Wednesday, 26 February 2014

The Body Shop Haul: Honey Bronze, Moringa Oil and Shimmer Cubes

As I mentioned in my post about the Midlands Blogger Meet, the event really re-introduced me to The Body Shop. I hadn't set foot in there since I was a young teenager, when I was all about the dewberry shower gel, and I can't honestly say I've given it a thought since.

There are so many exciting new brands out there to discover, and for a while there it sort of felt like The Body Shop had lost its MO - lots of other brands were doing 'ethical', but with stronger products and more exciting stories.

So to be able to re-discover the brand again felt quite special, like running into an old friend. And guess what? The new skincare products and some of the make-up is really stand out now. There was enough interesting stuff on the shelves to ensure that I'll be back (the Vitamin C facial line in particular piqued my interest) but for now, this is what I picked up in store:

Beautifying Oil in Moringa


I've been wanting to try this since reading about it on a couple of blogs, partly because I have a thing for oils in general and partly because this sounded like a multi-tasking wonder. If you've never tried beauty oils, you are seriously missing a trick. A lot of people labour under the misconception that they make your skin greasy, especially if you have an oily skin type. That's just not the case. In fact, oily skin is usually a product of the skin overproducing sebum as a response to dryness. Whatever your skin type, an oil will leave you smooth, hydrated and glowing.

There are lots of different types in the range, including Chocomania, Olive and Pink Grapefruit. I chose Moringa, which smells like white blossoms. Apparently Moringa is plant native to Africa and parts of Asia, called the 'Tree of Life' for its restorative properties. It has skin healthy nutrients like vitamin A, which helps build collagen in the skin, vitamin C to help reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and the healing and anti-inflammatory benefits of vitamin E. Sounds good to me!

Look at all the things you can use this for:
  • A facial moisturiser
  • Mixed into your body lotion to boost its effectiveness
  • To take care of frizzy or dry hair
  • Mix with brown sugar or sea salt to make a body scrub
  • Use to dry shave your legs
  • Dissolve stubborn eye makeup
And that's just the ones I can think of! With all those uses, it becomes a truly cost effective buy and one of the hardest working products in your beauty arsenal. This video shows ways you can use it:

Honey Bronze Bronzing Gel

This is a really lovely, lightweight bronzing gel with moisturising properties. The idea is that you mix it into your foundation, BB cream or moisturiser to add a darker sheen and a pretty tanned look to your face.

Honey Bronze gel, swatched and blended
For me, I don't really like a tanned look on my face, so the reason I bought it was to use as a liquid contourer. It has great staying power that I thought might outlast my powder bronzer while feeling very lightweight on the skin. It's non-greasy and enriched with honey goodness! There is a slight golden sheen but its very subtle so you won't look like a glitterball.

The Honey Bronze range had quite a few other great products like lipgloss, powder bronzer and a gorgeous golden shimmer dry oil that looked like a dead-on dupe for the Nuxe Huile D'Or.

Shimmer Cubes Palette


Like the magpie that I am, insanely drawn to anything shimmery and shiny, these really caught my eye at the Blogger Meet.

Actually, I have to tip my hat to my mother here, as she was the first one to point these out to me, way back. I remember her raving about how good they were (Mama Shallow is also a massive make-up addict, I can only conclude it's genetic).

But still, as I never went into The Body Shop I never had the chance to pick one up.

The first thing that got me was the packaging. Each of the cubes is separately housed in its own little tub. And then the whole thing is neatly contained in this rather cool, clear perspex case.

The other thing is how insanely shiny and saturated the pigment of the shadows are -  a true metallic. This shadow certainly will not disappoint! It's highly iridescent with a crease resistant finish.

There are five or six different combinations - this one is '06-Warm'. There's a gorgeous bronze, a truly stunning rose gold shade that would have sold me the palette alone, a dark taupe and a deep, dark brown, all shot through with a dose of shimmer.

These eyeshadows are fantastic quality and if there's one thing I'd repeat buy, it would definitely be these!

Bonus Items

Swatches of the Shimmer Cubes shadows in '06-Warm'
As well as my fab special blogger discount from the meet, they were running a promotion where they gave you a free 'beauty pack', so I got a full size of the Super Volume mascara (worth £10) as well. I haven't tried this before, and I am super fussy so I'm not convinced I'll like it, especially with the fibre brush (I'm all about plastic baby!) but I'll give it a good go!

Also I got one of the Carbon Eye Definer pencils, worth £9.00. These are nice and soft in texture, meaning they won't drag too much, and the end has a smudger, which is super for doing a nice smokey eye look. They are high coverage and water resistant. Although I don't think many eye pencils could take the Urban Decay crown, the brown-black shade of this makes it eminently wearable and it's such a generous gift.

And finally, there were also cute sample sizes of the Vitamin E Hydrating Toner and the Cream Cleanser. I'm a big toner fan so these are right up my street. The Vitamin E range is one of the flagships for The Body Shop and gets great customer reviews for its softening powers, especially for those who react badly to more astringent skin tonics.

So, I did really well out of my little Body Shop haul. I felt really well treated when I left the store and will certainly be back as a fully converted, adult customer! It was so nice to rediscover the brand and all the new stuff they have to offer, so if you haven't been in for a while, why not pop in and see what you can discover, or rock over to


Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Style Me Pretty: Pastel Punk

Style Me Pretty: Pastel Punk

Spring, as usual is all about pretty pastels. But I like my style with a little more bite! So combining pastels with a punk styling makes sure that the sweet tones are offset by a bit of edge.

Sorbet shade accessories are toughened up with stud detailing, while a pretty-pretty pastel lace dress can be paired with a denim gilet covered in spikes. Cutesy pendants with aggressive slogans (look closer!) are very subversive. Shorts in a wash of watercolour can be combined with pop-art leopard motifs on clutch bags and faux-hawk hairstyling.

Hair chalks, like the ones I saw from The Body Shop the other day, can be matched with sugar-pink lips and peppermint nails.

Happy styling x

Monday, 24 February 2014

Midlands Blog Meet 2014

A while ago, a friend told me about the Midlands Blog Meet that was happening locally. As you may know, its only recently that I've come out of the closet about blogging, and since then I've made some wonderful discoveries and have been enjoying it more than ever. I don't know what took me so long!

Seeing as the spirit of adventure had got me going, after a lot of nerves, I emailed the organisers to see if there were any spaces left. The email I got back from Emma was so lovely that it really encouraged me, so I found myself on a bright Saturday morning toddling along to the Malt Cross. It's an old Victorian music hall that now operates as a cool cafe-bar, a perfect venue for what turned out to be an extremely relaxed and very fun day.

I was still really nervous but as soon as the organisers, Emma and Kelly, said hi with their beaming smiles, I began to relax. Soon found myself sat with the most lovely group of ladies, chatting away.

Although we ranged quite a lot in subject, and how professional we were, I was surprised how many said that, like me, they've kept their blogs quiet, especially from family and friends. I had an amazing day, so much nicer and less nerve-wracking than I thought. And I met some genuinely great people - Laura from Unloved Button, Cate from Me Add Three, Samantha from Create It Samantha ,Lauren from Life of Miley, Iris from Baked By Me, Ellie from The Mummy Diary, Sally from RainyDayFaces and Amanda from Amanda in a Teacup were people I spent particular time getting to know.

Everyone was really welcoming and it truly was a great event - so nice to meet other people interested in the same things. Some of us are already talking about forming the Nottingham 'Makeup Mafia', which could be really exciting.

After lunch, there was a brilliant surprise waiting for us - Sophie and Autumn from The Body Shop, who had come down to show us all the great new products on offer. I was in there like a ferret down a rabbit hole! Loved seeing all their great products and learning more about The Body Shop.

Look at all that beauty booty!
I actually haven't been in The Body Shop since I was a young teenager, but there were a couple of new hero products I'd started to hear about on the grapevine that I'd been wanting to try.

They're not all about Dewberry and White Musk anymore, folks! There were a lot of really cool skincare items and I was amazed by the great quality of their make-up as well. A couple of things that really stood out for me:

These hair chalks are a brand new launch, Having wild coloured locks that wash out for festivals and big events is something we see on the likes of Alexa and Daisy all the time. You don't have to reach for the dye anymore with new products like this. However, I sort of assumed that they wouldn't work very well for dark haired girls like me, but guess what? We tried them out and they're really bright and vivid!

This product also stood out as something I'd want to try -  it's a 2 in 1 'Serum in Oil' for use at night. It's packed with Vitamin E to help your skin replenish itself and soak up moisture while you're sleeping. I use an oil at night and serum separately at the moment, so this seems like a time saver to me. 

These Shimmer Cubes eyeshadows made a real impression on the girls there. I can only describe them as little shimmering cubes of loveliness. They're vividly pigmented and very high-shine, so they'd look amazing on a night out.

This gel bronzer from their Honey Bronze range also caught my eye, big time! You can mix it into your foundation or moisturiser to give yourself a warm glow. I think I would just use it to contour my face on a brush, because it has real staying power. It would also be great to take on holiday, when your foundation ends up a bit too pale when you've been in the sun! 

This was the product I'd been looking forward to trying ever since reading a review of it on the blogs of our hosts for the day! It's a wonder oil that has about a million different uses and comes in so many different scents. I was actually planning on picking one up on payday, so it was really good to get to try them. The Moringa one was especially delicious.

At the end of a great day, I was lucky enough to win a prize as well as a goody bag. I never win anything so I was a bit slow on the uptake when my name was called. I got a fabulous basket full of goodies, and Sally very kindly gave me a lift home otherwise I don't know how all that stuff would have made it back! Just look at it all! 

Inside the basket and my goody bag were some lovely treats: 
Yummy mummy goodies -  A signed copy of 'What to Expect When You're Expecting', the matching DVD and a pregnancy workout DVD, a really cute cover-all bib with little space rockets on (Awww!), a Tommy Tippee cup, teething jewellery and a batik painting set. This isn't as wasted on me as you might think - once we've moved house, I'm sure trying to start a family will be quite high on the agenda, so I'm saving these for now, apart from the Batik set which I thought would be fun to do with my little niece, Annabel. I've had to stash these in the loft though, in case the family catch sight of them and think I'm not telling them something! 

Lovely baking goodies from Iris of Baked By Me -  check out how cute the cookie making set is in the kilner jar - wouldn't that make the loveliest present? I will be doing some baking next weekend with these.
Weleda goodies - it's not a brand I've ever tried before, although of course I've heard of its cult Skin Food cream, which is a beauty editors favourite.There was also some of the Calendula Cream, the Wild Rose body wash and Wheat Balancing Shampoo, as well as sachets of the Oat Replenishing Shampoo and Conditioner. I also got a huge bottle of the Sea Buckthorn Body Oil, so I'm really excited to try those and will no doubt be doing a Weleda themed post shortly!

A beautiful Mango Gift Set from The Body Shop, with a cute shower pouffe, a soap, a shower gel and big tubs of the legendary Body Scrub and Body Butter. I can't wait to try these and will certainly be smelling sweet for spring! I also got a special discount card to use on more goodies, which was handy because I trotted straight down there with some of the other girls afterwards to pick up some of the items we'd been admiring!

There were also some yummy Swizzles Matlow candies (eerrrrmmm. I ate those before the photos. Sorry!) and the most delicious cupcake that Emma had made herself (talented lady):

I was a really lucky girl and it was like Christmas when I got in! Can't believe what a lovely time I had. It was something special to meet everyone and hopefully have made some blogging pals. My other friends mostly moved away from where I live after uni, so it would be great to know some more people locally, especially ones that are equally as obsessed with beauty stuff. Big thanks to Kelly and Emma for organising such a great day for us all.



Sunday, 23 February 2014

OOTD: Midlands Blogger Meet

On Saturday, I attended the Midlands Blogger Meet, organised by the lovely Kelly from To Become Mum and Emma from Frugally Peachy. It was truly a lovely day, I had the best time and met some great people. More on the blog meet is coming in another post, so for now, I'll stick to the outfit!

I was really unsure what to wear, meeting a load of fashionable bloggers, and I was a little nervous about just rocking up and not knowing anyone, so I tried to pick something I'd feel comfortable in.

Brown and black leopard print flared skirt - Moda by George 
Gold link and cream grosgrain ribbon necklace - Primark
Pale denim shirt - H&M
Black suede wedge ankle boots with chunky gold zips - Primark
Black quilted leather jacket with metallic bead embroidery - Zara
Black mini leopard Alexa satchel - Mulberry

It almost felt like spring on Saturday and the sun was shining bright, although it was still cold - so I wanted something that would be warm enough as well. Spotted someone strolling along Central Avenue in a short chiffon playsuit with bare arms and legs and I just thought 'Steady on, love!', its not that warm yet!

My skirt was such a bargain - I've found some really cool things in Asda a couple of times when I've been doing the food shopping. It was in the sale for something like £6. I wear it a lot for work but I thought it might be nice to try giving it a casual twist as well.

I left my hair to dry naturally and just put some salt spray in the bottom so it looked kind of undone and messy rather than straightened to within an inch of its life! I've decided that I might try doing that more often. I used to hate my hair when it hadn't been heat styled, but am starting to like a bit of movement now.

My makeup was fairly neutral but I went for a slick of sheer orange on the lips to keep it fresh- Topshop Lips in 'Swirl'.

It was such a great day and I'll be writing all about it in my next post xx

Friday, 21 February 2014

My New Year Goals: Update February

I often say, setting goals at New Year is a decisive subject. Some people loathe it, and some love it. Obviously I love it. I'm very planned out when it comes to my life, and much as I recognise that trying to impose order on something that is essentially chaos is a little futile, I also like the feeling do having something to aim for.

So every year, I set out some personal goals (much prefer saying that to 'resolutions', which as no sense of follow through). And I'm usually pretty good at keeping them, probably because I don't set ones just because I 'should' but rather because they will genuinely be a pleasure to keep and enhance my life.

Two months in, I think it's time for an update on the progress I'm making.

>> Become Debt Free

I want to have greater financial freedom and control, so one of my more 'serious' aspirations this year was to pay off all of my unsecured debt on credit cards. To be fair, I didn't have a huge amount and I've been trying to pay it off for a while anyway, so I was hoping it would be a bit of an easy win.

Update: I'm almost there! In another month or so I should be able to call myself debt-free! (Sort of- I'll still have my student loan, mortgage and a car loan, but all my credit cards will be gone!).

I've gone from a completely financially ignorant student who carelessly amassed debt and never even opened her bank statements to someone with savings, a fiat amount of equity in the house and a gleaming credit report. This really makes me feel like I've put on my big girl pants! In between I've also saved up and paid for a house deposit, a wedding and a house move. I'm looking forward to entering my 30s with no unsecured debt.

>> Be Consistent with my health and 'Join the dots'

I'd been doing a fair amount of exercise but not enough or consistently enough go really make a positive contribution to my health or my body, so I wanted to step it up a gear and get on top of my game

Update: When it comes to working out at the moment I am on fire!! Hard as it would be to believe if you'd known me as the slightly chubby teen who always had an excuse to get out of games at school, I can confidently say at the moment that I'm doing well with exercise.

I've been a regular at the gym and I've been running home from work at least three times a week. I feel so good. I have so much more energy (funny that, when my excuse for not gymming it would be that I was too tired!). I can run good distances without dying. I'm even enjoying power sets with weights. I'm doing some exercise every single day. And strangest of all, I'm loving it! I have new tone to my legs and bum, and I feel so much better. I've managed to become consistent and that's a big deal for me and my short attention span.

But now I want to pay more attention to my diet. I haven't been watching what I eat at all, and I know I could get better results if I did. I'm not too bad at home as I cook mostly everything from scratch, but I am a bugger during the day at work for not being especially healthy, so I feel like I need to move the goal forward to encompass addressing that.

>> Be Kinder to myself and others

Life is full of pressure and stress- some from others, and a lot we create ourselves. So I wanted to resolve to make it just a little bit easier by being less judgemental and taking opportunities to practise a little bit of small, everyday kindness.

Update: Lately I've been trying hard to stress less and also to speak positively about others, their talents and their abilities. And I really feel that its been enhancing my life. However, I haven't spotted many opportunities for little acts of kindness. That leads me to think I must not be trying hard enough, because these opportunities, I know, are all around us every day. So I need to focus on this one a bit more. Perhaps its a habit that gets easier the more you practice it.


>> Take writing seriously

As an English Literature graduate, its practically the law that I need to have a novel on the go. And I know that writing is the thing that makes me really, truly happy. So I wanted to concentrate on my writing and really make time for it.

Update: Well, on the blogging side of things, its definitely a positive. Taking my blog social has been a complete game changer and I'm really concentrating on it at the moment and having a great time. But with the novel writing? Not so much so far. I really need to put more effort in with it. I'm planning to actually use some of my long over due flexi time at work to put more time into writing my novel and just enjoying writing. I spend a lot of time writing press releases and marketing literature at work, so sometimes I feel all 'written out' after work. I think this one is a case of me really segregating time to concentrate on this.

>> Mix it Up Style-Wise

I think my style is fairly safe and I tend to repeat buy items I love, like little black dresses or boucle jackets. So I wanted to try and take a few more styling risks - just to the point where I felt slightly more cutting edge!

Update: I've really been trying and I think I've made progress. Cropped t-shirts, PVC skirts, leather cage belts and wedge trainers have all been part of my outfit repertoire this year so far, and its still only February! I'm excited to see what great new things I can try this year. Asos has proved really handy for finding stuff that's more exciting than my usual safe style!

>> Buy less, buy better quality

 Although I worried it was a bit at odds with the resolution above, Ive felt for a while that I wanted to have nicer quality things in my life and just buy less cheap, disposable stuff.

Update: I've definitely been buying less. I'm currently in the process of moving house and with solicitors fees, stamp duty, moving costs and new furniture and white goods to pay for, I'd say I've definitely been buying less. But what I have bought has mainly been items to 'spice up' my wardrobe. And these have been slightly less costly stuff. So I can't say January or February were my months for making this happen. However, I do believe in this approach long term, and I have a couple of 'investment' pieces I have my eye on when I have the funds to buy more strategically. A work in progress I think!

>    Invest in skincare

 I've always been good about having a routine, but the products I buy aren't neccessarily the best quality. So I wanted to invest a little bit more in products that would really work. I'm 28 now and I feel that it's time to pay a bit more attention to what goes on my skin rather than just buying whatever catches my eye.

Update: I'm still planning to do this, but I promised myself that I would use up what I had first...which I'm still doing! In itself that's quite an achievement as I usually make the purchase first and ask the questions second! I've been spending a lot of time researching what products I will be buying, and I think I have it narrowed down to Bare Minerals skincare, Nuxe and perhaps a little bit of Alpha-H, depending on what products I need.

All in all, I'm not doing too badly so far. There are a couple of them I'm really proud of, like the style challenge and the fitness, because its not like me to stick to those! But I know there are a couple of things- especially the little acts of kindness, and the sustained writing, that I still need to try far harder with. Hopefully I can focus on these as we go on.  Wish me luck!


Wednesday, 19 February 2014

TAG: Liebster Awards 2014

The lovely Karen at My Beautopia, who runs the seriously entertaining #30sbloggers chat alongside her own beauty blog has named me as one of her ‘boutique bloggers’ (LOVE that term and will certainly be stealing it!) along with some other ladies I’ve recently ‘met’ through taking Seriously Shallow social on Twitter.

I’ve been so impressed and overwhelmed by how lovely and inclusive the beauty bloggers on Twitter have been. Not to be too gushing (oh…go on then…) but it’s been a revelation. I’ve written this blog, on and off, for a couple of years but I was scared and embarrassed to make it public. I worried about it not being up to scratch and all sorts of things just a few weeks ago, that seem silly now thanks to the all-round, general loveliness off the bloggers I’ve met since going social. I wholeheartedly agree with My Beautopia when she wrote: “it is supposed to be fun. Don't try to be anything - create the blog you want and let those that like it find it.”

It’s opened up new horizons for me: I’ve found lots of lovely new reads and recommended products, gained followers, signed up for my first blogger meet-up and an international beauty swap and my Sunday nights have gotten a lot more entertaining!

So, the deal is that I answer the questions below and share the love by nominating my own favourite smaller bloggers.

>> Why do you blog?

Quite simply, I just love writing. It’s the thing that I couldn’t live without! I’ve always written in some form, from silly little stories when I was a child (one primary school teacher said on my report that I would ‘win the Booker Prize one day’ - Sorry Mrs Price, I know you’re still waiting!) to my novel writing attempts at university. Blogging gives me a quick release on the writing front! I also really, really love make-up- if you couldn’t tell! I’m never happier than when discovering new products. None of my friends are QUITE as obsessed as me, so blogging gives me a way to meet other people who are also really into stuff like that, which is marvellous.

>> Name one make up product you couldn't live without?

Vaseline Rosy Lips. I’m a bit too keen on it! I love things that multi-task so if I could only have one product, I’d choose this and use it to : moisturise my cuticles, condition and grow my lashes, remove stubborn eye makeup, keep my lips soft and glossy and highlight my cheekbones. It’s a winner!

>>Which type of blog posts do you always read?

I really love Outfit of the Day/Night posts. I’m not very creative when it comes to style, so I love getting inspiration for outfits from those posts. I find ‘real girl’ styling much more inspirational than the glossy fashion shoots in magazines. I also love anything about skincare!

>> I am happiest when...?

Reading/writing/chatting about make-up, beauty and all things shiny and pretty. It’s like therapy!

>> My biggest fashion/beauty faux pas was...?

Oh my god. I have far too many. I was an ‘alternative’ teenager and I used to wear things like fishnets with holes ripped in them, legwarmers, battered up Dunlop Green Flash trainers with a mini kilt and a blazer, raccoon eye-makeup and as many assorted metal spiked bracelets and belts as I could get my hands on. I also used to like wearing little nighties with kneesocks and trainers or over baggy, ripped skater jeans. I would cut up my t-shirts and scrawl angst-laden song lyrics on them with fabric paint. Usually I was carrying a clear plastic or a Cookie Monster rucksack. Yikes! Also, I’m old enough to have worn a shellsuit as a kid in a non ironic way!

>> What is your guilty pleasure?

Made in Chelsea. I know its not good for me, I know it possibly kills off brain cells while I’m watching, but I can’t seem to stop.

>> The blogger made me buy...?

Bloggers have made me buy so much stuff over the years, it’s hard to count. I generally don’t buy anything without looking for blog reviews first! Most recently, I blame Gemma at Makeup Magpie for making me rush out to the Urban Decay counter at lunch hunting for eyeliner pencils!

>> What are you most proud of?

I’m not sure. I haven’t done an awful lot of amazing stuff in my life. I suppose I’m most proud that I owned my own home at 23 in a really nice area through a lot of hard work. I’m also proud of my CIM qualification (Chartered Institute of Marketing) because I put in a lot of hours studying for it while also working full time, and it was not easy!

>> Do you wear make up every day - if so what?

Absolutely. The only time I don’t wear makeup is if I’m getting up and going straight to the gym (and even then I put on BB cream!). I have a normal make-up look that is usually my go-to most days. It’s primer, BB cream mixed with a shot of highlighter, undereye concealer, mineral powder, two shades of eyeshadow, liquid eyeliner, mascara, brow mascara and shadow, bronzer and tinted lipbalm. That seems like a lot! I will be doing a ‘daily face’ post shortly…

>> Where is your favourite place on the planet?

Paris. I would definitely live there if I could afford it (and my French was better). I love the history, the culture, the food, the architecture, the shopping, the parks….even love the Metro. Every time I visit, I love it. In the UK, I also love Cornwall. It’s just breathtaking. My mum and her family live down there, and although I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like, because its so far away, every time I visit I just feel an enormous sense of calm and wellbeing.

>> What are your hopes for your blog?

They’re quite small. I’d just like to meet a few like-minded souls, discover lots of new products and just keep enjoying writing. I wouldn’t want it to become a job (I like my real job just fine). Taking this blog social has already completely changed it though. I can’t believe I was writing in isolation for so long!

‘Boutique bloggers’ I nominate:

I couldn’t find many with under 200 followers! So here are the ladies I pick:

Nicola at

Donna at

Emma at

My questions for you are:

What is your first make-up memory?
What makes you follow a blog?
What is the one blogging trick you’ve learnt since starting?
How did you choose your blog name and what does it mean?
Your desert island beauty item is…
If money was no object, what beauty products would you buy?
If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be and why?
When do you feel prettiest?
What makes your heart jump for joy?
What do you do for your ‘day job’?
What post are you most proud of on your blog?

So over to you - write a post answering these questions, link back to me & let me know when you've done it so I can come and read your answers Then choose your own 'boutique bloggers' (with less than 200 followers) to nominate and invent your 11 questions!

I look forward to reading your answers...

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Review: Mark Hill Get Ready to Party Pre-Styling Haircare

Unlike make-up, where I'm very keen to try new things, when it comes to shampoos, I tend to stick to what I know works for my hair type. For me, that tends to be Tigi BedHead stuff, Herbal Essences or John Frieda. I actually never use the same shampoo and conditioner twice in a row - my hairdresser told me hair gets 'used' to the active ingredients and they stop being as effective - but I rotate between four or five favourites.

So I'd never tried anything from Mark Hill, which is one of those 'celebrity' hairdresser ranges stocked at Boots, until I changed up my blowdryer just before Christmas. My old one was getting tired and burnt out, so when I saw this leopard print lovely on offer for £30, I decided to go with it.

It came in this cute, leopard case which I use to store all of my hair tools now, and as a bonus it had a large shampoo and conditioner included.

>> What's the hype?

As someone with fine hair which goes really soft and unmanageable when just washed, I'm a huge fan of hallowed 'second day hair' (I always wash my hair the day before any big event), so I was intrigued by these products which claim to give that feeling.

They say:

"Soft hair is no longer on the menu. This amazing fibre- strengthening, pre styling shampoo does just what you want it to do. Cleans, refreshes and removes product build up. Wow! And guess what? It never overloads, it just does what it says -prepares your hair for that big night out.
Now you’re ready to Party!"

Did it deliver and leave me feeling ready to rave?

At this point, it might be useful to say a few words about my hair, so you can see if these products might also work for you. Hair is very subjective- just like skin- and one girl's holy grail product is another's epic fail.

  • My hair is fine. People always seem to call it thick, but they're wrong. I just have lots of it. Sounds funny, I know, but having 'thick' hair means the individual follicles themselves are thick and strong. My strands are fine and flyaway, but I have a fair amount of them. 
  • As soon as I learned this, my haircare got so much better. I was using products for thick hair and wondering why they were weighing my tresses down and making them look greasy!
  • My hair is pretty damaged. As a dark brunette, I spent quite a few years as a bleached blonde. I'm now back to dark, but with dip-dyed ends, after getting sick of the maintenance. I've gone back and forth a couple of times, so my hair is quite dry and damaged.I also use heat styling on my hair pretty much every day, so I try to treat it in other ways, like always using a heat protectant.
  • I only wash my hair twice a week. Some people think this is pretty skanky, but it really doesn't need it more often, let alone every day. My hair is so fluffy and unmanageable after washing, and it doesn't look greasy with only two washes a week (I hope!). In between washes I freshen up with dry shampoo to take out any dirt.
  • I try to put on a super-hydrating hair mask, whether bought or homemade, at least once a week, usually on a Sunday when I'm relaxing in the bath
  • My hair has gone through natural changes. It was long enough to sit on and wavy when I was a little girl. Then it used to be really, chronically frizzy when I was a teenager, but its calmed down enormously. Now I'd say it's just straight and a little dry.

    >> What do I think?


    You get a generous 50ml tube of the shampoo and conditioner for £6.29 each, which is a fair price. Packaging wise, the glossy black tube with pink leopard print is pretty appealing.

    The shampoo lathered up okay but wasn't excessively foamy. It's a clear gel with a scent that I thought was almost like a men's cologne - quite fresh but perfumey. The conditioner is a white cream with a less strong scent.

    After washing, I put my hair in a microfibre wrap and left as long as possible before using the blowdryer. This helps to take the bulk of the water out, meaning the heat isn't as damaging.

     It also makes you look fetching. (NAAAHT!)

    After that, I used my usual combination of products with the Mark Hill blowdryer. A Tangle Teezer to gently brush my hair out without causing damage, some mousse for volume -Adee Phelan Fabulous Volumising Mousse, and some heat spray - L'Oreal Studio Line Hot & Smooth  Straight Spray. I also used some of my top favourite, Mythic Oil through the lengths and ends when dry.

    Here's the result (blowdried only, no other styling):

    These products really deliver on their promise - my hair really did feel 'second day' and ready to go. It was nowhere near as fluffy and slippery as is normal straight after washing.

    However, I do feel this is at the expense of other benefits like moisturising or volumising- which to be fair, it doesn't promise- so I'm not sure if I would use it all the time. I'd probably save it for when I wanted to wash my hair before styling or going out.

    My ends still look a little dried out, but overall I was pleased with the smoothness and the texture - it felt like the hair had 'guts' and could be styled straight away without slipping.

    This is a great product to know about and have in your back pocket (not literally - I'd advise keeping it on the bathroom shelf!) for those occasions where you don't want first day hair to cramp your style.


    Sunday, 16 February 2014

    February Lust List

    It's that time of the month when Payday seems like a distant dream. But of course my longing for pretty, shiny things hasn't decreased. So I'm contenting myself today by making a wishlist of all the items I neeeeeeed in my life at the moment.

    Real Techniques Retractable Kabuki


    Like most of the known blogosphere, I am a massive fan of the Real Techniques brush line. I actually prefer them to Mac brushes because I think they wash better and I would seriously be lost without the Stippling Brush, which I've used every single day since buying it to apply my foundation.

    So the news that they've now brought out some new additions to the line is music to my ears. Especially this super-cute retractable kabuki. I use Bare Minerals most of the time, so this would be useful for that and for on the go touch ups and travelling, both for base and for blushers/bronzers because of the angled head.

    The only thing I'm not keen on is the pink casing. I'm not 12 and I'd much prefer a professional looking black or silver but as this brush is sure to be perfection in every other way, I still want it!

    They've also brought out a retractable bronzer brush, a retractable lip brush and a silicone liner brush as well.

    YSL Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stain


    These gorgeous glossy stains in the distinctive blinged-out gold YSL packaging caught my eye a while ago, and I'm really wanting to try one out.

    They're supposed to be lightweight and comfortable to wear but with a rich colour payoff times two - the initial glossy finish and the longer-lasting stain. I'm a sucker for anything with multiple benefits, so this product appeals to me enormously.

    It's also meant to be moisturing which is a huge plus, as I can't stand things that dry out my kisser.

    All the shades look beautiful, but the two really catching my eye are 15 Rose Vinyl, a dusky, mid-tone pink or 11 Rouge Gouache, a raspberry reddish pink. Heaven!

    Boyfriend t-shirts from Asos


    Blame Pinterest for starting my obsession with oversized tees with rolled armbands. The cooler-than-thou outfit postings there always seem to feature them! I love the way they can be used to dress down and give a grungier twist to items like bandage skirts and leather pants, which need to be treated carefully to successfully come off as cool rather than OTT.

    Perhaps I'm showing my age, but introducing an offbeat element seems to be the key to looking don't-care sexy rather than try-hard. In the past, I was all about try-hard in one way or another, so I must be relaxing!

    I see so many styling possibilities that I want one in every colour for my summer wardrobe -shorts, skinnies, minis, it would go with everything...

    Nip + Fab Bee Sting Fix Eye Cream


    Bee Sting Eye
    I'm a big fan of Nip + Fab products. Created by Marcia Kilgore (of the pricey but lush Bliss Spa) they are fairly priced and bring spa levels of technical innovation into your home routine easily. The Glycolic Fix discs are a staple of my routine and work wonderfully well.

    Now they've launched a new line of anti-aging products based on bee venom (which the gossip rags reliably inform me is behind Duchess Kate's glow). This intrigues me. I wanted to try Rodial's Bee Venom line, but its way pricey and its hard to part with that much cash without knowing something works. Nip + Fab's launch is a way to try it, which is great.

    This cream brightens and tackles the signs of aging around the eyes with:

    Peptides - which any skincare expert worth their salt agrees are the key to anti-aging, one of the few ingredients that really, truly works
    Bee Venom -  to control the facial muscles and increase blood circulation by plumping and smoothing fine lines and wrinkles.
    Propolis Extract -  a resin-like substance harvested by bees on flower buds and a great skin healer, anti-oxidant (repairer of environmental damage) and antiseptic
    Cocoa Butter -  with fatty acides that improve moisture levels and elasticity
    Shea Butter - to help strengthen skin and repair damage
    Tegocosmo - never heard of it, but apparently a skin brightener that fades age spots
    Elestan -  for firmer, more elastic skin

    Sounds bloody amazing. Sign me up!!!

    Kardashian for Lipsy White Midi Dress


    While I wouldn't normally be a fan of anything with a low-rent celebrity brand name slapped on, I doubt the ever-dysfunctional reality sisters have actually had much to do with designing this despite the claims.

    Whatever I might think of her, I actually do rate Kim's style - she's a fan of bold shapes and clean cuts, much like myself but with a mahooosive budget. If I could afford Celine and Givenchy rather than Zara and Topshop, I'm sure we'd go for a few of the same pieces.

    However, I have fallen deeply in love with this gorgeous white midi dress. No, I don't need it but I certainly do want it. I don't even know where I'd wear it, but I love the cut, the length and the spaghetti strap-ness. I think it looks bombshell with dark hair and a few curves. This would be a stupid purchase because I have nowhere to wear it (not that that's ever stopped me before), but I'm oh so tempted to get it as a 'treat' for all my recent exercise.

    Vichy Idealia Life Serum

     I'm on a bit of a skincare trip at the moment, and have been looking into several different lines with the intention of upping my skincare game, as per one of my New Years Resolutions. This serum sounds amazing...

    It boasts 'powerful correcting ingredients' to 'stimulate cellular repair' and 'reduce pigmentation'. Basically it helps your skin to be a more perfect version of itself, and who wouldn't want that? It also has 'golden and red pearls' which I believe have a corrective appearance on the skin as well.

    I'm torn between this one and the Nuxe Serum Merveillance, so do let me know if you've used either and what you think!

    Popkors Triple Pocket Bag



    There's a handbag brand called Popkors from Korea that you can buy on eBay. I've had a few of their bags in the past and been really impressed with the quality and the innovative design.

    So when I saw this little beauty I knew I would love it. It's a pouch bag with three zipped sections that snap together, and has a long strap that can be a shoulder bag or cross body.

    I just love the simplicity of the design and the flexibility of it -  you could keep one section for make-up and tissues etc, one for phone, keys and wallet and one for other stuff, and snap them on and off as needed.

    The embossing on the front says 'Evada Premium Paris' which makes no sense,but it looks good. I want one!

    Clinique Youth Surge Age Decelerating Moisturiser

    Youth Surge Age Decelerating Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 15
    I wasn't lying when I said that this might be a bit of a skincare special. Another of the lines I've been looking at using is Clinique. I've used their serum occaisionally and eyecream once, but I've never really stuck to anything continuously and obviously when looking at skincare, its one of the big counter brands that is an obvious choice.

    Clinique claim that this cream can help to slow the ageing process (which has recently become a concern of mine) and decrease the look of lines and wrinkles. Clinique never seem to say much about the active ingredients in their products - I'd like to use something with retinol in- but user reviews for this product are pretty good. It might be the place to start my serious skincare journey.

    Ciate White Chocolate Polish Remover



    Nail brand Ciate has just launched a new line of polish removers, all scented like chocolate! Heaven for those of us who dislike the smell of polish remover (my husband says it gives him a headache).

    There's dark, mint, orange and white versions to work your way through. The pretty bottle is also appealing (and its glass for an extra touch of luxe), while the formula is gentle and kind to nails with Vitamins B5 and E and no ammonia.

    Sounds like a dream!Certainly an upgrade from my usual Boots own brand stuff.

    Bourjois Blush Exclusif


    Continuing on from last year's lipgloss launch, Blush Exclusif is a blush with a difference - it adjusts to the PH balance of your skin to create the perfect shade of pink for your skintone.

    In itself, this isn't anything new - Smashbox O-Glow and L'Oreal Blush Maqique both do the same - but instead of a gel, its a cream to powder blush. It's also way cheaper than either of the above! Bourjois is probably my favourite drugstore brand, the packaging is cute and its all great quality stuff.

    I have problems finding a pink to suit my skintone - I love a rosy cheek, but it can look too fake and dolly on my golden toned skin. I tend to suit apricot blushes at most or just bronzer, usually. But with spring coming, I really want to find a pink cheek that works for me. This could be it!

    So that's my little wishlist for now, what are you dreaming of come payday?

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