Monday, 31 March 2014

One Year Ago Today....

To celebrate our first wedding anniversary, I thought I would share some of my favourite pictures and moments from our perfect day.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

March '14 Favourites


I love March, the beginning of Spring is always one of my favourite times of the year. I am reminded that the sun does actually exist, that colour in the form of blue skies and pretty flowers will re-appear after the never-ending grey of the winter. I am also reminded that people can be pleasant afterall, and that the entire population must have all been suffering to some degree with Seasonal Affective Disorder all winter. Although, I must admit, I am one of them. It is crazy how much better I feel when the sun is shining. So let's hope it carries on...or maybe I should just move abroad?

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Foundations for Pale / Fair Skin


As someone with a 'porcelain' complexion, I know how hard it can be to find the correct shade when it comes to foundation. After almost a year of blogging I now have a better understanding of skin 'undertones' and finding a suitable colour match. I have now road-tested a fair amount of foundations and thought I would share my findings as it may be helpful to someone else. From the lightest shades I have found on the high-street, to which brands are better for 'cool' and 'warm' complexions.

I currently have 8 foundations sitting in my collection...

Monday, 24 March 2014

MAC Pro Conceal and Correct Palette in Light for Pale/Fair Skin



I hate buying concealers. I wrote a post back in July about how difficult it is to find pale/fair concealers to cover blemishes and imperfections (read here), and it hasn't gotten any easier since! Why is it that a brand will bring out a foundation in 8 different shades and an accompanying concealer in only 2?  Often light and medium even though both appear to be the exact same shade of dark orange?

I have wasted a lot of money on concealers, because they are the wrong colour/wrong consistency/don't last long enough. Then there's the whole concealer/corrector debate. Should an under eye concealer be slightly peach or salmon coloured to correct dark circles? Should a blemish concealer be yellow or green in colour to counteract redness? It's all a little bit overwhelming!

Then I saw this palette from MAC, and it was love at first sight! At £35 it isn't the cheapest product but you get 4 of their Studio Finish Concealers, all different shades, some cool toned and some warm, and 2 of their correctors, a pale yellow for blemishes and a pale pink for dark circles. 

Being a palette aimed at pale skin and with such a variety of shades it seemed unlikely that I could go wrong with this palette. At least one shade was bound to work for me, perhaps even two or three when you take in to consideration that different areas of the face can be very different in tone and that I am a lot paler in the winter than in the summer. Plus I get two correcting options as well!

I love this palette. The consistency of the conealers/correctors is very creamy and high coverage, and they blend easily with fingers and brushes.

The palette is divided in to two sections, the left hand side of the palette is warm toned with shades NC15, NC20 and Pale Yellow. The right hand side of the palette is cool toned with shades NW10, NW20 and Pale Pink. At the moment the shade I am using the most is NC15 and it's great to have 2 slightly darker shades and one paler option aswell. These can even be mixed if you are between shades.

I wasn't entirely sold on the whole corrector thing to begin with but now that I have had a bit of a play with them I can see how useful they will be. When applied over the dark circles under my eyes, the pale pink shade really does have a camouflaging and brightening effect. The pale yellow does appear a little more obvious when applied over blemishes meaning that it's best to apply the yellow and then a concealer shade over the top, but because of the creamy texture which doesn't really set, it can be tricky to layer the two products and keep the benefits of both. But as the concealer shades have such great coverage anyway, I don't need to use the yellow to colour correct very often.

Overall, I am really happy with this palette. I think this is the best concealer formula that I have tried so far in terms of application, texture and coverage and the shade range is fantastic. The product is not perfect and after about 8 hours dry patches can start to show and because of the creamy texture you have to be careful not to touch your face and accidentally move the product, but I shouldn't be touching my face anyway! I probably wouldn't re-purchase the whole palette again as I am unlikely to use all the shades up at the same time but would certainly re-purchase the shade I use most often as a separate concealer and perhaps even the pale pink corrector.

This palette is also available in Medium, Medium Deep and Dark.

Have you tried this palette or the MAC Studio Finish concealers?

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Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Skincare for Sensitive Skin


Skincare and I don't always get along. Due to my ridiculously sensitive skin, the majority of skincare products I try cause adverse reactions and often make me break out. I would say I had sensitive and dry skin with frequent hormonal breakouts (sorry if that's too much information!).

I almost gave up on skincare altogether but it seems as though there is one brand that I can rely on, and that is The Body Shop. I actually ordered a few products from them back in October (see haul post here) and feel that as a fair amount of time has passed that I can now give you an honest and accurate opinion on them.

The great thing about the Body Shop is that they offer a huge range of skincare products, with individual collections aimed at different skin types, for example they have the Tea Tree range for blemish prone skin, the Vitamin C range for 'dull' skin, the Pomegranate and Nutriganics ranges for mature skin and more. I automatically gravitated towards their Aloe range for sensitive skin and the Tea Tree range.

The skincare items I purchased were the Aloe Day Cream, the Aloe Restorative Face Mask, the Aloe Toner, a mini Aloe Cleanser and the Tea Tree Night Lotion. The Body Shop aren't the cheapest on the high-street but are very reasonably priced when compared to skincare brands such as Clinique, Clarins, Elizabeth Arden, and Pai etc.

One of the main problems I have with skincare is the idea of piling on product after product, I imagine the effects of using 10 different products on my skin to be almost counter-productive, plus I am just far too lazy! I will never be one of those people who will cleanse twice, tone, moisturise, use a serum, an oil, a balm, an eye cream etc.

If I am going to do this whole skincare thing, I am going to do it my way. And that way is picking just a couple of my favourite products, which I will then use regularly. I started off using the toner and the cleanser but to be honest, these were abandoned after a couple of weeks. Not because they aren't good but because it is just too many steps for me.

I know that they have become a bit taboo in the beauty world but the first step of my evening skincare routine is removing my makeup with face wipes, the ones from Simple (another great brand for sensitive skin!) are my favourites. Nothing takes off waterproof mascara like these bad boys! I then use the L'oreal Micellar Water for that all important second cleanse. Some left over makeup does come off during this second cleanse so I guess it is needed after all. Then before I go to bed I apply the Tea Tree Night Lotion, and that's pretty much it. Are you horrified?? I'm sorry...

I use the Aloe Day Cream every morning before I apply my makeup as my skin has needed a slightly thicker and richer moisturiser lately, and I treat myself about once a week to the Aloe Restorative Face Mask, which you just slap on before bed and leave it to work it's magic overnight. Both do seem to inject some much needed moisture in to my skin and make it feel a lot plumper and healthier.

For pretty much the first time, I have not had any negative reactions to a new skincare range. The products do seem to be helping my skin rather than making it worse (although it is still hard to judge just how much they are helping). They aren't miracle products and they won't prevent all blemishes because no product is or will, but for once I am very happy with the results and will continue to purchase products from The Body Shop.

I think it is also worth noting that The Body Shop have a great company ethos with community fair trade and cruelty free products which I think is fantastic and makes them a company I am even happier to support. Not to mention the amazing regular promotions they do, such as their current ones - save £20 when you spend £40 or 40% off all online orders, which really does help to make it more affordable.

For more information on The Body Shop skincare, see their website - link

This post has not been sponsored by The Body Shop in any way, I am just loving their products at the moment.

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Thursday, 13 March 2014

Yankee Candle - Sicilian Lemon


Just a quick post today, on the candle that has been brightening up my home just in time for Spring! Sicilian Lemon - doesn't that just sound lovely and fresh?

Yankee Candle describe this one as "a bright and sunny citrus …perfectly ripe, with a naturally sweet and refreshing scent." Which I would say was pretty bang on. I was a little worried that it may remind me of cleaning products but it doesn't at all. Instead it just leaves a fresh and uplifting citrusy scent which makes it the perfect candle to burn when you have guests coming round or just want to brighten up the place, day or evening.

The amazing thing about Yankee Candles is the amount of time that they last. They apparently burn for 65 - 90 hours!  Lemon is an energising scent, meaning that this candle would be a perfect accompaniment to a thorough spring cleaning of the house, but who can really be bothered for that?? Lets just drink tea, read blogs and enjoy the lovely lemony scent.

Do you like Yankee Candles? What are your favourite scents?

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Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Beauty Shopping Rewards!


I love a good loyalty scheme! Gaining points on purchases just helps to reduce the inevitable shopping guilt, I mean you're almost earning money....... almost.

Due to the amount of money I spend in Boots, my Advantage Card points seem to build up quite quickly and would build up even quicker if I would just remember to do my online shopping through Treat Street, but I never do.

The Debenhams Beauty Club Card offers 3 points per £1 spent, whereas I think the Boots card is 4 points per £1, but as the beauty products in Debenhams are more expensive, I end up spending more money there and it builds up a lot quicker. Once you reach 500 points on your card you can get £5 off your next purchase, but they often have special promotions like 500 points when you spend £40, which also helps a lot!

I have personally reached 500 points and redeemed £5 off at least twice before and currently have £5 on my card waiting to be spent. No I don't want to think about how much I must have spent in Debenhams over the past year!

One of the main reasons I decided to get a Debenhams Beauty Card is the the fact that you then qualify for free delivery when shopping online. I have used this free delivery a lot so it has definitely been worth it.

With a card you can also get free makeovers at the beauty counters in-store and free product samples, but I am yet to try out these benefits. There is even an offer where you can get a free Benefit brow wax on your birthday! Now this is one I may have to try!

My mum actually signed up for a Debenhams Beauty Card before Christmas, and although she doesn't often shop there for herself, with all the presents she bought for my sister and me for Christmas and my birthday she gained her £5 reward very quickly!

All these benefits and it is completely free to sign up, see here for details - link.

Do you have a Debenhams Beauty Club Card? What are your favourite shopping loyalty schemes? I'm always looking for new ways to keep shopping guilt at bay!

(I have in no way been sponsored by Debenhams for this post, I just really like their card!)

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Sunday, 9 March 2014

Soup-er Sunday!


In an attempt to eat a little healthier and also cook a bit more, hubby and I decided to start getting better use out of our New Covent Garden Food Company A Soup For Everyday recipe book. And because we both have a very geeky sense of humour, we decided to refer to this weekly culinary experimentation as Soup-er Sunday (hehe geddit??)

Every Sunday we take it in turns to try a new recipe and have so far made 6 or 7. I used to hate soup, I couldn't get my head around the idea of drinking your food, its unnatural. But because they are healthy, easy and usually pretty cheap to make, I decided to teach myself to like them.

The recipes in this book are so easy, and use simple, readily-available ingredients (don't you hate it when you're following a recipe only to find it lists 10 ridiculously obscure hard-to-get ingredients). It really does have a different soup for every day of the year and it is set out as a diary starting on January 1st. The good thing about going by the dates is that the ingredients for each soup are seasonal so will be easier to find and cheaper to buy at that specific time of the year. We haven't really stuck to the date thing and mostly just flick through the book until we see one that takes our fancy.

Last Soup-er Sunday I cooked the Simple Parsnip and Apple Soup which, not only sounded delicious, but was also very cheap as the only ingredients needed were parsnips, a bramley apple, butter, vegetable stock and milk.

I have thoroughly enjoyed each soup we have made so far, including Spicy Sweet Potato Soup, Carrot and Cumin Soup and Tuscan Bean Soup. There are so many varied recipes in this book so I really look forward to Soup-er Sunday every week. There's even a recipe for Strawberries, Cream and Champagne Soup! If you are looking for a new recipe book, I would highly recommend this one, I don't think I have ever used a recipe book so much before!

I hope you don't mind the slightly different blog topic today, if you did, don't worry I'll be back to beauty in my next post!

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Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Our Trip To Berlin

I booked our trip to Berlin as a birthday present for my husband Mark. We stayed for three nights at a hotel near Checkpoint Charlie (Kochstrasse) which was a fantastic central location in walking distance of all the main city sights.
On our first day, the hubby and I went on a free walking tour around the city. This is my hubby and the tour guide at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The tour is run by Sandemans New Europe, I have been on this tour twice now and it a fantastic and very informative introduction to the city, so I highly recommend it!
The Berlin Wall.
Mark and me during the coffee break on the walking tour.
Although much of Berlin was destroyed by the bombings of World War II, many of the buildings were restored after the war. This is the Konzerthaus.
Museum Island is my favourite area of Berlin, the architecture is stunning and it is home to five museums, The Altes Museum (The Old Museum), The Neues Museum (The New Museum), The Altes Nationalgalerie (The Old National Gallery), The Bode Museum and The Pergamon Museum.
Mark trying to look pensive and intellectual outside the Neues Museum on Museum Island.
This is the Old National Gallery, the highlights of which were the Impressionist works with some beautiful paintings by my favourite artist, Pierre Auguste-Renoir.
On our second day we went to Charlottenburg on the outskirts of Berlin to visit the Charlottenburg Palace. The palace is surrounded by beautiful royal gardens which are open to the public, so we decided to spend the morning walking around the lake and enjoying the sun (when it wasn't hiding behind the clouds).
I fell head over heels in love with this Belvedere tea house in the palace gardens and intend to have an exact replica built when we win the lottery for hubby and me and our future babies to live in.
Sitting by the lake in the palace gardens. It wasn't as cold as it looks!
A bridge in the palace gardens with love padlocks, similar to the Pont des Arts bridge in Paris but with only a small handful of locks. Unfortunately we didn't have a padlock on us at the time.
Enjoying a German pretzel after a bit of shopping! 
We spent our last day on Museum Island and visited my favourite one, The Pergamon Museum. I have been to this museum on both of my previous trips to the city and it never fails to impress me. It houses a range of Roman, Greek, Islamic and Middle Eastern artifacts and architectural structures. The reconstructed architectural exhibits are overwhelming in size!
This Ishtar Gates of Babylon, built in approximately 575BC as a dedication to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar.
Me at the airport, sad to be going home....
....but happy that I have a giant bar of Milka from Duty Free. I have no idea how celebrities still manage to look so glamorous at the airport.

Berlin is a very interesting city and a must-see for anyone interested in the history of World War II. It has a very tragic past and it is impossible to spend time here without constantly being reminded of the war and the holocaust. I think it is extraordinary how the city both confronts and teaches it's history. It is also hard to believe that the Berlin wall was still dividing the city during my lifetime, finally 'falling' in 1989, although I was far too young to remember it happening.

I have visited Berlin twice before, once for my 21st birthday and for a second time when inter-railing around Europe with a friend in 2010. If you ever take a trip to Berlin I highly recommend the walking tour and a visit to The Pergamon Museum.

Have you ever been to Berlin? Any recommendations for our next trip? I'm thinking Barcelona.....


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Sunday, 2 March 2014

February '14 Favourites


February absolutely flew by! But then, that is always the case when you have something to look forward to, and I had a lovely trip to Berlin at the end of the month. I am so happy that it's March as it's the beginning of Spring, and my one year wedding anniversary is at the end of the month. Lots to look forward to!

I didn't try many new products in February but I did pick up two new high-street foundations, one of which has made it in to my monthly favourites.

Revlon ColorStay Foundation for Oily/Combination Skin in Ivory
Getting a bit bored of my Rimmel Stay Matte Liquid Mousse Foundation I decided to try out a couple of new drugstore/high-street foundations and did my research beforehand to see which foundations were popular and highly rated in the 'blogosphere'. The Revlon ColorStay Foundation is one that popped up time and time again so I thought it would be a good place to start. It is a little over £12 so actually one of the more expensive foundations in Boots but I think that it is worth the extra money. It has a medium coverage and a surprisingly dewy finish, but it also seems to set on the skin, preventing it from transferring (one of the main problems of my Stay Matte Liquid Mousse). I have been wearing this one pretty much everyday since I got it and am very happy with it so far! 

L'oreal Lumi Magique Primer 
In my January Favourites post I mentioned that I had been enjoying mixing some Benefit High Beam with my foundation to help create a 'glowy' complexion. However, I only have a trial size of High Beam and it is quite expensive to buy, so when I came across this L'oreal Primer I thought it may work in a similar way. The great thing about this product is that you can use it as a primer before your foundation, mix a small amount with your foundation to add some glow and sheer it out, or even apply a tiny amount after foundation on the high points of your face as a highlighter. It is silvery-white with a pearlescent finish. To see a photo of me wearing it see this post - link.

Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick in Asia
I mentioned this lipstick in my Everyday Nude Lipsticks post - link, and it has been my go-to lipstick of the month. It is a brown-pink nude which is highly pigmented and lasts an impressive amount of time on the lips. I like this lipstick best when I blend it in to my lips with my finger to soften the colour. 

Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette
This was the palette that I decided to take with me on our trip to Berlin. It's travel friendly size and range of six neutral easy to wear matte shades make it a perfect holiday companion. It's a fantastic multi-tasker as the dark brown is also a great eyebrow shade and the matte black works really well as an eyeliner. 

MAC 217 Brush
For so long I tried to convince myself that I did not need this brush, but I finally asked for it for my birthday at the end of December. I was so excited when my mum gave it to me and I have used it for every single eyeshadow application since (which is most days). It really does make application much easier! It picks up the perfect amount of product and blends shadows together effortlessly. I must confess that it is totally worth the hype and I refuse to ever be parted with this brush. 

What were your favourite products in the month of February? 

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Saturday, 1 March 2014

My Travel Makeup Bag - City Break


This week my hubby and I dashed off for a lovely city break to Berlin (a trip I booked as a surprise for his birthday) so I thought I would share with you the products that I decided to take with me.

I'm sure some of these items will be of no surprise as my travel makeup bag has a lot of trusty favourites but I also threw in a couple of newbies and a bold red lip in case of any fancy evenings out.


Base

For base products I decided to take my new L'oreal Lumi Magique Primer which I am currently loving to add a healthy glow to my complexion. For foundation I chose another newbie, the Revlon ColourStay Foundation for Combination/Oily Skin in Ivory (as a few blogs I read suggested that this was actually better for dry skin than the dry skin formula version). I had pretty high expectations for this foundation based on the reviews I had read and I haven't been disappointed. It is a light-weight medium coverage foundation which leaves a surprisingly dewy finish (full review coming soon).

For concealer I am still relying on a mixture of the Maybelline SuperStay 24hr Concealer in shade 2 and the Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer in Fair for a good colour match and long lasting consistency. For powder emergencies I took my Clinique Redness Solutions Powder and to add a healthy pink flush to the cheeks I used my Stila Convertible Colour in Lilium

Eyes

No surprises here but my mascara pick was the Maybelline Volum' Express The Rocket Waterproof, I have actually re-purchased The Falsies for when this runs out though. I had a really hard time choosing which eyeshadow palette to take but my trusty Naked Basics Palette is ideal for travel and can create a number of neutral eye looks easily. I also threw in my Maybelline Colour Tattoo in On and On Bronze for a super quick eye choice. I also picked two of the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencils in West and Black Market and my Maybelline Master Precise Liquid Liner for a more dramatic look. I forgot to photograph it but I also took my Une Eyebrow Pencil in B05 for my brows.


Lips

For lips I took the lipsticks that were hiding at the bottom of my handbag which were MAC Patisserie, the Revlon Lip Butter in Pink Truffle and the Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick in Asia (see this post for swatches). For my red lipstick choice I took MAC Viva Glam I a gorgeous classic matte red. The hubby and I shared a pretty small suitcase and I didn't have space for many evening outfits so I was relying on this red lipstick to create a very quick and easy dressed up look and I paired it with the Rimmel Exaggerate Lipliner in Red Diva. 


What are your favourite products to take when you go on holiday?

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