Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New Year - Reflections And Looking Forward

I'm going to make no apologies for this statement but goodbye 2015 and good riddance. This year has a tough one for so many people that I know, and so many people that I love, and for a lot of people it's been a one to forget. It's been a hard one in particular health wise for both me, and some close family members but a new year is about to begin and we're all still here and we're all still fighting.

I'm not a one for making new years resolutions really but every year I always like to make a list of my hope, dreams and aims for the year, and this year I thought I'd share them with you.

1. Family

My most important aim of 2016 is to spend more time with, and to appreciate my family a lot more than I already do. I've had a few close shaves this year, and it's made me realise that life is short, and you need to appreciate and spend time with those you love whilst you have the chance. It's easy at times to yell at someone, or to make excuses not to see someone but next time, take a step back and think about it before you do it or before you speak, I know I will trying my hardest to do that in 2016.

2. Me - Health, Stress, Weight Loss, Love

I used to consider myself quite a selfish person but over the last 12 months I've realised that I spend an awful lot of time worrying and stressing about other people, If you care about someone that's a fact of life but I need to learn to take a step back and take care of myself for once. There is no point in worrying about other people to the detriment of your own health and that's what I need to remember. I went to CBT sessions and I was always told not to worry about things that might not happen and things that you can't control and that is something that I need to keep in mind in 2016.

I also need to listen to my body a little bit more - I need to take time outs from life occasionally and I need to realise that there is no need to feel guilty about doing it. I also need to learn to switch off the tv, put down the book, and go to bed, I've had a few early nights lately and I feel a lot better for it.

Something else that I plan to do in 2016 is learn to love myself just a little bit more - I probably say this every year, but on numerous occasions in 2015, I've experienced so much self loathing it's untrue. I need to accept myself for what I am - I'm not perfect but who is! It's so easy to compare yourself to other people especially online but where does it lead you - more self loathing and hatred - be you and love being you, is my new mantra. Other people have issues and problems too even if you can't always see them.

That said although I'm going to try and love myself no matter what my weight is getting me down a bit again so once the hellish tooth is removed (15th January at the moment) Healthy eating and weight loss will resume. I'm also going to try and do a bit of walking, and maybe a bit more yoga to try and untangle my achy muscles.

3. Blogging, You Tube And Social Media

Blogging has been a constant frustration to me in 2015 - I didn't post as often as I would have liked, my content waned at times, and I was left feeling mehhh on more than one occasion. I felt guilty at times about it, and I know I shouldn't have done but I did. In 2016 I'm going to try and develop a whole new attitude to blogging - first of all I want to regain the blogging love, I want to enjoy posting and writing again, and feel passionate about my blog. I want to get more organised, develop a regular positing schedule, mix things up a bit and provide you my loyal readers with quality, and individual content. Above all though I want to avoid comparing myself to others - it's hard not to but we're all individuals, we all write differently and about different things, and we really shouldn't judge ourselves by somebody elses achievements and standards. Again I want to thank you all for your support in 2015 and if there is anything specifically you would like to see on the blog in 2016, leave me a comment and let me know x

You Tube wise I've been pleased with my progression in 2015, I've been uploading more regularly and I've really enjoyed doing it so that's something that I'm aiming to do more of in 2016. I'm also going to mixing my content up a bit and trying some different types of videos, so again let me know what you'd like to see x

I've had a love hate relationship with Twitter and Facebook in 2015, and that's something that will no doubt continue in 2016. Social media has at times stressed me out a lot over the last year, so whilst I'll continue to use it and at times enjoy it, I'm not going to stress about taking some time out. I've taken a few days off social media this year and I think it's done my the world of good. Don't be afraid to step away from twitter every now and then for your own sanity if nothing else.

4. Organisation, Clutter And Spending Less

This is something else that usually ends up on my list every year - I need to be more organised, and I need to sort out my crap. I'm untidy, badly organised, and flaky and it needs to stop. I intend to attack every drawer, wardrobe and cupboard that I own and  clear out what I don't need and I don't use!and I need to put things where I can find them! I also need to write things down so I remember them and as I've already said I need to be more organised blogging wise, and I need to remember to reply to my comments more regularly.

In order to prevent some of this crazy clutter that I always seem to accumulate, I also really need to cut down on the shopping, so that's another aim of 2016 to try really hard and only buy what I need, and I definitely need to stop buying so many beauty products, but more on that tomorrow.

Basically no matter what happens in 2016 I fully intend to make the best of it and be the best person that I can, 2015 has been a learning curve but it's one I'm happy to say goodbye too x  I'd like to wish you and yours a very Happy New Year and I really hope that 2016 is everything that you want it to be x

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

How To Make Your Wedding Or Everyday Manicure Last*

Although marriage isn't on the cards for me at the moment (or even ever!), chipped and peeling polish is the bane of my life. No matter what the brand, nail polish just never seems to last that long on my nails. I've tried different brands and different base coats but according to this article maybe it's the basics that I'm getting wrong..

How to Make Your Wedding Mani Last

Getting married requires a lot of primping with a manicure being on that list of things to do. However, if you get your manicure ahead of time, you run the risk of it not lasting until the wedding. However, with the following tips, you can get your mani to last through your wedding and the honeymoon.

Give Time to Dry

Nail polish takes a long time to dry, even if you think they are dry after a couple minutes. It takes about six to ten minutes for your nails to completely dry and harden. One of the most common mistakes with women is not giving their nails the ample time to fully harden before doing tasks, causing the polish to chip.

Unfortunately, this also means that you do not have the ability to get on your phone, even if it is to make a phone call, text your friends, or check social media. The smallest piece of dirt brushing your nails before they are completely dry will mess up the manicure. Even if you are at one of the best wedding venues in Surrey, stay inside while your nails dry.

Go Easy on Lotion

The number one rule about having nail polish applied is make sure your nails are completely clean and void of any residues. It is imperative to wipe your nails prior to applying polish with rubbing alcohol and then dry them completely. This will give you a clean surface to apply the polish to the nail. However, you also want to make sure that you do not heavily use lotion after having polish applied as well. The lotion will soften your nail, causing it to warp slightly. When it hardens again, it can cause the polish to chip. On the other hand, you want to consider using cuticle oil to keep your cuticles healthy and moist.

Use Thin Coats

Even if you are in a hurry, you want to make sure that you use thin coats on your nails. Thick coats may look darker, but they are more likely to chip. The best way to apply nail polish is applying one swipe in the middle and then use it to smooth on either side of the nail. Repeat this two more times so you have three very thin coats. Finally, don't skip the top coat, as it seals the polish and hardens the nail. This will leave you with a manicure that is free of chips or smudges.

Do Not Soak Your Hands

The worst thing you can do for your manicure is to let your nails get wet for extended periods of time. It is important to think of your nail like a sponge. Water and chemicals are extremely harmful for them. Water will cause your nails to expand and warp, and then they contract during the drying process. This will lead to your manicure chipping. When given the option, take a shower or keep your hands out of the water and always use gloves when washing dishes.

If you combine these tips with having your nails professionally done, you will maintain your manicure for days.

What do you think? Do you have any tips for making your nail polish last longer? Let me know x

*Sponsored Post

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

EcoTools Four Piece Beautiful Complexion Set - A Review For My Pure*

It's done, it's dusted and it's over with for another year. I hope you all had a fabulous Christmas I know I did, the highlight was spending time with my family - it's been a tough year and I'm eternally grateful that we we're all here to celebrate together x It goes without saying that I also got lots of lovely pressies and I am going to try and post a few what I got for Christmas videos, but thanks to a video camera meltdown, you might have to wait a few days for them never the less though I was truly spoilt and I'm so blessed to have such amazing friends and such a generous, loving family.

I got lots of lovely beauty goodies this year but something that I didn't get were make up brushes. I love my brushes but this year instead of asking for some as presents, I decided to treat myself to some new ones for one of December's My Pure reviews.

Thanks to My Pure, over the last 18 months or so EcoTools have probably became one of my favourite cosmetic brush brands, and for someone who has many brushes as I do that's definitely saying something  Created by actress and philanthropist Alicia Silverstone, the EcoTools range, is a range of ethical, and cruelty free make up brushes, and beauty accessories that do exactly what they promise. I've tried quite a few of their make up brushes now but for this festive review I thought I'd pick a set that would make a perfect gift either for yourself or for someone else, no matter what the season or the occasion.

The EcoTools 4 Piece Beautiful Complexion Set comes boxed in the familiar card, and acetate packaging that we're so used to but this set comes with a bit of a twist that makes it perfect for gifting 

Simply turn the box over and you're greeted with a ribbon and full, and easy instruction on how to turn the basic box, into a gift wrapped masterpiece, without the need for scissors, sticky tape, or wrapping paper, and there is even a space to write to and from - perfect for wrapping phobics like me!

Whilst the packaging does look a bit like stars and snowflakes, I think that this set could be gifted  ll year round. As nice as it is though, it's all about what's inside though and being EcoTools, it certainly doesn't disappoint.

The box contains 4 full sized complexion brushes. Each brush has the familiar bamboo handle, soft, synthetic, cruelty free bristles and a recycled aluminium ferrule. Some of the ferrules in the EcoTools, range are in a plain silver or copper tone but these ones are beautifully decorated with a turquoise, blue and yellow honeycomb and leaf design. The four brushes are designed to help you create that perfect, flawless face, and to do that you get a Mattifying Finish Brush, a Skin Perfecting Brush, an Eye Perfecting Brush and a Correcting Concealer Brush.

Mattifying Finish Brush

Despite the fact that it goes in and out of popularity, I love face powder. I have very shiny, (okay oily!) skin and I need a bit of powder to give that camera ready smooth finish. I love a nice, big powder brush and that's exactly what this is.

The natural coloured bristles seem to almost absorb the excess oil, and the softness of the bristles leave a silky, almost airbrushed dusting of powder. This is definitely a full face brush so if you just use a bit of powder say on your t-zone, then you'll need to use a lighter hand but if you use powder all over or if your using a mineral or powder foundation then this brush is ideal.

Skin Perfecting Brush 

The Skin Perfecting Brush is basically your base brush. Appearance wise it reminds me a lot of the similarly named Skin Perfecting BB/CC Brush (read my review here), It's almost identical but this one is probably just a touch fluffier.

It has the same angled head and it has exactly the same purpose. It's designed specifically to apply BB,and CC creams and tinted moisturisers but I've also used it to apply a light, liquid foundations.
It does the job, it blends nicely without too much streaking, and it's soft against the skin but it's firm enough to get in all of those tricky areas, around the mouth and the nose.I've used the other Skin Perfecting brush almost constantly since I got it and this is very, very similar, so I'm a very happy bunny to have a spare.
Eye Perfecting Brush

This brush is an interesting one and I have to  be honest and say I have nothing else like it in my collection. The Eye Perfecting Brush is specifically designed for applying under eye concealer. Normally I either use the brush provided with the product, my fingers or a normal flat concealer brush but this is something quite different.

This brush has quite a large, almost domed head. Initially I was sceptical, but the shape, and the feel of the bristles and the overall firmness of the brush, mean that it fits the contours of the eye perfectly, allowing full coverage,  and gentle blending, without dragging, leaving an almost airbrushed finish. I still like using my fingers but this is almost as good, and probably a bit more hygienic.

Correcting Concealer Brush

The final brush in the kit, is another unusual one and something else that I don't have in my collection. Yes I have plenty of concealer brushes but they either have a rounded or flat tip, this again is something completely different to me.

It has short, almost stubby bristles, and a slightly domed tip. The bristles are soft but again it has a firm feel. The shape of the brush enables you to place the concealer exactly where you need it, and the texture and shape of the brush allow for easy, blending and coverage exactly where you need it.

This brush has really surprised me and over the last couple of weeks it's been my go to concealer brush. I don't use a lot of concealer but the festive excesses are playing havoc with my skin, and I've used this brush an awful lot, and I've been really impressed with how it's performed with a wide variety of different textured concealers. This brush is now my go to concealer brush x 

Yet again EcoTools have come up trumps, this kit contains a selection of good quality brushes that do exactly what they say they do. The brushes are soft to the touch, yet firm enough to the do the job, and despite being used with liquid products, they are really easy to wash, with minimal shedding. This kit is ideal for creating the perfect, flawless base, and although I've already mentioned this quite a lot, some of the brushes really do create an almost airbrushed finish. I think that this kit would be ideal for either a make up beginner or for a make obsessive like me, it contains a good assortment of brushes and a few unusual ones that would be a welcome addition to any brush collection.

If you want to treat yourself or someone else, The EcoTools Four Piece Beautiful Complexion Set retails at £19.99 from My Pure. If you have any questions please let me know xx


Thursday, 24 December 2015

Marks And Spencer Beauty Advent - Days 13 - 24 And A Merry Christmas

It nearly here guys x It's nearly Christmas :) I'm wearing my new Garfield pj's, drinking a glass of mulled wine, and waiting for Santa! I just thought write a quick post giving you an update on the contents of days 13 to 24 of the Marks and Spencer Beauty Advent :)

Days 13 - 15

Day 13 - Mio Liquid Yoga Restorative Bath Soak - 53ml
Day 14 - Percy & Reed Volumising No Oil Oil - 30ml
Day 15 - Roger & Gallet Fleur Di Figuier Hand And Nail Balm - 30ml

Days 16 - 18

Day 16 - Rodial Dragons Blood Sculpting Gel - 15ml
Day 17 - Swell Hair Ultimate Volume Masque - 50ml
Day 18 - Crabtree & Evelyn La Source Moisturising Soap - 25g

Day 19 - 21

Day 19 - Marks & Spencer Autograph Ultra Shine Twist Up Lip Colour - Nude
Day 20 - L'Occitane Verbena Shower Gel - 75ml
Day 21 - Pixi Glow Tonic - 100ml

Day 22 - 24

Day 22 - REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial - 15ml
Day 23 - Stila Lip Glaze - 18 Sugar Plum -1.5ml
Day 24 - Morgan Taylor Nail Lacquer - Pretty Woman - 15ml

Again, there was a nice selection of products, I already love the Pixi Glow Tonic, the Percy & Reed No Oil Oil and the L'Occcitane shower gel, which is one of my mums favourites, but there were plenty of other things that I'm really looking forward to trying, including the Stila Lip Glaze, and my first Morgan Taylor nail polish,

All in all I'm pretty pleased with the contents of the calendar - There are a couple of things that I will probably pass on but since I love trying new things, this has given me the opportunity to try lots of new items and lots of new brands.

I'm really hoping that I get a few new beauty bits in my stocking in the morning but we'll have to wait and see what Santa brings x I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all of you that celebrate a very Merry Christmas, I hope you all have a wonderful day and even if you don't celebrate, I hope you all have a safe and happy Friday, and please remember that you are not alone x If you need someone to talk to or you need some help, please, please read this post from Kellie aka Big Fashionista x  Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas x 

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Festive Food - Cranberry And Ginger Tiffin

Although I've been a bit quiet with the Foodie Friday posts this year I thought I'd make it up to you this Christmas with a special recipe post. I love sweet things all year round but especially at Christmas and ever since I was tiny me and my mum have always made our own sweets and treats for the festive season, and whilst my Cranberry And Ginger Tiffin is a fairly new addition, for me it really sums up Christmas in just one mouthful.

This fabulous combination of creamy white chocolate, crunchy biscuit, nuts and dried fruit is fabulous at this time of year with a cup of coffee, or a mug of hot chocolate, and it will also make a great quick and easy home made gift

Cranberry And Ginger Tiffin

200g Ginger Biscuits
60g Dried Cranberries
60g Crystallised Ginger 
50g Pecan Nuts
125g Butter
2 Tbsp Golden Syrup
700g White Chocolate

To Decorate 

Extra Crystallised Ginger 
Edible Glitter, Sugar Stars, Sprinkles Or Whatever You Like 

1. Add you cranberries to a large mixing bow

2.  Using a rolling pin crush your ginger biscuits, you want some crumbs and some chunky bits. I'm using gluten free stem ginger cookies here for a bit of extra bite but you can use ginger snaps, ginger nuts or what ever you like. You could also use my Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookie recipe which can find here

3.Then roughly chop your pecan nuts and then add them to bowl,

and then finely chop the crystallised ginger and add that to the bowl and give it a stir

4. Chop 500g of the white chocolate and add it to another mixing bowl with the butter and syrup. Then melt it either over a pan of boiling water or in the microwave, till the butter, the syrup, and the chocolate are smooth and combined.

5. Then add the melted chocolate mixture to your dry ingredients and give it a good stir, the mixture might be a bit dry but don't worry about it.

6. Next grease and line a square brownie tin, or do what I do and use a silicone pan, and pour your mixture in, spread it out and smooth it down the best you can x 

7. Now to hold it all together you need to put the remaining 200g of white chocolate into another mixing bowl and by using a bain marie, or the microwave heat it slowly until it's all melted.

8. Pour your melted chocolate over the top of your tiffin, and spread it out till it's even and the top is completely covered. While the chocolate is still soft top your tiffin with some more finely chopped ginger, and whatever sprinkles and decorations you like. Ever the queen of subtle here I used edible glitter, and gold sugar stars, and sugar gingerbread men but you can use whatever you like. Then put it in a cool place or the fridge if you have room for a few hours until it set hard.

9. Then tip it out and using a sharp knife chop it into squares (You might find it easier to turn it upside down to cut it)

and either package it into cellophane bags for gifts, or put into a tin lined with greaseproof paper, and enjoy!

Unfortunately because of  my stupid teeth and the chewiness and the nuts I don't know how much of this I'm going to be able to eat but I can assure you that it's absolutely gorgeous. White chocolate can be a little bit sickly but in this case the tartness of the cranberries and the heat of the ginger seem to temper it down a bit. If you're still not a white chocolate fan though you could easily make this with either a milk or a dark chocolate or from a combination of the two. This mix of fruit, nuts and flavours are perfect for Christmas but again you could switch it up a bit depending on what you have in or what you like. Please let me know if you give this a try x I'd love to hear how you get one x Thanks for reading and happy eating xx 

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Lou On Ebay Shopping And A Small Haul

It's been a little while since I've posted a haul, well it hasn't really, but for me 3 weeks is a long time! I actually had 3 haul posts planned before Christmas but at the risk of sounding like a broken record again, life got in the way! - time management is definitely something I need to work on in 2016! It was mainly beauty so no doubt you'll see some of the items in due course but I've decided to just leave it, sweep the slate clean and start afresh with lots of new hauls in 2016.

That said, I am going to make a little exception and show you a few things that I've bought recently from ebay. I love ebay - even though I'm no longer an active seller, I can always find something to buy, and it's one of my go to places to find unusual, and hard to find gifts.

Normally my ebay festive shopping goes without a hitch, I order in plenty of time, the goods arrive and I'm happy, this year though has been a bit if a fail. Despite ordering in plenty of time I'm still waiting for 2 parcels, and 3 have already been declared missing and I've received refunds from the sellers. It's bad enough when your buyiing something for yourself, but when it;s for a gift it's doubly annoying!

Never mind I've still managed to get a few pressies from ebay this year that I know my recipents will love so it isn't all bad. I also bought myself a few things that I want to share with you x

Although I'm a little bit late this year, last night I made my bed and put on my festive bedding. I don't know when the trend for festive duvet sets started but it's definitely one that I embrace. My set is just a grey and white, Nordic feel, heart and snowflake design - it's not as in your face as some I've seen but I like it's more simplistic, feel and it goes nicely with my room.

I have a few tonal cushions already but I fancied a festive cushion to coordinate with my duvet set and this one fits the bill perfectly.

It's made of a slightly, rustic, textured feel fabric, and it features a navy blue, natural and grey deer (or elk) and butterfly design. Despite the deer I don't think that this cushion is that christmassy so I might be able to get away with it throughout the winter at least. I know that it probably isn't much use for this year but this cushion was just £2.77 including postage from this seller,

Sticking with the Christmas theme I also bought myself this silver tone, stretch, charm bracelet

I'm a huge fan of Dutch fashion jewellery brand, Bibi Bijoux but their items are pretty expensive for what they are. This British ebay seller mandymax1971 though, makes jewellery in a very similar style. I've saved a lot of her items to my wishlist but this bracelet was a must have for the festive season. It isn't so crazily festive that you couldn't wear it all year round but it has a definite Christmas feel and features an angel, a tinkling bell and several star charms.It was just £3.49 plus 99p for UK standard delivery from North East based seller mandymax1971. I definitely want at least one of her necklaces and some more of her bracelets - the charms and quality are very similar to Bibi Bijoux only at a tiny fraction of the price.

I know I've had quire a few new followers late and something that you'll learn is that I'm pretty obsessed with jewellery - I love the stuff, I love expensive pieces as much as the next person but I'm always on the look out for bargains and if your the same ebay is definitely the place to shop.

One of my favourite semi- precious gemstones has to be Tigers Eye, I love the warm brown, and honey tones, and love the individuality of each of stone. I have quite a few pieces in my collection already, ranging from delicate sterling silver pendants, to huge chunky, necklaces, and bracelets, but up until recently I didn't have any earrings. Although I love dangly bold earrings, on a day to day basis and normally just go for a small hoop or a stud, so these ones fit the bill perfectly.

Their just a small oval shaped, tigers eye stone set into a small silver plated stud. They were exactly what I'd been looking for and at just £1.99 with £1.75 postage from this seller in India, I think that they were pretty reasonable. I bought a couple of other things from the same seller from Mummy Lou and I have to say I was really impressed with both the quality, and the delivery times.

These earrings are quite understated and quite classic but the other pair that I picked up recently have a funkier, modern feel.

These fashion jewelley earrings have a retro, geometric style, that immediately appealed to my hipper side. Basically what they are is a twisted, gold tone circle with lies flat against the ear, and dangling from it is a series of gold tone rings, and 3 monochrome, rectangular charms. These earrings were just 99p including postage from this seller. They have a nice lightweight feel in the ears, and they have that nice tinkle when you move your ears - a little bit like sleigh bells ;)

My final purchase isn't home or jewellery related, it is in fact beauty related. I must say I am careful about what beauty products I buy on ebay as I've been duped in the past, but I do buy the occasional Asian beauty product and I sometimes buy designer inspired make up brushes.

When I first saw these toothbrush / paddle brush type make up brushes I have to admit like most of the beauty community, I was intrigued - were they just a gimmick? did they work? hmm, as intrigued as I was though I wasn't willing to spend MAC's prices. So like a lot of things I just forgot about it, until a month or so ago when I was looking for another brush brand dupe and I saw this one.

I haven't tried it yet and I'm not 100% sure what it's for but all I can say at the moment it that it feels super soft, and silky on the skin. I'm going to do a little bit of research before I give it a go, so if any of you have idea how to use it then please let me know x I paid just £1.10 including postage for it from this seller x

So that was my latest haul and probably my last proper haul of 2015. I can't help thinking of the things that didn't arrive but I'm pretty happy with my ebay purchases and the things that I've bought for others and I got my refunds so I can't really complain x Have you bought anything interesting from ebay lately? Leave me a comment and let me know, and if you've done a post or a video link me up xx

Monday, 21 December 2015

Molton Brown Festive Frankincense & Allspice Fine Liquid Hand Wash*

You know how it is, you spend ages waiting for something and then it just seems to sneak up on you at the last minute. A few weeks ago it seemed like ages till Christmas but now it's only 4 days away and I still have way too much to do - I have to blog, I have people to see, shopping to do, and presents to wrap, and I'm running out of time!

When it comes to blogging, life really is getting in the way at the moment, and instead of hunkering down and getting some posts up, on Saturday I ended up doing something else. I'm not going to worry about it though, there's enough stress around at the moment as it is, without throwing a bit of blogger guilt in as well - I'm just going to do my best to catch up and post as often as I can x  So here it is better late, than never, a little, belated Molton Brown review x 

Although I've fallen in and out of love with British brand Molton Brown more than once over the years, it's a brand that every now and then, I just keep coming back to. Over the years they've flirted with skincare and make up but now they're focusing on the products that made them famous - bath, shower and body care. They team high quality, natural ingredients, with simple, minimalist and often copied packaging, to produce an aspirational product, that brings a touch of luxury and sophistication into your home

Personally speaking I'd love anything from Molton Brown in my stocking, but something that I think makes a lovely gift at this time of year is a hand wash. Admittedly I'm slightly obsessed with hand washes and soaps but they make a really nice, non offensive present for anyone of any age, and unlike a lot of presents, you can pretty much guarantee that they will get used

Whilst Molton Brown Festive Frankincense & Allspice Fine Liquid Hands Wash, isn't aimed solely at men, I think that's it's the perfect pressie for a house proud young man, or a man that loves his smellies. 

A hand wash was probably one of the first Molton Brown product that I ever used, and I can still remember the fragrance and the mass of creamy bubbles that it produced. There are several permanent washes in the range but this one is specially for the festive season.

Crammed full of vetiver, frankincense, cedar wood and all spice, this hand wash, has a warm spicy scent, that combines all of those spicy festive scents that we know and love, with the warmth and deep woody notes of the frankincense and the vetiver.  Vetiver is an extract that used a lot in men's fragrance and that's exactly what this hand wash reminds me of - an expensive, wood, spicy, masculine scent. 

It does have a tendency to linger on the skin for quite a while, so this is definitely a hand wash to put in a main or maybe a guest bathroom. 

I think that this product would make a great gift for anyone that loves this type of fragrance. I personally think that it's a very male orientated scent, but fragrance is such a personal thing, and I'm sure a lot of women that I know would appreciate this one too x

The bottle I've got here is just a 30ml sample size  but the Molton Brown Festive Frankincense & Allspice Fine Liquid Hand Wash also comes in a 300ml bottle which retails at around £16 and in a special 75ml Hand Wash Bauble Bottle which retails at around £10. As well as their standalone stores and their website, you can also buy Molton Brown products in selected House Of Fraser, John Lewis and Boots, stores and online.


Thursday, 17 December 2015

Gary Cockerill - Simply Glamorous* - The Perfect Gift For A Make Up Lover

After a lot of contemplation around 4 years ago I eventually rook the plunge and bought myself an e-reader. It really has changed how I read, it's convenient and portable and a real must have if you're a speed reader like me. Although I'm now a e-reader convert though, in my opinion some books just need to be read in the original paper and ink format - cookery books, fashion tomes and of course beauty and make up manuals.

From the moment I was old enough to understand the concept of make up, I started collecting beauty books. Now I have a nice little collection of books dating back to the early 80's. Some of the make up was pretty scary in those days, but you can still pick up all sorts of make up tips, and they're also a great historical archive as to how make up has changed over the years. Although blogs and You Tube are now fabulous resources for learning about beauty and make up, beauty books still have a place in both the beauty industry and in this beauty junkies heart.

2015 has been a good year for beauty books, with a wide range of releases covering everything from general beauty tips and hacks, to step by step make up tutorials. There really has been something for everyone this year, and it goes without saying that I've made a few additions to my little collection.
One of the most recent additions to my shelves is Simply Glamorous by Gary Cockerill, which is published by Jacqui Small.

Photo credit 'Images from Simply Glamorous by Gary Cockerill, photography by Vikki Grant. Published by Jacqui Small (£25)'. 

Starting off as a coal miner, Gary Cockerill is largely a self taught make up artist,who is now one of the UK's most successful and in demand celebrity make up artists, who counts the likes of Kelly Brook, Martine McCutcheon, Jerry Hall, Isla Fisher, Katie Price, and David Beckham amongst his  celebrity clients His large body of work includes stage and screen work, editorial make up, events and print and visual advertising.

Cockerill is famous for his super, sexy glamorous make up style, and despite being as busy as he is with his celebrity clients, and the launch of his own colour collection which is planned for next year, he's still found the time to release his second book (the first was an autobiography), to not only showcase his own talent but to share his knowledge and teach us some of his favourite looks and techniques.

Gary Cockerill's philosophy is that "external beauty promotes inner confidence" and that's something that's evident throughout the book, it's all about making us look and feel confident and about how make up ,can make us make the best of ourselves. The book is divided into three sections - Eyes, Lips and Face and each section is full of hints, tips, beautiful photography, and make up tutorials for 15 different looks. As well as professional models Gary demonstrates on both family, and friends, and women of all ages and all skin tones.

Photo credit 'Images from Simply Glamorous by Gary Cockerill, photography by Vikki Grant. Published by Jacqui Small (£25)'. 

The first section is all about the Face, and as well as advice on skin health it contains tips on determining your own skin type, skin tone and face structure and shape. It also contains comprehensive advice on how to conceal, what foundation type to chose, and a section on blusher and bronzer, as well as information on how to prime the skin and a tutorial on one of the trends of the moment, - how to contour.

The Face chapter also contains 5 full detail, full face tutorials Barely There, Girl Next Door, Toffee And Cream, Sun Kissed Beauty and Timeless Beauty.

The next section is all about the Eyes, and as well as covering all the basics such as eyebrows, different shadow texture, eye shape, mascara and different shaped wands, false lashes and eyeliner application, Gary also highlights some of his all time favourite eye looks and provides another 5 stunning tutorials for all occasions, Sleek and Chic, Colour Rush, Showgirl, Precious Metal and Sex Kitten. It also contains a chapter all about Smoky Eyes which demonstrates 3 different smoky eye looks - a Sultry Smoky Eye, Bedroom Eyes, and Rock Chick Eyes.

Photo credit 'Images from Simply Glamorous by Gary Cockerill, photography by Vikki Grant. Published by Jacqui Small (£25)'.

The final section is all about the Lips, and again Gary gives us a lot of advice on determining and altering our lip shapes, as well as advice on different lip product textures, his own favourite lip colours, and how to wear colour, and both a classic red lip and a nude lip.

Photo credit 'Images from Simply Glamorous by Gary Cockerill, photography by Vikki Grant. Published by Jacqui Small (£25)'. 

The Lip section also includes another 5 full face tutorials, with the lips at heart including a Fairy Tale look, Pretty In Pink, the almost Marilyn Monroe esq, Bombshell look  that you can see below and another red lip look Glamour Puss.

Photo credit 'Images from Simply Glamorous by Gary Cockerill, photography by Vikki Grant. Published by Jacqui Small (£25)'. 

Simply Glamorous also features a section called One Face Four Ways, where four different looks are demonstrated on the one face. I love this small section because it helps to dispel the myth that only certain looks and shades suit certain people, The same Caucasian model wears everything from a pared down day look, to a full on dark lip, smokey eye look, it really shows that you can and should try different things an move out of your comfort zone

The final section of the book is little bit of a directory when Gary talks about the make up brushes that you need in your kit, and about some of the skincare, tools and make up products that he loves and that he uses in his kit Throughout the book he doesn't name brands he'll just say use a brown eyeshadow but here he talks about his favourite products, This is a really interesting page to read and it's fab if you want to try a new product or add something to your wishlist. The list features lots of different brands, and features products at all price points from Barry M and Bourjois, to Charlotte Tilbury, Chanel and Tom Ford.

Whilst I wouldn't say this book is necessarily for a complete beginner, it contains a lot of basics and information about creating some of the most popular looks, and some of the most popular techniques in make up. Every look that Gary creates is perfectly executed and well explained. This book is called Simply Glamorous and as you would expect there are a lot of dramatic, catwalk and party looks, but there are also a lot of easy glamorous and sophisticated day looks that anyone could achieve with a little bit of practise. I know from experience and from my mum's constant complaints that it's often hard buying presents for make up obsessives, you don't always know what they have or what to buy, so if you have a cosmetic junkie in your family or in your group of friends them I would definitely consider buying them this book. There is lots of information and tutorials, and the photographs are exquisite. This is a great coffee table book and it looks great but it's also something that people will use and learn something from  Simply Glamorous by Gary Cockerill is published by Jacqui Small in hardback and it currently has a recommended retail price of  £25. Are you a fan of beauty books? Let me know in the comments x