Monday, 31 October 2011

A Review: L'Oreal Elvive Nourish & Shimmer

L'Oréal Elvive Nourish & Shimmer
Highlights Shampoo & Conditioner

What Do I Think?
Yet another shampoo and conditioner offering for highlighted blonde hair, these L'Oreal products contain 'royal jelly and brighteners for intense and long lasting brightness'. I'll be honest, what's in the product doesn't really concern me, I'm not sold on 'wonder' ingredients, and I've literally no idea what royal jelly is, what it does, or why the hell you'd put jelly in shampoo...even if it is royal ;) Initially, I really didn't like these products, my hair still felt slightly greasy after use, despite using minimal amounts of both the shampoo and conditioner, and I really felt as though they were weighing my hair down and making it slightly lifeless. I persevered, more through lack of alternative choices than to actively give them a second choice, but now I'm kind of glad that I did. They've really started to win me over, my hair no longer feels heavy or greasy after use, it feels soft, has some shine and actually looks a little healthier than it actually is. They are in no way comparable to John Frieda, but I will continue to use them. I could have waited until I'd finished them to write my review, but I wanted to get my opinions down in case anyone else had mixed feelings about them!

How Much Do They Cost?
£3.79 each for 400ml.

Where Are They Available?
L'Oreal products are sold in Boots, Superdrug, most major UK supermarkets and some pharmacies.

Would I Recommend Them?
I'm still undecided you know. I'm somewhat on the fence. I'm 50/50! As I said, I wasn't keen on these at first, but they have steadily grown on me, and I'm liking them more and more the closer I get to finishing them! I think I'd probably repurchase if they were on offer really cheap, but they definitely don't compare to my coveted John Frieda Sheer Blonde products.

Star Rating: 

Disclaimer: I pilfered these from my Mum's bathroom cabinet, but don't worry, she's not pressing charges, and all words and opinions are my own.

NOTD: No7 'Beautifully Black'

 No 7 Stay Perfect Nail Colour - Pigment Rich Colour
Beautifully Black

Boots are, once again, giving away their £5 No7 vouchers, with any purchase over £5.00. My normal purchase during these promos are the 'Quick Thinking 4 in 1 Wipes' (which I'm yet to review, tut tut), however, given my current collection of back ups stands at 7 packets, I decided to spend my voucher on (another) nail polish instead. The No7 Stay Perfect Nail Colour polishes retail for £7.00 (as do the wipes), therefore with your £5 voucher, you'll only pay £2.00 - bargain!

I've a few No7 polishes in my collection, and I'm always pretty pleased with the formulation and longevity of them, although I tend to paint my nails every 2/3 days so I'm not overly bothered by how durable they are. They have a really nice range of shades too, there's a pretty teal colour I have my eye on should another voucher come my way!

This particular formula is 'pigment rich' in colour, and has a 'quick drying ultra gloss finish'. It's an intense black, packed full with really delicate glitter particles. The glitter is really finely milled, leaving a perfectly smooth and extra glossy finish. For what it's worth it did dry pretty fast too, although I did need to use 3 coats until the colour became totally opaque.

I'm a little bit in love with this nail polish. I'm a big fan of black nails anyway, but extra sparkle can never be a bad thing! I can see me wearing this a lot this autumn/winter.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

NOTD: Nails Inc 'Plum'

As the name would have you believe, this offering from Nails Inc is a beautiful deep, plummy purple. I failed to capture the true colour in these photos, but this is the best I could do, so am offering them up for your perusal regardless. It's definitely picking up as more of a deep magenta shade of pink, with a hint of purple, rather than a deep purple with a hint of plum! Alas, you win some, you lose some.

The photographs above, in order are: top left - natural daylight, no flash; top right - natural daylight with flash against a white background; bottom - natural daylight with flash against a darker background. Apologies for the polish on my cuticles, as you can tell I had literally just painted my nails!

This really is such a beautiful shade, and again, it emphasises my love for purples on my nails and is yet another perfect accompaniment to autumn. This shade was limited edition, and released with the initial Diet Coke and Nails Inc collaboration. I have now gone through my nail polish collection, and it's obvious I have one clear winner in the colour categories - numerous variations of purple!

I've a question for fellow nail polish addicts...what is your personal recommendation for top coats? I really need some help to prevent the tips chipping so soon after application (we're talking in less than 24 hours).

Friday, 28 October 2011

A Review: Radox Bath Smoothies

Radox Bath Smoothies
Soul Soother, Spirit Booster & Tropical Tranquillity

What Do I Think?
You may remember my post from some time ago about the Radox Shower Smoothies, which I really loved using, so when I heard about Radox's latest offering of their smoothie delights, in a bubbly bath formula, obviously I wanted in on the action. Essentially, the concept is the same, a lovely thick and creamy formulation, that creates mountains of bubbles, and smells delicious, with 'flavours' that literally sound good enough to drink - but don't! These are available in three different 'flavours': Soul Soother with cranberry, blackcurrant and chamomile; Spirit Booster with pomegranate, elderberries and natural yoghurt; and Tropical Tranquillity with almond, coconut and myrrh. The descriptions on the front of the bottle conjure up enticing mental images of the perfect bath - indulgent, pampering and luxurious. I have really enjoyed bathing with these products (not all at once, that would be bubbletastic), they produce a serious amount of bubbles, although I do find that a lot of the product 'blobs out' (technical term) at once, so I don't think these will be the most cost effective or economical of bubble baths. The scents are heavenly, in the bottle, however the only one that actually transferred noticeably to the bubbles, and lingered on my skin, was the Tropical Tranquillity. Luckily, with it's musky scents of almond and coconut, this is the one I'd naturally gravitate towards, and as a bonus my skin felt lovely and soft afterwards too.

How Much Do They Cost?
£2.99 for 250ml.

Where Are They Available?
Boots, Superdrug and selected supermarkets.

Would I Recommend Them?
As I said, I've really enjoyed using these products, and they definitely make bath time fun and deliciously scented, but I do have to 'mark them down' slightly for the amount of product that needs to be used each time. I'd probably only pick these up if I noticed they were on offer, but I think they are definitely worth a try.

Star Rating:

*Disclaimer: These products were sent to me for review purposes, but as ever, all views, words and opinions are my own and I am in no way affiliated with Radox.

Spotlight On: Lil-Lets Silk Comfort

 Lil-Lets Silk Comfort
Compact applicator tampons

Perhaps I should start a series on my blog of topics that are not the nicest to talk'll be pleased to know I've moved on from perspiration now, onto women's most hated monthly friend. As I said before, I'm an honest blogger to the core, and I'm here to give you my warts and all analysis of the important things in a ladies life. So my friends, menstruation is very much on the cards. I should perhaps say to any males that happen to read my blog, you might want to give this post a wide could get a little, shall we say, graphic?!
I understand tampons are not for everyone. Personally I've never been able to get on with sanitary towels, I've always found them too cumbersome and uncomfortable, so from almost 'day one' (oh how I feared that day), I opted to use non applicator tampons. For the first time in my life, I have given the applicator version a go, and actually, I can kind of see why some women prefer them. Ultimately though, whatever product you deign to use, we're all after the same end result: the best protection possible.

For those uneducated in the applicator tampon world, it's essentially a tampon that is temporarily housed inside two plastic tubes, that allow for ease of insertion *cringe now*. Apparently, up until now, Lil-Lets applicator tampons didn't benefit from their 'widthways expansion technology', so you can now rest assured that you'll be even more protected from those god-forsaken leaks. For what it's worth, I've only ever used Lil-Lets tampons, and have always been happy and content with the 'service' they provide.

The outer packaging is quite aesthetically pleasing, with a removable outer plastic sleeve covering the sturdy tub, meaning your tampons storage can be more discreet, and certainly more feminine that a plain old cardboard box. Inside the pretty tubs, each tampon is individually wrapped, helpfully (or perhaps not so helpfully) disguised to look less like a tampon and more like a sweetie. I suppose if you have inquisitive children who frequent raiding your handbag as one of their favourite pastimes you might prefer your tampons to look less like sweets, and more like...erm, something incredibly boring! I digress...the packaging is supposedly a 'soft grey whisper wrapper...ssshhh', although I have to say unless it's packaged in some kind of cotton fabric, it's very likely to make some kind of obvious 'tampon' noise in an embarrassingly quiet toilet cubicle. Having said that, they are easy to tear open, as you can see from the picture below, simply tear down the coloured/grey join, following the direction of the arrows.

I suppose I will now have to briefly dwell on the somewhat important factor, the basic duty of our humble tampon, which is of course it's efficiency at absorption. As long as you have chosen the correct tampon for your flow, you shouldn't encounter any problems with leaking, and I think the range of absorbencies on offer in the Silk Comfort range (see below) are perfectly adequate to support most women's monthly needs. These are really very simple to use (if you need details, please read the instructions, I simply cannot bear to be 'that' graphic), and the packaging really does make for ease of insertion *cringe*. The individual wrapping makes for hygienic and discreet disposing of the applicator itself, and I actually had a much easier period using these. A revelation, of sorts?!

Any of the Silk Comfort applicator tampon variants retail for £2.39, and are available from Boots, Sainsbury's, Waitrose and other major retailers. There are 5 different absorbencies in the range, and Silk Comfort come in packs of 16 (Lite and Regular), 15 (Super) and 14 (Super Plus and Super Plus Extra). I actually will repurchase these, and for once it's not for superficial and shallow reasons based on the pretty packaging or successful marketing campaigns (both of which I'm actually oblivious to in this particular case), it's because they actually work really efficiently, and are really simple to use. In comparison to a standard, non applicator, box of tampons from Lil-Lets, the Silk Comfort range is more expensive - 16 standard Super Plus retail for £2.29, however you can also buy a box of 32 for £3.65 - however my new found happiness about the ease of insertion *cringe* with applicator tampons means I'm sold.

Lil-Lets FreshLOCK
Ultra towels

I will briefly mention the Lil-Lets FreshLOCK ultra sanitary towels, which retail for £1.89 in packs of 14 (normal), 12 (long) and 10 (night). The key features of these are their 'ultra slim towel for a comfortable fit', and 'wings for extra security', with a 'breathable ultra soft non-woven cover'. As aforementioned, I am not a fan of using sanitary towels personally, so I can't give any of my own thoughts or opinions, but thought it worth mentioning as an alternative.

Disclaimer: I was sent these Lil-Lets products for review consideration purposes. As ever, all words and opinions are my own, unless shown in italics, and I am in no way affiliated with Lil-Lets.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Afternoon Delight

Not *that* sort of afternoon delight...if that's what you were thinking! 

What could be better than an afternoon spent baking yummy treats with friends? Well, technically a friend and my sister, but my sister is my best friend...I digress. The ever lovely Lydia came to visit my little family again this week, and of course a spot of afternoon baking was on the agenda. Armed with recipes and chocolate chips in abundance, we set about making the biggest, but most delicious smelling, mess in my kitchen. Feast your eyes upon our delectable treats...

 Triple chocolate chip brownies 

You need:
 275g soft margarine (we used unsalted butter)
375g caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
75g cocoa powder
100g plain flour  
100g chocolate chips (we just chucked a load of chocolate chips, giant white chocolate buttons and chunks of milk chocolate in!)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC (I'd suggest perhaps 160ºC if you've a decent fan oven), and grease a roasting tin well. Literally put all of the ingredients into a large bowl, and mix until everything is really well combined. You could use a food mixer if you were being extra lazy! Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, have a quick check, then return to oven for 20 mins or until a skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Allow the brownies to cool in the tin, if you can wait that long, and cut into whatever size squares you wish. Best served hot from the oven with a delicious scoop of cold ice cream.

Oat chocolate chip cookies

You need:
250g soft butter (cubed)
150g soft brown sugar
150g self raising flour
225g porridge oats
100g (ish!) chocolate chips
3 handfuls of dessicated coconut
Preheat the over to 180ºC (again, perhaps 160ºC if you're using a fan oven), and line 3/4 baking trays with greaseproof paper. Add the butter and sugar to a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy (you could use a hand held mixer to make this easier if you wish). Add in the remaining ingredients (perhaps leave your chocolate until last), and mix super duper well, ensuring everything is well combined. Then roll your sleeves up and get stuck in with your hands for a good old mix up. Once you're done (don't forget to add in the chocolate) roll chunks into roughly golf ball sizes, then squish onto the baking trays. Leave a decent gap in between each cookie to allow for expansion when baking. Pop into the oven and bake for approx. 15-20 minutes, until the cookies begin to brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack...if you can resist pinching a couple to eat whilst still warm that is!

We've had a wonderful couple of days with Lydia, and my sister too when she joined us today, and although I think Jamie (and Zumba!) really wore Lydia out, it was great fun! I love having friends to visit. I thought I'd also share the recipe for the experimental dinner I concocted last night. I wanted to make my own tomato and mascarpone pasta sauce, in the hope of finding another potential quick and easy 'lazy' supper. I also added in some diced chorizo, which could easily be left out or added at the last minute if you didn't want an overly chorizo flavoured sauce. Essentially, all you need is one 500g jar/carton of passata, one tub of mascarpone sauce, one bag of fresh basil, some finely chopped onions and garlic, diced chorizo (chicken would also work nicely) and whatever pasta you fancy. I simply fried the onion and garlic in a splosh of olive oil, added in the chorizo and passata, decided to use the entire tub of mascarpone cheese, so just mixed that through and threw in some chopped fresh basil at the end. Job done. Simples!

Disclaimer: Credit for the baking recipes goes to my Mummy, who sadly isn't an acclaimed cookery book writer, but in my eyes she should be!

TAG: A-Z of Me

I recently discovered a fantastic blog, called (Mostly) Yummy Mummy, that I'm attempting to read from start to finish (although I'm going backwards!), and the most recent post is this excellent TAG, A-Z of me. I believe I've done something in the past with a similar title, but these questions and the design of the TAG really appealed to me. Jamie is at his Nanny's for the night, Colin's playing computer games and I'm sat here with a pile of home-made cookies, so I figured why on earth not?!
 ANORAK…Do you have a sad side? 
Oh I most definitely do. Although, I suppose it's all relative, and what some people find 'sad', others will not. I think a lot of my 'real life' friends would find my total and utter addiction to the Internet somewhat 'anoraky' (yes, that IS a word), and probably think it's sad that I appear to have such a dependency on it, whereas friends I've met 'online' obviously derive as much enjoyment from the World Wide Web as I do. I can also be really anal about certain things having to be perfect and 'just so', despite seemingly living in a world of chaos. I guess everyone has a sad side really...each to their own?!
BODY…What physical attribute would you most like to change?
Oh now that's a controversial question, and probably one that I will take too seriously and answer in too much depth. Since becoming a Mummy, my body has obviously encountered quite possibly the most demanding changes it ever will, and whilst I'm sure my insides all ended up in the correct fashion again, the outside certainly did not. My stomach is rather 'saggy', riddled with stretch marks and I also have my c-section scar, so I think that is the area that I'd most like to change, however, my boobs took just as much as a battering, and my body confidence is significantly reduced because of how I now feel about the way they look. Having said all of this, my body has given me my child, and now tells that story, and perhaps it would be somehow wrong to want or try to change it? Anyhow, given that this is mostly hypothetical, perhaps I could change my torso, that counts as a physical attribute, right?!
CELEBRITY…Which one would you most like to date and why?
 I'll give you one guess. It starts with Ed and ends with Westwick. Got it? That's right, Ed Westwick. GOOD GOD THE MAN IS HOT!

DEBUT …Tell us about your first ever blog post. What made you start blogging?
I've been blogging since December 2008, quite an achievement I think! I absolutely love my blog, and despite some brief relapses when time has not been on my side, I've been pretty consistent, and can't ever see myself not coming to update my little piece of the Internet. It's my place to express my creativity, I simply love to write, and if I've got the time, energy and am passionate enough about the subject matter then I'll happily blog for hours. I initially began blogging after discovering the, somewhat less established, online beauty community, via blogs and YouTube videos, and liking what I saw thought I'd try my hand at it too. My blog is now more general lifestyle, but I think that's been a natural progression, and definitely something I feel comfortable with.
ERROR …What’s been your biggest regret?
I think it's healthier to live your life without having regrets. Ultimately, I do believe that everything happens for a reason, be it a lesson to be learnt from a certain situation, or an opportunity to change the current course of your life. I wish some things from the past had perhaps played out slightly differently, or that circumstances could have been changed, but I definitely don't regret a single thing.
FUNNY – who’s making you laugh?
At the moment, Jamie. He is literally hilarious, his personality is blossoming, and he really has learnt that not only can he find things funny, but that he can be funny and make people laugh. Too cute. I'm also loving watching Fresh Meat on Channel 4 and Spy on Sky1 HD, those shows really make me laugh!
GRAND…If we gave you one right now what would you spend it on?
Nothing actually, I'd be incredibly boring sensible and put it into our (currently non existent) savings. Money is very tight at the moment, and until our circumstances change for the better, as much as I'd love to blow a grand on frivolities, I just couldn't justify that (even hypothetically).
HOLIDAY… What’s your favourite destination?

Although my recent holiday to Devon is my favourite (only) family holiday, I'd say Grenada still tops it, purely in terms of it being an exotic, beautiful and hot Caribbean island, as opposed to a lovely, picturesque part England.

IRRITATE… What’s your most annoying habit? 
I asked Colin, and he said farting in bed. CHARMING! I retorted that it's hardly a habit, I'm asleep, besides, he'd have to prove it before I believe it! So, according to him, my most annoying habits are running my hands through my hair then throwing the hairs on the floor, pulling my eyebrows out and flicking them on the floor, and picking my nail varnish off...and putting it on the floor! In my defence, I hoover daily!
JOKER…Whats your favourite joke {the one that makes you laugh every time you hear it}?
The only joke I can ever remember in it's entirety is from an (awful) childhood joke book. Are you ready for it?! It's a goodun... Why did the skeleton leave the body shop? Because there was no body in there. BOOM BOOM.
KENNEL… Do you have any pets?
I often think cleaning up after Colin and Jamie is akin to having pets, but if this is meaning pets of the four legged or winged variety, no I don't. I did have two ill fated goldfish, back when I was at University, called Glitter and Sparkles no less. I definitely couldn't handle the mess and stress of having actual animals in the house, besides, cats literally hate me, and that is all Colin would entertain owning.
LOVE…Are you single, married, engaged, living with a long term partner?
Living with a long term partner. Waiting to be married. Hint hint, wink wink.
MEAL… Whats your ultimate starter, main and dessert?
Golly gosh, now THAT is a question. The starter to end all other starters is most definitely baked Camembert with roasted garlic and ciabatta. For mains, I'm actually quite flexible, and there are many, many meals that I really do love, but the one I'd pick at the moment, given it's still relatively fresh in my mind and taste buds is this Monkfish delight. For dessert, I'm most likely to go with some kind of ridiculously over sized and sickly ice cream sundae.

NOW…If you could be anywhere right now where would you be and who with?

Snuggled up with my boys, on a lovely, peaceful holiday somewhere far, far away from the stresses and strains of day to day life.
OFF DUTY…What do you do in your spare time?
Spare time? Remind me again what that is? Somewhat of a novelty, but I blog, I bathe, I read (rarely, but I do try) and I bake.
PROUD MOMENTS …What are you most proud of?
In chronological order, my GCSE's, my degree, my relationship and my son. I could beam with pride. In fact, I do :)

QUEASY …What turns your stomach?
Vomit is the only thing I'm really queasy about. I'm not brilliant with blood or open wounds, or excessive poop for that matter, but being a Mummy I'm going to have to just suck it up and deal with them!
RELAX…How do you relax?
Lying in a hot, bubbly bath with a book, or some blogs to read on my iPhone, and a glass of wine until the water goes cold.
SONG…Whats your favourite song of all time?
I don't think I could possibly pick. I love far too many songs, and so many have such sentimental value too. Music is such an emotive and provocative thing.
TIME …If you could go back in time and relive it again, when would you choose? 
I don't think I would. Perhaps my childhood family holidays, or even just being so happily encompassed in the naive bubble wrap that was my youth, it'd be fantastic to be carefree again, although nothing really compares to the life that I'm living in the here and now.
UNKNOWN…Tell us something about yourself that no one else knows? 

I have a birthmark on my ankle that kind of just looks like dirt. In fact, I vividly recall a childhood bath where my Mum told me to scrub my feet better because there was still a mark on there!
VOCAL…. Who is your favourite artist?
Probably Adele, or Olly Murs, or Dizzee Rascal...or Nirvana. How could I ever chose when there are so many fantastic music artists out there. Decisions have never been a strong point of mine.
WORK….. What is your dream job, and are you doing it now?
At the moment I'm doing the best, but most undervalued, job in the world. I'm a Mummy. A housewife too technically, but the household chores I could take or leave! Being able to bring up my son, and spend as much time with him as I possibly can, is a lifelong dream, and now I'm fulfilling it and it feels great. It's not easy mind you, don't look upon this with rose tinted spectacles, oh no, but honestly, raising my child is the only job that will ever totally satisfy me.

XRAY…Any broken bones?
Nope, never. I think the only X-Rays I've ever had have been for dental work. Thankfully. Perhaps I should add 'touch wood' onto the end, just in case!
YIKES…What’s been your most embarrassing moment?
Being as clumsy and accident prone as myself, it'd be hard not to go through life, or perhaps even a day, without an embarrassing incident occurring. Something that still haunts me to this day though is tripping over a wire in my science classroom at school, and managing to ruin an ENTIRE chemistry experiment. Oh the shame. Mortified does not even close to explaining it, and when you factor in how bright red I used to turn when embarrassed at school, the ritual taunting and humiliation I endured for months afterwards was horrendous.
ZOO…. If you were an animal, which one would you be? 
A monkey, they just seem to get away with anything.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

NOTD: OPI Senorita Rose-Alita

 OPI Nail Lacquer
Señorita Rose-Alita

I'm probably going to inundate you with NOTD posts over the next few weeks, as I establish which polishes I want to keep in my collection and which ones I don't! This polish is probably more spring/summer in terms of a seasonal shade, but rules are meant to be broken, and I always like to mix it up with colour on my nails.

This is a gorgeous bright pink shade, shot through with a golden shimmer. I believe this was originally released with the 'Mexico' collection, but it's available on the OPI website so I believe it's been added to their main collection.

The above photograph on the right was taken in sunlight, but the flash went off too, the photograph on the right was taken in natural light with the flash on.

Monday, 24 October 2011

This weekend I have...

...finally gone out for a CHILDLESS dinner with my two Mummy friends from hospital. We all met on the postnatal ward after having our babies 1 day apart, and have stayed in touch ever since over the last 14 months! We have regular playdates for the babies, but realised that we'd never yet managed to go out of an evening without them. You know. Out out. With handbags and nice clothes, minus the baby muck! We went to a local Tapas restaurant, and enjoyed good food, yummy sangria, lots of laughter and brilliant company. Bliss.

...arrived home to a powercut, and felt a tinge of guilt that Colin had had to sit alone in the dark for the final part of his night in!

...nursed an ever-so-slight sangria induced headache.

...enjoyed a lunchtime playdate with another fabulous Mummy friend and her beautiful daughter. I love watching Jamie play and interact with his little friends, he finds other children fascinating, and learns from them so quickly.

...celebrated Jamie's godfathers birthday! He's also Colin's long time best friend since childhood, and he just so happens to live next door to us, but we never manage to get together as often as we'd like - life just gets in the way. We treated him and his girlfriend to a veritable feast from the Domino's pizza menu, and stuffed ourselves silly - with plenty of leftovers to enjoy too. We sipped on Crabbies Alcoholic Ginger Beer, cider and warm mulled wine.

...stroked the food baby in my tummy after said feast!

...tumbled into bed in the early hours knowing that there was the prospect of a lie in the next morning. Jamie went to his Nanny's for the night, so I even got to hog the bathroom and enjoy a nice long pampering session in the shower.

...done yet more washing. Despite spending most of the week washing possibly every single item the three of us own, I was greeted by the full-to-bursting washing basket again come Sunday morning. Never. Ending.

...caught up on Gossip Girl (and swooned massively over Chuck and Nate) and Don't Tell The Bride. I love both of these shows, and I've really missed Gossip Girl! As much as I love watching, boy am I glad my life is relatively drama free in comparison (yes, I know it's make believe)!

...found it so hard to believe that Jamie's now 14 months old. Every cliche in the book is true when it comes to children - they don't stay babies for long, blink and you'll miss it. He's such a cheeky boy, with a hilarious personality. He can be very wilful at times, and he certainly let's you know if he's not happy, but he's just so cute with it! I'm still struggling a bit with his eating, he's a fuss pot and a serial food thrower, but aside from that he's coming on in leaps and bounds and I get so much joy from just watching him play, learn and grow.

...poured excitedly over THIS coveted and much awaited invitation that arrived midweek. Coolest invite ever, no?!

...marvelled at how much 'stuff' there is in my house, despite my radical clear outs on an almost weekly basis. Where. Does. It. Come. From?! I love clearing out though, it's so cathartic and relieving.

How did you spend your weekend?

Sunday, 23 October 2011

NOTD: Nails Inc Belgravia

 Nails Inc London

Yet another great autumnal shade, this is a purpley brown colour, with subtle shimmers running through it*. I like how in some lights this is more purple, and in other lights it is definitely more brown, I like how versatile it is. I think this compliments my fair skin really nicely, and it fits in perfectly with my love for both purples and dark nails. 

I think I may have said before, but I really used to dislike Nails Inc polishes, but have been a fairly recent convert to them of late. At £10.50 they are on the pricey side, but almost they are so frequently freebies with magazines or other product promotions, such as Diet Coke (my personal favourite collaboration), which actually makes them pretty accessible and affordable!

I used to find that Nails Inc polishes chipped horrendously on me, but either my nails or the formulation has changed, because I now find them really durable. They go on really smoothly, although the brush is quite thin, and are always great with two coats. I probably have more Nails Inc polishes than any other brand now!

*Enlarging the photos may provide better detail

Spotlight On: Antiperspirants

OK, let's face it, deodorant isn't exactly the most glamorous of topics, however, it is a daily essential for all women, and hopefully men, and I've been through my fair share of them in my search for the best. I wouldn't say I've found something that ticks all of my boxes, but I've rounded up the masses and selected the most effective two that I've tried thus far. 

There's no nice way of putting it, but I'm a honest girl (probably too honest!), and I will admit I'm probably quite a, erm, sweaty person. Not in a disgusting, dripping with sweat way, I hasten to add, unless you're unlucky enough to catch me after a Zumba session, I just seem to sweat quite easily. Therefore, I want my deodorant to work hard and be really effective.

I'm sure we all know, but deodorants are designed to be applied to the underarms to disguise the odours that can occur after perspiration, and an antiperspirant is designed specifically to help prevent or reduce moisture, and subsequent odour. Antiperspirants have always been my first choice, and whilst there are so many offerings on the market, I tend to gravitate towards those that claim to offer 48 hour protection. Whilst I would never rely on a deodorant to actually last that long, I do tend to find those the most effective and longer lasting.

My current 'favourites' are Dove's Maximum Protection and Garnier InvisiMineral. The Dove deodorant is a cream formula, with a delicate and subtle scent, the dispenser allows you to easily control how much product is used, and it sinks into the skin really quickly. A word of caution though, this marks really easily, so be very careful when getting dressed after you've applied this! The Garnier deodorant comes in an aerosol and a roll on formulation, both of which are equally effective in my opinion, and it also comes in a variety of scents - I chose 'calm'. This deodorant is anti-white marks, and it actually works, bonus! Obviously, the bottom line, aside from the scent and formulation, is whether or not they actually work, and I would say they do. I've never gone one day without perspiring, but they definitely help to reduce the amount, and help me to feel clean and fresh for longer. 

Gosh, I'm a little grossed out by this, so I hope I haven't scared you all away, but I feel it's important to not just focus on the more superficial elements, and actually get down to the nitty gritty, so to speak!

What deodorant or antiperspirant do you favour?

Friday, 21 October 2011

A Review: Clinique Super City Block SPF40

Clinique Super City Block SPF40
Oil-free daily face protector 
What Do I Think?
Admittedly, I'm probably publishing this review at the wrong time of year, for my UK readers at least, unless you happen to be jetting off for some winter sun somewhere exotic! However, SPF isn't something that should just be thought about in the warmer months, and this is a product I've been using for over a year, but have just never gotten around to writing about. Now, let us not beat about the bush here, I am very fair skinned, probably verging on Eskimo, I burn very easily, so wearing SPF, particularly on my face, is essential, a no brainer. I've used both the SPF 25 and the SPF 40 version of City Block, and other than the actual sun protection factor, the main difference between the two is the colour - the SPF 25 is akin to the shade of a tinted moisturiser, but with very sheer coverage, whereas the SPF 40 has a slightly whiter finish. I don't find that the white noticeably lightens my skin, so to me this is not an issue, but worth mentioning all the same. Just a quick line about the 'science stuff', this protects against UVA and UVB rays, is 100% fragrance free and is suitable for all skin types. This does make my oily skin a little oilier, but it's something I am prepared to endure if it means I am well protected from the suns harmful rays, and in the grand scheme of things, it's no big deal. I apply it after my moisturiser but before any concealer or foundation, regardless of the SPF contained in any products applied thereafter. I can honestly say I have NEVER got sunburnt when wearing this, which is probably the best proof I can give you in this review. So, you can believe me when I say, this stuff works.

How Much Does It Cost?
This retails at £15.50 for 40ml of product. You can also pick up smaller sample sizes (I got mine from eBay, but please do buy sensibly and from trusted sellers).

Where Is It Available?
Clinique products are stocked instore and online at Boots, and also in most major UK department stores.

Would I Recommend It?
If like me, protecting your skin from the sun is not only sensible but essential, this product really is a life saver. It lasts a really long time so isn't actually that expensive in the long term, and I really would recommend it. The ONLY thing I would change about this would be to take away the extra oiliness it gives my skin, but as I said above, I'm prepared to deal with that.

Star Rating:

Disclaimer: The tube of this I am using now was very kindly donated to me by my lovely Mummy, who herself prefers the SPF 25 version. As aforementioned, I was previously using a sample sized tube, purchased (with care) from eBay. As always, all words and opinions are my own. I am, quite obviously, affiliated with my Mum, but neither of us are affiliated with Clinique ;)

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

A Review: Soap & Glory 'Some Like It Hot'

Soap & Glory 'Some Like It Hot'
Body softening thermal scrub

What Do I Think?
My lovely, lovely friend (who I won't name, but she knows who she is!) sent me this tube of lovely, scrubby goodness as part of my birthday gift back in July, and I squealed with delight when I unwrapped it! I'm a mahoosive Soap & Glory fan, as you all well know, and after pinching a little bit of my sisters when showering at my parents once, it was definitely on my wish-list. Essentially, it's a thermal body scrub, simply meaning once you start to rub it into your skin you activate the Thermineralsand release the heat - perfect for those cold winter mornings. On initial application this is actually pretty toasty warm, but not in a burning or unpleasant way I hasten to add - no scalds occurring here! The heat, for me, wore off pretty quickly, but regardless of the thermal aspect, this scrub is insanely effective, and an absolute pleasure to use. It smells gorgeous - amongst the ingredients you will find two sugars, macadamia oil, vanilla seeds, aloe vera and even white sand grains. It's just the right type of scrub too, not too harsh or abrasive, it immediately smooths and softens the skin, leaving it as soft guessed babies bottom! Now, I do have one big bugbear about this, and that is how quickly I used it up. For the price, it means it's quite an expensive product if you're going to be using it on a regular basis, however the effects are admittedly worth it. I used mine once a fortnight and it only lasted me two months. As a final note, an odd thing I noticed about this scrub, a side effect if you like, was that it left a milky looking residue on my nails if they had been freshly painted. The scrub itself does have a slightly milky consistency, so this isn't completely out of the ordinary, but worth mentioning!

How Much Does It Cost?
This retails at £7.92 for 200ml of product.

Where Is It Available?
Soap & Glory products in the UK are stocked instore and online at Boots and Harvey Nichols. 

Would I Recommend It?
Completely and utterly yes, as a slightly indulgent, but well worth it, pampering purchase, this is AH-MAY-ZING!

Star Rating:

Sunday, 16 October 2011

NOTD: OPI 'Glove You So Much'

 OPI Nail Lacquer
'Glove You So Much'

This is such a PERFECT shade for autumn, I can't believe I've never worn this before (oh the shame, I feel a collection de-clutter coming on). This is a gorgeous red/maroon/wine shade, with shimmer shot through it, and just looking at it is reminiscent of snuggling up, all cosy and warm, on a chilly autumn evening. I also think this could be a potentially perfect Christmas manicure or pedicure shade.

The (above) photograph on the left was taken in natural daylight, you might even be able to tell there was sun streaming through the window, and the (above) photograph on the right was taken inside using the flash. There is a slight drag near the cuticle on some of my nails, but I think this is more an effect of my slightly haphazard application rather than the actual polish. I don't find that OPI polishes wear that well on me, the longevity seems to differ from shade to shade, and I do already have some chipping along the tips of my nails, after less than 24 hours.

For those interested, I believe that this shade was from the OPI Holiday Wishes collection, released in 2009, and I'm glad I've found (yet another) perfect transitional shade for autumn and winter. 

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Spotlight On: Sin-Care Boosting Serums

 Sin-Care Booster Serums
Relaxation Sensation & Line Rewind

Sin-Care is skincare with a difference. Forget about trying to rewind time and undo your ageing skin, and instead start using a serum based upon your sin type. An interesting, and unique concept, no?! Primarily, Sin-Care products "target premature ageing caused by lifestyle", and after 5 years of hard graft it was found that the most common causes are "smog, poor diet, sun damage, stress, fatigue and smoking". Thereby, the innovative Sin-Care skin boosting serums were born, "on the premise that AGE + LIFESTYLE = WRINKLES™."

There are 8 serums in the Sin-Care line currently, and all "are highly concentrated, containing potent cosmeceuticals and natural peptides". The serums are: SIN 1# Smoker's Secret™, SIN 2# Sun Damage™, SIN 3# Sugar Hit™, SIN 4# Relaxation Sensation™, SIN 5# Sleep Doctor™, SIN 6# Skin Coach™, SIN 7# Line Rewind™ and SIN 8# Urban Renewal™. From the names, it's pretty obvious what they are designed to target, and I'm sure there will be something for everyone within this line up.

The two serums that I have been trialling are SIN 4# Relaxation Sensation™ and SIN 7# Line Rewind™. The packaging is brilliant, both professional and appealing to the eye, it is literally packed full of information about the product itself, the brand and the active ingredients. Anything remotely retro instantly appeals to me, but what stands out the most is the attention to detail, which demonstrates just how much time and thought has gone into the creation and design. For what it's worth, each batch of serums is microbiologically tested, they are packed in exact measurement pump dispensers, allowing for fast hygienic application, the products are not tested on animals, and each product contains cosmeceutical strength ingredients. 

The Relaxation Sensation™ serum is designed to target the impact that stress has on our skin (surely something that affects almost 100% of people?!), and helps to boost radiance, restore energy, reduce signs of fatigue, and improve the overall appearance of dull and tired looking skin. Among the impressive list of ingredients you will find marine glycogen, lychees, pineapple, rosemary, chlorella vulgaris and lupinus albus - some of which I know, and some of which take me back to GCSE level Biology lessons, however, each ingredients affect on the skin is explained and well justified. The Line Rewind™ serum, for the Time Poor, is designed to assist in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, especially mechanical wrinkles such as crows feet and laughter lines (we'll all have them!), and is ideal for busy people with busy lives. "The life we have led shows on our face", and this serum aims to reduce the impact of everyday facial expressions. Inside here you can find hibiscus seed extract and lychees. Both serums smell delightful, really fresh and comforting, and if it's possible, they actually smell like they will work?!

I have been using both of these serums on and off since early July, and as with most products that actually do work, I find you notice the difference most when you actually stop using them! I admit, I'm quite fickle with most additional skincare products such as serums; I'll remember to use them alongside my existing cleansing, toning and moisturising routine, then I'll gradually slip into letting the products sit unloved in my bathroom. However, once that happened with these two serums (I was using both, Relaxation Sensation™ in the morning, and Line Rewind™ at night), I really began to notice a difference in the appearance of my skin. Without the use of these it didn't feel as smooth, as bright or even as healthy, something that surprised me, as the cynic in me never expects products to actually work! I'm now using both of these serums again, and whilst I'm not sure of the long term effects they will have on my skin, in the short term I am very pleasantly surprised and impressed, and am really quite chuffed to have these products in my routine.

There is only one thing that makes me cringe about these serums, and that's the price. Sin-Care is an Australian brand, but their website does ship worldwide, and UK stockists are currently being established. One 50ml bottle of serum will set you back a whopping $69 AUD (that's £44.96 GBP or $71.06 USD). The good thing is that, even with relatively regular use of these serums (one pump will cover your entire face and neck), I've barely used any, so I do think they will last a long time. In addition, it's fair to say that the price is reflective of the significant amount of research, and undoubtedly, money, that has gone into the making of Sin-Care, and I do think the quality of the product, in this instance, is representative of the higher price tag.
I must say that I really LOVE the philosophy behind this brand, it's incredibly well researched and thought out, and I think it will very much appeal to the mass market today. This line in particular from the promo booklet (which is very interesting and informative) stands out to me: "the formulations of the most expensive creams do not know if you are a smoker, going through a divorce, if you run every day or if you are a new mother not getting enough sleep" - that to me shows that this is a brand who knows and understands its target audience extremely well.  

What are your thoughts on Sin-Care? Which Sin-Care serum would appeal most to you? Is this product something you would consider purchasing?

Disclaimer: I was sent these serums for review consideration purposes by the product creator of Sin-Care, any words or information that is not my own has been shown in italics and quotation marks. However, as ever, all thoughts and opinions on these products are very much my own, and I am not affiliated in any way, I'm just genuinely excited by this brand. For more detailed information, check out the Sin-Care website.