Thursday, 30 August 2012

August Favourites {2012}

Yet another month has quickly sailed past, and once again I gather up my monthly favourites into a bag and arrange a still life on the coffee table - after removing the toy cars and plastic dinosaurs first, of course.

Sadly, I've no time for all of the usual pomp and ceremony, so without further ado, here are my August favourites...


Hydraluron - Indeed Labs
This purchase was entirely the fault of Caroline Hirons - although in this case, blame isn't necessarily a negative thing! She blogged about it. She said we needed it. I bought it. As per usual, I will be doing a more in depth review of this as soon as I can, but so far, so good. Definitely a worthy investment.

Mandara Spa Island Paradise Intensive Body Scrub*
You all know by now that I'm an exfoliating addict - I know, I know, I sound like a broken record. This offering from Mandara Spa is a delightfully scrubby scrub, my favourite kind in fact, and has a gorgeous fresh and zesty fruit scent to it, making it particularly well suited to those mornings when you're feeling a little s l o w {that's every morning then}.


As soon as I opened this mascara, I have to admit my hopes were not high. The brush is nothing special, the formulation looked dry and clumpy, and the packaging somewhat cheap and uninviting. However, first impressions aside, I am actually enjoying using this mascara - it takes a little work to ensure there are no obvious clumps {unless that's the look you're going for}, and the formula is a lot drier than I tend to prefer, but this holds an impressive curl all day long without smudging or flaking, something that I was definitely not expecting. 

Finding out that my local Waitrose stocks Korres products was a potentially expensive discovery. Whilst buying a salad and some fruit for lunch one day, one of the infamous Korres Lip Butters just 'fell' into my basket. The Jasmine scent is incredibly delicious, and I'm in love with the gorgeous pale pink sheen this leaves on my lips. It's nourishing as well as being pretty, and although I'm not a huge fan of the packaging, I really love this product. I'm very tempted to try other 'flavours' now, but will wait until I've use this up first... probably!

Essie Nail Lacquer in Turquoise & Caicos and In Stitches
I'm slowly acquiring a new love for Essie polishes, and after blogging about and obsessively wearing the gorgeous Turquoise & Caicos last week, I promptly applied a shade passed on to me by Lydia, called In Stitches. I'd describe it as a dark dusky pink, and it applied nicely in 2 coats. The diffusion line with the bigger brush and improved formulation is definitely preferable to the older versions though.

I picked this up when my tub of Carmex ran out a couple of months ago, and promptly lost it in the depths of my handbag. I recently rediscovered it with glee, and have been enjoying using it ever since. It's essentially just Carmex, in stick form, with a tint - in this case a bright bubblegum pink - that leaves a non-sticky, moisturising sheer colour on the lips. The colour lasts longer than the 'shine', and I find this to be fairly good at keeping my lips well hydrated for at least a couple of hours after initial application.

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Anti-Chip Top Coat
I've wanted a decent top coat for years now, and simply never got around to investing in one - despite the significant amount of times per week that I re-paint my nails. Upon Lydia's trustworthy recommendation, I purchased the Sally Hansen Insta-Dri top coat - a quick drying polish that also increases the longevity for the majority of my nail polishes worn underneath. I won't be without this now.


Real Techniques by Samantha Chapman - Buffing Brush and Contour Brush
If you love beauty, you'll probably have heard of the Pixiwoo sisters, Sam and Nic. Their YouTube videos are incredible, and having met both of them previously I can confirm they are just as nice off screen as they appear on screen - something that clearly transmits well to their huge amount of 'followers'. Their down to earth, fun but professional approach to make up and its artistry has earned them much deserved success, and Sam recently launched her own collection of make up brushes - Real Techniques. My local Boots store stocks them, and I'd had my eye on the Buffing Brush for ages - it looked like the ideal brush for applying a light coverage, well blended foundation - and it is! Available as part of the 'Core Collection' set, it also comes with 3 other brushes, including the Contour Brush, which I have thoroughly enjoyed using for a more precise application of blusher. I can't say enough good things about these brushes, and I will definitely be saving up for some more!

Tangle Teezer - Original Black
Another product passed on to me by Lydia was the Tangle Teezer, a hair brush I have wanted to try for years. I'm sure she won't mind my saying that Lydia has thick hair, and found that this simply didn't brush through her tangles adequately. In comparison, I have fairly thin hair, just a lot of it, and have found that this de-tangles my hair gently and effectively, and seems to be much kinder to my hair than my other brushes. I've really enjoyed using this, and it's now a firm favourite - different strokes for different folks, aye {please excuse the pun, I couldn't help it}. 


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
I know no one likes being told what to do, however... Buy this book. Stop what you're doing, right now, and buy this book. It's such an incredibly well written, emotive and powerful read and I utterly love it. I first heard about this book in a Gemsmaquillage video, and finally bought it online earlier this month from Amazon {with a handy gift voucher}. John Green possesses an enviable talent for writing, and despite being a male author, this book is narrated from the perspective of a female teenage cancer sufferer. It is not 'just' a book about cancer, or 'just' a teenage romance novel, or even 'just' another best selling book. It is so much more - I urge you to read it and fall in love with it yourself.

Disclaimer: Products denoted with a * were provided for review consideration purposes. I am not affiliated with any of the brands, people or companies mentioned. All words, opinions and photographs are 100% my own. Some links may be affiliated. 
NB: Please ignore my horrible scratched coffee table - toy cars + 2 year old boy = goodbye nice furniture!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

NOTD: Essie {x2}

{Essie Carry On - Natural light, no flash}

{Essie Angora Cardi - Natural light, no flash}

{Natural light, no flash}

This past weekend saw me visiting the sunny shores of Portsmouth, and one of my dearest friends Lydia. Readers of Lydia's blog will know that without any shadow of a doubt, she is a nail polish addict. When faced with Lydia's impressively sized collection of an array of beautiful nail polishes, I'm afraid to say I got a little overwhelmed and didn't know where to start. I am, at best, habitually indecisive, and when faced with so much choice, it took me longer than it should have to narrow down my selection.

In the end, I opted for two shades that complimented each other rather well thanks to their purple tones. The lighter of the two shades, a dusky mauve/pink, is Angora Cardi by Essie - a shade I simply must have. It is such a unique colour, at least I'd never seen anything quite like it before, and in my opinion is a professional, wearable and 'for all seasons' shade. The darker colour is Carry On, also by Essie, and although not unlike polishes I already own, I was drawn to it's sophisticated deep purple hue. I used three coats of each shade, to reach total opacity, although a lighter application would most likely have only necessitated two. I finished with a coat of Sally Hansen's InstaDry {more on that beauty to follow!}, for glossy nails that were chip free for at least two days - pretty good going for me.

I'm quite taken with Essie nail polishes, despite their inconsistent and sometimes dubious reviews. I'd like to extend a big thank you to Lydia for letting me loose in her collection, and for a lovely weekend ♥

Monday, 20 August 2012

NOTD: Essie Turks & Caicos

{Essie Turks & Caicos, natural direct sunlight, no flash}

{Essie Turks & Caicos, natural daylight, no flash}
For anyone lusting over the {sadly} discontinued Chanel Nouvelle Vague polish that I featured last week, fear not - dupes do exist. There is no such thing as an exact dupe, however, something that comes close, for a fraction of the price, is never a bad thing.

This gorgeous turquoise polish from Essie, named Turks & Caicos, is a pretty similar dupe - although the blue and green tones are slightly more intense, and there is not even a hint of sparkle. This polish has a gorgeous creamy consistency and finish, and although it took 3 coats to reach full opacity, the longevity is seriously impressive, and I just can't stop looking at my nails, glinting in the sunshine like the beautiful clear ocean waters the shade is named after. 
{My bottle is from the Essie diffusion line, with the larger brush and reformulated polish.}

The infamous Essie Mint Candy Apple, although similar to both Nouvelle Vague and Turks & Caicos, is paler and less intense, and upon comparison is my least favourite of the three. As you can see if you look at my previous NOTD's for these shades, all three colours are a variation along the same theme, with subtle nuances, all equally beautiful in their own right.

Essie polishes can now be found in selected Boots and Superdrug stores, for £7.99, making them more accessible and also slightly dangerous for the polish fiends among us!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

FOTD ft Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Honey

Minimal make up - a touch of Estee Lauder DoubleWear Stay in Place concealer, MAC MSF Natural, MAC Pinch o Peach blusher, Max Factor False Lash Effect mascara and Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Honey. 

Awkward 'I don't know how to pose' face!

As a busy working Mum now, managing a fully made up face of a morning is nothing short of a miracle. I'll either be headed to the office or a playdate/playgroup, and as a notoriously terrible timekeeper, I'll nearly always be pushed for time and rushing to get myself ready before Jamie destroys the house.

Any product that helps me to feel made up and polished, with minimal effort required, is always going to excite me, so when I discovered the Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains on the Revlon stand in my local Boots last month, I popped a couple straight into my basket.

As the name of these would suggest, they are essentially a lip stain in the form of a balm - picture a chunky Crayola crayon and you won't be far off. I have a couple of shades, but my ultimate 'go-to' is Honey {featured in my July favourites post}. It's a lilacy pink shade, that is incredibly wearable and can either be applied in a thin, sheer layer, or more heavily for intense pigmentation. I can take or leave the slightly odd minty flavour and scent, which is unnoticeable after a few moments wear. To me, the consistency of these is drier than a balm upon application, but they do hydrate my lips and definitely don't leave them feeling dry or flaky. These really do last too, and are the first stain I've tried that fade nicely without leaving patches or transferring. I easily have visible colour still on my lips, even after eating and drinking, up to 4 hours after initial application, albeit slightly less pigmented. 

Close up of Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Honey - after approx. 2 hours wear
Aside from the fact that these are not so subtle copies of the Clinique Chubby Sticks, a more expensive counterpart, I highly recommend that you check these out if you've not already. There are 6 shades available in the UK I believe, and you can buy them from anywhere with a Revlon stand for £5.99+ - well worth that price.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any brands or companies mentioned. All words, opinions and photographs are 100% my own. Some links may be affiliated.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

NOTD: Chanel Nouvelle Vague

{Chanel Nouvelle Vague - Natural light, no flash}

Although I've often lusted over the decadently delicious and tantalising nail polish {and make up} at Chanel counters, I'd never actually tried one until last weekend - when Lydia allowed me to introduce my nails to the divine beauty that is Chanel Nouvelle Vague. This polish was released with Chanel's Summer Collection in 2010*.

This colour is so stunning, and in direct sunlight, the tiniest and most delicate of shimmers can be detected, sparkling away smugly in all their Chanel glory. This is more than just a 'turquoise' nail polish, and not just because of the designer name I hasten to add. It's a really stunning shade, with more depth than first meets the eye. I would describe this a creamy pale, blue toned turquoise, with a subtle silver pearl shimmer.

As an avid champion of the accent nail {it allows me to indulge my incurable indecisive nature}, I chose to pair this with a glitter polish from CND - another brand I had heard many good things about, but had yet to try. The blue toned sparkle is more subtle than most of the rather more obnoxious glitters I own, and lent itself perfectly to this more sophisticated summer manicure.

I'm desperate to get my mitts {excuse the pun} on some Chanel nail polishes now - although I've heard mixed reviews with regard to their longevity, and have obvious reservations based on their high end price - I was suitably impressed and can't help but want more.

*I've just looked on eBay to see if this polish was available to purchase, and people are selling it for silly money - I'm talking £80+. What the...?!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Spotlight On: L'Occitane Candle for Sight

There are many worthy causes in the world, and one could easily spend both a lifetime and a small fortune searching for and supporting those they deem worthwhile. My sight is something I will always appreciate, and know never to take for granted, having experienced first hand how debilitating going blind can be.

L'Occitane regularly support charitable organisations, and 100% of the proceeds {£13.00} for this Candle for Sight go directly to RNIB - Royal National Institute of Blind People. I wholeheartedly support and encourage the work L'Occitane are doing to raise awareness of RNIB.

Candle for Sight has a warming and comforting honey scent, and with a 100% cotton wick you won't end up with lungs full of soot. You can buy a Candle for Sight for £13.00, instore or online from L'Occitane, and do your bit to support RNIB.

Disclaimer: This product was provided as a PR sample. All words, opinions and photographs are 100% my own. I have made an individual donation to RNIB in lieu of purchasing the product myself.

Empties {July 2012}

I can't help but notice how many bloggers are currently featuring posts or videos dedicated entirely to their empties. Whilst, to those 'non' beauty obsessives out there {Colin, I'm talking about you here!}, writing about your empty products might seem slightly borderline crazy territory, however, to me it seems completely and utterly normal.

Empty posts are, to state the obvious, indicative of what you have actually used. Be those products you've begrudgingly used for months and months until they finally give up the ghost, or products where you've frantically scraped the remnants out of the packaging. Either way, you've used them up, and no doubt have something to say about them. Where possible, I'll link to previous mentions or reviews, but will keep my comments short and sweet for this post.

I've been collecting these empties for approx. 2 months, but I'll call this my July empties. I, like many other bloggers, am on a drive to shop my stash and use up the products I already have before purchasing new ones - this is all well and good in theory of course, but we all know how much of an impossibility that is in reality. I digress...

July Empties
John Frieda Sheer Blonde Colour Renew Tone Correcting Conditioner
Regular readers will know I'm a big fan of John Frieda, the products always work well and my hair responds well to them. The Colour Renew range is designed for colour treated blonde locks, to help prolong the colour intensity and keep the brassy tones at bay. This works but I've used better conditioners.

John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Lightening Shampoo
The John Frieda Go Blonder range works really well at brightening and maintaining my *ahem* bottle blonde hair, and leaves it feeling clean and healthy. I'll always go back to this range when I'm feeling in need of a trusty shampoo and conditioner.

Sanctuary Spa Body Wash
My Mum had passed on some travel sized Sanctuary products to me, and the original scent is instantly nostalgic of my two visits to the spa in Covent Garden itself. I take these travel sized versions when I go camping, because camping doesn't have to mean dirty and smelly you know!

Tisserand De-Stress Bath Oil*
Whilst I'm unsure as to how de-stressing this bath oil is itself, the lavender, marjoram and mandarin scent is soothing and relaxing, making it perfect to use for a slumber inducing evening soak in the tub. I will probably stick to using drops of my lavender essential oil rather than repurchase this, but it does create a nice, unexpected lather.

Pro:Voke Touch of Silver Twice a Week Brightening Shampoo with Violet Pigment
Lydia included this in my beauty box Christmas present last year, and although it isn't a patch on my beloved Clynol purple shampoo, it does work to retain the brightness of colour treated blonde. I will review this soon.

Yes to Baby Carrots Shampoo & Body Wash*
Jamie reviewed this all by himself last year, and despite multiple hair washes a week {he's a typical boy, always grubby by the end of the day} this shampoo has lasted for ages - we're seriously impressed and will definitely repurchase this.

Jan Marini Bioglycolic Facial Cleanser
This had been lurking in a dusty corner of my beauty shelf for more time than I care to mention, and I didn't expect much from it to be quite honest. However, I really adored the positive effects this had on my skin, and if it is still available on the world wide web, I'd definitely consider repurchasing.

Tisserand De-Stress Bath & Shower Oil*
This product is almost identical to the aforementioned Tisserand Bath Oil, so all I will add is this: use in the shower with extreme caution. Oil + water = slippery shower surface.

Sanctuary Spa Body Lotion
The moisturising counterpart to the aforementioned body wash, I really like using Sanctuary body products, the scent if nothing else makes me feel sophisticated and luxurious.

Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief Whitening Toothpaste
I know, I's a toothpaste, BUT hear me out here, because this actually does work. It does make my teeth less sensitive, and I'm pretty sure it does also make my teeth a little whiter. It's darned expensive if you ask me, but when something works and makes eating ice cream easier, I'll pay that price quite happily.

Original Chap Stick
Who doesn't love Chap Stick. I do. 

Bio Oil
I used Bio Oil throughout my pregnancy, and have used it sporadically ever since {2 years - my baby boy is TWO next week!}. It's pretty hard to fault this product, it's gentle on the skin but does exactly what it says on the tin bottle. The next one is waiting and ready to go!

Maybelline One-by-One Volum' Express Mascara
I have mixed opinions on this mascara - I rated it 3/5 in my review last autumn, but had another one to use up, and although I do like it, I definitely don't love it, and wouldn't repurchase this.

No7 Beautiful Skin Quick Thinking Wipes
Before you all pelt me with rotten vegetables and burning newspapers, let me defend my use of the face wipes. I am, by my own admission, very lazy. I've lamented over my evening make up removal irritations before, and now I only use wipes very, very occasionally - in extreme illness, at 'sleepovers' or when camping.

Max Factor False Lash Effect Mascara
Holy Grail Mascara. Will repurchase for eternity - or at least until they stop making it. Which they can never do. The end.

The Body Shop Super Volume Mascara*
This mascara really is pants. I don't know if it's empty, but it's dried up and flaky, and irritates me a lot more than is rationally accepted. I will most definitely not be repurchasing this.

Calvin Klein Euphoria Eau de Parfum
Another one of my perfumes that has crashed and burned. It was delicious while it lasted, but it's time for me to move onto pastures new now Mr Klein. I'll see you again someday.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any brands/companies mentioned. All words, opinions and photographs are 100% my own. Some links may be affiliated. Products denoted with a * were provided for review consideration purposes.

Monday, 6 August 2012

A Review: Clynol Repair

Clynol Repair
Recovery, Revive, Remedy & Caress*

What Do I Think?
For the last 2-3 months, every time I have used these products I have mentally tried to compose something constructive to say about them. It's not that I dislike them, or even have a particular problem with them, I just don't love them. I'm not overly impressed or dissatisfied, although admittedly hair products are not things I tend to get excited about in general. I am a big fan of Clynol products, my favourite shampoo {that I have just repurchased, and sold my Mum on too!} is their Colour & Care Reflex Silver Shampoo, however, this range just doesn't wow me in the way I anticipated it too. The 'repair' concept is right up my street, all of the products contain keratin, an ingredient renowned for it's restorative purposes for dry and damaged hair. Out of the four products, my favourite is probably the Recovery Repair Conditioner, it smells amazing and although it doesn't feel very substantial when you apply it, it leaves my ends tangle free, soft and healthy. In conjunction with the conditioner, is the Revive Repair Shampoo, and although this lathers nicely and leaves my hair feeling clean, it doesn't add any extra shine or bounce, and my hair feels no healthier from this than any other bog standard shampoo. The Remedy Leave-In Instant Keratin Filler is a treatment to be sprayed onto damp hair, concentrated specifically on the most damaged areas {the ends, for me}, then styled as usual. I can't stay I detected any noticeable difference, aside from leaving a nice scent, although it did help to detangle my hair when styling. The Caress Sealed Ends product is again something that I expected to really like, and perhaps I'm making unfair comparisons between this and my hair oils, but it just doesn't perform well enough, or noticeably enough, to warrant a rave review. I will use these products up, there is no reason for mindless waste, I just won't be 100% satisfied. I would just like to mention the packaging of Clynol products, as an aside. Good packaging never goes unnoticed with me, and I'm a fan of the clean, simple design, the products dispense just the right amount really easily, with no unnecessary mess.

Where Are They Available?
Clynol products are available from selected salons, and online at

How Much Do They Cost?
Shampoo: £7.95 for 300ml; Conditioner: £8.95 for 250ml; Leave-In: £8.95 for 250ml; Sealed Ends: £8.95 for 75ml.

Would I Recommend Them?
No. I like the Repair range, and I like Clynol, however, I need to LOVE hair products in order to re-purchase them, and especially as the prices are more mid-high end, I wouldn't want to buy these again.

Star Rating:

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any brands/companies mentioned. All words, opinions and photographs are 100% my own. Some links may be affiliated. Products denoted with a * were provided for review consideration purposes.