Saturday, 22 November 2014

Sample Saturday - Finding Samples And A Mini Review Of The Garnier Body Oil Beauty Oil Infused Nourishing Lotion

Apologies for the lack of posts this week but I'm back with another Sample Saturday post. Over the last few weeks I've been sorting out all of my samples sachets and tubes and you'd be surprised at just how many duplicates I've accumulated.

I don't know about you but I'm much more likely to buy a product if I've had the chance to at least try it out first. Thankfully that's something that more and more brands and companies now seem to be recognising, and it's now easier than ever before to obtain samples and trial sized products.

Probably the best way to pick up high end samples is to brave the make up counter, but there are other ways. I'm a huge believe in signing up to online mailing lists, yes you might get a bit of junk mail, and junk email but every now and then you might get a little surprise through the post. GWP's - Gifts with purchase, and shopping online are also good ways to pick up samples but perhaps my favourite way is to buy magazines.

Despite my love of blogs and online media, I don't think my love for glossy magazines will ever end. Cover mounted gifts are often a great source of samples, and trial sizes, and of course how could we ever ignore the scratch and sniff perfume samples, and the occasional sample sachet.

Judging by the amount of sample sachets that I've accumulated from magazines, it still must be a good way for brands to get their new products out there into the public domain. During my recent search I found 3, 10ml sachets of  Garnier Body Oil Beauty Oil Infused Nourishing Lotion, all of which came from various glossy magazines.

Introduced earlier this year, this nourishing body lotion contains real essential oils and extracts of Argan, Macadamia, Almond, Shea Butter and Rose.

It is pale yellow in colour, and has quite a creamy texture for a lotion. It's very easy to massage into the skin, and it has pleasant, smooth slip, feeling on the skin.

This lotion takes a minute or two to absorb into the skin completely but afterwards the skin feels smooth and.hydrated, and not at all greasy or sticky.

I don't think my camera has really captured it here, but this product gives you skin a really healthy sheen. My skin not only looked better and healthier immediately after application but it actually felt moisturised for a good few hours afterwards.

Like any product though it does have a couple of negatives. Despite the inclusion of both natural oils and extracts, it still contains mineral oil so if your sensitive or you choose to avoid it. this product probably isn't for you.

My biggest issue though is with the smell, which is quite strong. I get a little bit of the rose but I also get quite a bit of almost woody, nutty, warmth. I do quite like the smell but it is quite strong and it does have a tendency to linger on the skin, so it could potentially interfere with perfume or fragrance. The scent isn't too girly though, so this could potentially be a unisex product

I know it's hard to judge after just a week or so's use but I have to say I'm pretty impressed with this product and it's something that I would potentially recommend. If you have drier skin, don't let the word lotion put you off, for me it's as affective as a thick, body cream but with a lighter lotion consistency. It feels nice on the skin, and the skin looks smoother, healthier and more hydrated almost as soon as it's applied. The scent could be an issue for some but since I've predominantly be using this product at night after a bath or shower, it hasn't really bothered me x

The Garnier Body Oil Beauty Oil Infused Nourishing Lotion is available in both a 250ml bottle which retails at around £4.99, and in a 400ml bottle which retails at around £6.99. It's available from various retailers including both Boots, and Superdrug. If your quick though and you want a bargain this product is currently on special offer in Tesco with the 400ml bottle retailing at £4.99 and the 250ml bottle retailing at just £3.32. Are you a body product junkie like me? Leave me a comment and let me know x

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

An Iconic Nails Of The Day - Chanel - Rouge Noir

Although I'm not the biggest fan of Chanel nail polishes, it's hard to argue with the popularity of their iconic shade 18 Rouge Noir. Created in 1994, Rouge Noir, or Vamp as it's known in the USA, became one of the first "it" nail colours. Propelled to stardom after it's appearance on Uma Thurman's nails in Pulp Fiction, it's been worn by the likes of Madonna, and it even has it own Wikipedia article.

Although it's popularity has waned over the years, it still continues to be one of Chanel's best sellers, and by the year 2000, it was the fifth best selling nail polish of all time - not a bad statistic when you consider that it only been on sale for 5 years.

The reason for it's popularity is pretty obvious, Rouge Noir, literally translates as red, black, and that's a perfect description. This deep, dark red wine shade is both wearable and sophisticated, no matter how long or how short your nails are. I have to say I actually prefer this type of colour on shorter nails. Uma Thurman, proved that you don't need long nails to make an impact with your manicure. 

I've had this bottle for quite a while now, which may explain why I found the polish so thick but it still applies pretty well, and with careful application one coat would produce a full coverage deep red. Add the second coat like I have here, and you get the true, black, red, glossy finish. When it comes to wear time, unfortunately me and Chanel just don't get on and this lasted just 2 days without a top coat before it started chipping.

The colour of this polish deserves it's iconic status. It's that perfect, femme fatale, sophisticated with a hint of drama, shade. It's perfect for this time of year and it says something when similar shades, are referred to as Rouge Noir a likes. I love the colour but again the formula does nothing for me. I have had this bottle quite a while now but from day 1 it just didn't last on my nails. A good top coat will of course stretch of the wear time a bit, but for the price I'm not sure it's worth it. Chanel Le Vernis Nail Colour in 18 Rouge Noir retails at £18 for a 13ml bottle. It's not always the easiest shade to get hold of but it's currently in stock online at Debenhams, Boots, and House Of Fraser x Is this polish a hit or a miss for you? Leave me a comment and let me know x 

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Sample Saturday - L'Occitane Shea Butter Zesty Lime Hand Cream

After a mini hiatus Sample Saturday returns with a post on something that I've been loving lately and using lots. I'm going to be honest and say that this product isn't technically a sample, but the full size is small enough to justify it's inclusion.

I'm a huge fan of L'Occitane hand creams and over the years I've probably tried most of their fragrances and textures. Alongside the permanent Rose, Lavender, Verbena, Cherry Blossom, and the original 20% Shea Butter varieties, they also produce yearly limited edition fragrances. The limited fragrances are always worth a look and a sniff and over the last few years they've produced fragrances such as Honey and Lemon, Sweet Violet and Vanilla.

L'Occitane hand creams seem to be one of the most popular magazine free gifts at the moment and last months Marie Claire came with a free 30ml tube. There were several varieties to choose from but I went for one of their newer fragrances Zesty Lime.

Like every other hand cream in the L'Occitane range, Zesty Lime comes in the traditional paint tube style packaging. Some of the larger sizes come in metal tubes which can be quite hard to squeeze but this one feels a lot more flexible and appears to be made of plastic.

This cream, like the original and best seller, contains 20% Shea Butter. The Shea Butter gives this hand cream, a rich, thick and creamy texture.

Despite the thickness it has a nice slip and it's very easy to massage it into the skin.

It does take a couple of minutes to sink in but because of the luxurious texture that's only to be expected. Once it's fully absorbed the hands are left looking fresher and brighter, and feeling soft, smooth and protected.

This hand cream is easily as good as the Original 20% Shea Butter one but for me it has a slightly bigger selling point - the scent! 

Described as Zesty Lime, you would expect it to have a citrus aroma, and it does, but Zesty Lime for me just doesn't do it justice Yes you do get fresh lime, but I also got fabulous lemon and grapefruit notes. If you like L'Occitane's Verbena fragrance you'll probably like this too. Zesty Lime is slightly warmer, and not quite as strong or fresh as Verbena but it definitely has similar citrus notes.

I know I'm a fan of L'Occitane hand cream in general but this one is probably one of my new favourites, due to both the texture and the scent.

Because of the texture Zesty Lime is perfect for this time of year when your hands get sore and chapped because of the cold weather. The texture also makes it an ideal night time product, just slather some on your hands and pop on a pair of cotton gloves, and in the morning your hands will be silky soft.

I guess there is only one real drawback with this product, and that's the size in comparison to the price. I love L'Occitane but their products aren't cheap. L'Occitane Shea Butter Zesty Lime Hand Cream comes in a 30ml tube and retails at a pretty scary £8! Okay you don't need a lot so the tube will last a while but that isn't cheap for just 30ml. Unfortunately it's limited edition and that's the only size tube it comes in,so you pays your money, you makes your choice I guess. Alas I can't just justify a repurchase of this particular one at the moment but I will definitely continue to buy L'Occitane hand creams in the future, or at least magazines that come with them as free gifts.

L'Occitane Shea Butter Zesty Lime Hand Cream retails at £8 for 30ml, and is available from selected L'Occitane stockists, L'Occitane standalone boutiques, and from the official L'Occitane website. Are you a L'Occitane fan? Let me know below x 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Foodie Friday - Pimped Up Gluten Free Macaroni Cheese

Macaroni Cheese is probably one of the worlds favourite comfort foods, and it's easy to see why. You've got protein, and carbs in one easy to eat and easy to make meal. One of the problems of eating a predominantly wheat and gluten free diet is the lack of variety. Go into any supermarket and your overwhelmed by the varieties and shapes of pasta on display. Look down the free from aisle though and your lucky to see 3 or 4 varieties, spaghetti, fusilli, shells, and maybe lasagne if your lucky

Yes, I know you can make macaroni cheese with other pasta shapes but its not really the same. Thankfully things are changing - Amy's Kitchen produce a very, tasty gluten free, frozen macaroni cheese, and Heinz have now brought out a small free from pasta line which includes, drum roll, macaroni.

To the best of my knowledge it's only available in Asda and Morrisons but it's worth tracking down for that authentic macaroni cheese. This is my slightly pimped up version but you can make it as basic or as complicated as you like

Pimped Up Gluten Free Macaroni Cheese

500g Macaroni
100g Butter
100g Plain Flour
1 Pint Milk
1 tsp Mustard (Optional)
200g Grated Cheese
Salt and Pepper To Taste
Ham, or Chorizo, or Salami or Roasted Peppers, or Sun Dried Tomatoes, or Caramelised Onions

For The Topping 

2 Sliced Bread
1 Clove Garlic
150g Grated Cheese

1. Cook your pasta as per the packet instructions. I'm using a full bag of Heinz Gluten Free Macaroni.

2. Now it's time to make your topping, put your bread and your peeled garlic clove into a food processor,

and zap until you have breadcrumbs. Then mix in your grated cheese and set aside

3. Preheat your oven to about 180 C Cheese sauce time - there are lots of different ways to make this but the easiest way and the way that seems to work best with gluten free flour is this one. Put your milk, butter and flour into a large pan over a medium heat and keep stirring.

It will take a little while but it will start to thicken eventually. When your sauce starts to coat your spoon or whisk, add your mustard - I'm using smooth English mustard here but you can use what you like or leave it out.

Then add you grated cheese, I'm using a combination of Red Leicester and Mature Cheddar, and continue to stir until your sauce is thick and bubbling, then season to taste.

4. Then drain your pasta

and put it back in the pan, then add your vegetables, ham or chorizo. I'm using cooked Quorn Chorizo sausage which vegetarian and yummy! Then add your cheese sauce, reserving a little for later, and stir everything together.

5. Pour your pasta and sauce into a large baking dish, I'm using my lasagne dish here, and pour the remaining cheese sauce over the top

Finally sprinkle your pasta evenly with your breadcrumb mix, and bake for about 25 minutes

6.After 25 minutes or so your breadcrumbs should by golden and your macaroni cheese should be hot and bubbly.

It's best served warm so leave it to cool for a moment or to before serving.

This recipe will easily serve 6 people alongside a salad, or you can do what we did and keep it in the fridge, and reheat it the next day, either in the oven of the microwave

Obviously you can just make a plain macaroni cheese with no topping and no additions but I like the different flavour additions to what can be a rather bland dish. You can obviously add what ever you have in the fridge and whatever flavours that you like, but I like the heat that the chorizo brings. I also think that this would really nice with some of the vegetable additions that I've suggested, especially the caramelised onions.

Are you a macaroni cheese fan? Let me know in the comments x Happy Eating x

I'm Going Bearfaced For Children In Need

I know charity is a personal thing but if you're in the UK, Children In Need is something that you just can't ignore. Since 1980, this yearly event had raised over £600 million for disadvantaged and disabled children and young people throughout the UK. This years event will be live on BBC 1 from 7pm and as per usual you can expect all kinds of comedy, music and mayhem, and stories that are bound to make you cry.

Like every year Children In Need has teamed up with several retailers including Greggs, Asda, and Boots to produce a wide range of fund raising merchandise from Pudsey ears, to wristbands, and for the third year running paw print transfers.

This year as part of their 11 year partnership with Boots, Children In Need are encouraging women to go #BearFaced and to sacrifice make up for one day, and instead wear a Pudsey paw print. 

In support of the campaign several famous women including Sophie Ellis Bextor, Rochelle Humes, Michelle Keegan, and You Tube's very own Tanya Burr have gone bear faced for a photo shoot with renowned photographer Rankin.

My selfie was taken by me, not Rankin, but I'm taking part and I've uploaded my #bearfaced picture to the BBC website.

I know it's a little bit late but you might still be able to get your hands on a fab, glittery paw print transfer of your own from Boots They're just £1 and at least 75p goes to Children In Need, if you don't manage to get one you can still text BEAR to 70701 to donate £1. To find out more about Children In Need, the work that they do, and other ways to donate please check out the official BBC Children In Need website. Thanks for reading x 

(Images Were Provided By PR, I Purchased My Own Paw Print And Was Not Given Any Form Of Compensation For Writing This Post)

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Experiencing The Gift Of Style With Paul Mitchell And Gary Hedley Salons

Although I've been a little bit safe lately when it comes to hair, I love experimenting with new styles, and I love finding out more about new brands and new products. I guess that's why I love blogging so much it's given me so many opportunities to try new things. One such opportunity came last night when I was lucky enough to attend the Paul Mitchell "The Gift Of Style" event in Newcastle city centre.

Founded in 1980 Paul Mitchell is probably the quintessential, professional, salon brand. With a clear animal friendly policy since day 1, they are also heavily involved in charitable organisations, and community events and programmes throughout the world. They now retail in over 30 countries, and produce a wide range of hair products ranging from shampoos, and conditioners to styling products, and styling tools.

The theme of yesterday's event was The Gift Of Style and it was to celebrate the launch of the Paul Mitchell Christmas gift selection. There are gifts in the range to suit all price points, and all hair and beauty concerns. Prices start at just £4.75 for a mini product from the range, going up to £99.95 for a Paul Mitchell Neuro Smooth Hairdryer. Certain Paul Mitchell salons also sell a range of New CID Cosmetics so you can cover most of your beauty needs in the one place.

There really is something for everyone, but if I had to choose, I would probably go for one of the Art Of Style Gift Sets. They are 9 sets to choose from depending on your hair needs and hair type. Each one comes in a quirky, reusable toiletry bag designed by Australian fashion illustrator Sarah Hankinson, who has previously worked with Harrods, Harper's Bazaar and Vogue. The sets contain between 2 and 3 products each and retail at £18 each.

Paul Mitchell at it's heart is a professional, salon brand, so it isn't one of those brands that you can buy in your local store or supermarket. It is stocked in a few retailers including Look Fantastic, but by and large they retail in professional hair salons, that use their products on a daily basis on paying customers.

Yesterday's event was held at one such salon, and one that's proud to be a Paul Mitchell Signature Salon - Gary Hedley Hair. Starting in 1995 with their original salon in Newcastle's prestigious Eldon Garden shopping centre, they now have a further two salons, one in the small village of Burnopfield, and another one in Mosley Street, right at the heart of Newcastle city centre, and within easy walking distance of the famous Bigg Market and the Theatre Royal.

A previous Paul Mitchell event took place in the Eldon Garden branch but this time the focus was their bright and airy, Mosley Street salon. The weather last night wasn't the best - it was cold and windy so me and the lovely Becca chanced it and turned up a little bit early. The staff couldn't have made us more welcome. our coats were taken and we were offered drinks, and ushered into our gowns and our comfy salon chairs.

Since the theme of the event was Christmas and the festive season, we were treated to a dry style with a party, glamour theme. Gareth my stylist was lovely and so easy to talk to. He asked my a bit about my hair, and what I normally do for special occasions. Curls and waves are normally my thing, so we decided to go for a glamorous up do. I love up do's but because of my poor muscle strength I usually can't do them myself so I took advantage of Gareth's expertise.

As well as showcasing his own talents it was also a good opportunity for me to experience some of the Paul Mitchell for myself. He only used two for my dry style, a hairspray, apologies I forget which one, and the Paul Mitchell Dry Wash. I've used dry shampoos for years now and whilst I've liked them a lot, none of them have made me go WOW like this one did! I will be doing a full review of this in due course but on my first impression it blows everything else out of the water.

So using products, heat tools, brushes, bands, and grips, he twisted, twirled, and teased my hair into the most fabulous up do. My hair is quite thick but he managed to coax it into a fabulous twisted bun, that looked fabulous and most importantly felt really secure, and stayed where it was put. I loved it, it was such a glam look and so different from anything that I would normally do x

After I'd been primped and preened it was time to circulate and enjoy some of the salons fabulous hospitality. A topless waiter! brought round orange juice, Prosecco, canapes, sushi and mini mince pies and I had a good opportunity to look at the kits and the products, and have a natter with some other bloggers.

We also had the opportunity to talk to some Paul Mitchell representatives and some of the Gary Hedley staff. Unfortunately Gary Hedley himself, was unable to attend the event due to illness, but his friendly, and talented staff are an obvious credit to him.

At the end of the event we were given a really generous goodie bag containing an assortment of Paul Mitchell products and a fabulous New CID Cosmetics I-Gloss in Tickled Pink. all of which I will be reviewing for you in due course x

I would like to thank everybody from Gary Hedley and Paul Mitchell from a lovely evening, and I'd particularly like to thank Gareth for my hairdo x

To find out more about Paul Mitchell products and salons please have a look at their UK website. You can also buy Paul Mitchell products from various retailers including Look Fantastic and Hairtrade.

If you're in the North East and you're looking for a new hairdresser or even just somewhere different for a one off special style, then I would definitely recommend you check out Gary Hedley Salons, you can find more details including locations and guide prices on their website.

Have you ever tried Paul Mitchell products before? Leave me a comment and let me know your favourites x

Sunday, 9 November 2014

A Review Of The Make Up Revolution Blush And Contour Palette in Hot Spice And A Giveaway

I'm never a one to pass up on an offer or a bargain so it's no surprise that I took advantage of the current 3 for 2 on all make up offer at Superdrug. I was good though, and bought a few things for presents and so on and just one little thing for me.

I may have just got one thing, but it was something that I'd wanted for a long, long time the Make Up Revolution. Blush And Contour Palette in Hot Spice. 

When these palettes were originally released I was torn between Sugar and Spice, and Hot Spice but in the end I went for the more pink, toned Sugar and Spice. You can read my full review here but suffice to say I was very impressed, the colours and the pigmentation are superb and the blushers are silky soft to the touch. I love it so much that it was inevitable that I end up buying Hot Spice.

Where as Sugar and Spice is quite pink toned, Hot Spice is all about the peaches, the corals and the neutrals. It contains 6 blush shades, a combination of shimmers and mattes, and 2 merged, baked blushers which are packed full of shimmer and sparkle.

These blushers are super soft and silky but not at all chalky and as you would expect from this brand the pigmentation is superb.

I once read something that said you should only wear blushers that are the colour that you naturally blush, well I think that's rubbish. The lovely peaches, corals and neutrals in this palette give the skin a real warmth and a real glow. Peach blushers are ideal for counteracting redness in the skin so this palette will fab for my rosy cheeks in the winter months. The blushers in this palette do look quite bright and because of the intense pigmentation I can understand why you may be apprehensive but don't be - use a light hand, and blend them in for a really pretty look.

Buy both this and Sugar and Spice, and you have pretty much every blush colour that you could ever want for less than £12. I know I said it last time but I just can't believe that these palettes are only £6! You're paying less than £1 for each blush which is pretty amazing when you consider the quality and the pigmentation. If you don't believe me check them out for yourself. You can buy Make Up Revolution products from either their own website and from the Superdrug website and in selected Superdrug stores x 

I'm a nice person though and thanks to the 3 for 2 offer I also picked up an extra palette for one of you lucky readers. So to win your very own Make Up Revolution Ultra Blush And Contour Palette in Hot Spice, simply fill in the Rafflecopter form below x 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open until the 8th December and it's open internationally x Please remember that my comments are moderated so your comments may not appear straight away x Thanks for reading and if you have any questions please leave me a comment