rosa. This beauty is a triple-action mask, not only does it really deeply cleanse my skin but it works to exfoliate when being massaged off of the skin and leaves me with a glowing complexion. This has been a saviour during revision and exam period, to really keep my skin looking in it's best condition. (£18, 75ml / £4.50, 15ml) The Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask works much in the same way, but it feels far more gentle on the skin. It has a really delicate, light scent of honey, not too sickly sweet but enough to get you in a really sensual and content mood. It moisturises all whilst deeply cleansing. Just the perfect skin treat. (£21.50, 75ml) Another radiance boosting mask is the Korres Instant Brightening and Illuminating Mask. This was love at first use for me and it's now a mask I reserve for very special occasions, as it seems incredibly difficult to pick up. It's a very creamy, thick white mask and it leaves my skin with an extra fresh looking brightness to it. Love. (£25, 40ml)

A picture of Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask

Because I have oily skin and my pores can be a bit of a confidence beater, I use a lot of deeply cleansing masks. These are usually always clay based. Some of my favourites which I rotate regularly are the Omorovicza Deep Cleansing Mask which will probably always hold first place for me in the mask stakes and one which I now use in rations - this bad boy is expensive! But the price is so worth it. Nothing clears my skin like this gem and it leaves me feeling like I have fresh new skin after use. (£57, 50ml) The Le Belle Natural Skincare Clay Masque is another firm favourite for real deep cleansing masks, as is the Lulu & Boo Seaweed Purifying Mask. Both feel soothing and cool on the skin and have super active ingredients which help to draw any impurities right down from into my skin leaving me with a clear and brighter complexion. The Lulu & Boo Seaweed Purifying Mask has a strange consistency, literally like a liquid seaweed, but feels so lovely on. (£20, 50ml) It smells really zesty and refreshing, as does the Le Belle Natural Skincare Clay Masque (£21, 50ml) which has a beautiful scent of Papaya which is a star ingredient. Both are great masks that I would happily replace when they run out. The Origins Out of Trouble 10 Minute Mask isn't a favourite of mine purely for the strong scent which reminds me of Vick's Vapour Rub - not a favourite scent of mine. But another clay mask, this really is a skin saviour when I do get that odd blemish and rids the pesky spots and blemishes with one use. (£20, 100ml) Another fab Origins mask which is clay based and perfect for keeping my skin blemish free is the Origins Clear Improvement Mask. This draws out all impurities leaving my skin clear and clean. I use it a hell of a lot and I still have loads left, which is something I love about Origins masks - they last ages! (£20, 100ml) I always like to follow deep cleansing and clay masks with extra hydrating products in my evening skincare routine to prevent my skin feeling dehydrated and dry. 

A picture of Origins Drink Up Intensive

And finally, my favourite kind of masks. Hydrating and moisture masks are a real firm favourite for me at the moment because popping on a hydrating mask before bed leaves me with super soft and supple skin in the morning. The Origins Drink Up 10 Minute Mask is perfect for popping on as the last step when doing a Triple Threat Facial (as seen, fallen in love with and regularly practiced from Vivianna Does Makeup post) It's a quick way to give your skin a real moisture (as in the good moisture, hydration, not bad moisture, such as oily skin) boost. (£20, 100ml) The Origins Drink Up Intensive Mask is essentially the same as the Drink Up mask, but a mask you would pop on overnight in place of your usual night time moisturiser for an overnight hydrating facial and skin boost. This is a real raved about mask in the blogosphere and its easy to see why. Plus did I mention the totally mouth watering scents in Origins products? This one is my favourite scent of all. (£20, 100ml) But my favourite of all over night, intensive, hydrating masks? The Dr Jart+ Water-Max Sleeping Mask. This glorious skin renewing, skin brightening, skin hydrating mask is a holy grail could-not-live-without mask. I just cannot rave about this mask enough. Divine. (£26, 50ml)

So those are my face masks, all do different things, targeting different skin concerns and issues. I do a face mask roughly 2-3 times a week and about once every two weeks I do the Triple Threat Facial which is using three face masks in one go. I also really adore the Lush fresh face masks which I have reviewed lots of and you can find them linked below. A great tip I picked up for face masks is to apply them with a foundation brush. This masks them so easy to use, really makes sure the mask gets into every last nook and cranny and is also a lot less messy! Although I use my fingers for applying overnight masks. Do you use any of these? Are you tempted to pick any up? What are your thoughts on face masks?

The Skincare Series # 1 - My Skin
The Skincare Series # 2 - Makeup Remover
The Skincare Series # 3 - Cleansers
The Skincare Series # 4 - Face Wash
The Skincare Series # 5 - Exfoliators
The Skincare Series # 6 - Toners
The Skincare Series # 7 - Eye Care
The Skincare Series # 8 - Oils and Serums

Lush Ayesha Fresh Face Mask review
Lush Sacred Truth Fresh Face Mask review
Lush Brazened Honey Fresh Face Mask review
Lush Catastrophe Cosmetic Fresh Face Mask review
Lush Cupcake Fresh Face Mask review
Lush Love Lettuce Fresh Face Mask review

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*This post contains PR sample.

27 May 2013

Origins Touch of Youth Facial review

A picture of an Origins facial

Having popped along to the House of Fraser Origins in Nottingham back in April for a gloriously pampering facial which I adored, I have been super excited the past few weeks about another Origins facial, the Touch of Youth facial, booked in in my diary and taunting me. Thankfully, the day finally came around and I couldn't wait to pop into Nottingham, see my friend Tori (check out her blog Tori's Tales) for lunch and get a facial done by lovely Nichola at Origins. The previous facial I enjoyed was based all around my skin type, which is combination/oily. This time the facial uses the powerful Plantscription range, a range tailored to specifically target the appearance of aging, with its star ingredient Anogeissus, perfect for even the most sensitive of skin types as well as some of Origins most well loved star products. The facial was carried out much like my first facial; a quick skincare consultation (which is more in depth on your first visit) before heading to the beautifully relaxing treatment room and popping myself down on the bed ready for a luscious 45 minutes of pampering, talking all things Origins and skincare and giving my skin a real extravagant treat.

I popped along to this particular facial makeup free (which was quite an adventure in itself which I shared in my May 12 Lessons Learned post), so we started off with the Origins Well Off Fast and Gentle Eye Makeup Remover just to make sure my skin was bare and free of any products from that morning's skincare routine. A lovely and gentle makeup remover, I'm not sure it'd quite cope with my often bold, smokey eyes, but for those of you who wear less eye makeup this will probably work wonders for you. (£16, 150ml) Following this we used the Plantscription Anti-aging Cleaner which is really super gentle on the skin with a light foaming. It's star ingredients are Anogeissus which features throughout the entire Plantscription range, as well as Jasmine Flowers and conditioning Oat protein; these work together to dissolve dirt and impurities as well as dead cells. It had a pleasant, clean scent and really did feel gentle on my skin. I always double cleanse, and this is a cleanser I'd be happy to add to my routine in the mornings. (£25, 100ml) Next up was a real favourite of mine from Origins and a bit of a holy grail product for me; the Never a Dull Moment facial exfoliator. Gosh do I love this, it just has the most beautiful scent of papaya and it contains the perfect amount of crushed papaya to leave your skin irresistibly soft, smooth and supple. (£24, 100ml)

A picture of an Origins facial

What facial is complete without a face mask? For the Touch of Youth facial the two face masks used on me were the Drink Up 10 Minute Mask (£20, 100ml) which is great for hydration and popping some moisture back into your skin as well as No Puffery, an eye mask I've really been wanting to try.(£21, 30ml) . This was the perfect time for me to really relax and chat with Nichola about favourite skincare products, Origins favourites and the other facials which Origins provide. Cleansing, cleansing again, exfoliating and face masks all done we were ready to move on to my favourite part of any facial or my morning and evening skincare routines. Putting products on that stay on. This is where we really started to get into the Plantscription range.

The Plantscription  Anti-aging Treatment Lotion smells and feels absolutely lovely on the skin and it was so cool and refreshing on my skin which is down to it's cooling and soothing ingredients of Aloe Vera and Caffine. It's a product from the range which I really want to try and see how it works with my skin over a longer period of time. (£25, 150ml) Following this we used the Plantscription Anti-aging Eye Cream. I've only previously tried the Origins Ginzing Eye Cream, which is a solid favourite of mine for my morning skincare routine. I was pleasantly surprised to find the Plantscription eye cream very soothing and cool, with a slightly thicker consistency that sunk into my skin beautifully and left my skin really hydrated and plumped, which is important for the delicate under-eye area. (£36, 15ml) Next up we used a product which I have had my curious beauty addict eye on for a while; the Plantscription Anti-aging Serum. This is a serious anti-aging fighter of a product. It helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines whilst hydrating the skin leaving it with a plumped and youthful look and feel. It's the consistency I like for serums, not too greasy or runny, not thick or too creamy. Just a perfectly light, powerful serum. Lovely. (£46, 30ml) The final product which ended my blissful facial far earlier than I was ready to give up the relaxation for, was the Plantscription Anti-aging Cream with SPF25. I've actually been using this at home now for around 6 weeks as my morning moisturiser and I really love it. It's been a bit of a star product for me recently and it featured in my April Top 5 too. It's consistency is just right where it moisturises and hydrates my skin without being too heavy on my skin and making my skin produce more oil. I find it perfectly lovely for use before makeup and with the built in SPF25, it's a bit of a fab sun-care skin-loving cream. (£46, 50ml)

A picture of an Origins facial

The Touch of Youth Facial was divine. As well as the products used throughout the facial, another difference to the Touch of Youth facial compared to a facial centered around your skin type is the way this facial is carried out. With soft, firm upward movements drawing your skin upwards rather than massaging the skin in circles. I actually find this a far more enjoyable technique to be used because my face isn't getting pulled all over the place. There's a couple of products from the facial that I am really curious about and have added to my skincare wish list, such as the No Puffery Cooling Eye Mask and the Plantscription Anti-aging Serum. Origins facials can be done in two ways. You can get a complimentary mini facial by an Origins counter in House of Fraser stores which is free and comes with three mini samples to take home and try. Or you can pay £10 for a treatment room facial. These are longer, more in-depth and the £10 is then redeemable against an Origins product. You can find out more in-depth detail in my first Origins facial post

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25 May 2013

Paul & Joe Summer Creation polish review

Do you ever just admire a brand from afar? Paul & Joe is one of those brands for me. The incredibly feminine packaging with a perfect mix of modern bold shades and a look from eras past. Each product from the Paul & Joe range just whispers to me but it's always been a brand I lusted after, but didn't dip in to. Recently I was kindly sent a variety of Paul & Joe products to try and today I am going to be sharing my thoughts with you on four of their nail polishes. Each of these four shades are part of five polishes in the Summer Creation 2013 collection. 

032 Caribbean is a cool toned aqua blue, which is right up my street for Summer. I love blues in the Summer because they just add a touch of colour that I normally wouldn't opt for unless it was a deep navy blue in the Winter. This shade is delightful because it's not too vivid nor a neon, but you could instead almost imagine this shade as the depths of a Caribbean ocean; a wise name choice from Paul & Joe. 033 Bermuda is a a gorgeous pink with undertones of peach. The shade almost makes me think of the vivid pinks you see in sunsets over oceans and beaches on holiday. In the bottle it can look quite bright, but on the nail it's a more relaxed pink with lots and lots of depth to it. I really like this shade. Of the four shades I have been trialling, 035 Rio is my favourite. Like a lot of people I am really going through a coral stage at the moment where anything remotely coral or orange grabs my attention and has me lusting. This is a beautifully bright, cheerful coral shade which I have been really enjoying particularly on the toes. It's one of those shades you can pop on and you instantly feel happier, ready for Summer and set for Summer fun. This is definitely my favourite. Last but not least we have 034 Mauritius. Having put this sheer milky shade with slight, slight pink undertones to the test, I have decided this is a polish everyone needs in their collection. It's sheer so unlike the other shades in the range which require just two coats for a really opaque pop of colour, 034 Mauritius will still be sheer on the nail after three coats. But it's the kind of sheer shade which just looks right and natural, it works. It just has this really elegant and natural feel to it, a lovely change from brights and pastels over the Summer period. The final shade in the Summer Creation 2013 collection is 031 Miami which although I haven't personally tried, looks like the perfect purple shade and I am going to be adding this one to my collection to make the perfect set! 

I've tried quite a few brands whose makeup is high-end and really great quality, only to find their nail polishes are made as an after thought and are nothing to shout home about. But these polishes have proved me wrong. All of the shades apply evenly, effortlessly, and although the more sheer 034 Mauritius is sheer on the nail even after three coats, the more vivid and brighter shades are the perfect opaque colour after just two. With a slight sheen to them as they are, add a top coat over and you have beautiful crisp, glossy shades which last for a good six days plus without chipping. Quick to dry and even easier to take off than I am used to with polishes, I am quite a fan. Each of the shades as with the entire Summer Creation 2013 collection are limited edition. So they are definitely ones to pick up before it's too late. You can find them on ASOS, Selfridges and BeautyBay where they are £12 each. I just ordered 031 Miami from ASOS, I just couldn't resist. 

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*This post contains PR samples.

24 May 2013

Brand spotlight | Viridian

A picture of Viridian beauty supplements

Over the past four weeks I have been trying out some products from a brand I personally had never heard of before. Always intrigued by any products which can help me look after myself both inside and out, I was really excited to see what Viridian could do for me, my skin and my body and was ready to give some products a thorough test. The three products I have been trying; beauty oil, beauty complex and nail and cuticle oil, have been tried and tested for four weeks and I finally feel like I know enough about the products, how they have worked for me and whether I would recommend them, to share them with you in a new post feature 'Brand spotlight'. 

So what is Viridian?
Viridian has been around since 1999 and I'm happy to say they are a UK founded and based brand**. A natural brand, Viridian was founded by quite the natural ambassador, Cheryl Thallon who has a long and successful history of working in the industry. It's Thallon's extensive experience and knowledge of the organic and natural industry which spurred her on to create Viridian. Viridian revolves around three main principles; purity, environment and charity. Viridian products include beauty supplements, such as the Beauty Oil and Beauty Complex, and beauty products such as the Hand and Nail Oil as well as a whole host of other products which are made with your body and minds best interests at heart.

A picture of Viridian Ultimate Beauty Organic Nail and Cuticle Oil

I'm pretty addicted to nail and cuticle oils, creams and butters. I had actually run out of any oils and was relying on my much loved Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream, so I was really happy to be able to give the Viridian Nail and Cuticle Oil a go. From the Ultimate Beauty range, this little bottle of oil has quickly become a staple in my hand and nail care routines on a daily basis. I just love it! Cuticle oils work to strengthen the nail and cuticle area, whilst also moisturising, supporting nail growth and generally keeping your mitts in soft, beautiful condition. I find applying this super therapeutic and I don't know why... maybe it's the scent? It has ingredients of so many essential oils you'd think it would turn you into an essential oil, but the scent for me isn't the usual aromatic essential oil scent. There's definitely hints of the top ingredient, organic jojoba oil, but do you know what this really smells like to me? Candyfloss. That's right, candyfloss. Performance wise I have found this almost good enough to eat cuticle oil has worked pretty darn well. My cuticles are moisturised, tidy and non of that raggerdy (yes, I just made up a word) look to them. My nails have shot up in growth since using this, and I can tell because I had gel nails done a week ago and already have half a cm growth from the cuticle! It's not messy like a lot of cuticle oils I've tried, either. Overall, a pretty good product in my eyes and the thing I love most about oils is that they last, and last, and last. This adorable 12ml bottle costs just £12.95 on the Viridian website, but I can guarantee you it'll last me at least 12 months.

A picture of Viridian Beauty Supplements

I've also been trying out the Viridian Beauty Oil and the Viridian Beauty Complex, both from the Ultimate Beauty range. I take quite a few supplements on a daily basis, trying to give my body what it might be lacking or might need more of. So I'm no stranger to popping things in my body in the hopes that it does something wonderful. But beauty supplements, now they are a supplement I have never yet seen any results from to make me believe they work. I'll be honest -  I started taking the Beauty Complex solid capsule supplements the day I got them. But the Beauty Oil took me a week or so to start using. I just wasn't used to that kind of supplement. The Beauty Oil gives you a balanced and rich source of fatty acids which are good for a healthy and happy body. It also has some pretty potent antioxidants such as Vitamin E. There's loads of different ways you can use this. You can add it to smoothies, salad dressings, lightly added on top of food in place of olive oils or simply take it as it is. I don't really care for the scent of this so popping it straight in my mouth as is wasn't really an option I wanted to take. So I've been adding this on top of salads. Have I noticed a difference? Not really... I have noticed quite big differences actually to my skin, nails, hair and general well being, but I think that's down to the Beauty Complex capsules. Again, not keen on the scent. A real earthy, muddy scent protrudes from these capsules but swallowed down with my usual daily vitamins and supplements and I'm set to go. After a good month of trialing them I can honestly say that yes, I really do think they work. Whereas with the Beauty Oil I just really can't say, the capsules have been taken daily for a good four weeks and in that time my skin has looked clearer and brighter, my nails and cuticles (of course with the added help from the hand and nail cuticle oil) have been stronger and in better shape and my hair? Lately my hair has been blooming marvellous. It actually makes me quite happy. So although I personally wouldn't repurchase the Beauty Oil which you can find on the Viridian website for 200 for £9.50 or 500ml for £19.66, I would definitely repurchase the Beauty Complex. The Beauty Complex comes in three sizes, 30 capsules for £9.50, 60 capsules for £15.90 and 120 capsules for £24.95, all of which can be found on the Viridian website. I can't wait to pick up another bottle of these, as I ran out a few days ago and have already seen a difference. I need these back in my life, pronto.

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*This post contains PR samples.

22 May 2013

Benefit mascaras review

A picture of Benefit mascaras

Mascara. I have far more than I need, yet I just keep trying new ones. I am a big fan of the Bobbi Brown mascaras and I adore the Maybelline Rocket mascara, so I am pretty easy going on whether it's high-street or high-end. So long as it does the job I want, I'm happy. But what can my perfect mascara do to make me happy? I want curls, volume and more curls! My lashes are very naturally flat and if anything they curl downwards more than upwards. Everyday is a daily battle between me, mascara and eye lash curlers. I long for the voluptuous beautifully curled lashes of my dreams, and often I am found lacking. Long gone are my teenage days where I was more than happy with a swish of clear mascara, no longer do I want to simply put something on my lashes, I want the mascara I use to really do something. So it was only natural that as a pretty raved about brand in the blogosphere where mascaras are concerned, I gave Benefit a go. I was actually sent these to try a fair few months ago now, but I am the sort of person who likes to finish up already opened mascaras first - with their short three month life span, I try and limit how many I have open and ready to use at a time. But having recently finished some mascaras I thought it was the perfect time to see exactly what all the fuss was about.

Benefit have four mascaras, although three of those are variations of the same mascara. There's the They're Real! mascara, which is a bit of a Benefit holy grail product as the UK's number 1 best selling mascara. This is the mascara which I've most been wanting to try for a pretty long time now as it seems since it's release last year it's just been a real hit with so many bloggers. Then there's the Bad Gal range. The Bad Gal range includes the mascara I will be reviewing today which is the standard non-waterproof black Bad Gal mascara. Then there is also a waterproof black Bad Gal mascara and a Brown Bad Gal mascara. 

They're Real! stands out for me mainly due to the packaging. Not only is the colour of the packaging a bit different (having only seen the dark silver metallic finish on Bobbi Brown mascaras) but the actual shape of the mascara is pretty stand out. It's nothing amazing, just a cool, sleek design which elegantly slopes down creating an almost genie bottle look. The selling points from Benefit for They're Real! is that this mascara gives you everything you'd want in your lashes, even to the pretty high standards of the best falsies, but whilst still looking completely natural and real. It works to lengthen, curl, volumize, lift and separate. Quite a promise! The wand is also designed to apply easily to all of your lashes both top and bottom, whilst a smaller, rounded bristled end is great for getting those pesky little lashes hiding away in the inner and outer corner of your eye. I love this kind of wand because I find getting those little lashes which usually my mascara wands miss, opens up my eyes a lot more. When using this mascara I've found it super easy to apply, it hasn't smudged on me as some mascaras can do (due to insanely watery eyes at times) and I haven't had any issues with clumping. It can be a bit of a pain to remove, but teamed with a cotton pad moderately soaked with my beloved Clarins Instant Eye Makeup Remover, it comes off easily and effortlessly without irritating my eyes. I think for me it's the wand that sells this mascara to me so much, and I think this mascara may even have made it into the instant repurchase pile. You can pick up the full size version from Benefit or Boots for £19.50, and Boots also offer a half size travel version for £9.50.

Bad Gal is more of your typical mascara. The tube is actually a fair bit longer than a lot of my mascaras but everything else about it ticks the standard mascara credentials box. It's sleek, the wand and bristles are standard and the colour is a nice jet black. I like Bad Gal. I also like the matching eyeliner. But as a high-end mascara and in comparison to They're Real! it just doesn't stand out for me. It's a good mascara, don't get me wrong. But in comparison to They're Real, it  lacks the ohh la la I look for in my lashes. The wand and bristles are fairly thick. I find it adds a nice sleek black look to my lashes and holds a curl well once I've attacked my lashes with my curlers, but it doesn't really add volume to my lashes which I suspect is due to the incredibly dense bristles. Bad Gal mascara is a couple of pennies cheaper than They're Real! costing £17.50 and you can find it both on the Benefit website and Boots website.

Quick mascara tips
Do you ever find a mascara which is just absolutely perfect and ticks all the boxes and then the dreaded day comes and it runs out? Often, in my experience at least, it's the brush and applicator which has stolen my heart and the mascara product itself not so much. A great way to keep enjoying that favourite mascara brush and applicator is to give it a thorough clean once it's all used up, then use the wand for other mascaras. Give it a go, you may just find your mascara applies perfectly with other formulas and your favourite wand combined.

A picture of Benefit mascaras

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*This post contains a PR sample

21 May 2013

My favourite beauty reads

A picture of some beauty books

Now that Uni is almost over for the summer it means I can happily swap my textbooks and journal articles for some utter indulgence in my favourite beauty reads. Beauty reads for me covers a whole variety of things; from books to blogs to magazines. You can find a handful of my favourite beauty blogs over on my Favourite Blogs page (which I update often so keep checking back for fab new reads) but today I wanted to share with you the five beauty books in my life which completely steal my attention of an evening and make me want to try whole new looks in the middle of the night because I'm just too excited to give them a go.

Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual - £20
The Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual is probably the first beauty book I ever came across. This is my favourite current read and I love sitting down with a cup of tea and my Makeup Manual reading and taking in everything Bobbi has to say. The Makeup Manual is great for beginners through to the more talented makeup artists. The majority of the book is aimed at learning more about our skin, our bodies, what foods and drinks help our skin as well as those which don't. What is essential for your makeup bag all the way through to more extensive makeup artist kits. There's tutorials for a huge variety of looks covering a massive array of skin types, skin colours and face shapes. This book has allowed me to pick up some great tips, learn more about my skin and the way our skin works and ultimately is filled with beauty tips for all areas of beauty making a fantastic read. You can pick it up from Bobbi Brown, online and in store, Amazon (where it is just £16 with free delivery), John Lewis, House of Fraser and Debenhams

Lauren Conrad Beauty - £8.39
I mainly picked up the Lauren Conrad Beauty book after seeing so many people rave about it as well as the fact that I think Lauren Conrad is pretty darn beautiful. This is a book which I think is really appropriate for girls (and boys) of all ages, even from young teenagers just getting started with makeup. It's extremely easy to read, has some fab tutorials all whilst being packed full of tips and advice. It doesn't just cover makeup either, with extensive sections on hair, nails and skin. Very easy light reading, this is a great book for a quick read to add a touch of something more to your look. Available on Amazon at a steal of a price with free delivery, you can't go wrong really.

Bobbi Brown Living Beauty - £9.59
This was the second beauty book by Bobbi Brown that I picked up and I bought it on a whim when browsing Amazon where it is pretty purse friendly with free delivery. This book for me concentrates more on taking the beauty you already have and exentuating it. Covering looks, skin, foods, so many different natural looks and tips and advice, this is the kind of book you can read to really change aspects of your whole life for a better beauty regime and outlook. Possibly more for the older beauties out there, I still find this a really great read and particularly love the opening chapters which looks at classic, strong, powerful woman such as Vera Wang and Susan Sarandon on what they think to beauty. Bobbi Brown is very much about looking beautiful naturally and I think this book really encompasses that.

Liz Earle Skin Secrets - £15.99
As a huge fan of Liz Earle and their beautiful skincare products, it was only natural that when I found out about Skin Secrets, I had to add it to my collection. This book has got to be one of the most extensive and thorough books on skincare and beauty I have come across and I absolutely adore it. It's jam packed full of information on different skin types, how our skin works, how to best look after your skin at various different ages, as well as information on ingredients in products and even some yummy, good for you and your skin recipes. For me it's just the perfect book for a skincare addict like me. I picked mine up on Amazon with free delivery for £10.39 but it is also available on the Liz Earle website for £15.99.

Bobbi Brown Pretty Powerful - £15.99
This is the newest beauty book in my collection and also the newest book to be released by Bobbi Brown. I picked this up in House of Fraser after my Bobbi Brown 10 Step Lesson and I haven't read a tremendous amount of it yet but I thought it was definitely worth mentioning as what I have read so far has been fantastic. The Bobbi Brown Pretty Powerful book looks more at who you are as a person. It covers the basics of makeup such as '10 Step Beauty' which is a 10 step basic way to apply your makeup and look flawless at the end! There's tips on making your makeup last, of course skincare and body advice and tips on what is best to eat and drink and what's good to avoid, as well as lots of amazing tutorials and looks for all ages, face shapes and desired looks. You can also find Bobbi Brown Pretty Powerful in John Lewis, Debenhams and on Amazon (where it is just £12.79 with free delivery)

I really love reading these books and it's a nice way to spend a few hours. My favourite has to be the Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual and the Liz Earle Skin Secrets. If you are a beginner to makeup or just want to pick up your first beauty book, I'd really recommend the Lauren Conrad Beauty book. If you're a skincare addict like me then the Liz Earle Skin Secrets is a book I would thoroughly recommend. For something less introductory and basic but still easy to read, any of the Bobbi Brown books are fab. If you have any beauty book recommendations I would love to hear them. Next up on my to-buy list is the Neal's Yard Remedies book which I have seen floating around a lot of blogs lately. I just can't get enough of beauty books. 

A picture of some beauty books

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