Saturday, 30 March 2013

Flash Giveaway: Win this month's Birchbox - CLOSED

For all those who've read my post on this month's Birchbox (it's here) and liked what they saw, you now get the opportunity to win one for yourself! The contents are all the same as in my review post, though of course all the samples and products are completely untouched - yes, even the Lindt chocolates.

This will be a quick giveaway, running just through Easter, so it ends on midnight, GMT, on Easter Monday, April 1. All you have to do is be a follower of this blog on GFC. Follow me on Twitter for an extra entry and tweet about this giveaway for another extra entry. Please leave a comment below with your GFC name and your email address so I can contact you. Don't forget to leave your Twitter username and a link to your tweet if you're going for the extra entries.

The giveaway is open to UK residents only.

Good luck and I hope you all have a Happy Easter!

This giveaway is now closed. I have drawn the winner using and the Birchbox goes to:

Jessica from

Congratulations! Please email me your contact details when you get a chance, so I can send out your prize as soon as possible!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Guest Post: Essential tips for flawless make-up

Essential tips for flawless makeup

Most girls have their own little tips to keep their makeup looking flawless, whether it is a tip on how to apply it or a tip on how to keep it looking fresh. We all love to know if there are any secrets we haven’t tried yet and because of this I decided to put them all into one lovely post so we can all share in beautiful makeup. Together with House of Fraser and the lovely Chrissy from Beautiful Smudges, we have put together a list of some top tips for all the makeup lovers out there.

Makeup application has to be the part that most ladies would like tips on. Personally I don’t think there are necessarily any wrong ways to apply your makeup it is all about doing what works for you. There are however some things that you can do to make the application easier or last longer which is where we come in:

  • Do always remove your makeup and the end of the day to keep your skin looking fresh and avoid product build up on your skin. Store make-up wipes upside down this way all the liquid falls to the next wipe you're going to use and you never have to struggle with dried out wipes.

  • You can do a great DIY facial just using sugar and water. Let the sugar dissolve and then rub the water on to your face – exfoliating will give your makeup a better base to stick to so try and do it around once a week.

  • When you moisturise rub in an upwards motion to avoid tugging on the skin and any premature wrinkles forming.

  • Clean your makeup brushes regularly but make sure that you don’t wet anything but the bristles as this can damage your brushes and even make them moult.

  • Using your fingers to apply your makeup heats up the foundation and helps it to set better. Alternatively if you like to use sponges, wet the sponge first and this will give you a more even coverage.

  • When applying mascara, stand slightly diagonal to the mirror. This allows you to see all those little baby lashes that you normally wouldn't be able to see and pick up when looking at your eyes straight on.

  • Sometimes eye pencils or lipsticks can become a little waxy, resulting in poor pigmentation and a dragging feeling on the skin. Give them a quick blast with a hairdryer or carry them in your trouser or jeans pockets for a while to warm them up and they will glide much easier.

  • For anyone with small eyes use white eyeliner along your lower lash line this will make them seem much bigger.

  • For anyone who has fine lines underneath their eyes avoid using powder in these areas. The powder will sit in the creases and make them much more obvious.

  • Before applying lipstick rub your lips gently with a damp cloth - this will make your lips super smooth and the perfect base for your product.

  • If you have any scars that you want to cover you need to use products with the most sticking power – these are creams and waxes rather than liquids which will slide off.

Once you have your makeup looking just how you would like it to it is important to keep it that way. Below are a few tips to keep your makeup looking perfect:

  • If you don’t have any setting spray you can mist a fine layer of hairspray over your face – this will set your makeup and stop it from budging.

  • Got shiny skin on the go, but nothing to touch up your make-up? Get a tissue or even some toilet paper, separate the layers and use the thin sheets to blot off excess oil. It works better than some store-bought blotting papers!

  • To set your lipstick try applying a little eye shadow (in the same shade) over the top of your lippy. Not only will this keep your lipstick on for much longer but it will also give you a gorgeous matte effect on any lipstick.

  • To keep lipstick on when drinking, lick the side of your glass where your lips touch. This will stop your lipstick from coming off and sticking to the glass.

I hope you found some of these tips useful and please comment if you have any that didn’t make the list!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

MUA Extreme Felt Eyeliner Review

For ages I've bypassed the MUA stand at my local Superdrug despite all the blogger hype surrounding the brand. I apologise in advance if I sound like a snob, but I just couldn't believe that make-up costing a Pound or two could possibly any good (really, really bad teenage make-up memories come flooding back in). Eventually I took the plunge and purchased a few items and among them was this felt tip eyeliner, which cost me £1. Yes, that's right. One single pound.

First impressions were actually pretty good. The packaging is sturdy but light. The cap sits firmly on the tip of the eyeliner, so you don't have to worry about it flying off in your make-up bag and everything getting covered in black gunk. I'm also quite fond of the silver writing on black plastic; it looks a lot more expensive than you would expect.

Felt tip style liners are probably my favourite eyeliner type. They're a lot easier to apply than liquid or gel liner and a lot more precise and longer lasting than pencils or khols. The tip on this liner is absolutely perfect. It's the perfect length to allow for a very precise application. Soft enough not to tug on the eyelids, but hard enough not to smudge or run, it's pretty easy to get the exact line and shape you want from it. It's literally like holding a pen and colouring in your make-up.

As you can see from the swatch picture, the pigment isn't quite as black as it could be, so I found myself applying a few layers to get better pigmentation, as I do like my eyeliners to be "proper black".
On the plus side, once this is on the skin it stays on. I found myself wearing this on 16-hour work days and when I struggled into the bathroom at the end of the day it was still there, exactly the same way it had been at the start of my day. Due to the longevity it does take a bit of work to remove, but nothing a good make-up remover cannot handle.

The only other downside? After about three weeks of almost continuous use, the Extreme Felt Eyeliner decided it had enough and dried out completely on me. But for £1 it's not like you can't afford to buy another. So, short life span aside, I am really, really impressed with this product. I honestly cannot believe that you could get something this good for a single pound, when I'm used to paying at least ten times the amount MUA charge for most of their make-up.
I've since gone back and purchased a few more of their items and it's starting to develop into a full blown addiction now.

What's your favourite bargain product?

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Birchbox March 2013

Lookey, lookey, it's another beauty box review. I haven't done one of these in months, as quite frankly, I'd gone off the beauty box craze and felt that there were better ways to spend my hard earned money. But as soon as I heard that Birchbox, the mother of all beauty boxes, was coming to the UK, I've been toying with the idea of subscribing again and finally I took the plunge again at the beginning of the month.

Birchbox are the people who started this whole thing about beauty sample services over in the USA and have now taken over from Joliebox, who originally took over from Boudoir Prive (still following?). The box is housed in a bright pink outer carton, so I instantly knew when my Birchbox had arrived. Inside, there's a Birchbox magazine, which I'm more than happy to read when I get a few minutes, as well as the actual box itself.

In the actual Birchbox you'll find a card with descriptions of all the products, as well as a drawstring bag housing all of the samples. To be honest, I'm not a massive fan of the packaging. The box is a bit plain and unlike all of my Glossyboxes I cannot see myself reusing it. The drawstring bag is also rather pointless and is only going to end up as more landfill.
Included this time were five samples (one of them a full sized product), one beauty extra and one lifestyle extra.

1) Laura Geller | Inkwell Waterproof Gel Liner
Full size: £24.50 / Sample value: £24.50

I'm not entirely sure where I've heard of Laura Geller before; while it's not a brand I've never heard of before I'm not familiar with any of their products. Liquid and gel liners are both products that I never manage to finish before they go off or dry out, so I was happy to receive a full size of this as I'm sure I'll be able to get plenty of use out of it.

The shade I got is black, which is a nice and safe option, though I wouldn't have minded to get a different colour. I also love the little pop-out brush hidden in the lid of the product, which means I can actually chuck this into my handbag for on-the-go touch-ups. The only thing that puts me off a little is the price. £24.50 for a tiny pot of eye liner? It better be amazing!

2) Molton Brown | Valbonne Fragrance
Full size: £65 / Sample value: Approx. £3.25

I've said it loads of times before and I'll say it again: I don't believe these little perfume samples should be made part of a sample box - ever. Having said that, there was a total of six products in this month's box as well as the lifestyle extra, so they shall be let off.
As for the fragrance, it is said to contain bergamot, orange flower, rose, vetiver and leather. It opens up with the floral notes which smell absolutely divine, and then settles into this deep, quite masculine leather scent. It smells pretty amazing, but the leather isn't quite "me", so I doubt I'll treat myself to a full size of this.

3) RMK | Cleansing Balm
Full size: £29 / Sample value: £7.25

Ooooh, this one's exciting. I've heard lots of good things about this product, yet I've never tried anything from RMK before. I've never used a cleansing balm either, even though they seem to be all the rage when it comes to skin cleansing right now, so I'm beyond excited to give this one a go. It smells very strongly of roses, which reminds me of a particular summer holiday in France. It's also a fairly generous sample size, so I think I'll get quite a bit of use out of it.

4) La Sultane De Saba | Body Lotion With Argan Oil
Full size: £26.50 / Sample value: £5.30

This is one that made me wrinkle my forehead quite a bit. It's a brand I have never, ever heard of and the label looks a bit, well, DIY... The scent is very distinctively oriental, which is not something I'm a fan of (I prefer light smells to heavy, oud like scents), but I like the fact that it contains argan oil to soften skin.
What really annoys me, however, is the packaging of this sample. I have no idea how I'm going to get more than a pea-sized blob out of the hard plastic case and I can just see a lot of this ending up in the bin, which would be a shame, really.

5) Yu-Be | Moisturizing Skin Cream
Full size: £19.50 / Sample value: £0.84

When I saw the size of this sample my thoughts went something like: "You're 'avin a ****ing laugh!?". The tube is tiny. Teeeensy, teensy, tiny. It's a cream for dry or very dry skin, which I don't get a lot of, but as my lips were stinging and burning as I read through the leaflet, I squeezed out a little blob there and then and dabbed it onto my lips. And, well... it's pretty good. It sunk in within seconds without leaving any grease on my lips, but still provided instant relief and moisturisation. I can see this being a brilliant product to use on my lips when they're dry and I want to wear a bright lipstick, as it won't make the colour slip and slide off. Nevertheless, I still think they could have been a bit more generous with the size, this is a little bit on the ridiculous side.

Beauty Extra: Sanctuary | 30 Day Thermal Transformation Mask
Full size: £27.50 / Sample value: £2.31

I luuurve a face mask as a great way to destress and give my skin just a little bit of extra pampering, so these will come in handy on my next day off work. Not sure they're going to make me look any younger, but the two step process sounds quite exciting and is definitely something I look forward to trying out. The sachets are quite large, so I wonder if I can maybe squeeze two applications out of them.

Lifestyle Extra: Lindt | Lindor Heart Tin Filled With Chocolate Truffles
Full size: £2.99 / Sample value: £2.99

Lindt chocolates.
They didn't survive the writing of this post.
Enough said.

So, what's the overall verdict on this month's (and my first ever) Birchbox? The total value of the box comes to £46.44 - a good amount, though I don't want to judge a beauty box just by the sample values. After all, what good is it if I fall in love with a 20ml sample of a £200 cream if I will most likely never be able to afford it, anyway? There was a good mix of items, ranging between make-up, skin and body care, though it would have been nice to see some haircare included as well.
It's nice to see a full sized product and chocolates are always much appreciated, though I'm a little bit disappointed with the size of the samples, as I don't find they're really "luxury sized" samples.

Are you subscribed to any beauty boxes?

Sample Summary #7

1) Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus Foundation (Shade 03)
Full size: £27.50 for 30ml

I’m used to foundation samples you get in magazines not fitting my skin tone, but this one looked ridiculously out of place. (Apologies, I did take a swatch picture, but unfortunately the file became corrupted) With Clinique, the problem isn’t just the colour of this sachet. I tried several times to buy a Clinique foundation, but none of their shades ever fit my light skin. Not only are they bright orange on application, they also have a tendency to oxidise during the day and become even darker and more unnatural-looking.
Nevermind, I picked a day where I knew I wouldn’t be leaving the house and covered myself in this orange goo, making sure to take it all the way down to my chest. The coverage is quite heavy with strong pigmentation, which made it a right pain to blend. You’d have to find a shade that exactly matches your skin tone in order to avoid this problem. It’s a shame then, that this turned out to be an excellent foundation. It felt incredibly lightweight on the skin considering the high level of coverage it gave and stayed put all day without transferring onto my clothes. It evened out my skin tone without completely hiding my skin’s structure and even the oxidisation problem I mentioned earlier wasn’t so bad. But it was still orange. If only Clinique could sort out their shade selection, this would be my new go-to high coverage foundation.

2) Biotherm Blue Therapy Serum
Full size: £38.00 for 30ml

I will admit right from the outset that I am a big Biotherm fan. Their products have never let me down in that they just always work with my skin and tend to get the very best out of it.
So it was with quite a bit of excitement that I tried this new serum which can be applied day and night. However, what came out of the tube did cause a short moment of panic. This is a sparkle serum. Yes, that’s right. It sparkles. And glitters. It reminded me of those glitter gels you used to get as a child to cover your skin and hair with for fancy dress occasions - anyone else remember them?

Thank goodness the obvious shimmer somehow completely disappeared on my skin and did not turn me into an extra from Twilight. As far as application goes it’s definitely in line with some of the nicer serums I’ve tried. Lightweight, but nourishing, it sinks in quickly and doesn’t leave my skin sticky in the slightest.
It was after the second or third application that I began to notice a different on my face. I’m sorry if this sounds ridiculous, but my skin felt somehow... bouncier? I really wish I had a better way of explaining this, because it’s not like my skin was sallow and wrinkly before, but in a way it became plumper, tauter and more resistant to whatever it is I throw at it. I imagine this would make it absolutely brilliant for more mature skin, but even as it stands now, I’ll be quite gutted once my sample runs out!

3) Armani Code Pour Femme Shower Gel
Full size: £29.50 for 200ml

As far as things that come with perfume go, I much prefer shower gels to the disgraceful body lotions I’ve complained about many a time. Granted, the scent ain’t going to last a long time on the skin either way, but at least it can make for an uplifting and, dare I say it, sensual experience under the shower.Unfortunately, this wasn’t my scent at all. It’s really rather woody and musky which is far from my personal preference when it comes to fragrance, but it lathered up nicely, a little went a long way and it did get me clean in the end. Even if you're a fan of the scent I would still consider this a massive waste of money. Actually, charging almost £30 for a tube of shower gel that does absolutely nothing differently than a product you'd get from Poundland makes me rather angry. It's a nice add on if it comes for free in a gift set, but on its own there's just nothing about it that would justify the price tag.

4) Just Cavalli Perfumed Shower Gel
Full size: £20.00 for 150ml

Another perfumed bath thingy... seems like I literally get showered in the stuff (geddit? Showered! Fnar fnar fnar...). This is one I really, really like. Unfortunately, my already very sparse scent describing skills completely fail me when it comes to this one. It just seems like a very young scent, something that makes me want to go out and have fun. It’s sweet, but not overly so and it layers beautifully with my Soap and Glory body butter, creating a delicious, comforting yet at the same time energising scent.Several hints have been dropped to the boyfriend about how much I like the scent and how I just got through another one of my perfumes...
Again, on its own I find the price tag completely unjustifiable, but if I got a tube of this in a gift set I'd be more than happy to use it up.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

John Frieda Colour Renew Shampoo & Conditioner Review

So, a few months back, towards the end of last year I decided I needed a bit of a radical change and bleached my naturally medium-dark brown hair to become a blonde for the first time in my life. It took a total of three (!!!) bleaches until I finally achieved the result I was aiming for.
Chuffed that I'd managed to put my hair through such an ordeal without it falling out or snapping off (my hair is tough as nails, apparently), imagine how p'ed off I was when after every single wash it started turning distinctively more yellow. As it turns out, hard water can really enhance any brassiness on bleached hair and living in Southwest London the water here is so hard you could easily knock someone out with a splash of tap water. A few people recommended using a purple shampoo, so off I went to my local Boots and stocked up on the John Frieda Colour Renew Tone Correcting shampoo - and the conditioner as well, just for good measure.

To make a long story short, both of these completely failed me. The shampoo does have a distinctive  bright purple colour, whereas the conditioner is more of a lavender shade. It's recommended to use it once or twice a week to eliminate any brassiness.
After the first use, I noticed no difference whatsoever. I thought that maybe I hadn't left them on for long enough, so next time I left both the shampoo and the conditioner to work a little bit longer. Sure enough, some of the yellowness was eliminated, but instead, my hair had gone orange.

Naturally, it didn't occur to me to blame the products, but I thought it was just the water, or that the dye job had been botched somehow. So, in an attempt to get rid of the orange hue, I kept on using it more and more until one day it occurred to me to just try a regular shampoo. Lo and behold, the orangeness diminished.
As for hair conditioning properties, both the shampoo and the conditioner performed alright, though were nowhere near as nourishing as I'd expect for a product aimed at bleached (and therefore damaged) hair.
All in all a big fat thumbs down from me. If you want to eliminate yellow tones in your hair just to make it orange instead, go for it, but otherwise I wouldn't recommend these to anybody.
I've since tried a different purple and shampoo combo by Lee Stafford and they both perform brilliantly, so expect a review soon.

These retail at £5.89 each per 250ml tube. I noticed that both the shampoo and the conditioner have since been repackaged, though I don't know if they've been reformulated as well.

Do you have bleached hair, and if so, how do you care for it?

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer Review

As soon as it launched, Rimmel's Wake Me Up Foundation caused quite a bit of a stir in the beauty world, being hailed as a nice light to medium coverage foundation that gives a lovely glow to tired and dull skin. I haven't heard an awful lot about the concealer in the range, but was eager to find out just what it could do for my dark and tired undereyes after picking it up at the drugstore.

The shade I went for was 010 Ivory, the lightest in the bunch. The texture of the concealer is very light, but without being overly runny, which makes for easy application using the doe foot applicator. Three dabs under each eye, a little bit of patting in and I'm good to go.

The thing about this concealer is that it's not overly heavy, so it won't offer a ton of coverage. On the plus side, this also means absolutely no creasing or caking, though I did find it wore off after about four to five hours of wear, even when I set it with loose powder.
Instead of masking dark circles with heavy coverage it instead provides an iridescent glow that aims to draw attention away from them. And boy, as far as concealers are concerned, this is probably as iridescent as they come.

I hope the swatch gives you a slight idea of just how shimmery this product is. At first I thought I'd been experiencing fallout from my eye shadows, but then it kept appearing even when I was wearing matte shades or no shadow at all.
The thing that made me ruffle my imaginary beard a little is the fact that I've seen several supposedly professional make-up artists using this in their Youtube videos for covering up blemishes. I don't mean to be a bitch here, because I am by no means a trained make-up artist, but please do not use shimmery concealers on spots. It's like drawing a large fat sign on your face that says "Woooo I have spots! And I made them SPARKLE!!!", so why the heck are they doing it?!

Under the eyes a little bit of vampire sparkle doesn't hurt, but I would never ever use this on red patches or blemishes, which means that annoyingly I now have to use a separate product for those problem areas. On the upside this doubles up as a very subtle highlight on cheekbones and the cupid's bow when in a pinch.

Rimmel's Wake Me Up Concealer retails at £5.49 and is available in four shades.

Have you tried this concealer? What did you think?

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

March Wishlist

March Wishlist

Mesh Leopard Print Top, Forever21, £11 // Fake Diamond "Wings" Double Ring, Romwe, £16 // Trudy Jumper, Monki, £22 // Large Jewellery Box with drawer, Urban Outfitters, £40 // Evil Twin Dry Lightning Skater Skirt, Urban Outfitters, £55 // Grey Studded Collar Leather Look Biker Jacket, River Island, £65

This month features a surprising collection of items I need, rather than just want. Like this gorgeous (faux) leather jacket. I made it through all of winter without a coat, just because I don't like the one I have anymore and I didn't quite get round to buying a new one. So instead I just layered up like crazy to stay warm and as a result my current leather jacket is extremely worn out (and not in the cool vintage-looking way). I love the studs on this River Island version and the light grey colour instead of plain ol' black.
Another need item? Some sort of jewellery storage. I've been buying quite a bit of jewellery lately, but without anywhere to store it properly, it's all been getting tangled up in a corner of my nightstand drawer. What I like about this one is that it doesn't take up ridiculous amounts of space like those jewellery trees/hands/mini statues and the gorgeous tiffany-esque blue colour. Not that I have any Tiffany's jewellery to put in there, but a girl can dream, right?
And lastsly, not strictly speaking a "need", but I've realised that I no longer own a single skirt since my recent wardrobe overhaul, and long sleeved tops are also a little sparse now. The thing that keeps me off buying either of those is the fact that they tend to just be so, well... boring. Fortunately, this can't be said about the tie-dye type print on this Urban Outfitters skirt, or the amazing neon green colour of the Monki sweater. Anything neon and you'll find me all over it.
As for the rings and the cut-out mesh top? I just think they're pretty amazing. And a girl can never have too many pretty things, right?

Friday, 1 March 2013

Monthly Favourites: February 13

Phew, February really whizzed past me and I had to seriously scratch my head to find some favourites to talk about this month. Fortunately there's been a lot of shiny new beauty stuff I got to try out last month and some of them have turned out to be real gems, even if the brand distribution isn't very wide this month.

1) Lee Stafford Bleach Blondes Shampoo & Conditioner

My hair's been bleached a total of three times now, plus one root touch up and every single time it went about three to four shades darker as well as incredibly yellow after a few hair washes. I was using purple shampoo and conditioner every single wash to get rid of the brassiness, but if anything, the one I was using only made things worse (John Frieda, if you'd like to know - full review will follow).
Finally, this is one that brings my hair back to a lovely, natural blonde shade, with not a hint of yellow in sight. It only takes one weekly application and my colour stays the way I want it to stay. I highly recommend it for anyone with bleached hair, it's a must-buy!

2) Biotherm Blue Therapy Serum

Unfortunately, this is just a sample and it is now well and truly nearing its end. I still haven't bought a full sized serum to add to my skincare routine, but I'm more than happy to use up any samples I get. This one's been doing a lot of good work with my skin. I felt a difference after the second application, which is pretty incredible. My skin felt softer and in a way more taut and... energised (???). It doesn't leave any sticky residue, but sinks into the skin immediately leaving it silky soft and smooth, a lot like a perfectly ripe peach. Mmmmmmmh, peaches..... 

3) Soap & Glory Sugar Crush Body Scrub

After a few not-so-scrubby duds I have finally met my exfoliation match. You see, when it comes to face and body scrubs I like it rough. Really, really rough, har har. This scrub is beautifully grainy and will slough away dead skin and any other rubbish that may be lingering around within seconds. It leaves my skin so, so soft, and leaves a hint of oil on the body, which personally, I love. Oh, and did I mention it smells like mojitos?

4) Soap & Glory The Righteous Body Butter

Another Soap & Glory product - as a matter of fact they were bought together. This is mainly a favourite because it just smells so good. It's not a fruity scent I would usually go for, but nevertheless perfectly sweet without being sickly.
Other than smell good, it's also got the perfect texture for dry winter skin: Rich, thick and creamy. Admittedly it does take a bit of elbow grease to really massage it in, but the results are definitely worth it and it sinks in fairly quick. Just don't try getting into skinny jeans straight after using it.