Saturday 31 October 2015

Essie - Braziliant And A Bit Of Halloween Nail Art

Happy Halloween x I hope you've had a thoroughly spooky day whatever you've been doing and I hope that tonight it equally scary - I'm planning to snuggle on the sofa and watch some scary films and eat a lovely bowl of Delia Smith's Pumpkin And Toasted Sweetcorn Soup - Yummy! My pumpkin this year was a bit of a fail - he had a bit of a sunken head but hey at least I tried!

To coincide with the bright orange of Mr Pumpkin Head I decided to match my nails to his bright orange exterior with Essie - Braziliant

This picture is probably one of the best for showing off the real colour -. I've found it nigh on impossible to capture it's true colour but it's a true bright, bright orange shot through with a touch of shimmer, that just seems to be reflecting on my flash and making it look quite a bit redder.

Like a lot of Essie polishes, Braziliant was pretty easy to apply. This one has a wide brush and the formulation is quite thick, so with careful application you could probably get away with one coat but here I've used two.

I love, love, love this shade and whilst it would amazing with a tan or on the beach, I think orange is a real autumnal colour and it looks really nice with some of the browns, tans and rust shades that are around at the moment.

Seeing as it's All Hallows Ever though I decided to give this polish a bit of a Halloween twist. There are so many amazing Halloween nail art tutorials out there but I've gone for the cheats option and used some really easy nail stickers.

This set that I got from Top Shop isn't particularly scary or complicated but black cats are most definitely associated with Halloween. Black cats definitely have a bad rep but I love them and so I thought I'd add some black cat face stickers on to both my thumb and my middle finger to create an accent nail look.

Nail stickers are the easiest was of playing with a bit of nail art and creating an accent nail. I just use a pair of tweezers or a hoof stick to peel the sticker off the sheet, and then you just place it on top of a dry, polished nail, press it down and put on a layer or two of top coat to hold it all in place.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and the lovely bright, cheeriness of Essie - Braziliant on such a dark and spooky night x Happy Halloween x

Friday 30 October 2015

Skin Blossom Cleanse & Nourish Body Wash - A Review For My Pure*

When you're as big a bath fan as I am, embracing the whole of Autumn and Winter with only a shower for company, is not a comforting prospect. I love a bath and the warmth and comfort that it brings but for the first time this year I'm having to embrace the cold and dark days before Christmas with an all be it very nice, power shower.

Despite that though ,I'm coming around very slowly to the whole idea of showering and whether it's down to a whole change of heart or necessity, I'm starting to love the ease, speed and convenience that a hot shower brings.

At this time of year I normally shake up my bath and shower routine and swap my summer fruit and floral fragrances. for warmer, food and spice aromas. I don't think I'm quite ready yet though, and like my bright nails I want to embrace the idea of summer for just a little bit longer so for one of Octobers My Pure reviews I decided to try a more summery feeling body wash.

I've already tried the lavender scented Skin Blossom Therapeutic Bath Soak and loved it so I thought I'd branch out and try another product from the brand, the Skin Blossom Cleanse & Nourish Body Wash.

Made of 76% organic ingredients, this Soil Association approved product is free from from SLS and SLES, parabens, silicone's and artificial colours, and fragrances. Skin Blossom are a UK company and this product is also suitable for vegans. It contains Aloe Vera, and glycerin to soften and nourish the skin, and orange extract, Palmarosa and rose geranium.

It comes in a pump action bottle, it's clear in colour with just a hint of orange and it has quite a thick gel like texture. As you would expect from the colour and the ingredients this body wash has a beautiful orange, citrus aroma with slight floral and herbal notes. It's refreshing but it's quite gentle and not as zingy or fresh as some citrus fragrances can be.

A little of the product goes a long way, and just a small amount produces a thick, creamy foam that gently cleanses the skin, and rinses away easily. The product felt very soothing, and calming on the skin, and after rinsing the skin didn't feel tight, or dry.  Body washes and shower gels can often be quite stripping but this one definitely gave the skin a moisture boost thanks to the inclusion of the vegetable glycerin and the Aloe Vera. I personally still used a body lotion after using it but if you're in a rush or you have an oilier skin it might not be necessary.

SLS free body washes can be disappointing and produce a watery foam but products with strong foaming agents can often be drying - At times you can't win but with this body wash you can win - Not only is this product free from harsh foaming agents but it produces a lovely creamy foam that leaves the skin cleansed and nourished. This isn't just my opinion though this is Mummy Lou's too, I left this in the shower and she loved it too, on her more mature, drier skin.

We also loved the scent, and although this more gentle herbal tinged citrus is quite a summery fragrance, it's definitely something that you could use all year round for a comforting and refreshing yet calming shower. The Skin Blossom Cleanse and Nourish Body Wash comes in a 300ml bottle and normally retails at £6.95 from My Pure but it's currently on special offer at just £5.91. If you have any questions please let me know x Thanks for reading.


Wednesday 28 October 2015

Vegas Treats From My Bestie - Tarte, Kat Von D, and Wet N Wild

Although I don't consider myself the most popular person on the planet I'm very lucky to have some amazing friends. It's not easy being friends with someone with chronic illness but one of my friends in particular seems to excel at it, and for that I'm truly thankful.

As well as being grateful to her for being there through thick and thin, I'm also pretty pleased that this year she chose to spend her main holiday in Las Vegas - what does that mean? Well for her it meant a fabulous holiday but for me it meant the opportunity to get my hands on some US goodies. She doesn't share my obsession with beauty and make up so I gave her a little list just in case she had a little bit of time to do some shopping.

The result was a Sephora bag filled with pretties, as well as a drugstore item and some Birthday Cake M&M's :). Although none of the make up items are available in the UK, you can probably get your hands on them via the Sephora website or via ebay, so I thought it was worth showing you just in case you fancy placing an online order or if you're lucky enough to be jetting across the Atlantic this holiday season.

Although we can get Tarte in the UK from QVC, I'm lead to believe that this palette - the Tarte Light Of The Party Collectors Make Up Case is a limited edition, Sephora exclusive. From the moment I clasped eyes on it though, I knew I needed it, no matter what the inconvenience or cost.

Open the beautiful metallic, chevron printed gift box and your greeted with a hard, palette come clutch bag. In a plain textured gold on one side, this bag / palette has a zip fastening, and one side is covered and I mean covered in an almost Aztec design picked out in hundreds of sequins.

If that isn't amazing enough, unzip it and you're subjected to neutral eyeshadow and make up heaven. The palette contains 24 of Tarte's famous Amazon Clay eye shadows, in every neutral shade from a creamy highlight colour, to a shimmering taupe, coppers, golds, nudes and rich chocolate browns.

The palette contains a nice combination of shimmers, satins and mattes and all of the shades are soft, and smooth and the pigmentation is excellent.

As well as the shadows, the palette also contains a 4ml deluxe sample size of Tarte's best selling Lights, Camera Lashes Mascara and a travel size, double ended shadow brush.

That isn't all though, the large square item on the right isn't just for show it's actually another Tarte palette so this really is a two for.

Simply remove the metallic, cardboard palette and your left with a large mirror in the main palette and a takeaway palette that ideal for your daily make up bag or for holidays or weekends away.

The takeaway palette contains another 6 neutral toned eye shadows, instead of just duplicating the colours though, you're getting 6 new shades that don't appear in the main palette.

It's not just about shadows though, you're also getting the Amazonian Clay Pink Champagne Highlighter, and a full size Amazonian Clay Bronzer in Social Butterfly and a blusher in Amazed. Again the shades are soft and pigmented and I can see the blusher and the highlighter especially becoming firm favourites in my make up collection.

I think that this is a lovely palette and I think it would make a great gift for anyone who loves make up, sparkle, or neutral eye shadows or someone who prefers their make up to be cruelty free. Everything is wearable, there are no dodgy colours and the quality is superb. The Tarte Light Of The Party Collector's Make Up Case retails at $59 from Sephora, and it has supposedly has a value of $394. I always take price comparisons like this with a pinch of salt but seeing as the same size blush and bronzer retail at $28 each, it's probably about right.

Like most of you I love nude eyeshadow palettes and personally, in my opinion, you can never have enough so I was super excited to take this out of my Sephora bag.

Although I'm currently ink less and tattoo less, I know who Kat Von D is, and as well as being a celebrity and a tattoo artist, she also has a highly rated beauty and make up line.

Like a lot of ranges it's unavailable in the UK, and since I've been eyeing up (haha) some of her eyeshadow palettes for a while now I added a couple to my Vegas list and my lovely bestie got me the Shade + Light Eye Contour Palette.

Packaged in a black cardboard this palette contains a full sized mirror and it comes with full instructions on how to create a variety of looks to define, balance and lift the eyes.

It contains 12 matte eye shadows, in 3 separate colour families -  a Neutral Quad, a Cool Quad, and a Warm Quad. Each of the 3 quads, contain a base colour, a contour colour, a shade to define and a shade to highlight.

You know me and mattes, for years I avoided them, but companies now are starting to do them right, and this palette is no exception, the colours are, soft, velvety and the pigmentation is nuts. Although the title of this palette makes you think that it might be something for people who are more experienced with make up, the instructions are really easy to follow and it gives you all in the information that you could need to create around 6 looks. It's also a great palette to experiment with, and it would also work really well with all of the neutrals in your no doubt very large collections. The Kat Von D Light + Shade Eye Contour Palette retails at $46 and it's something that I would really recommend.

How do you tell a true friend? Well it's the one that gets a sample in a shop and passes it on to you rather than keeping it for herself :), hence this little pot of First Aid Beauty Red Clay Deep Cleanser, I haven't tried anything from this brand and this sounds like a really interesting product so I'll let you know what I think when I try it x

Although I think we have an amazing choice in the UK when it comes to drugstore and budget make up,  but there are a few US brands that I wish would make that long journey across the pond, and one of them is Wet N Wild. This was one of the brands that appeared in selected stores for a little while and then disappeared almost overnight. I've picked up a few bits from ebay and from swaps and I've loved most of the pieces that I've managed to get, but I'm a particular fan of their eye shadows.

This gorgeous trio was the final item (bar the M&M's) in my bag and it's fabulous. Yes nudes again, but the Wet N Wild Color Icon Eye Shadow Trio in 380B Walking On Eggshells would be a valuable edition to anyones neutral eyeshadow collection, including mine.

It contains 3 colours and two sponge applicators, and each shade is embossed with whereabouts you should put it on your eyes - you get a shimmery, golden cream for the brow bone, a shimmery bronze, brown for the crease and a gorgeous warm, shimmery rose beige for the eyelid. Apologies for the lack of swatches but for the price this palette is amazing, the shadows are super creamy and the pigmentation is is beyond amazing for the price. These trios retail at around $2.99 from the likes of Walgreens, they are a little bit more expensive on Amazon and on ebay but there definitely worth snapping up.

It kind of irritates me that there are still so many brands that we can't access in the UK grrr! but I'm really, really grateful that my lovely bestie Dawn, managed to take a few moments out of her holiday to pick me up some fabulous goodies, that I'm going to really enjoy using and experimenting with. I hope that some of you have found this post useful, and if you've picked up any US goodies lately too, I love to hear what you got, so leave me a comment and let me know x

Monday 19 October 2015

OPI Hawaii Collection Little Hulas Mini Nail Lacquers And Just My Look*

When the nights start to draw in, and the temperatures start to fall there seems to be some sort of acceptance that our colour palette has to change with the changing seasons, both in fashion and in beauty. If the magazines and even some blogs are to be believed, it's time to put those hot pinks, corals and pale blues into storage and it's time to embrace those berries, wines and dark moody shades. Do you know what though? I don't want to! Although I've given up on the idea of an Indian summer, I think bright colours can cheer you up and lift your spirits, no matter what the season, No doubt I will make a few changes, but I'm still going to be embracing those bright colours and pretty pastels, especially in my nail polish, even as we head into those winter months.

OPI's Spring / Summer 2015, Hawaii collection, contained everything that you would expect from a summer collection themed around tropical islands. There were brights,and pastels, shades that go perfectly with a tan and quirky names that throw you head on into the surf. This 12 piece collection was and still is perfect for that beach holiday, but there is no reason why you can't embrace some of these bright and beautiful shades, even when the rain is pouring and the wind is howling.

A little while ago now I was sent one of the Hawaii mini collections from the lovely people at Just My Look. The Little Hulas Mini Nail Lacquer collection contains 4 of the most popular colours from the Hawaii collection only in miniature 3.5ml bottles, compared to the usual 15ml full size. I'm a huge fan of the OPI mini polishes, I mean has anyone ever finished a full sized bottle? They're ideal for travel, for trying new shades and of course for gifting, and you get exactly the same quality polish and formulation only in a mini size. All of the polishes as toluene, formaldehyde, and DBP free, and the minis also come with OPI's exclusive full sized, Pro Wide Brush.

I've had a little while to play with these polishes and try them out properly so here are plenty of pretty nails of the day pictures and some reviews x

Suzi Shops & Island Hops

The first two shades in this kit are both pretty spring / summer pastels, Suzi Shops & Island Hops is the perfect, creamy pale, strawberry milkshake pink.

Like most pale, cream polishes the first coat was quite streaky but on most nails, two coats was enough for full coverage. I've always found OPI polishes to have quite a self levelling formula and this one was no different. As per usual I tried this without a top coat and wear time was decent but this is one of those colours that you can't really touch up so once it chips off it comes.

I'm not usually a fan of shades like this but this one really grew on me. This is a perfect spring, summer colour but by the same note I think that pale pinks also work well with the pale greys and charcoals of autumn and winter.

That's Hula-rious!

Ah OPI and their quirky names, that's hilarious or should I say That's Hula-rious! Another pastel shade and this time it's a very pale mint green, it's a little bit greener though than it appearing here.

Unlike with some mini polishes the brush on these OPI minis is good, and even though the first coat was very streaky, you couldn't fault the brush or the formulation, that's just how cream polishes are. I'm wearing two coats here but to be honest I could probably have done with three. I didn't find this quite as long lasting as the previous polish but again I didn't use a top coat, which would obviously have improved wear time.

That's Hula-rious! is another perfect spring / summer pastel shade, and white based colours like this were very in this year ( see I do follow trends even if I don't stick to them ;) Although this screams new shoots, and mini eggs I see no reason why you couldn't wear this colour all year round. Again I think it would work well with grey and I think it would look really nice alongside bottle and olive green tones.

Lost My Bikini In Molokini

Ah the first bright in this kit and it's a purple. I love purple polishes and whilst I'm not convinced that I've captured this one in all its glory, Lost My Bikini In Molokini is a deep, creamy slightly smokey purple.

Application was perfect, I still needed two coats but the first coat went on easily, and the polish dried quickly, left a super glossy finish, and the wear time was excellent.

 Out of all of the colours in the Little Hulas kit this one is probably the most versatile and even if you only wear bright colours in the spring and summer then you would probably wear this one all year round. It's bright but not too bright and purple is one of those colours that works equally well if not better in the autumn and winter months. This is probably the shade that I'll get the most use out of all year round.

Aloha From OPI

Aloha from me and from OPI - At the risk of sounding a bit hypocritical, a rich creamy coral like this is your archetypal summer shade. I nearly always take some form of coral shade with me on holiday and this one would be perfect. Coral shades look amazing with a sun tan but at the same time I think that they can really warm the skin tone up in the colder months, throw in the fact that coral and oranges can make you think of autumn leaves, and chocolate oranges and you've got an all year round colour.

Application was a dream, it dried quickly and this was probably the hardest wearing polish of the four. Again this was two coats but most nails were adequately covered with one.

How can this colour not make you happy? If even a tiny glimpse of a bright coral nail makes you happy, why shouldn't you wear brights all year round x 

Although I probably wouldn't buy some of these shades in the full size, I think that this kit is great value. The polishes were of comparable quality to the the full sizes, and since these tiny 3.75ml  sizes average around 15 manicures per bottle, they are a great way of trying new colours, or deciding which full size to buy, or even for building up you nail polish wardrobe. I also think kits like this are great for gifting, stocking fillers and given the small sizes I think there a great way to introduce youngsters to a high end polish brand. The Hawaii Collection By OPI Little Hulas Mini Nail Lacquer Collection retails at £9.95 including free postage from Just My Look.

If these colours aren't to your taste Just My Look has a wide range of other OPI mini kits including the Brazil, Venice,  and 50 Shades collections, and some other gift sets and limited editions as well as a wide variety of full sizes OPI polishes. and treatments.They also sell other nail brands including CND and Morgan Taylor, as well as beauty products, and cosmetics from the like of W7, Fake Bake, Babyliss, Bed Head, Macadamia and Maybelline. if you're a beauty junkie that likes a website with free UK postage than I would definitely recommend checking Just My Look out - I may have placed a little nail polish order with them myself x

Do you divide your nail polish colours into seasons? or do you just do what I do and go with the flow? x Let me know and of course please let me know if you have any questions x Thanks for reading


Friday 16 October 2015

Foodie Friday - Beanies Coffee - No Ordinary Cup Of Joe*

Although in the UK we're supposed to be a nation of tea drinkers, did you know that over 70 million cups of coffee are consumed in the UK every day (source). That's a staggering amount and whilst I will always be tea girl at heart, I drink a lot more coffee than I used to.

When I first started drinking coffee dare I say it, but it was a bit boring. Cappuccinos and lattes were a rarity, and flavoured coffees just didn't exist, in my house it was a mug of instant black, or with a dash of milk and that was it. These days though go to any cafe never mind a specialist coffee shop and the list of coffee varieties and flavours is endless. I think that's one of the reasons why so many of us drink coffee now - all of those different seasonal flavours drag even coffee haters into the hype.

By all means enjoy your coffee shop treat, I know I do, but whatever you do don't think about the sugar and the calories - buy a flavoured coffee in a coffee shop, and you've got sweet, sugary syrup, sprinkles, sauce, and even whipped cream - a simple cup of coffee can often have the same amount of calories as a main meal - scary!  If like me you're watching what you eat though, don't despair, there are ways of having a nice cup of flavoured coffee without the calories and without the sugar courtesy of Beanies.

Based in my home county of Durham, Beanies are one of the pioneers when it comes to producing flavoured instant coffees. Founded in 2009 Beanies use only the finest ethically sourced Brazilian coffee, which they infuse with lots of yummy flavours. All of their products are suitable for vegans, they are gluten, nut and alcohol free and although the blends have a sweetness they are all sugar free. They're also very diet friendly at only around 2 calories a serving when you drink it black.

The lovely people at Beanies kindly sent me 3 jars of their most popular flavours to try, so me and Mummy Lou got stuck in and embraced the caffeine high.

Beanies Double Chocolate Flavour Instant Coffee - 50g

Packaged in a cute 50g glass jar, the first thing that hits you when you open the jar and pierce the seal is the smell. It's one of the best smells in the world opening a new jar of coffee but instead of the pure coffee hit with this one you get a very dark chocolate hit, with just a tiny hint of rich coffee.

All you do is add one heaped teaspoon to a mug of boiling water, you can either drink it black or for a few extra calories you can add a touch of milk or cream to taste. I'm not a huge lover of black coffee (I was when I was about 16 I though I was so sophisticated) so I added a dash of semi skimmed milk.

The taste with this one was the direct opposite of the smell, the coffee dominated and you only got the merest hint of the dark chocolate. I personally didn't find this one that sweet so I think that this is a drink for real coffee lovers, it was rich, dark, and velvety, and it's definitely something that would wake you up in the morning.

Beanies Very Vanilla Flavour Instant Coffee -  50g

A Vanilla Latte is one of my posh coffees of choice so I was excited to try this one and I wasn't disappointed. At first sniff you get a huge hit of a rich, creamy almost floral vanilla, with only the tiniest, tiniest hint of coffee. Taste wise the coffee comes into it's own when you drink it, again it's rich and dark but with a strong vanilla hit. Again I preferred this one with milk, and although it's a little bit naughty I also added a spoonful of brown sugar with brought out both the creaminess of the vanilla and the richness of the coffee

Beanies Nutty Hazelnut Flavour Instant Coffee - 50g

As the song goes I've saved the best till last -  Nutty Hazelnut was my favourite of the three and it was Mummy Lou's too. Hazelnuts can sometimes be bitter but this had a warm nutty, almost praline aroma with just a smidgen of coffee. Taste wise it was very similar, and it reminded me a lot of one of the major coffee shops festive offerings, only without the overt sweetness and creaminess. Again the flavour was rich and full, but without any bitterness. I served this with semi skimmed milk, and Mummy Lou liked it with soya milk for a few extra calories, and don't forget even though this cup of Joe tastes nutty, the entire Beanies range is nut free.

Based on my experience with these 3 flavours I can see why Beanies coffees are so popular.Unlike some of the coffee shop offerings that don't taste a great deal of coffee, Beanies coffees are for real coffee lovers, all of the flavours are rich, and velvety and you can really taste the quality of the coffee and the ingredients.

I have quite a sweet tooth and personally for me, they weren't sweet enough and I felt I needed to add a little something, but even with the addition of a dash of milk, and some sweetener or even a cheeky teaspoon of sugar, the calorie count is still way less than a syrup and cream covered coffee shop special.

Beanies aren't just for making coffee though you can also use them in smoothies, milkshakes and in recipes, and I think that all of these flavours would make a fab addition to either a chocolate cake, a coffee and walnut cake or even in some butter cream.

If these flavours aren't for you there are plenty more to choose from including decaf varieties, and festive varieties such as Christmas Pudding and Gingerbread, and yummy sounding flavours such as Chocolate Orange, Irish Cream and Cinder Toffee. Beanies Flavoured Instant Coffees retail at around £2.50 for a 50g jar. Tesco and Sainsbury's offer a small selection but the full range and even some gift boxes are available online from the Beanies website. Are you a flavoured coffee fan? Let me know x