Monday, 30 March 2015

My Dad's 50th Birthday Hamper | Men's Gift Ideas

So I've always found men much harder to buy for than woman, is this just me? Namely, I've always found my Dad hard to buy for. My Dad is the most unmaterialistic person I know (must be where I get it from, no?) and designer clothes, posh aftershave or expensive luxuries are mostly wasted on him. In fact, my Dad so rarely wants for things, that when he does, he usually buys them for himself. This means that he's got the good gear when it comes to walking, music and camping (his biggest hobbies) and doesn't leave me with a lot of scope to "push the boat out" for his 50th birthday.

Hence, the Man Hamper. The Manper, if you will. God bless Wilko for their unnecessarily large collection of random baskets, as I was able to pick this perfectly sized one for a mere £8.50 and proceed to fill it to the brim with manly goodies. I thought I'd share the finished product with you all, in case like me, you struggle with gift inspiration when it comes to the men in your life. I hope it sparks some great ides for you and you find it useful.

Books & DVDs. 
DVDs and books are great for male birthdays. My Dad is a bit of a reader and so this year I've stayed away from DVDs and have two books in his hamper instead. The first one I've gone with is "The Camping Cookbook" which is jam packed with great recipe ideas for when you're camping (something my Dad does a lot of) and starting to get a bit bored of the same old bacon sarnies and burnt sausages... The second one I picked up is The Jungle Book, my Dads absolute favourite Disney film - and one of his favourite films in general - I saw this copy in The Works and thought it had such beautiful cover art, and my Dad will totally appreciate the sentiment here.

Food and Snacks.
A nice easy one here. Why not stock up on his favourite foodie items, or better yet, food that reminds you of him. I've gone with Skittles and Starbursts not because my Dad adores them necessarily, but because we have a tradition of putting these particular sweets out at Christmas. I included random "manly chocolate" like a KitKat chunky, Mars bar, Snickers etc to bulk up the manly element (no Galaxy Ripple here!) and then included some crisps that you're always guaranteed to find at Dad's house and a bottle of Lea & Perrins to smother all over his cheese on toast! I also bought a 10 pack multipack of rainbow drops (another guilty pleasure) to scatter about the hamper and fill in any gaps.

Other Goodies.
Other little bits and pieces I went with included the fail-safe male birthday present of beer, (three whole bottles of it) two bottles of my Dads regular poisons and a third "wild card" for him to try out. Honestly, you can't go wrong with beer. Speaking of which, I also found a quirky little wooden post card with the Adams Ghostship logo printed on the front. I though this was a bit different and only around £2.50 so I popped that in there too. I included two mugs, one with Beach Huts all the way round it (my Dad loves Southwold and had a beautiful British Seaside wedding last year) and one with the brilliant Wallace & Gromit (Dad loves them and bares a striking resemblance to Wallace...) Other goodies included walking socks, razor blades, moisturizer and Olaf themed shower gel. Yep, Dad's a Frozen fan.

Final Ideas & Tips.
So my final tips when buying for boys are to keep it easy with guilty pleasures, or find out their hobbies and then try to think outside of the box. If they enjoy film, why not get them a cinema voucher so they can see a film you know they haven't already got on DVD. Or if they like cars, why not get them a subscription to a monthly car magazine? As for guilty pleasures, these are easy because people can enjoy them again and again. Are they partial to a packet of Pork Scratchings? Do they routinely munch on Maltesters? Family sized treat bags and a bottle of beer keep things nice and simple if you're just not sure.

Let me know your manly birthday ideas below - I could always use more. And as you've had a selfie of me and my Mum already, it only seems fair to include one of me and my Dad too! Here's a very blurry (unflattering) shot of us at Dad's gorgeous wedding last year. See what I mean about Wallace?


Friday, 27 March 2015

My Complete Foundation Collection | Makeup Showdown

You know you have too many foundations when trying to take a photo of them all is like arranging a class photograph. "Come then everyone, tall ones at the back, little guys at the front - you too Revlon Colour Stay, we don't have all day!" With ten foundations to compare, I'm not even going to attempt to go into great detail on each one. Instead, I've got another Makeup Showdown for you where I’ve divided the judging process into “need to know categories” with an overall rating out of ten. Please note however, that my skin type is extremely dry, and I suffer from redness, large pores and a few fine lines (sad face) so the overall rating is based on how effective each foundation is on me, and what I look for in a base.

Bourjois CC Cream
Coverage: Light, but better than you expect!
Finish: Matte-ish Satin
Lasting power: A full day out in the sunshine, it'll fade only slightly
Final Thoughts: For such a runny, barely there formula, this covers and lasts brilliantly. In the summer it's light enough to work on my very pale skin, and is by far the best CC/BB/tinted moisturiser product I've come across.
Overall Rating: 10/10

Rimmel Lasting Finish Nude
Coverage: Medium
Finish: Matte/Satin
Lasting power: Easily enough to get you through work and after work drinks
Final Thoughts: Definitely a fab foundation, it ticks every box and I wear it a lot but it's slightly behind Rimmel Match Perfection, which is just that bit better on dry skin.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10

Illamasqua Skin Base
Coverage: Very Full
Finish: Very Matte
Lasting power: Ages (probably)
Final Thoughts: No matter what I do, I cannot get this foundation to look passable. Some people love it but I find I look like a cake-face clown in a mask of heavy makeup and I've worn it out in public maybe twice? Thorough disappointment as it's the most expensive I currently own!
Overall Rating: 2/10

Revlon ColourStay
Coverage: Very Full
Finish: Very Matte
Lasting power: Good, but it does begin to settle
Final Thoughts: These days I find ColourStay to settle in my smile lines and around my nose after four/five hours, no matter how I apply it. It can also look cakey and heavy on the skin sometimes but is a holy grail for a lot of oily skinned girls - I loved this in my oily teenage years!
Overall Rating: 6/10

Rimmel Match Perfection
Coverage: Lightish Medium
Finish: Fresh, Dewy
Lasting power: It'll do you proud for a full working day
Final Thoughts: For once, dewy does not mean greasy! I love this guy mostly for the finish and blendibility. Perfect for dry skin and bad skin days as it glides over imperfections and texture and doesn't highlight them.
Overall Rating: 10/10

L'Oreal Infallible
Coverage: High Medium - Full
Finish: Fresh Satin/Matte
Lasting power: Till the cows come home
Final Thoughts: This would be another 10 pointer, and probably my favourite if it wasn't for the fact that regular use breaks me out. On special occasions though I wouldn't wear anything else.
Overall Rating: 9/10
Revlon Photo Ready BB Cream
Coverage: Very Light
Finish: Dewy/Shiny
Lasting power: An hour or two before greasiness kicks in
Final Thoughts: Another disappointment. This guy oxidises as the day goes on and looks greasy after a short amount of time. It also just doesn't seem to sink into the skin and transfers a fair bit.
Overall Rating: 3/10

L'Oreal True Match
Coverage: High Medium
Finish: Fresh Satin
Lasting power: Enough to last you a serious Saturday shopping spree
Final Thoughts: I can see that this guy would be a great contender, but it loses serious points for colour! It's called "True Match" yet doesn't have a shade light enough for me, and the closest one oxidises to the point where I can no longer 'get away with it' after around four hours.
Overall Rating: 5/10

Rimmel Lasting Finish
Coverage: High Medium - Full
Finish: Matte/Satin
Lasting power: Through the party, the after party and the walk of shame
Final Thoughts: It's good, but I just don't reach for this one often because I rarely need the coverage and if I do, L'Oreal Infallible looks better and lasts just as long. But hey, at least Rimmel doesn't break me out.
Overall Rating: 7/10

Bourjois Healthy Mix
Coverage: Lightish Medium
Finish: Dewy
Lasting power: Will get you through a school day
Final Thoughts: A real teenage cult classic, this foundation performs well on younger skin as it's not too heavy but gives good coverage, lasts around six hours and blends well.
Overall Rating: 8/10

Let me know if there's any foundations missing that you think I should try. I still don't feel like I've found that Holy Grail base yet so I'd love to hear your suggestions!


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Blonde Eyebrow Routine &Threading Experience

WARNING: Unedited, painfully close close-ups of my face will be shown in this post. If you are sensitive to skin redness, fine lines and giant pores, look away now... Just being real here, people.

Disturbing isn't it? These photos show first hand, the struggle that us fair skinned, blonde haired girls must go through every day in the battle against our own eyebrows. Sparse, shapeless and ginger toned, my eyebrows have always been a major hassle to deal with as they refused to cooperate with me. (Why can't you just be thick, dark and nicely arched, is that too much to ask for?) In fact, that's a lie, because until the age of about seventeen, I was totally unaware of the awesome power eyebrows have to completely frame and define your face. I wish I'd known sooner what a life changing event getting them threaded and tinted would be, so I could have avoided looking like essentially an egg with a smiley face drawn on it throughout high school. Ahhh, good times...
So, let's take a look at what I'm naturally working with, sort of.

The skin is shiny because it's covered in Vaseline!
I say sort of because above is a photo of my eyebrows after they've been shaped through a technique called threading. Threading is and Indian method of hair removal, where a cotton or polyester thread is twisted and rolled over areas of hair, removing them from the root in straight lines. Very similar to tweezing, but it removes many hairs at once, and the thread is used to create sharp, defined lines - perfect for brows. Most people think threading is better than waxing as it doesn't rip or burn the skin and, supposedly, doesn't hurt as much. You must go to a professional to get your brows threaded or waxed, 'cos believe me girls, eyebrows aren't something you want to take a chance with. We don't want to end up with a wonky nineties pencil thin brow, now do we? I go to a lovely lady called Sheri, and frankly, I wouldn't let anyone else touch my brows because she works complete miracles. All of Sheri's info will be listed below if you're in need of a great Beautician.
To begin with, Sheri finds (or creates) an arch in my brows, which are naturally very straight, and then twists the thread using her fingers and teeth (it's pretty awesome to watch actually) to remove any hair outside of the shape she wants them to be. Does it hurt? Only a tiny bit, every time I go it gets less and less painful, and no, I'm not just saying that! Truth be told, I hardly feel it anymore and a good brow consultant will tell you to gently stretch the skin above the brow and place your other hand over your eye, which will reduce the pain. It's all over in less than 60 seconds anyway!

Next, Sheri then covers the skin around the brows in Vasaline, to stop the dye from bleeding outwards and tinting my entire forehead, and applies the brow tint in what first looks like a terrifyingly dark shade... The first time I ever had this applied, I took one look at my dye-covered sharpie brows and thought "Oh God, what have you done?" and then in typical British fashion continued to smile politely and pretend it was fine. You can imagine my relief when my brows ended up looking like this:

After two or three minutes, Sheri removes the dye and my otherwise non-existent brows are left looking like they've been filled in already. The picture above is now what my natural, unedited, brows look like without any makeup. Of course, I can apply brow pencil, powder or gel over the top and strengthen them even further if I wanted to, which becomes much easier now a perfect shape has been mapped out for me. For this I use the Soap & Glory Archery Pencil, an incredible dupe for the Anastasia Brow Wiz. Or, I can leave them as they are and have naturally soft but defined brows, that give my face structure on lazy days. The hairs are now much darker than before, and the dye has even picked up all the little fussy blonde fluff to make them appear thicker. Another great thing about getting your brows tinted, is that the dye leaves a slight tint on the skin underneath the brow, helping them to appear fuller, sharper and elongated.

So if you're scared of threading or dying your brows - don't be! It makes all the difference, especially for us fair girls, and halves the amount of time I spend on my brows in the morning. But like I said earlier, before you take the plunge, seek out a professional! Don't let your inner Cara Delevinge turn into Oscar the Grouch... Ask a friend with great brows where they get theirs done and don't go for a "home tint kit" unless you're confident you know what you're doing.
Leave your favourite brow products in the comment section below for me to read too - I'm always on the look out for brow enhancing products!

Sheri's Details

If you're in the Ipswich area and on the look out for a great Beautician, then check out the lovely Sheri's Facebook Page here and follow her on Twitter. Sheri has done my brows amazingly for years, and is also qualified in massage, waxing, nail art and other beauty treatments.


Monday, 23 March 2015

Collection Eyes Uncovered vs Urban Decay Naked 2 Basics

I'm sure you've all heard the hype surrounding the new Collection Eyes Uncovered pallets. They've been getting a lot of love online and respected bloggers such as Amelia Liana have even said that they rival Urban Decay shadows. Careful Miss Liana, those are some big claims...
Being a huge, huge fan of the Urban Decay Naked 2 Basics pallet, I couldn't resist getting my hands on a potential "dupe" to put to the test. Especially if said dupe is going to mean repurchasing at a fraction of the cost in future. Urban Decay Naked 2 Basics: £25. Collection Eyes Uncovered Pallets: £2.99 (usually £3.99). Seriously, it's a staggering difference.

(Urban Decay on top, Collection on the bottom.)
I own rather a lot of eye shadows, most in pallet form, so despite the pleasing price tag I did the sensible thing and only bought the one Collection pallet; "Nude" the one most comparable to my Urban Decay Basics. Most comparable indeed... The pallets are also available in Nude Grey (a little shimmery for me), and Nude Bronze (gorgeous looking).
With six strikingly similar shades, Collection honestly looked like it was going to knock Urban Decay out of the water (water? park?) when I compared them at home. Collection had definitely taken a more shimmery route, with only the darkest two shades being a satin finish, whereas Urban Decay chose to keep things all matte for both their Basics pallets.

(Collection shades from L-R: White Chocolate, Buttercream, Biscuit, Chocolate Milk, Brown Sugar, Espresso) 

(Urban Decay shades from L-R: Skimp, Stark, Frisk, Cover, Primal, Undone) 
When swatched on the skin and worn on the eyes, the differences in the pallets become much more apparent, and our Collection Eyes Uncovered shades warm up considerably. The shades Biscuit and Chocolate Milk look like they'd be better suited in the bronze pallet, but that might just be my fair skin talking. The first shade, White Chocolate, also turned out to be useless. Even swatched on my boyfriend's very olive forearm, I just couldn't get any colour to show up. Now, if I had a totally unusable/dud shade in a more expensive pallet, I might feel a little conned, but for £2.99 I'm really not bothered as the pallet had outdone my expectations already.  Buttercream and Brown Suagr ended up being my favourite, with the pinky champagne all over the lid and Brown Sugar the cool taupe to define the crease. I've smoked Espesso along the lash line a few times too and it really deepens the look.
So which one is better? Well, I must admit that I don't find the lasting power on the Collection Eyes Uncovered pallet matches up to Urban Decay. The two really shimmery shades, Buttercream and Biscuit fade in intensity throughout the day which is something I don't find with Urban Decay. The Collection Eyes Uncovered are also less pigmented, but not badly pigmented at all. Both pallets are smooth and buttery, making them super easy to blend. Both pallets have a great shade range, with colours that flatter and work well together. Both pallets have classy packaging and are small and convenient to travel with. But only one pallet has the gloriously affordable price tag, and therefore I've got to say overall... Collection wins!

Whilst I still reach for my Urban Decay Basics 2 pallet more often, that's only because I have both pallets available to me. If you don't, then Collection is hands down the one I recommend you pick up. It'll cost a fraction of the price, create incredibly similar eye looks, and did I mention, cost a fraction of the price? If you end up reaching for the Collection Eyes Uncovered Pallet every day for six months, then maybe you should think about sticking a longer lasting Urban Decay version on your Christmas list, but don't rush to spend a large chunk of money on something you can easily dupe. Especially when many makeup junkie's will be pleased they only spent a measly £2.99 when, in a few weeks time, they're completely obsessed with a brand new pallet anyway...

Friday, 13 March 2015

Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara | Product Flop

Well quite frankly I'm disappointed, and I'm disappointed that I'm disappointed because I'd been awaiting the release of the Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara for some time and couldn't wait to get my hands on it. What I thought would turn into a burning love affair... just turned into burning eyes. Yep, read on to find out why I pretty much hate the new Lash Sensational Mascara. 

Let's start with the good. The packaging looks quite up market (for a drugstore brand) opting for a muted metallic blush colour and nothing to garish or loud. The price tag is also on point, at a cosy £7.99 it ticks the 'under a tenner' box and has had its fair share of hype online. The brush is also slightly spooned, a shape that works well for me as the curve tends to hug and lift the lashes. So all in all I was pretty excited for this little baby, until that is, I discovered one teeny tiny flaw...
I'm allergic to the formula! I was beyond gutted by this, because I always get on really well with Maybelline mascaras and I've never had a reaction to any of their other ones. After around four hours wearing this the desire to rub my eyes was unbearable and I just wanted to take it all off. My eyes were red, sore and itched like crazy. But, like a trooper, I stuck with it and (fiercely or foolishly) gave this thing a week's wear to see if there was another explanation for my eyes trying to escape my face... The following day I wore this with no eyeliner or eye shadow, and changed my foundation. You guessed it, the same problem happened, leaving me with no other possible products that could be causing the irritation. Just to be sure, I switched back to my trusty Maybelline The Falsies half way through the week (which I still prefer Bee Tee Dubs) and had no irritation at all.

Setting that aside, let’s get into how the product performed as a mascara, as it’s doubtful you’ll have the same irritation problems that I had. Now mascara is 
such a personal preference, it's hard to say what's good and what's bad in terms of results because people want different things. (Making lashes longer and darker just isn’t enough – who knew?)

"Wet look" lashes, like I'd been crying -and can you see the irritation!?

I found that with this guy, the lashes got longer and were very separated. Good, no? Well, not for me... turns out, I have very thin lashes - yay! And with the formula doing absolutely nothing to 'bulk' up them up, I felt they got a little spidery. I also found that the last millimeter or so of each lash was very hard to coat with product, and just didn't do justice to their usual length. In fact it very nearly of gave me that ‘wet lash’ look; like I’d been crying or caught in the rain and the mascara had started to slide off and thin everything out. But my biggest problem with this mascara (aside from the fact I want to scratch my eyes out when I wear it) is how badly it holds a curl. I have fairly straight lashes and if it were up to me, they'd be standing to attention, bolt upright. But the Maybelline Lash Sensational was a major disappointment in that aspect, and my lashes would drop after five minutes, and continue to do so as the day went on. Not considerably, but enough that I noticed it. I like my lashes to have a bit more impact, so I favour thickening, dramatic formulas that make my lashes look as close to falsies as they can. As I said, it’s all personal preference but I like people to see my lashes coming first!
I'd recommend giving this a try if you have naturally long, thick lashes and you're after a separating affect. Be very careful however if you have sensitive eyes, and be aware that girls with fine, sparse lashes may not get the best results with this one. I'll be heading back to my ol' reliable Maybelline The Falsies for now!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Five Things Disney Films Taught Me About Beauty

Disney gets criticised from time to time for it's views and portrayals of 'beauty'. Teenage princesses, swept off their feet by handsome Princes who fall in love with them for their good looks and youth, and treat them to a 'happily ever after' in a castle far away somewhere...
Critics have often claimed that little girls who watch Frozen on repeat and queue for hours to see Cinderella will grow up believing that they have to look a certain way, or that their lives will never be as good as a those pretty, perfect princesses. But as a fully fledged Disnerd and self confessed princess admirer, I never saw beauty that way as a child. In fact, I thought that Disney movies taught me some valuable lessons that were mostly the exact opposite of what the haters like to suggest! So without further adue, here are five things Disney films taught me about beauty.

1. There is No One Standard of Beauty | It Has No Race, Creed or Culture
With princesses of all different skin colours, ethic backgrounds, hair colours and cultural origins, how on Earth can anyone claim that Disney princesses all look the same? I just don't see it. Even as a child, I knew that attractiveness didn't come from having this hair colour or that skin tone, because all the princesses I grew up watching were so equally admirable but so different from one another. Big Hero 6 had two female leads with entirely different body types, and I still can't decide which figure I preferred! How can you compare Cinderella's blonde hair and fair skin to Jasmine's almond eyes and thick, dark pony tail? Or Elsa's tall, slim figure to Tinkerbelle's petite curves? You can't. They're both equally stunning in their own right, and if Mulan and Tiana and Aurora can all be beautiful, than so can any real girl. Because no individual eye colour, hair colour or skin tone is better than anyone else's.

2. There is More to Life Than Beauty Alone | Beauty Doesn't Define You
If you think Disney princess only have beauty for an asset, you're wrong. Or at least, I certainly never saw it that way. These girls are talented and skilful, they have dreams and aspirations far beyond just looking nice. Tiana worked tirelessly and had a strong work ethic, she wasn't afraid of hard work because she wanted a better life for herself. Rapunzel was incredibly talented and could paint for hours. Elsa had an eye for design and could sculpt beautiful creations from snow and ice. Cinderella was a master at sewing and Belle was a huge book worm, reading and learning was so important to her. Ariel had a mesmerising singing voice and a burning passion for the human world. Mulan was literally masquerading as a man and was brave above all else. Disney don't teach us that beauty is everything, because it's not. They also teach us the value of hard work, creativity and passion.

3. Beauty is Not Youth | Any Age Can Be Beautiful
Mother Gothel thought that beauty belonged only to the young, but she was wrong, and it was her obsession with staying youthful and ageless that eventually lead to her demise. Disney gets criticized sometimes because most of it's princesses are young girls, usually in their teens, but people forget the amazing wealth of older female characters who are just as beautiful. Mrs Incredible (Helen Parr) is smokin' hot, in fact even my Dad admits to finding her attractive. Rapunzels mum, Anna and Elsa's mum, in fact any time a Disney character has a mum (rare in the Disney universe) they've always been animated in a very beautiful way. Aunt Cass from Big Hero six was gorgeous, and how could we forget Ellie from UP? What a stunning older lady she was. Did her wrinkles or grey hair get in the way of that? Not at all. Woman can be graceful, glamorous and elegant no matter what age they are.

4. Beauty is Found Inside | It Shows Through No Matter What You Look Like
Furries. Yeah I said it. This is going to be a weird one but stay with me... Some people say that Disney teaches little girls to want to look a certain way, because the characters who portray beauty are always drawn in a certain way. Well I think that's totally false. I'm going use the example of Nala here. I don't think I, or any other little girl for that matter, ever thought "wow, I wish I looked like that lioness instead because then I'd be attractive". Talk about unreachable standard of beauty... But we knew that Nala was a beautiful character didn't we? Because she was kind, and loyal, and stood by her friend in order to fight for the right thing. So no, I never grew up wishing I could look like Nala, but I wanted to be like her because I looked up to her character. This can be said for many Disney characters, Belle saw the love and kindness in the Beast, and was able to fall in love with him. Duchess and Purdy were both so lady-like that we knew they were oh so glamorous darling, but we're talking about cats and dogs! Disney characters are beautiful from the inside out, and that's the lesson I took away from the films as a kid.

5. No One Is Perfect | Flaws Are Okay!
So you think that the princesses are perfect girls trapped in imperfect lives? Well perhaps you haven't been looking hard enough at some of them, because I see women with flaws, just like the rest of us, especially in the modern princesses. Cinderella and Anna don't look like morning people at all, (nice drool there, Anna) and can we talk about Meg for a second? She had no idea how to let anyone get close to her emotionally and developed a pretty sassy attitude to mask all that insecurity. Frozen was literally a film about Elsa overcoming her 'flaw' and learning to see it in a positive way. Imperfections happen, everyone has them and it's okay. People that look perfect from the outside are likely to be battling their own insecurities, and whatever 'flaws' you think you have, you look perfect to someone too. I mean, Alladin didn't love Jasmine because she was a 'perfect princess' - he fell for her when he thought she was just a street rat. Plus, Belle got past that whole Beast thing so... you really don't have much to worry about!

I hope you enjoyed this post, I realise it's a little different from my usual gig. If you did like it then please share it so others can see it and feel free to disagree or write your own "Disney beauty lesson" down in the comments. I have a feeling this could spark a really interesting conversation.

P.S. - Friday's post will either be my blonde eyebrow routine and threading experience, Collection Eyes Uncovered Pallet vs Naked Basics 2, or a review of the new Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara. Let me know if you have a preference!

Monday, 9 March 2015

Beauty Related Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Don't panic, but you've now got exactly one week left to find a present fit for a wonder-mum like yours, so if you're struggling for ideas then keep reading for some beauty related inspiration. Speaking of gift ideas, can you ever have too many? I've teamed up with the lovely Georgia from White Shirt Chic (such a cute blog name) to create a collab post so you'll have double the options! My post is going to center more on higher end products, so hop over to Georgia's blog for some great Budget and D.I.Y. Mother's Day Gift Ideas too!

What woman doesn't like a good long soak once in a while? My first pick for bath and body care is the RelaxStation from Soap & Glory (£20) the kit comes with a collection of some of their best products, including Clean on Me Shower Gel, The Righteous Butter, Hand Food and more. Lush has come out with a Mother's Day Collection, most of which they've bundled into their Flowers for Mum bundle (£44.95), which is filled with bathbombs, a shower gel and even a massage bar. Finally, the Body Shop always has a flurry of soapy goodness to chose from, but I picked out this Japanese Cheery Blossom Set (£22) because the scent is gorgeous and the packaging makes a real statement!

What better to accompany a bubble bath then a relaxing scented candle? My top pick would be the Jo Malone Lime Basil & Manderine Home Candle (£40). I've written an entire post on why these babies make such a good gift here. If you're not a Jo Malone fan you might find Diptyque candles hit the spot, I recommend their Vanille Candle (£40) because it's a very versatile scent that most people will agree with. My third and final pick would be one of the Rituals Candles (£19.50), Sweet Sunrise is gorgeous and also offers classy packaging and fifty hours burn time!

If you want to keep it classic and go for straight make-up, I don't think you can go wrong with any of these next items. First up, the YSL Rouge Volupte Shine Lipstick (£26). I'm sure I don't have to sell you on this too much because their clearly such a luxurious product - look at that bullet tube! - who wouldn't want one of these on their dressing table? My next pick would be any of The Naked Palettes (£38). With bronze, taupe and rose options, there's bound to be one to suit your marvellous mummy. Last but not least, The Roller Lash (£19.50) new from Benefit. Benefit's mascaras are usually a big hit if dramatic, look at me lashes are your thing, plus there's a points offer surrounding these at Boots right now.

This is where the budget crept up on me a bit... sorry! However, I really think each of these products would go down a treat so if you've got the cash to splash then why not treat your mum to the ultimate in skin care luxury - dare I say it - the Glam Glow Get Glowing Set ($69/£45). I've picked this gift set because it offers the best value for money by far, allowing you to try all three masks for the price of one full size. Bringing us back down to Earth for a moment... the Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Heritage Mother's Day Set (£26) is probably much more realistic and offers two cute lip tins to take on the go with you. Rounding up the skin care category, we have the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Cream (£70) Whilst this is crazy expensive, I think I'd also say it's the most indulgent product in my whole gift guide, a real way to push the boat out and say thanks.

Every mum loves a good hand cream. My own mother has a hand cream for every draw and every handbag and every coat pocket she owns. This category is arranged a little differently, because I've selected some great gift sets as well as individual products for those of you who might want to tone it down a bit or are looking for a 'top up' gift. Let's start with Molton Brown, mentioned in my February Favourites post for making such great smelling, great feeling creams. I love the Orange and Bergamot Hand Cream (£10), or you could opt for The Indulge Edition Set (£25) which offers three hand creams together. L'Occitane also have some seriously silky gems, and the packaging on their Cherry Blossom Petal tube (£14) is adorable, as is their Trio Collection Set (£22). And let's not forget The Body Shop, who I personally think offer some of the best hand creams on the market. Their Hemp Hand Protector (£5) may not be pink but it'll sort out any serious dryness or cracked skin in less than a week. It's also included in their Hand Cream Collection (£15)

And we're finally finished! I hope you've found some inspiration, why not pop you own ideas in the comments section to make this post as helpful as it could possibly be? Don't forget to check out Georgia's post on White Shirt Chic for some more budget friendly ideas. And hey - have a selfie of me and my mum for good measure!


Friday, 6 March 2015

Barry M | Chisel Cheeks Contour Kit

With contour palettes like the Kat Von D Shade & Light Pallette and Anastasia Contour Kit going for around $40 on, who knew that £5.49 could get you such a steal? The new Barry M Chisel Cheeks Contour Kit is truly awesome value for money and has been all I've used to contour since I picked it up last week.

Now, I'm not a heavy contour kinda gal by any means. Whilst I love me a full face of makeup on the weekends, I rarely get past two eye-shadow colours for work and the whole contour, sculpt and highlight thing is just a bit much for me to deal with when I'm prepping for a day in the office. Add to that the fact that I have incredibly pale skin and it's often a hassle that just isn't worth it. However, this week I decided that for the sake of testing out the Barry M Chisel Cheeks Countor Kit (phew, that's a mouthful!) I would up it a bit for work and attempt to use all three shades in the palette in my daily routine. I've been thoroughly impressed with the results!

The packaging is cute, practical and small enough to throw in a bag or take with you on the go. When you open it up, the top lid has a a handy illustration showing you exactly where and how to apply each shade. I like this idea, and prefer it to a mirror because I'm likely to be using my large vanity mirror anyway, and let's face it, if you're taking a contour palette on the go with you, chances are you've got a compact mirror with you too. But given that this is probably going to be a palette for the slightly younger market, I think a good guide to work from is a great idea.

So, if we review the shades one by one what do we get? Well let's start with the one we're all here for, shall we: the contour shade. The contour shade is the dark brown on the right, and the one I'm most impressed with. As mentioned, I'm a pasty one, so contour shades can be a real pain to get right on me. Up until now, I've been using Next to Skin by Mac, a very light greyish brown (actually it's more like a brownish grey) that I haven't been in love with. It's done the job, but I haven't considered it anything special. Now I wouldn't say I'm in love with the Barry M one either, but I do prefer it, and that means they're definitely doing something right. It's quite a dark shade, which worried me at first, but you can't fault it's blendability. It blends down to a wearable, shadowy tone that even my see-through complexion can get away with and the lasting power is pretty darn good to! Yes, it will fade a little throughout the day, but if you're going out for dinner or you have an event and don't intend to wear a heavy contour for eight solid hours, you'll be just fine with this. I don't find the power choppy, and more importantly I don't find the shade to be too warm, which means you definitely avoid looking like you've just used bronzer to contour your cheekbones - a big no-no ladies! Speaking of bronzer...

The middle shade in the palette is intended as a bronzer, and is the warmer, lighter of the two brown shades. This is also the one that I'm least excited by, and towards the end of the week I found myself reaching for my regular bronzer instead because the Barry M one is a little too yellow on my skin and doesn't have great lasting power - the only shade I had this problem with. It was the only shade that I had to be a tad careful with, because I could start to look a bit muddy if I used too much. But hey, if you're on a tight budget then don't forget that this is three products in one here! Is this bronzer okay? Yeah, sure. Is it my favourite? No. But I'm willing to overlook that because of the success of the other shades, and I'm also aware that more olive skin tones or darker skin tones than mine (so everyone basically) might look significantly better with the bronzing shade, it just didn't outdo my current bronzer and I don't think it's the reason you should buy this palette.

The highlight shade though... another winner! It's very subtle, so if Mary-Lou Manizer is your thing, this probably won't make the cut. But this is Barry M we're talking about, a company who's main target market will be young girls, perhaps looking for an understated way to bring a bit of extra dimension into their face and add a pretty glow. This highlight is subtle enough that it's very work appropriate, but even better, school appropriate (if you don't go mental with it) and adds a barely there sheen to the skin. I like a stronger highlight personally, so I've been building it up over the top of Benefit's High Beam once my powder has dulled it down a bit. Unlike High Beam though, the Barry M highlight shade is so universally flattering. In the pan, and in my swatch it looks really quite yellow based, but in reality it's not too pink, or too golden, or too silvery - it appears to have little undertone at all when it's actually on the skin. Just like the contour shade, it's seemingly an all rounder for most skin tones.

So overall, I'm massively impressed with this palette. If you're serious about sculpting, you'll probably want to pick out a custom contour colour from a brand like Anastasia, and you'll definitely want a more visible highlight. But I think the Barry M Chisel Cheeks Contour Palette is perfect for younger girls who want to enter the world of contouring in a subtle, more every day way. The two important shades are fairly hard to go overboard with, would suit most skin tones, and it's extremely budget friendly. Result!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

February Favourites

So this post probably should have gone up on Monday and the Six Things I Learned About Joining A Running Club today, but hey, we’re learning! Here’s a quick rundown of all the things I’ve been loving through the month of February and why.

Boots Simply Sensitive Protecting Day Moisturiser SPF 15
I went searching in late January for a new moisturiser to replace my giant bucket of Nivea Soft that had lasted me forever. I felt like it was getting a bit heavy on my skin, but mostly, I desperately wanted a moisturiser with SPF. (I’m really not as hot sun protection as I should be… *slaps wrist*) With SPF 15 and at £2.79 for 125ml I figured I couldn’t go wrong, so I picked one up and I’ve been loving this beaut ever since! The bottle has lasted me ages, and the oil free formula doesn't feel greasy or sticky on the skin. It does feel like it’s doing something though and leaves my skin really soft and smooth – exactly what you want from a moisturiser, non? I’ve enjoyed it so much that I went back to Boots and picked up a few other products from the Simply Sensitive range to try.

Liz Earle Gentle Exfoliator
What a find! To put it simply, this is the best physical exfoliant I’ve ever tried. My dry but very sensitive skin absolutely loves this stuff. All other scrubs have had me caught in a cycle of needing to use them every single day or seemingly ending up with worse skin than before (a bit like the Vaseline vs lips dilemma that some people have?) but not this baby. Where most scrubs give me excellent results for the first day, followed by torn up skin the next, 3 scrubs a week of the Liz Earle Gentle Exfoliator is leaving me with the smoothest, plumpest skin I’ve ever had.

Molton Brown Hand Cream in Ylang-Ylang
I was lucky enough to get a Molton Brown hand cream for Christmas but I only really started reaching for it this month. Well, it's spiraled into a full blown love affair with their hand products. I've since gone and bought myself a hand soap and another hand cream in "Orange Blossom" and they leave my hands feeling and smelling wonderful.

See by Chloe Perfume
This has been my perfume of choice almost every day throughout February. The first notes that hit me whenever I spritz a bit of this are definitely floral, but then it settles down into a somewhat fruity fragrance. It's quite a young, playful smell but isn't sweet or sugary, and I find it's very day time appropriate whilst still sophisticated. Perfect for a subtle, fresh, office perfume.

The Glam Guide by Fleur De Force 
This was one of the most anticipated book launches of the year for me, as Fleur has long since been one of my favourite YouTubers of all time. I picked up her book from Waterstones for £11.99 (usual price £14.99) and have been flicking through the glossy, pastel pages all month long. I would have loved to have seen a section on home d├ęcor because Fleur’s house has always looked so stylish to me, but her sections on travelling, life goals and YouTube/Blogging had me really hooked.

Leave me a comment letting me know if you've tried any of the products above and how you got on with them. -and if any of you picked up The Glam Guide then I'd love to hear your thoughts on that too! Was it what you expected?
That's all for now folks, tune in next month to find out what will make the cut for my March Favourites!
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