Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Monthly Favourites: April 2014

1) Simple Kind To Skin+ Illuminating Radiance Cream

I've literally just published a full review on this moisturiser here, so I don't want to go into too much detail, as I'd only be repeating myself. To sum things up, this is a great moisturiser which is light but nourishing and works great under make-up for the day time. It is rather on the shimmery side, but underneath foundation it gives the skin a gorgeous bit of lift and radiance.

2) L'Oreal L'Extraordinaire by Color Riche in Tangerine Sonate

I bought this less than a week ago, so it's a bit of a bold move to put it on my list of favourites already, but this lipstick/gloss/tint/balm hybrid is simply amazing. It's got the pigmentation of a lipstick and the shine of a gloss, but it's not at all sticky or tacky and feels light like a balm on the lips. The orange shade is surprisingly flattering and I've already had a lot of compliments while wearing it. It seems like this is a cult product for a very good reason.

3) Bourjois Elastic Mascara

I didn't have very high hopes for this mascara originally and to be honest I'm not even sure why I bought it anymore - but no matter, I'm glad I did! This does everything I look for in a mascara. It separates the lashes, it lengthens and the plastic wand makes sure that even the tiny little corner lashes get a nice even coating. It's not the greatest at giving volume, but I don't really care about that. What I'm looking for are long, fluttery lashes and that's exactly what I get from this mascara. It's not quite as good as my all-time favourite "They're Real!" mascara by Benefit, but it comes pretty darn close at a fraction of the price!

4) Benefit Browzings in Medium

You can probably see in the picture above that the packaging of this brow kit is pretty battered. In fact, it's the first brow product I've ever purchased, but at the time it was just too bold for me and got relegated in favour of the Suqqu eyebrow pencil and the HD Brows kit. I dug it out a few weeks ago just to mix things up a little and I've been really loving it again. I guess I kind of got used to filling in my brows and making them a bit bolder, so the high pigmentation is now a bonus rather than something that puts me off. The powder in this kit has slightly red undertones which I find work well in balancing out my yellow skin tone which can look a bit flat with ashy brow products.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Review: Simple Kind To Skin Illuminating Radiance Cream

"Illuminating" and "radiance" are two words that I used to run from when it comes to skincare. To me, they were nothing but euphemisms for "oil slick" or "glitter ball". But truth be told, as I'm getting older I am starting to see changes in my skin. I stopped using powder on my cheeks a while ago and am quite partial to strategically placed highlighter in my day to day make-up routine. So, the next step came naturally to add a bit of lightening into my moisturiser.

If you've seen any of my previous posts you will have gathered that I'm a huge fan of Simple. Not only is it an affordable and very easily accessible brand, but there's something in their products that my skin just seems to love. I honestly don't think I've come across a bad product from them before.

This moisturiser is no different. It feels light and very smoothing on the skin, providing the perfect amount of hydration for the day time while still letting my foundation grip to something.

The pump is not only hygienic, but also makes dispensing the perfect amount of product a breeze. The only downside to moisturiser pumps from my experience, however, is that you can never get that last bit of product out of the bottom, resulting in quite a bit of waste as you're getting to the end.

I've got to warn you that this cream does contain quite a lot of shimmer particles. You can't see them in the picture above, but if you look at your face through a magnifying mirror there's quite a lot of obvious shimmer, there. Under make-up it results in exactly what it claims on the box: A radiant and illuminated look to skin. I thought that without foundation it would be a bit too glittery, but without the magnifying mirror the result is a lot more subtle than I expected.

Overall a big fat thumbs up for this one!

Simple Kind To Skin Illuminating Radiance Cream retails at £7.99

Monday, 28 April 2014

April Instagram Catch-Up

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Looking forward to trying this coffee // My chillies are growing! // Little trip to Boots

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Gorgeous Ruby necklaces (Giveaway here) // Addicted to Hazelnut milk // New goodies from Simple

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Most ridiculous book title ever // Home-made Kiwi Mojito


Saturday, 26 April 2014

Fashion: Jewellery by Ruby South Africa + Giveaway!

When it comes to my style regarding clothes and accessories, the one thing I always look for is something that's unique, that nobody else will have. Even though I do love a good ol bash through Primark, it's way more satisfying to be wearing something that's perhaps not on everyone's radar. One of those finds I'd like to share with you today are a few necklaces by Ruby South Africa.

Just look at that pretty packaging! Aww! And what was inside is even better.

My absolute favourite of the lot is this swinger necklace. It sits a little bit askew, so that it literally looks like you have a girl on a swing hanging around your neck. (No, not literally. Not literally at all)

This Mini Africa necklace I've already had lots of compliments for! It's incredibly delicate and feminine and sits at that perfect spot right between the collar bones.

Ruby also have a range of upcycled coin necklaces which are literally coins from around the world, slightly embellished and threaded around a chain. They are a bit longer than the other necklaces and absolutely perfect for layering, particularly if you're going for a bit of a vintage look in your outfits.

I just cannot get over how pretty they look! Now, I did have some shots of how these necklaces look when worn, but unfortunately my chest decided to erupt in a random bout of redness (sunburn? excitement?), so I will spare you the sight of that.

But you've still got the chance to win some of these for yourself and style them any which way you like. In collaboration with Ruby South Africa I'm giving away three of their upcycled coin necklaces. Here's what's up for grabs:

All I'm askin in return is that you take a few minutes to check out Ruby's Count Fracula campaign which opposes fracking in the Karoo in South Africa. In case you don't know what fracking is (I had to google it), here is an excellent BBC News article on what it means and what the dangers of fracking are. In simple terms, it's a process of getting gas out of rocks by drilling into them and injecting water at high pressure. The problem is that the process can release huge amounts of carcinogenic chemicals into the drinking water and it's therefore highly controversial. In a region where drinking water is already in short supply, contaminating what little there is is doubly tragic.
Ruby have teamed up with photographer Gavin Goodman and copywriter David Gimpel to create a powerful campaign raising awareness of the dangers of fracking.

For more information or to help, you can visit

To enter the giveaway, just use the Rafflecopter widget below. The giveaway is international and will close at midnight on Sunday, May 4th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To see what other gorgeous jewellery Ruby have got on offer (make sure to check out their range of lingerie as well!), you can visit their website or alternatively their Etsy shop.

Good luck!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Review: Real Techniques Powder Brush

As soon as Sam Chapman's Real Techniques brushes launched, they very quickly established themselves as a must have amongst bloggers, beauty editors and beauty enthusiasts alike. Even now, months and months on, the hype has barely died down. So, when it came to slowly rebuilding my make-up brush collection (due to a naughty puppy deciding that make-up brushes would make the perfect chew toy), it only seemed a natural choice to go for a Real Techniques brush.

The brushes are all colour coded, so you know which brush to use for your base, for the finish or for your eyes. Just to make things even easier, they have a description printed on the side of the handle, just so you always know which brush to reach for, even long after you've chucked the outer packaging. They are all made from synthetic taklon fibres, which means they are all cruelty free - always a bonus!

To be completely honest I find the wide base of the powder brush a tad bulky and difficult to store. I much prefer to stick my brushes into a pretty brush holder and you wouldn't fit more than two or three of these into even a larger sized cup. On the plus side, the rubberised handle does make it very easy to get a good grip on the brush and it sits very comfortably in my hand.

I have to say that overall this brush is an absolute pleasure to use. The bristles are incredibly soft, but still manage to hold their shape very well and seem to pick up the perfect amount of powder to set my make-up without making it look cakey. Even after a few months and regular weekly washes there's been no splaying, no shedding and none of that weird hard feeling that some brushes can get.

I'm already eyeing up the Core Collection next!

The Real Techniques powder brush retails at £12.99. You'll be hard pressed to find better value for money than that when it comes to make-up brushes!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Recipe: Creamy, healthy spring greens soup

Happy Easter, everyone! It's Sunday and that means it's time for another lifestyle related post. This time I thought I'd share with you a recipe for a tasty green soup which is healthy, filling, easy to make and delicious! I got the original recipe from Popsugar Fitness, but I adapted it a little bit to suit my tastes and needs and I'm very pleased with the result and will definitely be making it again.
(NB: A saucepan may or may not have been accidentally set on fire during the creation of this post. I guess I'll never be one of those swanky, sophisticated food bloggers, oops!)

For two portions you will need:

  • Half an onion
  • Half a small, green chilli (I used birdseye)
  • A drop of olive oil
  • About 5-6 leaves of chard or spring greens
  • A good handful of spinach
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp low fat cream cheese

Start by finely dicing the onion and the green chilli. Remove the pith and the seeds from the chilli if you don't want too much heat, or use a whole chilli if you want it a little hotter!

Saute the chilli and onion in the olive oil in a saucepan over high heat until the onion becomes translucent. Keep stirring to prevent it from sticking.

In the meantime, start chopping your chard or spring greens, depending on which you're using. You want to separate the crunchy white stems from the leafy green bits. Add the white bits to the pan with the onion and the chilli and saute for another 3-5 minutes.

Add the green bits to the pan along with the spinach. Heat, while stirring until all the spinach has wilted, then turn the heat down to medium.

Add the vegetable stock to the pan, cover and let it simmer for about 5-10 minutes.

Turn the heat down to low and add the cream cheese and peanut butter. Stir well to dissolve any lumps.

Transfer about half of the soup into a blender and whizz until smooth. Alternatively, if you have a hand blender you can just puree it right there and then in the saucepan.

Return to the pan and turn the heat up one last time until the soup starts bubbling away. Adjust seasoning if you need to, though I find that the peanut butter, veg stock and cream cheese make it salty enough, while you get a little heat from the chilli.

And tuck in! Serve with some bread if you're really hungry or just slurp on its own. It tastes rich, indulgent and creamy and definitely not like a healthy recipe.
I wasn't too sure about the peanut butter at first, but it turns out that it goes beautifully with the green vegetables adding an almost meaty taste to a vegetarian dish.

Let me know in the comments below if you decide to give this recipe a go! 

Review: Simple Kind To Skin Perfecting BB Beauty Balm

I'm going to go all out here and say that BB creams are quite possibly one of the greatest beauty hypes of the last few years. I hate the weight of a heavy, full coverage foundation, but my skin isn't always that pixel perfect for me to bypass any base whatsoever. Tinted moisturisers tend to give too little coverage and are often also quite rich, but BB creams are the perfect middle ground.

It seems like everyone and their nan has brought out their version of a BB cream, which quite often doesn't have much in common with what the term was originally set out to mean (and don't even get me started on CCs and DDs and EEs and what-nots). But when Simple, which is probably my favourite affordable skincare brand, released a BB cream there was no way I wasn't going to give it a go.

There is only one shade to universally suit all skin tones and originally that had me a little worried. Then I opened the tube and thought there was absolutely no way that shade was going to suit my pale complexion - I thought the cream was a write-off before I'd even tried it. I started blending and my face went an unnatural orange colour. Then I blended some more - still orange. I blended some more and all of a sudden, like some sort of magic trick, the orange disappeared and I was left with skin that was slightly mattified but still had some of its natural luminosity peeking through. Evened out just enough to give that extra boost of confidence, but not so much that it would look unnatural.

Simple Kind To Skin Perfecting BB Beauty Balm; Left: unblended / Right: Blended in
As for the texture it's a lot less thick than all the other BBs I've tried before, which personally I think is a bonus. It might sound a bit vain, but I like to have a very light base on when I go to the gym or for a run, but it's imperative that it doesn't clog my pores when I get sweaty and this fits the bill absolutely perfectly. But also for days where I feel like my skin needs just a little pick-me-up instead of a lot of coverage, this does a great job. You can see me actually wearing this BB cream in this Face Of The Day post.

So in the end, what I thought would be a write-off turned out to be yet another great product. I still feel like adding two extra shades - one lighter and one darker - would be a good idea, just so that those of us with particularly light or very dark skin don't have to blend quite as much. But overall, this gets a big thumbs up from me!

Simple Kind To Skin Perfecting BB Beauty Balm retails at £8.99

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Review: Nair Brazilian Spa Clay

Let's talk hair removal, ladies. While it might not be the most glamorous subject, it's still a firm part of most of our beauty routines, so we may as well get it all out in the open!
When it comes to getting rid of pesky body hairs I usually reach straight for the razor. Epilators seem like a bit of a faff and when I tried waxing at home the result was usually sticky and patchy. I had a few run ins with hair removal creams when I was younger, but I found them to be too much of a faff and the smell to be unbearable.

Creams do have the advantage, however, of keeping your legs stubble free for up to a week, while I can only get away with not shaving for two days, maybe three or four at a push. Formulas have changed since I first used a tube of Veet in my parents' bathroom aged 13, so I decided it was time to give them another chance.

What I liked about this Nair cream in particular is that you can leave it to sink in in the shower, so no standing around naked with legs covered in cream for ages! The texture is nice and thick - you can definitely see where they were going with the clay - but it doesn't clog the drain or leave a mess in the shower. The smell is rather inoffensive, as well. Yes, there's a hint of chemistry lab about it, but it's nowhere near as bad as what I remember. The added spatula helps to coat the skin evenly so that you don't miss a spot, though I did find it a bit scratchy when it came to removing the cream at the end.

So far, so good. When it came to results, however, my enthusiasm waned. Even after leaving it on for the maximum time allowed, it still didn't manage to remove all hairs. The result was exceptionally patchy and I can't really figure out why - I'm not even that hairy (sorry for the mental image there). In the end, while it did leave me stubble free for about a week and a half, the uneven result meant that I had to go over some bits with a razor anyway. Effectively, the whole thing felt like a big fat waste of time.
On the upside, it didn't irritate my skin one bit and actually left it feeling rather soft, which is impressive for a hair removal cream. The tube also lasted for about three applications all over - I'm talking ankles to mid-thighs, so it's not the worst value for money. But I think I'll still stick to razors for now - or maybe next time I want smooth legs for more than a few days I'll just get over myself and let a professional wax the whole lot off.

Nair Brazilian Spa Clay retails at £6.99 for 200ml.