Saturday, 31 December 2011

Goodbye 2011

Well 2011, I’m not going to pretend I am sad to see you go. The year started with so much promise but that being said, you weren’t as bad as 2010 and I am grateful for that.

At the start of the year I made four new years resolutions.

1. Get a job
2. Move out of home
3. Finally sort out my skin
4. Get 100 followers on my blog

I’m not happy to say that I haven’t done very well at achieving these. I and many others graduated in the middle of this recession, meaning there are hardly any jobs and those that are available need people or are given to people who already know what they are doing. If only someone gave me money for every time I was told…. ‘you don’t have enough experience!'

As the year has gone on the situation has slowly eaten away at my confidence. Some of you may know from twitter that I did get a job back in May — so I have been working for most of the year — but it was a short term contract and my employers aren’t in a position to extend it, so shortly after the new year I will be unemployed again. Getting a permanent job would have meant I would have money to move out of home, so that never happened either.

The final two points I did do better at. With a combination changing the type of skin products I use and generally understanding my skin type better, I have fewer breakouts (most of the time) and these are less damaging. I found some pictures of myself from two years ago and will do a separate post about my skin just to show you the difference.

My blog has been the biggest success and source of positivity for me over the last year. There have been some negatives — enough to make me want to quit — but I have the greatest followers and I love blogging so much, it has just become a part of what I do. It is almost a year to the day since I began and I am so glad that I reached my goal. I have felt so encouraged by those who comment on my posts and have been so nice to me on Twitter, so a big thank you to you all! I am excited to see what the next year will bring, and to continue learning and improving.

I am looking forward to 2012 and hope it will finally be the year I can start my career properly, become completely independent and maybe even look to settling down somewhere. In terms of resolutions, my main one is to take care of my health, the stress and anxiety in the last year has taken its toll on me mentally, emotionally and manifested itself physically. I believe that as long as my health is ok, everything else should fall into place.

I wish you all a happy, prosperous and healthy 2012.


Friday, 30 December 2011

Quick review: Nanoblur

It’s not make-up, it’s not skincare and it doesn’t claim to be either of these things. Nanoblur is meant to a quick fix solution to make your skin look younger, by improving the appearance of any signs of ageing, lines, wrinkles and large pores. The product promises to make you look 10 years younger in 40 seconds or less. I love the fact that this doesn't claim to be a permanent solution or something that will improve your sign over time. It does this by containing lots of light reflecting particles, which are meant to blur imperfections, so that light bounces off your face in such a way that the look of your skin is improved.

I brought this because I was hoping it could be a solution in the times a month of my skin isn’t at its best. You can use this as a base for your make up (or alone) or if you're using liquid foundation the instructions state that you can apply Nanoblur on top.

When I swatched this on the back of my hand in the store originally and the difference between my two hands was obvious. My hand looked smoother and brighter, and the veins underneath weren’t so visible. But I didn’t see a dramatic difference on my face.

When using this as a base I found I needed to work quickly to be able to spread the product before it dried. Using mineral foundation or powder you then carry on applying your makeup as usual.
I also tried using this on top of liquid foundation, the two seemed to react and I ended up with a very streaky looking face, considering I tried this 10 minutes before I was going to leave the house for work, you can imagine the shock! The foundation I used does contain extra spot fighting ingredients, so I put the reaction down to this, but I would be really curious to know if anyone else has experienced the same thing.

I have read really positive reviews of Nanoblur elsewhere so I am disappointed that I wasn’t so impressed. I can only assume that this isn’t really targeted for my skin type and it might be something I come back to try in a few years time.


Thursday, 29 December 2011

Lori Greiner cosmetics organiser

I was lucky enough to receive a make-up organiser for Christmas, which was unexpected but very welcome since my make-up collection was always scattered in various bags. 

This was the extent of my organisation before, two small canvas boxes from Ikea for the makeup products currently in use, my ELF dump bag and a big black make-up travel bag for new items. I also then had another series of makeup cases carrying all sorts. 

This is my new storage, along with all the bags full of makeup to be fit inside. The organiser is quite small, and designed to be placed on a tabletop, it also rotates to allow access to all the items. There are six compartments in total, two that are tall and suit bottles and any other larger items, two that have dividers and the final two have shelves. The top of the organiser is designed for thinner items, lipsticks, eyeliners, brushes etc.

And this is my storage after being filled with all my makeup. I can’t decide if I think that I own a lot or not. All that is missing from this are my eyeshadow palettes and I also left out new and unused items, which I will add once something has been used up.

It was good to come across makeup I had forgotten about — it almost felt like coming home after a shopping spree. I also threw out some really old items and made a mental note of what I definitely don’t need to buy any more of.

I love my new organisation and I am hoping that by having the majority of things out for me to see it will encourage me to use some things I haven’t picked up in a while. The hexagonal shape of the organiser means that the compartments are all angled so not everything can fit easily, I am lucky that a lot of my items are the “right shape” for the organiser, but I can tell that I would have been a lot more limited in what I could have fit if this wasn’t the case. I’ve had a search around the internet and I think the organiser was purchased from QVC — link here!

This is my cupboard having organised it. One box is now for miscellany, tubes of skin care creams and product samples to try and review, and the other contains my eyeshadow palettes.

So apart from tidying up and finding a few lost treasures, I also leant a few things…
1. I do not need any more mascaras, eyeliners or lip balms — I seem to have accumulated lots of samples and full sized freebies, which will see me through for at least a year.
2. I need to make more of an effort to rotate the lipsticks and blushers I use, I might take inspiration from Eyelining Obsessions and do posts at the end of the weeks having worn a different lipstick each day.
3. That I do love a special offer and although it’s always great to get value for money as yet I haven’t even started using the majority of all the freebies and it might be worth in the future just buying the one thing I really want.

I am thinking of starting another project 10 pan to empty out my cupboards a bit more. I am really good about only buying skin care when I need it, but I am not the same with makeup, now I know what I definitely don’t need more of I can make attempt to use up what I have before trying something new. Would you be interested in reading about that again?

So, how do you like it? I would love to know how you all organise your makeup and any tips on how best to make use out of everything you own.


Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Christmas nails

I really struggled deciding what to do for my Christmas nails…… but after testing out at least 8 different colours of polish and various designs this is what I settled on….

I used Fashionista red magnetism nail polish on four of my nails, but added my favourite red nail polish from Beauty UK on top. Now I know this will probably seem counter-productive, but the result is the beautiful red colour you see with the slight magnetised effect coming through, adding a nice depth to the colour and a more subtle effect on the nails. The picture doesn’t really do the look justice, but I am really pleased with the result.

I decided to add an accent nail, which was a classic French tip, red line and flower nail sticker.

Finally, I also ordered and received my first ever Glossy box on Christmas eve, but waited until Christmas day to open it as a gift from myself (sad I know!) Even though I had done my nails on Christmas eve, the magnetised polish had already started to chip so I decided to cover up the worst offending nail with the Deborah Lippman red glitter polish. The polish applied really well and dried quickly

I love the end result. I like that at first glance you don’t really see anything special in the way of design, since the colours compliment each other so well, but a closer look lets you see all the detail. The only shame is that the wear and chipping started after a day!

So what do you think? I want to try doing more nail art and mixing of colours. Please share your favourite Christmas and non-Christmas designs with me below.


Monday, 26 December 2011

Sleek berry Christmas look

I chose to do a berry Christmas look using the Sleek collection. I love that Sleek decided to mix up the limited edition collections by adding a lipstick and kohl pencil, and I hope they do more of these in the future.

I originally brought this with my mum who instantly loved the lipstick saying it reminded her of something she used to own and she swiped it before I got the chance to take a photograph, I did manage to get it back briefly for this look though!

All the colours are matte, and have deep red/plum tones. The kohl, mossberry, is more of a burgundy, and the fenberry blush has more red/brown tones. The blush is my favourite item in the collection. The deep colour is very flattering and adds contour to the cheek bones. I would have liked the kohl to be a bit more creamy than it is to make it easier to apply and blend.

This is the look I came up with.

Sleek mossberry kohl pencil in the outcorner and crease.
Urban Decay half-baked on the lid.
Urban Decay sin to highlight
ELF black cream liner
Benefit They’re Real mascara

Neutrogena foundation
Sleek contour palette (highlight only)
Sleek fenberry blush
Sleek cranberry lipstick
Clear gloss

I added these two photographs taken with flash, which show the colours better I hope. These winter months don’t make it very easy for me to take FOTD photographs! 

I generally stay away from red lipsticks, I find it really hard to find the right tone to suit me and because my lips are quite large I don’t like colours, which accentuate that. That being said I really like this tone, but I did add a clear gloss on top since the matte formulation is drying and highlighted my already dry lips. The colour lasted really well (over 4 hours) and that included tucking into dinner and desert. 

I am not sure when the collection will be taken off the shelves but if you are interested I would recommend this. The colours are ideal for the winter months and I think most skin tones can find a way to pull these off by using a light touch to control the intensity.


Monday, 19 December 2011

Moroccan Oil review

I am going to start with a true story……

In 2009 I took an amazing trip to Marrakech, and arranged a one-day trip to the Atlas Mountains. On the way, our taxi driver stopped us at a few shops, one of which was a place where women were grinding down the seeds, which make argan oil.

After we were shown the process, we were led into the shop where they sold the oil in various forms, either for beauty or consumption and we got a chance to taste the oil as well as use the even got to try the oil dipped in bread. The prices were a bit on the expensive side, especially considering it was a road side shop and my exact words were “I’ve never heard of argan oil, I don’t know if it’s any good” and I walked out of the shop without a second thought.

A few months after I got home, I started reading the hype about argan oil, and it goes without saying that  I have been kicking myself ever since for not picking it up when I had the chance!

What I did buy a few months ago was Moroccan Oil. I’m sure you all are well aware of the benefits argan oil is meant to have on the hair and skin so I am not going to go through those.

When I first started using the oil, I wasn’t wowed by it and I even put it in the cupboard and forgot about it for a while. But once the cold weather returned I decided to give it another try and I have to say I am really impressed. The main difference I have noticed is in the condition with my hair, which feels much softer having used this after every wash. What is most impressive is that the softness lasts, which is something I have never experienced with any intensive conditioners I use.

The oil also adds a bit of extra shine, but because I also use this with my hair product I don’t know what is more responsible for that. I don’t think it combats frizziness, which I have noticed is more down to the way my hair dries than anything else.

As much as I do like, and am impressed with this product I am not sure that just to have soft hair it is worth the £30 price tag. I would like to try a few of the cheaper alternatives out there and see how they compare.


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Nails of the week: Lilac foil by Barry M

This week was the turn of the lilac foil effect polish from Barry M. This is currently limited edition in Superdrug, and free gift when you spend £6 on any other products.

I am still loving the foil effect and I think it works really well with this shade. Like the gold, it does have a streaky application but this is not obvious from far away. This is my second day of wear, and so far there are no signs of wearing at the tips or chipping so I am pleased.

Let me know below what your favourite nail effect polish is.


Saturday, 17 December 2011

Unique Christmas gifts: recycled jewellery

I really like to buy unique gifts for people I care about. So I was really pleased this year when I came across a stall in Embankment Christmas market this year, owned by a man, called Miko (I think?!), who makes amazing jewellery using old coins amongst other things.

He has some amazing designs, the detail is so intricate and he explained to me that every single coin is unique, since he can never repeat the same design exactly.

The coins varied in design and by date, and after he told me I could choose a coin and my own design I placed an order for a coin with my mother’s year of birth and a mother daughter symbol from a design I found online.

This is the link to the original design I sent Miko . . . and this was Miko’s interpretation. I know this could be a Christmas spoiler, but I know mum doesn’t read my blog so I should be safe!

Of course, I also decided to treat myself and chose the tree of life design on a coin with my birth year.

On the day I was picking up my orders I spotted a ring, which I instantly loved and scooped up. This isn’t actually made by Miko but a friend of his using silver and copper metals purchased in India. I love the design on the copper on top and the use of the blue stones.

As much as I am a fan of good, cheap jewellery it is always nice to own something that is a little unique and that is made of recycled materials.

If you are near London or planning a trip in the next week, I would definitely check out the Christmas market and Miko’s stall. He also has a website, which includes some of the designs he is capable of.

Let me know below what your favourite piece of jewellery is, and where is the most interesting place you found it.


Friday, 9 December 2011

Marie Claire Blog Awards

I know this is a long shot, but I have been feeling pretty pleased with the progress I have made with my blog leading up to my first birthday! I know I have some really lovely followers who have always been very encouraging and positive and I really appreciate that. So I wanted to ask a huge favour from those of you who do enjoy reading my rambles, and that is to nominate me in the Marie Claire blog awards.

As much as I wanted to put myself forward for a Cosmopolitan new beauty blog award earlier in the year, I chickened out and now with the news that Marie Claire are now doing something similar, I thought it rude not to at least try this time round!

I will keep this post short and sweet, so if you do think I could be a contender please follow the link here.


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

My visit to Beauty Heaven a.k.a Benefit headquarters

I was lucky enough to be invited to “beauty heaven” by the lovely people at Benefit, to have a nose around their office and take a closer look at their Christmas gift sets.

I actually arrived 20 minutes early and not knowing the area at all, ended up 10 minutes late! So I was a bit flustered when I first arrived but just in time for the presentation, introducing me and the other bloggers to Benefit.

I learnt so much about Benefit, how the company started and developed, as well as where they are now and what they have planned. We were then given a tour of the offices, which were amazing. The whole place was decorated pink and had cute signposts of the different departments. We also got to meet Ian and Gail, the people responsible for running Benefit in the UK (I believe!).

The atmosphere in the office was amazing, as much as I love where I work, you can imagine that the Benefit team have a lot of fun at work every day. In fact, I learnt that they have a YouTube channel and that all the staff are used to make the adverts for new products, with the most recent being "They’re Real". This is the link to a video they made of a tour around the office, which should give you a bit of an idea about the energy levels I got to experience in the office on the day.

I don’t have to worry about breaking any secrets saying this now, but we were even lucky enough to see two new products to be launched in the new year, which I have noticed some bloggers already writing about. The new blush, Hervana and new flawless foundations.

Unfortunately I had to leave early and missed the chance to win a hamper of Benefit goodies and the opportunity to play around with some products, but I was lucky enough to be given a goodie bag filled generously with some new products to try.

I am most excited about the porefessional primer, since this has been on my wish list for a while. The headband has already come in handy for my pampering sessions and I will be sure to review the other products as soon as possible.

My visit has definitely made me love the brand that much more. Let me know what your favourite Benefit product is.


Sunday, 4 December 2011

Bloglovin’ Take 2

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I have decided to give Bloglovin’ another go after not really ‘getting it’ the first time I joined. Anyone who does know how to get the best out of it as a blogger and as a user in general, I would be grateful for the tips!


Nails of the week: Barry M mix

So after reading on my last nails post that there was another LIMITED EDITION foil effects polish by Barry M, I knew I had to go out and buy is immediately. The deal was spend £6 and the foil effect was free.

Although I was tempted to try a few of their lipsticks, the Superdrug store I visited had swatches of nail paint colours I don’t already own and I ended up picking up these. So I can’t take credit for the final look this week, as I would have never thought of the combination had I not seen it in store.

I started with Dusky Mauve, which is a shade I have never taken much interest in before. On its own I am not that impressed with it, in the bottle you can see the purple shimmer/tint that runs through but this doesn’t translate well on the nails and reminds me of the shade Mushroom.

On top of the two coats of Dusky Mauve, I added two coats of Pink Iridescent glitter, which makes the look a lot more subtle than you would expect from a glitter. When I first saw the swatch from a distance I didn’t even realise it was glitter, the colours seemed to blend in so well to one another. You will probably notice that I smudged one of my nails, but I love that glitter is so forgiving and I could be lazy and not bother to fix it.

I will swatch the lilac foil shade soon, in the mean time what do you think of this combination? If you have mixed shades in the past and ended up with a surprisingly good effect please let me know below or include links to your posts.


Thursday, 1 December 2011

Blow dry using Richard Ward’s tips

So I finally got round to blow-drying my hair straight using the tips I learnt at the Richard Ward masterclass a few months back.

I have to admit, I don’t really like my hair straight as I don’t think it suits my face shape. I have to add lots of volume and a level of curl, to feel comfortable.

To help with the look, I applied Richard Ward’s memoriser holding serum throughout my hair when it was about 80% wet. The product is designed to hold any shape you apply to your hair whilst blow drying.

I only needed a small amount of product to spread through the entire length of my hair, which spread easily and did not leave a sticky feeling on my fingers or my hair. In fact, after blowdrying, my hair felt really smooth and soft. To get the curl all I did was hold the ends of my hair taunt in the comb and apply heat for about 20/30 seconds.

The combination of the drying technique I learnt and the product meant that the photographs I am using here show my hair the day after! I didn’t have to touch up the look other than ruffling my hair into place a bit and combing through with my fingers.

So honest opinions, what do you think?

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